Monday, May 30, 2011

Voices of Poetry 2011

One of our best events every year is Voices of Poetry, a seemingly infallible formula for an evening, when pupils and staff read out their and others' poetry in a variety of languages. Mr Swift has run it for three years now, following on from Mr John Fanagan, who started it inspired by the example of his friend Adrian Poole at the Exeter International Summer School. 

Last night we had another excellent event, with 25 renditions of poems in an hour. Olivia Plunket opened with a translation of a poem by Marina Tsvetaeva ("I like it that you're burning for me") which Igor Verkovskiy read in Russian last year; later, Daria Tischenko read another poem by the same author in Russian. Sadhbh Sheeran read her own poem 'My World'. She was followed by Brendan Dickerson (Latin), Niccolo Morabito (Italian), Maria Coloma (Spanish) and Dena Al-Hamdan (Arabic). Samuel Clarke read his Junior Poetry Prize-winning entry 'His World' very effectively.

Representing the English Department, Mr Jameson read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's version of a Prevert poem, 'Breakfast' (click here for French and English versions). He was followed by Shannen Keogan (Irish, by Sean O Riordain) and Joanna Tottenham (French). Our Head of Modern Languages, Mr O'Shaughnessy, currently a student of Polish, followed, and also Fleur Pay (her own poem 'Hunters in the Snow', winner of the Snowbound Tuckshop Voucher 2010), Sofia McConnell (Swahili), Rab Sheeran (Hindi), Muqtadir Shah (Urdu) and Sainiya He (Chinese - a poem by Mao Tse-Tung).

Poems in English concluded the evening - by Penny Nash, Amelia Shirley (reading Rumi's 'The Guest House'), Dr Stone (Wilfred Owen - 'The Next War'), Opeline Kellett (this year's Senior Poetry Prize winner - see 'Descriptions') and John Clarke (his Poetry Aloud entry, 'The Alligator Girls' by W.S. Graham). Carl Ibe, Senior Prefect, also read in German. Mr Swift's piece de resistance was his recordings of I formers reading poems several years ago: they are now about to sit their Leaving Certificate.

Congratulations to all readers, and to Mr Swift, on another thought-provoking, moving, relaxing and interesting evening.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Junior Public Speaking Competition 2011

Congratulations to the winner of last night's Junior Public Speaking competition, John Clarke on the subject of Books. Second was his brother Samuel (My Grandmother), and third Christian McKeever (Cakes and Biscuits). Mrs Haslett was particularly impressed by the standard of this year's competition, and thanks the II form English teachers who prepared the entries, as well as the judges, Mr O'Shaughnessy, Matron and Sadhbh Sheeran.

The other speakers were Lydia Johnson on (Confidence), Arthur Moffitt (Teamwork), Alex Barnes-Auld (Lies), Molly Maire (Manners), Nadia Al-Lahiq (Different Schools), Peter Quigley (Dreams), Sofia McConnell (moving from Kenya to SCC), Jessye Faulkner (Superheroes), Jamie Maher (Gwynn), Fleur Pay (Feeling Adopted) and Bethany Shiell (My Brothers).

Marks were awarded as follows: Content (50 marks - relevance, language, style & originality) Delivery (40 marks - audibility, eye contact, spontaneity, uses of notes) General Impression (10 marks).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry 2011

Congratulations to the winner of this year's Senior Poetry Prize (pictured), Opeline Kellett (V form) for her body of work. Also, congratulations to Patrick O'Malley and Igor Verkhovskiy, who both receive Commendations. Over the next few days, several entries will be posted here. First off, Opeline's poems 'Winter's Onset' and 'Descriptions'-

'Descriptions' by Opeline Kellett

but you can't describe the pain.
I sit by your bedside
I can only imagine,
Never feel.
I don't want to.
I suppose.

But it can't be right that only you should suffer.
You with your fragile limbs
and your tired eyes.

Those tired eyes
that once held life.

Your gaunt gaze
looks to me
looks through me
to a life
but not forgotten.

Your passive lips
don't move,
stay dormant.
Your forlorn eyes
do not.

So I leave you to your daydreams,

But I'm aching, aching
and I can't describe the pain.

'Winter's Onset' by Opeline Kellett

Austere corridors of crunching leaves
simultaneously lifted and blown in a breeze.
Fleeting hooves across the sand
swaying patterns brushing season over land.

Acquisitive gales cause a build up of heaps
soon raked up by unwilling feet.
Forlorn critters shelter by naked hedge.
Vagrant warriors sense the winter's chilling pledge.

Apathetic onlookers perceiving this as normal
stressing over charges, bones feeling colder.
February's Spring requests your presence
but its daydreams are far from impending.

You preserve summer hopes despite the turbulence resounding.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'Our World' & 'The World of Regrets'

Two more poems in our series of entries for the Junior Poetry Prize.

'Our World' by Dearbhala Gernon, III form

A young Irish girl,
in a Protestant boarding school,
She misses her father,
his absence is unfamiliar,
she knows he is distant,
but not his distance.

"I want to see you,"
she cries down the phone,
his tone becomes tender.

"you would have to cross our world"
he says,
"swim the Irish sea,
catch a train across England,
flap your wings over to Paris,
buy a croissant and beret there."

"I would," she said.

"hop over the border to Milan,
straighten their tower of Pisa,
dig an tunnel to Kiev,
and taste their chicken."

"I would," she said.

"polka dance across Russia,
stop in Moscow for some borsht,
and kayak over the sea of Okhotsk"

"I would," she said.

The phone line went dead,
to her father frantically repeating her name,

she was sent home that day,
for escaping from school,
and paddling in the Irish shore.

The World of Regrets by Juliana Huggard, III form
He could have been a policeman
He could have been there for Dan
He could have been a teacher
He could have been a preacher

He shouldn’t have got kicked out
He shouldn’t have freaked out
He shouldn’t have got drunk
He shouldn’t have bashed into that tree trunk

I shouldn’t have kicked him out
I shouldn’t have given him doubt
if he wanted to live or not
I shouldn’t have let him rot

I shouldn’t have grabbed that knife
I shouldn’t have ended his life
I shouldn’t have lied
About the way he died

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

'Our World' & 'Earth'

Two more poems from the entries for the Junior Poetry Prize, this time by Rowland Fitzgerald Barron of II form:-

Our World

Secrets sleep in a remote lagoon,
While the morning blushes with dawn,
Until the beacon of the moon,
Falls upon the birds and song.

The park fills with night and fog,
As the dark veil drops around the world,
The stars dazzle along the sky,
Each one of them bright and pearled.

The wind sings through the trees tonight,
Midnight has still to come,
Gentle is its song, yet full of delight,
Yet still the throbbing of the drum.


Blue and green, wisps of white,
spinning around with all the others,
just a golf ball in the sea of blackness,
within the grasp of my hands…

Full of life, of different flavours,
trees and grass surround us,
towers of grey imprison us,
voids of blue divide us.

Drama Prizes

The annual drama prizes have just been announced, and congratulations go to the following:-
  • Opeline Kellett  - Senior Drama Prize for her performance in Medea (read our review here).
  • Siobhan Brady - Junior Drama Prize for her performance in Gizmo.
  • Oyinda Onabanjo for her work on the production of Medea.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Image to Text

No 13 in a series of reviews of iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad apps useful for English literature and language learning and teaching.
An impressive free app that could be very useful for both pupils and teachers is Image to Text (click here for iTunes download) from Ricoh Innovations. It's an efficient and accurate OCR scanner using your phone. Take a picture of a page of text, email it off and very quickly it's returned as an email with the text scanned and ready for use. Definitely recommended.

Friday, May 20, 2011

'My World'

Two more poems from entrants to the recent Junior Poetry Prize, both by Sadhbh Sheeran from III form:-

My World

My world is a box,
Two by two,
Flat floor, flip roof,
Damaged with age.
Inside, a butterfly,
Pressed flat,
Wing torn.
A stamp,
From someplace far,
A single sock,
Hole in the toe,
Missing its friend.
A feathery flower,
Orange in the centre,
Brown edges,
Slowly rotting.
My world is a box,
So obvious,
Yet unimportant.

A brief history of the world

If I were to write
A history of the world,
It would go something like this.

There was a bang,
And then a chemical reaction,
It was an accident.

Things started to move,
Evolve and grow,
Rivalry and revolution came to be.

She was treated badly,
Abused and bullied,
Sickened to the core.

Only to be loved once more,
Healed and made well,
For those come
To craft new history.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

'Dream World'

The second in a series of entries for our Junior Poetry Prize 2011. This was written by Mark Russell from II form-

'Dream World' by Mark Russell

and flickering
and rattling.
Adjusting with
The flow.

The urge
Pull of emotions
At the ends of
Those outstretched fingers.

A tingle at those
Knuckles with the
tiny scratches.
Blossoming like a grey rose.

They slip away
Like breaths
Like flashes
Of those other days.

When it flickers
Don’t question it
Just endure.

That single line
At the end of my spine
Fixed there with a beat.

Your words are still
The final voice
of reason.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'Hamlet' revision podcast 4: the first soliloquy

Our 29th podcast is the fourth in a series looking at the play Hamlet leading up to the Leaving Certificate next month, and is a close examination of Hamlet's first soliloquy, 'O that this too too solid flesh...', putting the speech in its context and looking at how it expresses the character's deepest feelings about his mother.

At the bottom of this post is our Wordle slideshow of the soliloquies, with performances by famous actors, including Kenneth Branagh delivering this first one. More Hamlet resources are here.

Listen to the talk via the player below:-

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You can also listen to our podcasts via the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

Monday, May 16, 2011

INOTE conference, October 2011

Details of the annual conference of the Irish National Organisation for the Teachers of English have just been announced, and sent to 600 members around the country. It is again in Kilkenny, on Saturday 8th October. Presentations will include 'New ways to approach Shakespeare', a report on the short story pilot project, short-story writing, 'Finding Shakespeare in unlikely places', the language of film 'How do we listen to Shakespeare today?' and one by SCC English on using free Web tools in English teaching.

More closer to the time, but suffice it to say for the moment that it's a must for secondary school teachers of English in Ireland. Click here for the full programme.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Junior Poetry Prize 2011

Congratulations to Samuel Clarke (II form) on winning this year's Junior Poetry Prize. His winning entry, 'His World', appears below, and over the coming days we will be posting more entries.

'His World' by Samuel Clarke


Burnt sienna

Warm crimson

The summer green is gently fading
And the lush fading away.

He lashes his new array of colours onto the world’s palette.
Rusty, crisp autumnal shades slowly dictate his canvas,
As he softy blends,
Casting the world into a swirling, blazing flame.


Red ochre

Renaissance gold

The overlapping, shimmering wings of the tree tips faintly shine,
As the fluid brushstrokes of evening light
Bid for freedom,
Through the rustling leaves,
And posing clawed branches of his art.

He boldly streaks his palette knife, slicing it across the canvas,
Casting the world’s jagged shards of light,
Into brilliant streaming rays.


Venetian red

Naples yellow

His fire of light continues to dance and flicker,
The trees’ leaves beginning to glow,
Their soft amber tone
Breathing as the embers of a dying fire.
The Artist stares
A gaze of intent upon his new work.

Through the viewer’s eyes, it is just another painting.
Through his eyes it is just another creation.
His season of autumn.
His world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Willy Vlautin's 'Northline'

We've previously recommended Willy Vlautin's outstanding novel Lean on Pete (just out in paperback here). His earlier novel Northline (2008) shares many of the same qualities: this time the central figure is not a teenage boy but the vulnerable and pregnant Allison Johnson, who needs to escape from her abusive boyfriend Jimmy. She leaves Las Vegas and tries to start again in Reno. In Lean on Pete, Charley Thompson found solace in horses; in Northline, Allison turns to an imagined Paul Newman. This is a third-person narrative, so we don't get the immediate voice of the central character as we do in the later novel. But it shares with it consistently superb writing and a generosity about the possibilities of human nature.

Finally, click here for a spoken word short story, narrated by Vlautin himself, called 'A Motorcycle for a Horse.'

Sunday, May 08, 2011

'Hamlet' revision podcast 3: the first scene

The first two podcasts in our annual Shakespeare revision series prior to the Leaving Certificate exams gathered together individual short talks on 10 characters in Hamlet - the first one was on 1) Fortinbras, 2) Horatio, 3) Laertes, 4) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, 5) Polonius; the second on 7) Ophelia, 8) The Player King, 9) Osric, 10) The First Gravedigger.

This podcast, our 28th overall, deals with the first scene in the play, a scene which sets a mood of uncertainty, and one which prefigures central themes of the play, such as the disruption of the natural order and revenge. 

Listen to the talk via the player below:-

Podcast Powered By Podbean

You can also listen to our podcasts via the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

Thursday, May 05, 2011

'Zeitoun' by Dave Eggers

Zeitoun, the latest non-fiction work by Dave Eggers, is just out in paperback. Eggers himself has disappeared into the prose: the perspective is that of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a hard-working decent family man who runs a house-painting business in New Orleans. 

The early parts of the book tell the story are set in the lead-up to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Zeitoun came from Syria after ten years as a merchant seaman, and worked ferociously hard to build up his business with his wife Kathy. He is a living embodiment of American values. When the hurricane strikes, he stays behind in the city as his wife and children escape for their own safety, initially to look after his business interests, but then increasingly as a knight in shining armour (or, rather, in a canoe) helping people in his flooded neighbourhood.

And then something truly dreadful happens. You read the second half of the book in horror. In the week that Osama bin Laden was killed, it is timely to be reminded of the terrible challenges that Muslims in America can face, even one so 'American' as Zeitoun.

Zeitoun is a model piece of story-telling, being restrained, empathetic and un-showy. It is studded with extraordinary scenes.

Click here for the Zeitoun Foundation website.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Poetry Now app

No 12 in a series of reviews of iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad apps useful for English literature and language learning and teaching.

We start our final term of the academic year today, and it's going to be a very busy one for us, and for this blog, with a lot crammed into a shorter summer stretch than is normal.

First up is a quick review of an app that may help all those Leaving Cert candidates preparing for the exams in just over a month's time. One of the best poetry textbooks around is Niall McMonagle's Poetry Now, and for the first time this is available as an iPhone app, made by RavenSense. It is also available as an iPad app, and is likely to be more effective in this format, but this review only deals with the iPhone version.

It seems that pretty well the whole text is available on the app. It appears in landscape view, and each poet's poems are available, with a glossary, commentary, biography, notes and exam questions. You can also access the poems in their own list. It will be handy for candidates to carry around the poems on their devices. The only downside is that the text renders exactly as on the paper page, and is not enabled for mobile view (as, for instance, this blog is). However, it is good to see a publisher starting to use this powerful technology, and we look forward to further developments.