Thursday, 15 March 2012

Poetry: an asset of Irish culture that cannot be sold


Poetry: an asset of Irish culture that cannot be sold
Darina Allen, whose Ballymaloe Cookery School
sponsor the Poetry prize.

Elaine Doyle, a PhD student, has been among the many impressed by the huge entry for this year’s Ballymaloe International PoetryPrize.  She is not the only one, as the post announcing the award ceremony at the end of the month drew many “hits”. Here Elaine wonders why there were over 1000 entries and comes up with some answers.

“As a PhD student in UCC, I witness every day how students struggle to find a connection with their sense of being ‘Irish’.  Who could blame them?  Now their forging identities, ambitions and life designs are set around other places, foreign countries.  Within this country, there are probably a lot of things that have made aspects of our culture less obvious as we bow our heads and plough on in the name of austerity.  

It must come as something to be celebrated then, that a poetry competition received over 1,000 entries, mostly from Ireland.  Evidence that poetry, an asset of Irish culture that cannot be sold, prevails.  Like the songs that have marked time, poetry too has long been since used in times of plight to celebrate, to garner support and to make sense of the socio cultural landscape in which we live.

Poetry Competitions like this strive to showcase, reward, inspire but namely, they are an outlet to which we can direct these components-the poets and the poetry- of our culture. The place of this poetry prize has also been acknowledged by Seamus Heaney.

I know that this is a cliché but I do believe that acknowledging such competitions and their impact help us to play a role in harnessing the countries creativity and reassure us all that we can still inspire and be inspiring-it’s who we are.”

The prize-giving ceremony is open to the public, and will take place in the beautiful Grain Store at Ballymaloe House between 6 and 8.30 p.m. on Sunday 25 March.

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