Monday, May 25, 2009

Voices of Poetry 2009

Last night, after a glorious summer's day, we gathered in the BSR for our annual Voices of Poetry evening, and listened as 24 pupils and staff read poetry in various languages in the darkened hall, lit by a single spotlight. It's always a special evening in the College's calendar. Some of the poetry has already appeared on this blog this year (click the links).

Matt Brooke from I form opened with 'My Dad's Old Boots', an appropriate start for an evening that involved journeys of many kinds - geographical, linguistic, poetic, emotional...

The first foreign language heard was Russian, in the form of a poem to women by Pushkin read by Olga Kolobkova, and others were Dutch (Lavinia Thelen), Farsi (Milo Reddaway), Latin (Patrick Faulkner), Italian (Sophie Kyd-Rebenburg), Spanish (Gina Mirow), French (Philip Arndt), Gujerati (Rishi Manuel), and German (Helene Tonner). Our national language was represented by Oscar Nunan from Donegal reading a poem by Cathal O Searcaigh.

Interspersed with these languages was poetry in English, much of it by pupils. Olivia Plunket read 'A cold wind', which came out of the Christmas Past project last December; two poems from the TY Images in Art module were Thomas Emmet's 'The Old Guitarist' and Robbie Hollis's 'The Scream'; Opeline Kellett, one of the three successful Poetry Aloud finalists this year, read her Junior Poetry Prize-winning 'Youthful Innocence'; Patrick McGonagle read 'Messy Room' by the American children's author Shel Silverstein (see his fine site here); William Maire, another Poetry Aloud finalist, read Yeats's 'An Irish Airman Foresees his Death'; the Senior Prefect, Rebecca Feeney-Barry, chose Wilfred Owen's 'Has Your Soul Slipped?'; Fiona Boyd, winner of this year's Dix Poetry Prize, read one of her winning pieces, a memorable mirror poem called 'Christmas Reflexive'; and the evening concluded with Molly Buckingham reading 'Dawn' by the youngest poet of the night, Mark Russell from Primary.

There were also readings from staff members - the Warden marked Seamus Heaney's recent 70th birthday with 'Twice Shy' and his powerful sestina 'Two Lorries' (listen to Heaney reading it here on the Poetry Archive); Dr Riemenschneider, shortly on her way to America after two years here, read Robert Frost's 'The Road not Taken'; Mr McCarthy read a powerful personal poem about love by his brother Ted (from his 1999 book November Wedding); and the Chaplain, shortly to retire, delivered Peter Dix's poem 'We all walk on walls', which is inscribed on the front of the Dix Memorial Award (pictured).

It was a superb evening, full of juxtapositions and surprises, eddying through seriousness and humour, and expertly brought together by organiser and presenter Mr Swift.

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