Members of Mourne Writers: Anne Mullan, Kathleen Carville, our friend Mary Ellen Hayward (Jane Ross Writers, Limavady) Sue Morgan with her Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement and New Writing and me.
Each year, at least a couple of the members of my writing group, Mourne Writers, have been successful in having their submissions selected for the annual anthology published by Community Arts Partnership (CAP) Belfast as part of their ‘Poetry in Motion’ Programme.
This year, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Seamus Heaney’s family, the submissions process was also a vehicle for the selection of recipients of two inaugural awards – the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement and New Writing, which was open to writers across Northern Ireland and an equivalent award for schools, the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement.
Three of the Mourne Writers were delighted to have a total of six poems accepted, Anne Mullan from Kilkeel, Newry poet, Sue Morgan and myself. Last weekend, Sue and I were invited by the organisers to read one of our entries at the Duncairn Arts Centre, Belfast, at the launch of this year’s Poetry in Motion anthology entitled Making Memories, as well as to announce the winner of the Seamus Heaney Award. We discovered that those of us who had been invited to read had made it to the shortlist of twenty-two entrants selected by established poets Paul Maddern, Moyra Donaldson, Deirdre Cartmill and Paula Cunningham. After a tense series of ‘reverse order’ announcements of special recognition awards, we were delighted when Sue Morgan’s poem, Episkopi, was placed runner up and presented with an award by Damian Smyth of the Arts Council.
In addition, last autumn, as part of the Poetry in Motion for Schools Programme schools from across the North were invited to apply for the services of a CAP poetry facilitator to help pupils put together a submission for the equivalent schools poetry anthology. As one of the CAP facilitators, I was allocated to Grange Primary School outside Kilkeel and completed three poetry workshops with the combined P6 & P7 class.
Last Monday was the launch of the resulting anthology, The Way with Words, held in the Ulster Hall, Belfast. At this event, poet Michael Longley and the Mayor of Belfast presented several special recognition awards to schools as part of the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement. We were totally overwhelmed when Grange PS was announced the overall winner of the Heaney award and the Principal was presented with a plaque from Michael Longley and the mayor. Then to my surprise and delight, I was also presented with an award for my poetry facilitation services to the winners. What an honour and a lovely surprise and I was very touched to read the principal’s comments about the school’s first experience of poetry facilitation.
My award with the schools’ anthology ‘The Way with Words’. Artwork and poetry by Grange pupils
Mourne Writers is a small, creative writing group that meets every week at SweetPea Restaurant, Warrenpoint. Some of us have been meeting on a regular basis for many years, others are relative newcomers.