Activity Programme for Poetry Town Announced!

2nd September 2021


We are delighted to have the beautiful seaside town of Ballycastle taking part in Poetry Town, an initiative from Poetry Ireland in partnership with Flowerfield Arts Centre, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council and literary arts production company Quotidian – Word on the Street. An exciting range of activities will take place around Ballycastle and online over 9 days from 10-18 September 2021.

With 19 other towns participating across the island of Ireland, Ballycastle is the only participating town in Northern Ireland.

Poetry Town is a celebration of the pride, strength and diversity of our towns, with more than 100 free activities happening. Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell, said: “The idea behind Poetry Town is to celebrate the many vibrant towns and communities across the island of Ireland, through poetry, collaboration and communal experiences. Over the past 18 months, many of us have become more aware of what’s around us – from local parks or nature walks, to landmarks and monuments, to the stories held within the collective memory of our communities. There is poetry waiting to be uncovered in our surroundings and our everyday lives. We are excited to invite individuals, families and communities to join their Poetry Towns, or the Poetry Towns in their vicinity, in a vibrant celebration of the pride in their locality, the value and importance of our heritage, and the strength and diversity in our towns and rural areas.”

Each Poetry Town has a Poet Laureate, who is either from the respective local area or who has strong connections to it. They have been commissioned to write a poem honouring and reflecting their Poetry Town and its people.

The Poet Laureate for Ballycastle is Kate Newmann who will be unveiling her Town Poem at a special event, Reading the Tides at Sheskburn Recreation Centre on 11 September alongside the Ballycastle Creative Writers’ Group as they launch a new anthology, An Unfinished Thought. Kate’s poem will be available to read on the Poetry Town website in the days following the event. It will also be produced in a special printed placemat and distributed widely.

Further activities will include a series of poetry events involving local poets and community groups such as workshops at Ballycastle Library, SOLAS Moyle and the Gaelscoil. On Sunday 12th September there will be a literary walking tour, Poems that Move You, led by Whitehead poet Matthew Rice. Artist Katy English will be installing Poetry Underfoot! rain poems, which appear like magic on the ground when wet with rain and visible throughout the town from 10-18 September.

In honour of Marconi’s historic links with the town, a special focus for Ballycastle is the celebration of language as sound and communication. Poetry Jukebox will be installed at Ballycastle Seafront Park. The jukebox looks rather like a ship’s periscope, until you push the button… and you can hear a poet speak a poem. The installation celebrates the work of local Ballycastle poet, Heather Newcombe and Belfast poet Mairtín Crawford, read by poets, family and friends. The Poetry Jukebox will remain at the Seafront Park until 31 October.

In addition, everyone can participate in a unique and fun element of Poetry Town, exploring poetry and Morse Code. Coordinator and poet Maria McManus explains, ‘We have found a Morse Code translator app, and the American scientist who has devised it, Stephen C. Phillips has kindly given us permission to use it for our project. So, we can send messages to each other via text, or on Twitter or What’s App, and translate poems, haikus, phrases into Morse Code. This is of course a nod to the historic work of Marconi, Kemp, Glanville and Johnny Cecil, and those amazing experiments making wireless transmissions between Rathlin & Ballycastle. It’s fun, free and anyone can join in.’

You can also call in to local participating pharmacies and cafes for your Poetry ‘prescriptions’ and ‘take-away’ printed poems, spreading the love of words to all.

On Culture night, 17 September, a special event will be held at Sheskburn Recreation Centre to launch three new poetry books by Teresa Godfrey, Matthew Rice and John D. Kelly. Books will be available to purchase on the night and the authors will be happy to sign copies.

Our grand finale event on Saturday 18 September at Sheskburn Recreation Centre will include music, poetry and dancing. There will be readings by local writers from Ballycastle Creative Writers, the poet laureate Kate Newmann, Shorna Meggitt, music from harpist Dervla Gardiner and her sister Eva, and presentations by world champion Irish dancer Catriona Newcombe.

Building on the legacy of the magnificent ‘Let Me take You To The Island’ literary festival on Rathlin Island developed by Heather Newcombe and the Ballycastle Writers, we want to revive those connections and look forward to better days to come.

Due to possible changes in Covid restrictions, please keep updated on Poetry Town activities by visiting Poetry Ireland’s dedicated website or Flowerfield Arts Centre

Poetry Town is an initiative of Poetry Ireland in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices. It is made possible with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call funding, and is also supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

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