Laureate leads Mayo’s young poets

Going Out

LEADING LIGHT Poet and novelist Sarah Crossan, Ireland’s fifth Laureate na nÓg.

Fourteen Mayo teenagers have been flexing their creative muscles at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, over the last couple of months as part of a project called We Are The Poets. It culminates in the arts centre this coming Friday, November 15, with a performance featuring the young poets alongside Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan, Dublin poet Colm Keegan and Mayo poet Alice Kinsella as MC.
The project is part of Sarah Crossan’s programme of work during her tenure as Laureate na nÓg, a title that recognises the role and importance of literature for children in Ireland. Sarah is the fifth laureate, and her objective is to inspires young people to express themselves through poetry and verse by taking part in a two-year project themed #WeAreThePoets.
Speaking about the project Sarah said: “I want young people to believe it’s true that poetry belongs to them, that language is theirs. When I go into schools and I speak to young people, I remind them that they change language all the time. I’ll sit in a group in a classroom and I won’t understand 10 percent of what these young people are saying to one another, because they change language, they control language. And to remind them of that. And to remind them to use their voices, in which ever way they want.”
For the project at the Linenhall she is collaborating with Mayo poet Alice Kinsella, who has been guiding the young participants through a series of workshops during which they have talked about poetry, taken part in various exercises designed to encourage and inspire their writing, written shared and discussed their own poetry, and engaged with the work of contemporary poets.
One of the poets whose work they considered is multi-award-winning Dublin poet Colm Keegan. Colm, who will join the participants on stage at the Linenhall, has developed numerous creative writing projects for young writers, as well as for schools and colleges across the country.
“The workshop has reawakened my interest in poetry and given me an opportunity to express myself,” said one participant, while another described the workshops as ‘a place where you can take a breath from the world outside and give some space to what’s inside you’.
The performance on Friday is the culmination of this innovative project and recognises the creative literary talent of the next generation of Mayo wordsmiths.

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Take yourself to the nightly ritual.
Fall into a foggy wasteland
Of stray thoughts,
Half formed ideas.
In the day, you chase them, in the night, they chase you.
They blur to menace through the mists, but as unsolid as the ground seems,
You may not fall through.
You’re an entity, without thought but with consciousness.
When they grab you, there are blurred images.
It feels like you are there.
They’re not vivid.
But the waking world isn’t either.
Remember the ancient memories, concrete and expected.
Laughter, warmth of hands held, walking with a purpose.
You’re powerless here.
You can cry, you can slam your fists against the falsely fragile ground.
The mists don’t care.
Follow the ritual through.
And eons later, you do.
With sweat dripping down your face, it is no release.
The mists will keep you forever.

—Abbie Sweeney, We Are The Poets participant