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.
“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.”