Mean Scoil Mhuire Longford student in Poetry Aloud final this week

Christine Gaynor prepares for the final of Poetry Aloud competition following successful semi-final

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Mean Scoil Mhuire Longford student in Poetry Aloud final this week

Christine Gaynor and Ciara Farrell

Christine Gaynor, a fifth-year student in Meán Scoil Mhuire has successfully competed in the senior semi-final of the ninth annual Poetry Aloud competition, organised by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and Poetry Ireland.

Christine will now proceed to the national final, which will take place in the National Library of Ireland in Dublin on December 1.

The event will see 31 students from across the country compete in the junior, intermediate and senior categories for the Seamus Heaney Poetry Aloud Award.

"I took part in Poetry Aloud in third-year and found it really enjoyable " Christine told the Leader.

"I didn't get through but I thought it was a really good experience. I'm involved in Backstage Youth theatre and so I'm used to performing in front of crowds."

"I really enjoy bringing words on a page to life.

“It's very interesting to look at a piece of poetry and try and get into the poet's mindset and finding where to put the meaning and emotion into it."

Poetry Aloud is an annual poetry speaking competition for post-primary school students across Ireland and was launched in 2006 as Yeats Aloud, becoming Poetry Aloud in 2007.

Since then, it has grown greatly from just a few hundred entries to 1,800 entries in 2017.

Christine and other participants who travelled from schools nationwide will compete in next month’s final in the senior category.

Each category winner will receive €300 as well as book tokens to the value of €300 for the winner’s school library.

An overall winner will be chosen from the three category winners and will receive a further €200, a book and the Seamus Heaney perpetual trophy.

The late Seamus Heaney was a significant supporter of Poetry Aloud.

In 2009, he was presented by the British Library with the David Cohen Prize for Literature.

In addition to the main award, the winner each year nominates the recipient of a subsidiary prize, and chose Poetry Aloud.

In nominating Poetry Aloud for the award, Seamus Heaney cited the extraordinary way in which the competition seeks to celebrate the joy of speaking and listening to poetry as well as the fact that there is a strong North-South dimension to the competition.

Christine expressed her admiration for her fellow participants in the semi-finals.

“Every single person was outstanding. I was quite nervous saying my poems because the standard was so high! When they said I got through I had a mixture of joy and shock. I'm still not over it,” she said.

"I'm feeling very determined going through to the finals. Now that I know how high the standard is, I really have to up my game! But I'm just going to give it my all, hope for the best and, most of all, have fun and enjoy this wonderful experience."
Best of luck to Christine in the finals!