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Jukebox of Poetry installed in Waterford’s Cultural Quarter

Poetry as Commemoration, the latest art instalment in Waterford, is situated in Hanover Street in the centre of Waterford’s Cultural Quarter. Produced by the “Poetry as Commemoration” project in partnership with Waterford Council, members of the public can ‘turn the handle’ and enjoy a poem on demand from the unique programme.

The Poetry Jukebox places poetry in public spaces with recordings of 20 poems relating to the complex history of Ireland during the War of Independence and Civil War available to hear at the press of a button. The first selection of poems include works by well-known poets including Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, John Hewitt, and W.B. Yeats, as well as lesser-known writers such as D.L. Kelleher, Alice Milligan and Agnes Kerr.

Speaking on the project, Waterford City & County Council’s Arts officer, Conor Nolan said:

“Poetry and popular ballads have long been vessels for the commemoration of historic events and heroic individuals. The regular rhythms and recitative qualities meant that the jukebox was suited to commemorating historical figures, bringing memories and poetry directly to the public.”

The project, which includes an island-wide series of writing workshops, invites communities to turn to poetry as a way of understanding the challenges of the past and the possibilities of the future. As noted in on the project’s literature, this is especially relevant in the final years of the Decade of the Centenaries 2012-2023 marking one hundred years since the Irish War of Independence and Civil War.

Luke Currall, Visual Arts Co-Ordinator with Waterford City & County Council, commented on the make up of the project, saying:

“Poetry invites reflection on the murkier ‘contours and colours’ of experience and can transport readers or listeners to a different time and place through rhythms, images, and sound. Bringing together this material, Poetry as Commemoration seeks to deepen the collective understanding of this challenging period in Irish History.”

The project is a two-year all-island project led by the Irish Poetry Reading Archive at UCD Library and is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.

A further curation will be recorded for Spring 2023 containing 10 new poems by commissioned poets, as well as 10 historical poems. Project partners include Quotidian – Word on the Street, Poetry Ireland and Arts Council Northern Ireland.

See https://www.poetryascommemoration.ie/ for further details.

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