AS Ennistymon prepares to take part in the nationwide Poetry Town initiative next month, its new Poet Laureate was revealed today.
Poetry Ireland, in conjunction with Clare County Council Arts Office, has appointed Grace Wells as the Poet Laureate for the town.
An award-winning eco-poet, author, re-wilder, and yoga teacher, Grace says she was looking forward to celebrating the town’s “dynamic sense of place”.
She added: “I love living in Ennistymon and am so proud to be invited to be the town’s Laureate. As an eco-poet navigating the griefs of environmental collapse, it’s so helpful to belong to a community where people are genuinely working to halt Ireland’s biodiversity loss, and actively creating initiatives to help the country become carbon-neutral.
“Poetry can support these transitions. Ennistymon already has rich literary roots, it’s both the birthplace of Brian Merriman, and the home of Salmon Press, so I’m hoping to fuse some of these creative energies together, and really celebrate the town’s dynamic spirit-of-place.”
The Poet Laureates have been selected as part of the Poetry Town initiative, which will see more than a hundred poetry-related activities take place in 20 towns across the island of Ireland between September 10-18.
All Poet Laureates announced today are either from the respective local area or have strong connections with it, and have been commissioned to write a poem honouring and reflecting their Poetry Town and its people.
As part of the week-long Poetry Town celebrations next month, each Poet Laureate will reveal and present their poem to the people of their Poetry Town at a series of flagship online events, one of which will be hosted in each town. Each event will also feature contributions from other local poets, artists and musicians (further details about these events is available on the Poetry Town website).
Further activities will include a series of poetry events involving local poets; poetry workshops; public poetry displays, including ‘Poetry Underfoot’; and a range of physical activities called ‘Poems that Move You’, which will vary from town to town. Local businesses, including cafés and chemists, will also be participating in the activities to celebrate their towns by distributing ‘pocket poems’ to customers. The full programme of activities for each town will be made available on the Poetry Town website during the last week of August.
Grace’s poetry and prose are strongly informed by nature, the environment, and spirit of place. Her debut poetry collection, When God Has Been Called Away to Greater Things (Dedalus Press), won the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award, and was shortlisted for the London Festival Fringe New Poetry Award.
Her second collection Fur (Dedalus Press) expanded the boundaries of eco-poetics, and was lauded by Poetry Ireland Review as “a book that enlarges the possibilities of poetry”.
Her work celebrates nature while also addressing our planet’s innumerate losses and degradations. Her third poetry collection will be forthcoming from Dedalus Press in 2022.
The manuscript is a sustained meditation on belonging within body, self, culture and nature in our era of environmental emergency. The work is accompanied by a series of poetry-films, Wells’ ‘Home Movies’.
Commenting, Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell said: “We are delighted we could secure such a strong cohort of Poet Laureates for this exciting new poetry initiative, which is characterised by collaboration and communal experiences.
“The aim of Poetry Town is to celebrate the vitality and strength of our towns and communities, and to shine a light on the wealth of creativity and talent that can be found in them. The diversity of this talent is reflected in the selection of Laureates, which includes both well-known visionary poets and new powerful voices.”