‘The Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement’ presented by Myra Zepf, Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland

Today, Tuesday 13th 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 2017-2018 poetry anthology “In other words” and the presentation of the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement.

After readings which maintained the high standard both in performance and literary excellence of previous years, Myra Zepf, Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland, announced the winners of this year’s award:

  • Rhiannon Reilly of St Catherine’s College, Armagh for her poem ‘Visiting Hours’

  • Dr Ross Thompson’s Year 11 Class from Victoria College, Belfast.


The Winners of the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement 2018 on stage at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on Tuesday 13th March 2018.

Seamus Heaney

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).

Mixed Ability

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, this year, contains over 200 poems and is accompanied by online audio recordings of the poems performed by the students themselves.

A pupil from Victoria College Belfast accompanied by teacher Dr Ross Thompson, presented with the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement 2018 for her Year 11 class, by Conor Shields and Myra Zepf.

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

“A beautiful Spring day accompanied nearly 1000 students, travelling from all parts of Northern Ireland. From Enniskillen, from Downpatrick, to within walking distance of the iconic venue, the Ulster Hall, students came to read, recite and perform their poetry with grace and skill. It was a fitting finale to this year’s Poetry in Motion Schools Project.

The quality of the writing, always of a particularly high standard through this project; the joyful honesty of the students 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.

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.

Much of what we heard on this day is outstanding and a credit to the facilitators and the teachers involved. More importantly this project paves the way for the Heaneys of the future.”

Jan Carson, project Co-ordinator for the Poetry in Motion (Schools) Project said,

I had a wonderful morning at the Ulster Hall listening to the young people who’ve taken part in our Poetry in Motion Schools Project share their poems. This year’s poems were wildly eclectic, and really reflected the range and depth of interest of the young people involved.

It was such a treat to see so many young writers taking their first creative steps and clearly relishing the experience.”

Rhiannon Reilly, St Catherine’s College Armagh, receives the individual Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement 2018, from Conor Shields and Myra Zepf.
Conor Shields, CAP’s CEO, holds a copy of ‘In Other Words’ the Poetry in Motion 2017-18 anthology.

Thanks to our principal funder the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Halifax Foundation, Santander Foundation and Enkalon Foundation.

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