The importance of poetry – thoughts from participants in the Seamus Heaney Awards for New Writing

Some of the participants in the Seamus Heaney Awards competition had thoughts regarding what poetry offers in times of crisis. For shortlisted poet James Milliken, poetry is particularly important in the age of coronavirus.

“At this time of isolation, I think poetry can play a very special role. It allows us the ability to reflect and consider. It can uplift us, inspire us. Poetry can speak directly to the heart..”

Poets longlisted for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing agreed about the importance and relevance of poetry.

Alanna Offield reflects:

“In uncertain times, I have found poetry to work as an anchor. Whenever I have faced tough seasons of life, I’ve found comfort in the words of poems or music. Poetry has helped me make sense of and give language to feelings and experiences that I struggle to describe. Coronavirus has been both challenging and eye-opening for me, and I’m leaning into poetry and music to help. There are so many things that I was missing in the small and mundane moments of life and now I am bringing them into focus. Who knows? Maybe the challenges of home learning with my daughter or the freedom of not wearing shoes for days will inspire a poem or two. I encourage everyone who might be feeling overwhelmed or bored or tired or something in-between to try writing, reading or listening to poetry”.

Lucy Beevor believes that

“Poetry definitely has a role to  play in the time of coronavirus, and also flash and short stories and diary entries and plays and film scripts and letters and songs and postcards and emails. Reading (not the news) and writing can absolutely help us make sense of and record what’s going on. I love how individuals and organisations have reacted so creatively to this time. My brilliant colleagues at Fighting Words are coming up with a range of online creative writing projects for children and young people across NI – and their families and the adults in their lives too”.

According to Tom Adair,

“Poetry has a universal role to play, not just now. At its best it is timeless. It speaks to our humanness of being”.

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.