by Bríd O’Sullivan and Holly Furlong, Learning and Outreach
To introduce POETRY ALOUD to the uninitiated, consider approximately 3,200 poems spoken by almost 1,600 students from schools all over Ireland representing 28 counties in 14 regional heats.
Now in its 7th year, POETRY ALOUD is a spoken poetry competition for post-primary school pupils, organised by the National Library of Ireland and Poetry Ireland, which is open to all second-level schools on the island of Ireland. For the competition, students are required to speak two poems, one prescribed and one poem of their choosing from three prescribed anthologies. The prescribed poems for the regional heats included works by William Butler Yeats, Seamus Heaney and war poet Wilfred Owen.
From the fourteen heats, 120 semi-finalists emerged and we hosted the Semi-Finals here at the National Library on Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd of November.
On Friday 7th of December, 33 finalists (11 in each of the three categories) spoke their poems before a panel of three judges: Gerard Smith, Chair of Poetry Ireland; Dr Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, writer and co-curator of our Life and Works of William Butler Yeats exhibition, and Mark O’Halloran, scriptwriter and actor. The winner of each category received €300, with an additional €200 awarded to the overall winner. The winning schools also received €300 in book tokens for their school library.
There was a great sense of anticipation on Finals’ Day as we waited for the announcement of the winners! They were: Emily Guiney, Notre Dame Senior School, Dundrum, Dublin (Junior Category) and Cian Siggins, Coláiste Éinde, Salthill, Galway (Intermediate Category). Shauna Hession, St. Michael’s Holy Faith, Finglas, Dublin won the Senior Category prize and was also declared the Overall Winner of Poetry Aloud 2012. Shauna was presented with the Seamus Heaney Poetry perpetual trophy by Mark O’Halloran.
The runners-up were: Danny O Treasaigh, Coláiste Oiriall, Monaghan, (Junior Category); Orla Nolan, Ursuline College, Sligo (Intermediate Category); and Emmanuella Pomah, St. Michael’s Holy Faith, Finglas, Dublin (Senior Category). All the runners-up were presented with book tokens by Joe Woods, Director of Poetry Ireland.
We would like to extend our congratulations to all students who took part in POETRY ALOUD 2012. We would also like to thank all the parents and teachers who worked so hard in preparing students for the competition, and we are very grateful to schools for their continued support in offering venues for the regional heats of POETRY ALOUD and also to the Linen Hall Library in Belfast for hosting the Northern Ireland heat. Thanks also to the Mullingar Arts Centre.
Missing from this year were Cavan, Clare, Carlow and Fermanagh – next year we’d like to hear from you to complete the full set of counties!