Read DL 2020 has now drawn to a close not with the bang they had hoped for but not with a whimper either!
The Closing Ceremony which was due to take place in the Balor Theatre, Ballybofey on the 26th March had to be cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Despite the enforced closure of all schools, the pandemic did not deter our budding poets in Donegal and 90 entries were received for the Creative Writing Competition organised by the project. Indeed, some were inspired by their experiences of living through the pandemic to write poems on the subject.
The Read DL “One Book, One Community” initiative is designed to bring local people together through reading and discussing the same book. This has the dual effect of building a sense of community while promoting literacy. In a departure from previous years and to mark the 10th year of the Read DL Project a poetry book was chosen for the first time – “Hopscotch in the Sky” by Lucinda Jacob.
Not without some trepidation and feeling well outside our comfort zone, Read DL 2020 embarked on their poetic journey inspired by a partnership with the outgoing Laureate na nÓg and award-winning poet Sarah Crossan. This partnership offered the opportunity to 5 schools across the county to undertake poetry workshops with local poet Denise Blake.
Approximately 120 Pupils from Dromore N.S. Killygordon; Cloontagh N.S. Clonmany; Scoil Eoin Baiste Carrigart; Killaghtee N.S. Dunkineeley and Letterkenny Educate Together created their own poems in these workshops with the help of Denise. These were to be read at the planned Closing Ceremony in March. Unfortunately this did not take place but the poems are now housed in the National Laureate na nÓg archive.
Over 2000 books – the purchase of which was financed by Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Donegal Education and Training Board – were distributed to 53 Primary Schools, 15 Secondary Schools, 6 Youthreach Centres, all ETB Learning for Living Centres, 2 Community Groups and 2 individuals/families over the course of this year’s project. The figures illustrate the astonishing growth of the initiative since its inception 10 years ago when 2 schools took part and less than 100 books were needed.
Lucinda Jacob writes in her introduction to Hopscotch in the Sky that “Ideas for poems are all around us; all we have to do is keep our ears and eyes open.” In a video message posted to the Read DL website she encouraged the students to use their imaginations and keep writing. It was apparent from the entries to the Creative Writing Competition that the young people took her words to heart and submitted poems on a wide variety of topics and themes ranging from the seasons, colours, animals, friendship, football, families and a subject that no one had heard of when the Read DL Project was launched – Covid 19.
In the absence of a Closing Ceremony a 10 to 15 min video will be compiled for the website with contributions from Lucinda Jacob, Denise Blake, poetry winners, artwork by schools etc. This will be available to view in September.
The winners of the Creative Writing Competition were announced on Around The Northwest by John Breslin on Highland Radio. In the Primary School category winners from 1st place to 3rd were Chloe Doherty St. Patrick’s Girls National School, Carndonagh; Eiran and David from Ballymore National School, Dunfanaghy. Secondary school winning entries from 1st place to 3rd were Hurrera Simon from Letterkenny Youth Reach, Aishling Doherty from Carndonagh Community College and Conor Cleary from Crana College, Buncrana. Irish Language poetry winners were Aisling Ní Dhochartaigh from Carndonagh Community School and Fionnuala de Brún from Pobalscoil Bhun an Phobail. Many congratulations to all winners.
Links to Video & Poetry Toolkit
Links to Audio Book