Poetry in Motion Schools Project – Looking back and forward – Shelley Tracey (PIMS Project Coordinator)

The Poetry in Motion Schools programme 2022/2023 was a great success, with wonderful poems submitted by the 30 participating schools. CAP is delighted with this year’s anthology, Together Apart. Next Tuesday, we will be opening up applications for the 2023/2024 programme to all primary, post primary and special schools in Northern Ireland. Please watch this space.

To whet your appetite, we bring you the words of some of the winners of the 2022/2023 Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement.

Winner of the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement, Individual Award, Primary School

Simon Struharnansky, from Harding Memorial Integrated Primary School, winner of the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement, Individual Award, Primary School.

Simon Struharnansky, from Harding Memorial Integrated Primary School, was the winner this year with his poem, The Forest.

Simon explains how he came to write his poem:

“In class we were thinking about our topic – Flight – and thinking about the world, animals and nature. so I got to thinking a lot about humans destroying the earth, using up its resources and endangering the animals and their habitats. From these thoughts I was able to form my ideas and came up with my poem – The Forest.

“I was really surprised when I won. I was watching the video at the end of the programme with my class, and it came to the part that they said my name, and I was shocked. Everyone in my class cheered and clapped me. The P7 teacher came running in to see what the screaming was about!

Through Poetry in Motion, I have learned a lot about poetry and how anyone can write poetry. It doesn’t even have to rhyme! I never believed from the start of this that I would actually be chosen.”

Simon’s class teacher, Mrs Kelly, comments:

‘I feel from doing Poetry in Motion I have gained more confidence in teaching the subject, knowing the language and it has been a delight to see imagination and creativity flowing from my class. The children took it all in their stride and produced amazing poetry without any help. I am delighted for them and cannot wait to see their reaction when they see their published poems. Obviously, we were extremely proud to not only be Highly Commended for our pieces but also to win a very special individual award when there were so many schools taking part.

Winner of Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement Individual Award – Post Primary

Clodagh McNaught, St Brigid’s College, Derry won the award for her poem ‘Fáinne’. Clodagh told us:

‘I really enjoyed entering the competition and the atmosphere of us all writing poetry and getting feedback from Abby Oliveira, who was the CAP poet facilitator who worked with us. I loved the recommendations she sent and the notes she gave us all on our poems.

“I wrote a poem about the language I love. It flowed through me like rushing water. The theme of Together Apart made me think about language and how it can bring people together, even when they are apart. When I read the Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill poem which was the prompt, it helped me think about things in a new way, I was picturing the language as a boat and myself like an oyster in a shell. The shape of the portholes reminded me of the letter O, so I made a list of words with O sounds to use, and while I was doing this, I realised that it is also the shape of the Fainne pin I wear on my blazer every day.

Clodagh McNaugh

“When I entered the poem into the competition, little did I know I would be being filmed reading it and shaking hands with the mayor of Derry!

“It was a real pleasure to receive the news that I won the Seamus Heaney Prize for Achievement. I was never ever expecting to show anyone my poems, let alone win anything! I was stunned and delighted. My mammy and daddy were very proud and I was shocked when Mrs McCauley, the Head of Key Stage 3, pulled me out of class and congratulated me. What I was most proud of was when the principal, Mr O’Mianáin, called me into his office and I was given a special pin to wear.

“From planning to creating the poem, I have learned a lot of things but the main one was how important our language is and how much it can affect people. I am truly delighted to receive this award and cannot wait to continue writing poetry.”

Winner of Schools Award Post Primary – St Catherine’s College Armagh

Class teacher Kerry Nesbitt from St Catherine’s College, Armagh said:

“We were absolutely delighted to win the Seamus Heaney Schools Award! There were so many amazing entries from schools across the country and I don’t think our pupils expected to win it, but it certainly was a pleasant surprise! The moment the announcement was made during the awards ceremony was one the pupils will cherish and feel proud of for the rest of their lives. As their English teacher, I am so incredibly proud of each and every one of the girls and their achievements – they are a credit to themselves, their community and our school.

The benefits of taking part in a programme like Poetry in Motion are numerous, and include developing pupils’ creative writing skills, expanding their vocabulary and knowledge of poetic forms and techniques, increasing pupil engagement and confidence, improving oracy skills through reading their poetry aloud and finally, helping them to understand the importance of the editing and revision process.

As a teacher taking part in the programme, I can safely say that I would highly recommend the experience to any other school considering applying for next year. The confidence it has given to our pupils is unbelievable and they all thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet a poet, receive feedback on their work and take part in such a unique project which allowed themselves to freely express themselves and their creativity.”

Cathal Grimes, teacher of the class at Holy Rosary Primary School which won the Primary Schools award, said:
“When we were watching the Poetry in Motion celebration video, the students were so pleased to see their classmates reading their poems. We were delighted when we heard that we had won. Our room then erupted in celebration as our names were announced. I think the other classes thought something was wrong when they heard the screams!
It was a great experience as a teacher to take part in Poetry in Motion.
It was very enjoyable to read through the range of poems which the children submitted. I was impressed at their creativity, and the freedom of expression that they used that I would not usually see in my normal poetry sessions.
“Taking part in Poetry in Motion is very beneficial. I think it is great for the students to think introspectively. Having a real poet speak to them also shows that their creativity can lead to a related career, should they wish to follow that path.”


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