This year, Poetry Day Ireland was made all the more special by my participation in Label Lit: an innovative project, bringing poetry to the people, devised by Poet and Artistic Director, Maria McManus. For 2019, the project was given extra impact with the addition of sound! All fifty participating poets recorded their poems of place and they were added to a digital Poetry M’app and to Soundcloud. Poets also received 20 coloured labels each and were instructed to place them in and around the area that had inspired their poems.
My poem is called ‘Tramore Beach’ and draws on the ‘truth’ side of Poetry Day Ireland’s ‘Truth or Dare’ theme. When writing it, I initially thought about the mythical side of sea life, which is where verse one’s glimpse of mermaid’s tail comes from. The poem progresses to focus on the reality of this popular place: ‘. . . a beach of faces and footprints, seaside houses balanced on slope,’ appealing to all of the senses. You can listen here.
Having completed work on the poem and recorded it, my next task was to write my labels. I wanted to make it possible (although I knew it was unlikely) for somebody to find every part of the poem, so I ensured that each verse was written onto a label, then I repeated the process until all of the labels were used up, except one. This final label was saved for my four year old daughter, Amber, who wanted to join in the Poetry Day Ireland celebrations by composing her own poem!
Tramore was the perfect destination for my Label Lit adventure on Poetry Day Ireland. The sunny weather had brought people out to walk along the sea front and to take pause in cafés. There were even a few tourists looking at landmarks of interest. I spotted a blackboard advertising coffee, outside Christ Church and seized my chance to place my first label.
I dropped a couple of labels into Tramore Library and headed for lunch at Moe’s Café, leaving a label instead of a tip! The afternoon was moving on, so I decided to speed up delivery by tying a number of labels onto benches. I left two on some colourful model cycles and tied my final offering onto a model canon, (which made for a great caption on Twitter)!
On the way home from Tramore, I felt as if I had left pieces of myself behind and hoped they would be found . . . I do know at least one of my labels ended up in a caring home. I sent one to Waterford’s Central Library and was tagged in Instagram and Facebook posts by Arts Officer, Conor Nolan, who had hung it up at the main desk for visitors to see.
Label Lit was not only empowering for me as a poet, it united me with others: my fellow poets, the people I talked to as I distributed labels and those who read my words, (even if they choose to remain anonymous). If you would like to know more about Label Lit, pop over to the website to view the Poetry M’app, listen to poems and learn about all the participants. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!
Photos by K. S. Moore