I am honoured and excited to be invited to give a creative writing workshop and reading of my poetry at Bellaghy. This invitation also marks a personal anniversary for me: ten years ago I gave my first creative writing workshop at the Poetry House in Bellaghy for and on behalf of the Open University.
This day promises to be something very special:
Bellaghy to Remember its most Famous Son at The Poetry House 2016
The village of Bellaghy will come to life this Friday 26th August in and around Bellaghy Bawn to honour and celebrate the life of the great Seamus Heaney.
Seamus, who grew up in Bellaghy and whose work was influenced by the spaces, people and places of his childhood, is also buried in the village and this event will recall the poet on the third anniversary of his passing.
It is also 50 years ago this year that Seamus’ first collection of poems was published by Faber & Faber and that body of work, ‘Death of a Naturalist’, will be celebrated throughout the event.
Poets from across Ireland will attend the event to both honour Seamus and to recall his seminal first collection that gave us poems such as ‘Blackberry Picking’, ‘Digging’ and ‘Mid Term Break’. Death of a Naturalist received the Cholmondeley Award, the Gregory Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.
Death of a Naturalist is largely concerned with childhood experiences and the formulation of adult identities, family relationships, and rural life. It is these themes that will inspire a day long series of cultural events at the Bawn with music, dance, recital, film and broadcast.
Poets already signed up to come along are Mel McMahon, Moyrah Donaldson, Colin Dardis and Geraldine O’Kane who will be among a dozen or so established writers coming to the event. Colin Dardis will also host Bellaghy’s first ever Poetry Slam in the Bawn at 6.00p,m that evening, so if you’re a fledgling writer or have an unpublished poem you’d like to share with the world, then do join in!
The day will also feature traditional music sessions, acrylic art workshops, creative writing workshops and art exhibitions. Foodies can enjoy fresh Lough Neagh eel and pollan and delicious buffalo burgers throughout the day. Further details on The Poetry House 2016 Facebook Page.
The event will be covered by no less than three national and local TV and radio broadcasters, including two from BBC Radio 4 and one from BBC2 Northern Ireland. BBC Radio 4 will be recording a special edition of its popular Open Country series on the landscapes that inspired Seamus Heaney, while that channel will also record an edition of Poetry Please at our Evening Recital, from 7.00p.m..
The organisers are also delighted to welcome I Lár an Aonaigh, the BBC2 NI television magazine show on the Irish Language to the event this year. They will be filming in and around Seamus Heaney's home ground talking to local gaels about the landscapes and people of Bellaghy.