From Friday May 4 to Sunday May 6, the town of Strokestown is set to come alive with poets as they wax lyrical the poems of today and yesteryear.
Kicking off on Friday, May 4, the young people shortlisted in the schools’ competitions will strut their stuff at 6.30pm, and at 8pm wits from all over Ireland will read their funny poems in the hope of winning the Percy French Prize for humorous verse.
There will be over thirty poets performing their work at the festival – from Ireland, England, Scotland, America, South Africa and Singapore. Big names include the Galway poet Mary O’Malley, Thomas McCarthy and James Harpur from Cork, Paddy Bushe and Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa from Kerry, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, professor of English Literature at TCD and Máire Ní Annracháin professor at the School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics at UCD.
The most nerve-wracking moments for poets shortlisted in the competitions happen when the winners of the huge prizes are announced. Each reads his or her poem, before the distinguished judges award prize money totalling 15,000 euros. The poems are on the website at http://www.strokestownpoetry.org
Irish speakers will have the opportunity of hearing some of the finest contemporary Irish and Scots Gaelic poetry. Poets from all over Ireland will compete for all the Strokestown/Colmcille Irish/Gaelic Language Poetry Prizes on the Saturday night at 7pm, and however good or bad your Irish you’ll enjoy the drama of the evening. Music will be provided by two of Roscommon’s most exciting traditional musicians – flute player Patsy Hanly and fiddler James Carty.
If you prefer your poetry with a pint there is Strokestown’s famous pub poetry competition, with sometimes scurrilous, always interesting poetry from local poets.
The full printed programme is available from Strokestown Festival Office, Bawn Street, Strokestown. Telephone 071 9633 759 or visit www.strokestownpoetry.org.