Thursday, December 21, 2017

SCC English Books of the Year 2017

Book of the Year:  
Tim Winton's The Boy Behind the Curtain: notes from an Australian Life. An outstanding collection of (mostly) autobiographical essays from this superb novelist, who read from and spoke about the book at the DLR Lexicon in May.

  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale: the choice for our staff book club in December.  32 years old, it has had a fresh lease of life partly thanks to the television series, but it was already striking notes again in the Trump era, and it is as fresh and striking a piece of writing as ever.
  • Thomas Newkirk, Embarrassment and the Emotional Underlife of Learning. Everything by this engaging and humane writer on education is worth reading. "I am absolutely convinced that embarrassment is not only the true enemy of learning, but of so many other actions we could take to better ourselves" he writes. He is a good sensibility to be in touch with for the 200 pages of this book, and indeed he points out that such an experience is precisely what we look for in reading.
  • John Banville, Mrs Osmond. For anyone who knows The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, and we imagine anyone who doesn't, this is pure pleasure (with plenty of sly and playful humour, too).
  • Laura Cumming: The Vanishing Man: in pursuit of Velázquez. The best kind of art history and story-telling, about the great Spanish painter.
  • Ali Smith: Autumn. Fluent, intelligent, responsive to our time: this is the first of a quartet, with Winter now also out.
  • Donal Ryan: All We Shall Know. Consistently readable, this contemporary Irish writer is a joy.
  • Finally, in the year we celebrated the work of our former pupil William Trevor, a fabulous edition of his Collected Stories (and well worth the money).  It is reviewed here by Joseph O'Connor, who read from the book and spoke about Trevor during our Arts Week in March.

Check out this year's edition of our annual summary of the best Books of the Year in the media here. 

Here are our choices for 2016.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

'The Submarine', December 2017

The first edition of the new format of The Submarine (formerly a Library publication) is now out in paper form, and here it is digitally too. Flip through the pages and use the arrows to magnify detail.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Young Adult reading, Autumn 2017

Our Librarian, Ms Kent-Sutton, has created this excellent list of recently-published books which may be of interest to pupils (and their parents for Christmas presents....).  

Flip through the pages using the arrows, and click again for a closer look. The document can also be seen and downloaded here.

Bullying Awareness Competition 5

The final selection from the recent competition:

Insignificant Creature? 
(a ‘top to bottom, bottom to top’ poem inspired by Brian Bilston’s 'Refugees') 
by Éile Ní Chianáin and Charlotte Moffitt (III)

All different, all equal.
Lest we forget,
The strongest survive,
The weakest will die.
Do not be so stupid to think,
The importance of the bee should matter to you and me.
Could the earth survive
Without the oxygen they provide?
An insignificant creature but
Because honey is its only feature
Bees will become extinct,
Don’t you think?
The human race is helping prevent global warming
Stopping pesky bees from swarming,
Saving many endangered species’ lives.
The truth is they
are all lies, all lies.
Bees will die,
Humans will thrive,
Because the strongest survive,
The weakest will die.


by Hugh Casey (Primary)

Lives in Sandyford
Hears nothing of interest (at home)
Sees differently to others
Touches a keyboard
Needs food and water
Fears killers and healthy food
Gives a loopy atmosphere
Wonders what is the creation of life
Dreams of another galaxy,
Believes in himself
Loves his family (sometimes).
Is different.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bullying Awareness Competition 4

Two more poems from the recent competition:

(a side-by-side poem - showing two views on one idea) 
by Linus Mertes and Timothy Otway Norwood (III)

Eternal darkness
Loved ones left behind
Lifeless matter
Buried underground
Turning into dust

Eternal slumber
Watching over loved ones
A new start
A new life
A new story
Carried in hearts


by Sadie Keogh (III)

Hear my voice.
It’s my choice.
A baby’s breath for a mother’s death.
‘Murder,’ you say.
‘Better,’ I pray.
Twenty-five or forty-five -
It’s a choice.
Hear our voice.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bullying Awareness Competition 3

Another winner from last week's competition.

lives where it's dry but she
Feels the rain,
Sees the lightning,
Hears the thunder.
Needs the sun but
Fears the sunm
Gives light,
Takes darkness,
Dreams she can fly,
Wonders if she can,
Believes she can't,
She is the light and the darkness.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bullying Awareness Competition 2

Another of the winners from this week's Bullying Awareness competition, this time by Lucy Maher. This poem was read out in Chapel yesterday. The model given was Brian Bilston's 'Refugees', so when you've read this in the order below, turn it around and read from the last line up.

Happiness has appeared. Cue the spotlight.
I don't want anyone to hear anyone saying
I'm going to rain on your sunshine.
I will skip and jump and
Teach you all
The magical powers of a day with blue skies won't
Disturb those who wish to console in darkness,
I tell you don't 
Forget to dance about in the garden
Encourage those to
Enjoy this marvellous day
Just please don't 
Waste your enthusiasm on mundane things
Happiness is here
I cry.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bullying Awareness Week Poetry competition

This morning in Chapel Ms Smith introduced the winning poems from the Bullying Awareness Week competition, and there were several readings of these. Over the coming days we will publish some of the entries; there was an excellent field overall.

The overall idea was 'awareness' - of others, of difference. The tagline for BAW this year is 'All Different, All Equal'.

First, anonymously, 'Tainted Love' from the Senior section.

I fell in love with the moon
A pretty girl with bright blonde hair,
Soft as silk and unmarred velvet,
She smelt of lemongrass and steel,
Her eyes deep pools of forest green.
Cool as marble to the touch,
She danced her fingers on my skin
And laced her hands with mine.
Her kiss left bitter in my mouth,
Like blood mingled with rusting iron,
Our tainted loved stained lips.
She told me: 'A girl can't love another girl',
But how could that be true?
When all I cared about was her,
And my mind could think of nothing else.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Five Books

The site Five Books is strongly recommended. A simple idea, well-executed: experts in many areas recommend the five books essential to that subject. There are lots of riches here, with ideal introductions to many subjects. It's also very well laid-out.

For instance, Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland, on cultural memoirs, and Nigel Warburton's  choice of philosophy books.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

House Speech Competition 2017

Eliza Somerville from Fourth Form reviews the recent TY House Speech evening:

An evening full of captivating speeches began with a talk about concussion from Thady McKeever. He spoke about the dangers of contact sports, and the effects of repeated concussion on the brain. He ended his speech with a thought-provoking anecdote about an American football player, who ultimately died as a result of his eighteen-year career in professional sports.

I thought that this speech was very engaging. It began with a strong metaphor of your worst enemy hitting you with a bowling ball, and it was shocking to learn that this is equivalent to the force of a boxer’s fist. I also thought that the story about Mike Webster at the end of the speech was very powerful, as it showed the real-life effects of contact sports on the brain and body.

Next, Frances Wilkinson told us about the Butterfly Effect. She explained how small events can have huge, unforeseen consequences. For example, a butterfly flapping its wings could eventually create a tornado. She used an example of a man who spared the life of a soldier in World War I. This soldier turned out to be Adolf Hitler, who was responsible for millions of deaths in World War II.

I found this speech very interesting, as I was curious about how large an effect a small change could truly have. From the examples Frances used, I realised that even the smallest of actions can change the course of history.

Alexis Haarmann then told us about the controversy surrounding the death penalty. He explained that five per cent of people who are sentenced to death turn out to be innocent, and pointed out that waiting for the death penalty to be carried out is mental torture even for rightfully convicted criminals. I thought that this speech gave me a good background to the death penalty, and it made me more convinced that it should be abolished everywhere.
Ben Upton then outlined each side of the argument on whether marijuana should be legal or not. He explored both the recreational and the medicinal side of marijuana, explaining how the legalisation of marijuana would benefit the economy, and how people who experience seizures can benefit greatly from the use of medicinal marijuana. He eventually came to the conclusion that marijuana should not be legalised, as it just causes people to drift further and further away from reality. This speech was well-researched and it was an interesting view on the controversial topic of marijuana’s legalisation.

This was followed by an impressive speech from Tania Stokes on climate change. She first acknowledged that thinking of global issues can be daunting, and then emphasised that even one person changing their behaviour can have an effect on global issues. She then told us some simple tips on how we can reduce our own carbon emissions and waste. Tania ended her speech by telling us to imagine the most beautiful place we’d ever been to, destroyed forever because of climate change.

Tania’s speech stood out to me as she clearly knew her topic very well, and she was truly passionate about environmental issues. I thought that her ending, where she told people to visualise an amazing place, gone forever, was very strong, as it emphasised the shocking influence climate change could have on our world over the next hundred years.

Next, Andrew Kim gave a speech about transport. He pointed out that, four hundred years ago, people had to walk everywhere, or if they were lucky they had a horse. He described the efficiency of the transport system in South Korea, where they have a single card for all modes of transport. Andrew then went on to talk about the various improvements in transport in recent years, such as self-driving cars and the Hyperloop.

Andrew presented what could have been a dull topic in an engaging way, showing how our lives would be drastically altered if modern transport did not exist. I also found the modern advancements in transport fascinating.

Sam Lawrence then gave an absorbing speech about conservation. He informed us about the issues caused by our over-consumption of products such as palm oil. Deforestation of palm trees is occurring at an alarming rate, as fifty per cent of all products in an average supermarket contain palm oil. Sam covered many important issues in his speech, and showed how vital it is to conserve our planet’s resources.

Afterwards, Sophia Cabo spoke about divorce. In her speech, she drew from personal experience to paint a stirring picture of what it is like to go through the divorce of your parents at a young age. Sophia said that there are three stages to divorce: sadness, anger and happiness, and revealed that she was finally in the happy stage.

In her speech, Sophia showed a side of divorce that many people do not get to see. I thought that she described her journey through a difficult time very effectively.

Killian Morrell then talked about the Beatles. He said that his dad was a fan of the band, so Killian had grown up listening to their music. He added that now, when he listens to their music, he instantly gets nostalgic because it reminds him of his childhood in Dubai. Killian’s speech was unusual, and it gave an interesting picture of the different musical influences in his life.

Finally, Sophia Cole talked about women in sport. She said that recently, people have begun to see that women should not work solely in the home, as they have a lot more to offer. However, she explained that there is still huge inequality between men and women’s sport. For example, men get paid a lot more money for playing the same sport as women, and often get to play in drastically better venues than women.

Sophia raised some interesting points, and her speech was both clear and coherent. It was shameful to hear some of the inequality women still experience in the world of sport today.
At the end of the evening, I thought that the joint winners, Thady McKeever and Tania Stokes, were well-deserving of the prize as their speeches were both compelling and thought-provoking, and they each approached their topics with striking originality.

National Poetry Competition

Many congratulations to Tania Stokes, who has been awarded second place in the junior section of National Poetry competition from  PDST/WellRead for her poem ‘Resonance’. The awards ceremony is on November 7th at the CityWest Hotel.


I balanced on the strings.
Light as a tightrope walk:
Tentative, timid.
The first sound crept
At the draw of the bow
Like some small creature
From the dark.

I missed my mark.
The tone not true,
My arrow flew into
Nothing. The music played
Itself in my head. Pure,
Featherweight. Nimble.

I composed myself;
I could see it, crystalline,
The filigree lines.
I fixed my aim.
No stray note would escape.
I would catch it
And carve it to perfection.

But I was mistaken
In my reflection.
A cello’s purpose
Is not to take away –
Music grows. Its source?
A spark. Music throws flames
To the dark, illuminates hearts.

I reached deep, my arrow
Steeped in power. The melody,
I let it fly and it soared high –
It felt alive. I dived
Into the rising tide, and once inside,
I let it carry me to shore.
Music is more than perfection.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Shakepeare's Shadows

An excellent site (and idea, of course) is Emily Rome's Shakespeare's Shadows, where actors and directors talk about individual characters in the plays.  For instance, our current Sixth Form should listen to Cordelia and Lear.

Other characters who have featured so far are Mercutio, Ariel, Ophelia, Rosalind, Malvolio, Richard II, Hermione, Henry IV and Viola.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Bullying Awareness Week poetry competition

For the coming Bullying Awareness Week, we are organising a poetry competition, with winners getting vouchers and having their poems read out in Chapel on Friday 20th October. The deadline for entries is Wednesday 18th.
Your teacher will explain to you the tasks, with P, I and II having a go in class/prep. III, IV, V and VI are invited to write a poem in the form of Brian Bilston's 'Refugees', a 'two-way' or mirror poem. More in class soon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chaucer Heritage Trust competition

Your teacher will tell you about this competition from the Chaucer Heritage Trust. There are enticing prizes, and entries are due by January 31st 2018. Open to all ages in school. Download details here.

In the Transition Year modules there are classes on Chaucer and Middle English. While the competition is based on The Canterbury Tales, you don't have to know any Chaucer to take part:
  • Write a poem about a journey.
  • Write a short “beast fable” (like the Nun’s Priest’s Tale) which explores an important issue through animal characters.
  • Write a General Prologue entry for an imaginary pilgrim, based upon a modern day occupation. For example, “The Nurse”, “The Investment Banker” or “The Politician”.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Poetry Aloud 2017

All interested in taking part in Poetry Aloud this year should let their teacher, or Mr Jameson, know as soon as possible.
Poetry Aloud is a national verse-speaking competition we've had plenty of success at in the past. Learn more about it here.
There are three categories: Junior (I and II), Intermediate (III and IV) and Senior (V and VI), with the main poems set all being by Patrick Kavanagh: "Kerr's Ass" (junior), "Inniskeen Road: July Evening" (intermediate) and "Shancoduff" (senior).

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Developments in the Library

The superb College Library opened on two sides of the Warden's Garden in 1994, as a result of the Development Appeal in 1993 for the College's 150th anniversary. Now we are approaching our 175th (in 2018), and the Library continues to be central (literally) to the life of the school.  Designed by Old Columban John Somerville-Large, its design has held up superbly, and it still looks as good as new.

Our new full-time professional Librarian, Ms Kent-Sutton, has been busy since she arrived early this year, and indeed over the summer. 

Two fine developments as we start the academic year have taken place. The room through the back of the Junior Reading Room, traditionally called 'The Submarine', has been completed cleared of piles of old books and detritus, and is now ready for use as a seminar and meeting room (it will also hold the archives, which will be held in special new shelving).

Secondly, the catalogue and borrowing system has moved online to 'Oliver', a vital development which allows the Library to reach out beyond the confines of its walls. Pupils and staff can access this here and via the internal Firefly Learning system. It also enables staff to direct pupils to books and other resources in a much more sophisticated and wide-ranging way. Furthermore, all will now have access to the e-book service 'Leabharlann'.

As we head into that 175th anniversary, the Library is in good shape.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Boy Behind The Curtain

Tim Winton's The Boy Behind the Curtain: notes from an Australian life is an outstanding book. Not so long ago he read from and talked about it at the Lexicon in Dun Laoghaire (that talk is now available on their SoundCloud site here; also listen to this chat at the Auckland Writers' Festival in 2015).

Collections of essays can seem thrown-together, but this one isn't: Australia, childhood and the natural world are approached from different angles by Winton in a series of beautifully-written pieces. 'The Boy Behind the Curtain', from which he read at the start of the Lexicon event, examines the potentially fine line between safety and catastrophe that Winton identifies as a key note of life, especially Australian life. This opens out further in 'Havoc: a Life in Accidents', based on his father's job as a motorbike cop and an horrendous accident which nearly killed him (but which in the end gave him a kind of rebirth as an evangelical Christian). Winton recreates with consummate tension their approach to an accident when his father was off-duty, and his own years later with his children in the back of the car. 
The pleasures go on through essays on hospitals, sharks, the saving from developers of Ningaloo Reef and descriptions of the vastness of Western Australia. Great reading, and English teachers will find fruitful material in the earlier essays in particular.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Reading

A shorter version of our annual Books of the Year round-up, for the summer months, since there are a few lists floating around at the moment.
  • First of all, of course, are our own summer reading suggestions: for teenagers, for adults (and the extended version is here, including past editions). One that didn't make it in on time (review coming soon): The Boy Behind the Curtain: notes from an Australian Life, Tim Winton's superb collection of essays. As Roger Cox in his Scotsman review says, it's " a book that grabs you by the scruff and forces you to take a good, hard look into the author’s soul."
  • The English & Media Centre has a good list of recommended reads, with Young Adult books, including Sara Baume's latest, A Line Made by Walking. In the young adult section, Daniel Pennac's The Eye of the Wolf sounds interesting.
  • The Irish Times gathers writers such as Anne Enright, Joseph O'Connor and Anne Emerson. Claire Kilroy recommends John Banville's memoir Time Pieces.
  • The Guardian has two bumper lists from authors: part one and part two. Several writers recommend the latest novel from Colm Tóibín, his version of the story of the House of Atreus, House of Names. There's also this shortened list, "If you only read one book this summer … make it this one"
  • The TLS's list has plenty of ambitious reading. Ian Sansom writes that "June Caldwell’s first short collection, Room Little Darker (New Island Books), promises to do for the Irish short story what Jeremy Corbyn has done for the Labour Party" which gets the award for most opaque comment of the summer. 
  • The New York Times has Books to Breeze Through This Summer by Janet Maslin. No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts sound intriguing: "Set in North Carolina, Watts’s book envisions a backwoods African-American version of The Great Gatsby. The circumstances of her characters are vastly unlike Fitzgerald’s, and those differences are what make this novel so moving."
  • PBS in America has "19 summer books that will keep you up all night reading". Louise Erdrich rightly goes for the brilliant Donna Leon Brunetti series.
  • The Washington Post has 37 books on its summer list, with links to the original reviews.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Reading list for parents

Last time we posted the Library reading suggestions list for pupils. Now it's time for the annual/biennial reading suggestions for parents. Here are 26 books over 6 pages, but if that's not enough there's an extended list of 26 pages with all the previous editions here. See both below via Issuu.

Happy summer reading.

Extended version:

The Submarine, June 2017

The latest (bumper) edition of the Library magazine The Submarine is now online. Edited by Fifth Former Nyla Jamieson, it contains articles by pupils on our four long-serving retiring teachers, Felix Alyn Morgan on Samuel Beckett's connection with the College, an article on 'Lucid Dreaming' by Nevin McCone, Mr McCarthy on 'what really annoys me' (spoiler: Jose Mourinho. A lot), Dr Bannister on the dangers of rugby, a book review by Alex Lawrence, the author Joseph O'Connor on how a novel changed his life (romantically), poems by Eliza Somerville and Tania Stokes, Garry Bannister again on Patrick Ussher's book on POTS syndrome and plenty more!

Read it below via Issuu. Use the arrows to navigate, and click for closer view.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Reading List for pupils

The summer reading list returns, compiled by Librarian Jean Kent-Sutton. This one has an excellent array spread across sections such as Junior Fiction, the shortlist for the 2017 Carnegie Medal (young adults), Irish authors, Classic fiction, Poetry, Gender and Identity, Non-Fiction and Biography.

You can read it on Issuu below (flip through the pages, and zoom in too), and can download it directly from this link.  Happy summer reading...

Friday, June 09, 2017

Leaving Certificate Paper 2

(See analysis of Paper 1 here).

The hordes poured out of exam centres an hour ago after the marathon which is the English literature paper.

No reasons to complain here at Higher Level. Our central text, Hamlet, had two questions all should have been able to handle comfortably - the play as a 'disturbing psychological thriller' and a question on Laertes and Horatio, both of whom our pupils have been well-prepared for (again, the single text questions on The Great Gatsby were very straightforward).

Comparative study featured General Vision and Viewpoint, and Theme or Issue, with all four questions being remarkably undemanding, and pulling away from the tighter more defined questions of recent years.

Robyn Sarah's poem 'Bounty' was the unseen choice, a good one which provided plenty of material for consideration. Boland, Donne, Keats and Bishop were the line-up of prescribed poets, and again the questions seemed less defined and constrained than recently (there's a fondness for 'doubles' - 'symbols and metaphors', 'playful and challenging', 'style and content', 'sensuous language and vivid imagery'...).

At Ordinary Level, it was good to see the playful 'poet of Twitter', Brian Bilston feature with the unseen poem being 'For We Shall Stare at Mobile Phones'. The rest of the paper was as straightforward as always at this level.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Leaving Certificate Paper 1

The Leaving Certificate exams started this morning, as always with English Paper 1. Now, this afternoon, this evening and tomorrow morning there is the annual stress-fest which is final-hours' preparation for the literature papers.

At Higher Level, this year the 'general theme' was 'Different Worlds' (though it is doubtful if this theme ever sinks into the consciousness of most candidates, or ever matters). There was an interesting selection of comprehension texts, starting with 'The World of Poetry', which combined images, poetry and prose in its use of this Guardian article from last year from by Marta Bausells on the poet Robert Montgomery, and his work on billboards. There was plenty here for candidates to get their heads around. The 'B' question which followed brought Paper 2 into Paper 1 (not the first time this has happened), by asking candidates to choose three poems from their course for display, and an article on the school website (any real purpose to this in terms of language register?) explaining the choice.

Text 2, 'A Connected World' was by the fine political and cultural commentator Timothy Garton Ash, with some thought-provoking analysis of how 'the internet subverts the traditional unities of time and space'.  Again, this will have challenged candidates. Online news appeared in the B question - very much a subject de nos jours.

Another excellent writer, Paul Auster, produced Text 3, 'The World of Childhood', an extract from his memoir Report from the Interior, followed by a radio talk for the B essay on the candidate's own childhood.

Overall, this added up to a well-selected and interesting triad. Nothing bland or predictable there. 

There were plenty of accessible options for candidates in the main composition section (though number 4  - "write a short story in which a tattoo plays an important part in the narrative" seemed what teenagers would call 'random'). A descriptive piece called 'Night Scene' and a personal essay about insights and revelations offered wide scope.

Then there was the playful Question 5: 'Imagine it is the Stone Age and you have just invented the wheel. Write a dialogue in dramatic form, in which you introduce and promote your invention to your sceptical friends and neighbours.' Now that's one to steer clear of unless you've got real ability. One that could go downhill quite quickly, or at least run out of steam, or at worse fall flat on its face (after going downhill and running out of steam).

At Ordinary Level, which a handful of our candidates sat, there was another excellent author, Donal Ryan, whose most recent novel All We Shall Know, is just out in paperback, and is highly recommended, as well as a piece by a Syrian refugee, Nujeen Mustafa, and a piece comparing schooling in the past with the future (teachers as robots - yes please! Now we can all go off to the beach). The Compositions, as always at this level, were straightforward. A piece about childhood items discovered in your parents' attic was good. A short story about a family regretting adopting a robot would stretch Ordinary candidates.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Transition Year English Evening, 2017

On Tuesday last we held the 24th annual TY English Evening in the Big Schoolroom. The guest speaker this time was Professor Colin Graham, Head of the English Department at Maynooth University.

Eight pieces from the recent Work Portfolio were read out by their writers: Ross Magill (his first Primary school); David White (the nature of 'failure'); Lucy Maher ('A Picky Eater'); Toby Green (Blanche Dubois's diary); Anna Bofferding (Donald Trump and World War III); Andre Stokes (a poem called 'Young Musician'); Casper v d Schuelenberg ('The Oldest Person I Know' - the Holocaust survivor Marko Feingold); William Zitzmann ('Thought Bubbles', assisted by Grace Goulding).

Professor Graham commented with great attentiveness and sympathy on these pieces, saying how much he was impressed by the writing on display. Each piece had made him think of another writer. He stressed the vital importance of a multiplicity of voices in today's world, and how important it was that young people lead this way (in many ways his own generation has failed them).  He quoted from Sam Riviere's controversial book of poems Kim Kardashian's Wedding.

Finally, the Premier Awards were announced after this year's course:  
Ross Magill, Helen Crampton, Harry Oke-Osanintolu, Catherine Butt, Caspar von der Schülenburg, Julius Reblin, JiWoo Park, William Zitzmann, Toby Green, Isabelle Townshend, Sophia von Wedel, Nicole Birlain Zeigler.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Voices of Poetry 2017

 Last Sunday evening saw the annual Voices of Poetry magic in the Big Schoolroom. Expertly marshalled by Mr Swift, a mixture of pupils and staff read out short poems in English and many other languages.

Primary pupil Carl Krenski kicked off with a Robert Service poem, and, from the other end of the school Senior Prefect Blanaid Sheeran gave us 'The Voice You Hear When You Read Silently' by the fine American Poet Thomas Lux.

The first Nigerian language, Urhobo, was represented by a poem read by Ella Ejase-Tobrise, and the second, Yoruba, by Seyilogo Braithwaite. Mimi Garcia (Catalan) and Casper von der Schuelenburg (Spanish) followed, and this foreign language section was completed by Elena Sirazetdinova reading her own poem in Russia with compelling intensity.

The winner of the Junior Poetry Prize, Tania Stokes, read this poem, 'Resonance', for which she was awarded the prize.

Kim Voggel (German), Aleksandra Murphy (Polish),  Lucas Cho (Korean), Vietnamese (William Zitzmann) and Irish (Katherine Kelly, with Megan Bulbulia providing the English translation) were next up.

Three long-term teachers, who are shortly retiring, gave their poetic 'valetes' - Dr Garry Bannister, Mrs Frances Heffernan and Mr Fraser Morris. There was a mixture of the light-hearted, the deeply personal and the grippingly emotional in the five poems they recited.

French (Nyla Jamison), Yoruba again (Harry Oke-Osanyintolu) and Latin (Julius Reblin with some Horace, and JiWoo Park with the translation) completed the foreign language poems, before the Warden gave a memorable rendition of Hilaire Belloc's 'Matilda', which he knew off by heart.

Finally, another Primary pupil brought us full-circle, with Nikolai Foster reading Yeats's beautiful 'Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven', an appropriately magical end to the evening.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry 2017

Congratulations to Nevin McCone, who has won this year's Senior Poetry Prize, presented in memory of Old Columban Peter Dix, who died in the Lockerbie tragedy in 1988. Here are three of his poems.


Connecting trains sever hearts,
Ending stories before they’ve even begun.
On lonely platforms lovers depart,
Two separate journeys, both ending one.

Palms on glass that never quite touch,
“I’ll write to you,” lies, he’ll miss you too much.
Smiling you hear him, tightening your disguise,
Yet he can see through you, to the tears in your eyes.

As the train pulls off, amongst smoke and commotion,
Your heart skips a beat; cardiac locomotion.
Suddenly he’s gone, far back in this distance,
But you think of him still, savouring his existence.

Alone he stands at the connecting train station,
Yearning for you in romantic desperation.
On the lonely platform, lovers have departed,
Destroying the journey they’d only just started.


We bump into strangers, mumbling hello,
And ignore some, letting them wander by.
Yet we pick up others, as friends to grow,
For these few join us, companions for life.
To be in close proximity of friends
Is a foundation, which friends deeply need;
Though hearing their tales of love and love’s end
Is the actual meaning, note, take heed.

Seeing joy (a result of your presence)
And joining up with different people,
Is addictive, despite rare occurrence.
A monumental social upheaval.
Savour these beings, place them in your heart.
Never lose them, or let them drift apart.

I went fishing with grandad,
Once upon a time,
To catch memories in the cove.
Grandad never lied.

We walked down together,
Both hand in hand
To that quiet stony inlet,
The sun splitting the sand.

“There are mermaids that live here,
Believe me I’ve seen them.
It’s said they emerge
To brave hearted sea-men.”

So with laughter as bait
We cast out our lines,
Disturbing the tranquil
With a twinkle in our eyes.

Yet the day still grew old
and the light, it defected,
But we made our way home,
Feeling evermore connected.

“What did you catch?,”
Inquired mum when we arrived.
“Memories in the cove,”
Grandad never lied.