Poetry Connects ‘Coast to Coast’ – #PoetryDayIreland event @LyricBelfast


Taking place at 1pm on 27th April, The Lyric Theatre, Belfast, in conjunction with Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive, is set to celebrate Poetry Day Ireland with a lunchtime reading by Ross Thompson and myself. The reading will combine archive material from the Digital Film Archive with spoken word contributions from both of us. It’s a free event taking place in the Cafe Bar – and will also include classic archive material featuring Seamus Heaney and John Betjeman. More information HERE.

About the Digital Film Archive

Launched in November 2000 as part of the British Film Institute (BFI) Millennium Project, Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive (DFA) is a free public access resource for teachers, students, historians and anyone who has an interest in moving images. It contains over 90 hours of moving images about life in pre- Partition Ireland and Northern Ireland from 1897 to 2014. There are items covering drama, animation, documentaries, news, newsreels, amateur and actuality film. Unlike other regional film archives across the United Kingdom, the Digital Film Archive is entirely digital and does not maintain a physical archive of film. Browse the DFA HERE.

About the ‘Coast to Coast’ project

Ross and I were involved in just one element of the wider ‘Coast to Coast’ project, currently in progress, which showcases Northern Ireland’s profound relationship with the coast and sea and its impact on our society and culture.

We were both (independently) commissioned to create spoken word pieces in response to moving image content drawn from the archive. These pieces are incorporated into short films which combine both elements. It is one of a series of initiatives to highlight this wonderful resource.

On the back of a February wind

On the 2nd – also a Thursday – with a gale blowing and weather warnings all along the North Coast stretching down to the Portaferry Road, candles lighting here, I settled to watch a happy number of hours of coastal footage from the archive.  It was an incredible privilege to have access to this and it was easy to lose myself in it . Like so many, I have a real draw to water and I have always lived close to bodies of water which lead out into sea. I also find documentary film-making – whether silent or with narration – a sort of poetry in its own right.  By the next morning, I had the first draft written and ready to be edited with the help of Downpatrick’s resident seagull choir whose memories stretch back to before the tidal barrier, and are insistent that this town is still coastal. I am really looking forward to seeing both finished pieces and the wider ‘Coast to Coast’ project as it emerges.

My thanks to all who have been involved.

Image: The above image is Steamboat Quay, Quoile Pondage, Downpatrick. Quick note to say that it’s not part of the archive.

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