Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement 2017 presented by Poet Stephanie Conn to Class Donard 9, the Abbey Grammar School Newry

The winners of The Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement 2017, Class Donard 9, Abbey Grammar School, Newry

Close to 1000 students filled the Ulster Hall for Community Arts Partnership’s Poetry in Motion (Schools) annual anthology launch.

‘Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement’ presented by poet Stephanie Conn to Class Donard 9, the Abbey Grammar School Newry

Today, Tuesday 14th March, the Ulster Hall is filled to capacity by close to 1000 enthusiastic school students, from right across Northern Ireland, for the launch of the *Poetry in Motion (Schools) Project 2016-2017 poetry anthology “ A Word in the Hand” and the presentation of the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement.

After nearly two hours of readings and performance, the award was presented to Class Donard 9, the Abbey Grammar School, Newry.

Special commendations were awarded to TOPS, Belfast Hospital School and P7, St Mary’s Primary School. Granemore.

This award recognizes Seamus Heaney’s immense contribution to Northern Irish literature and the award is acknowledged by the Heaney family.

The launch celebrated poems created by the students, with mentoring by Community Art Partnership’s team of poet facilitators through CAP’s LaVA programme (Literature and Verbal Arts).

This annual cross-community, mixed-ability event brought together schools from primary, post primary, grammar and special schools in the largest shared poetry-based event of its kind.

The Poetry in Motion (Schools) project is funded by Community Arts Partnership’s principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Community Arts Partnership is also core funded by Belfast City Council, Halifax Foundation, Ernest Cook Trust, and Children in Need.

The anthology contains over 100 poems and is accompanied by online audio recordings of the poems performed by the students themselves.

Conor Shields, Community Arts Partnership’s Chief Executive said,

“Every year accompanying the first weeks of Spring, the Ulster Hall fills with students from all across Northern Ireland reading, reciting and performing their poetry.”

“The evocative quality of the writing, the joyful honesty of the performances shows that not only is poetry alive and well as an art form but our young poets especially, mentored by Community Arts Partnership’s facilitators, continually produce work of rare beauty. Much of what we hear on this day is outstanding and a credit to the facilitators and the teachers involved.”

He went on to say

“Community Arts Partnership is proud to be associated with the Seamus Heaney award which stands as recognition of Seamus Heaney’s unparalleled legacy and its inspiration for us as a society and as a creative community.

CAP facilitates that legacy by having a working poet in the class, assisting the students and teachers to develop better poetry practice.

It is testament to our teaching and facilitation methods that so much quality writing is produced by the participants in this programme.

It is also worth noting that through this poetry project, young people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities are brought together to celebrate the writing and performing of poetry .

Northern Ireland’s literary future is in safe hands with the young people who offered us such remarkably thoughtful writing throughout today’s event.”

Chelley McLear, project Co-ordinator for the Poetry in Motion (Schools) Project said,

“Once again Community Arts Partnership is delighted to launch another anthology of poetry from schools all across Northern Ireland. 

So many young people connected with our facilitators who encouraged them to find avenues to express themselves through poetic writing.

It is a truly inspiring experience to witness the students reading, reciting and performing their own work.

This is proof of how important it is to be creative and how powerful the voices of our youngest writers can be when given significant levels of support. 

All those who attend are so excited but also supportive of every reader on the stage. It is a wonderful event for a wonderful collection of words.”

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