A review of Cúirt’s All-Ireland Schools Poetry Slam
I was at the all-Ireland schools poetry slam in the Town Hall Theatre in Galwaywhich took place as part of the Cúirt Literary Festival. It was a free event, where transition-year students from different parts of the island came together to perform their poems in front of a rapturous audience of friends, family and peers. I was absolutely captivated; my breath was well and truly taken. It bamboozled me to think that the individuals before me were at the very least, in their mid-to-late teens. A simultaneously spellbinding and sobering thought.
The Masters of Ceremony were Irish poets Dave Lordan and Stephen Murray, who, in addition to enthusiastically revving up the crowd in between the efforts of contestants, performed some of their own work, but it was the unabridged vitality of youth that most impressed.
The honesty of these kids was somewhat startling. Here, children confessed to worries of the future, fears of rejection and recalled the intoxication of alcohol consumption. Girls and boys alike lamented romantic near-misses and naively mused on economic devastation. It was pure raw. It was invigorating, utterly refreshing to take in the candid observations of these beacons of hope. For a moment, I was almost convinced that humanity wasn’t, in fact, so bad after all.
I wondered, as the locations of the schools were read out, if this was actually worthy of the title of “all-Ireland”: Connacht, Munster, Leinster… but no Ulster (not even Cavan, Monaghan or Donegal). It struck me afterwards that this kind of event liberated. It liberated both the performer and the audience, the energy was infectious. This kind of liberation is what is sorely needed in the north. It permits transcendence of both mind and soul. It reduces barriers to nothing. It is true freedom.