Older people's charity Link Age Southwark is celebrating its 25th birthday by running a creative writing competition. I'm honoured to be helping judge the poetry section of the competition, alongside Kevin Higgins, Alan McGeachie and Corina Moscovich.
Link Age Southwark has been building friendships between older people and volunteers in order to end feelings of loneliness and isolation in their local community. The competition is open to all UK and Ireland residents, both adults and children. Entries may take the form of either a short story or poem, based on the theme of friendship and/or generations.
The deadline is 31st August, and entries are £5 each.
The organiser, Becky Danks, has done a short interview with me, in which I talk about my poetry and my reasons for volunteering to judge the competition.
Fellow Eyewear poet Leah Umansky is over from the States, currently doing a UK and Ireland book tour to support her collection, The Barbarous Century. We had the great pleasure of reading together in Waterstones Belfast on Thursday, 19th July. Many thanks to Michael from Waterstones for helping arrange the reading and hosting on the night, and to all who came and supported us. It was great to have an opportunity to read some anti-Trump poets to Leah's American family and friends, who thankfully applauded the sentiments!
the x of y is one of the Belfast Telegraph's recommended summer reads, as selected by Damian Smyth, head of literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland:
"With an already impressive following online and as a spoken word virtuoso, Colin Dardis's long-awaited debut in print, the x of y (Eyewear Publishing £10.99), includes a darker aspect, but one shot through with cute observations and unconventional perspectives. What poetry does, in fact."
There are other great choices showcased as well; I'm looking forward to reading Kate Newmann's fifth collection (Ask Me Next Saturday, Summer Palace), as well as Stuart Bailie's Trouble Songs: Music and conflict in Northern Ireland (Bloomfield Press). I only got to skim through Trouble Songs before speaking to Bailie from a Belfast Book Festival event, and it certainly deserves a fuller and complete read.
Tenx9, the popular storytelling night held at the Black Box, Belfast, was part of NICON's HNS70 celebrations at Stormont on 5th July. Six people shared their own stories of the NHS, including staff, carers and patients.
You can listen back to two of the stories from the event, as well as my own poem: David Burke tells how becoming a patient made him a better doctor; surgeon Mark Taylor pays tribute to his grandad and those who treated him over his final years.
The NHS Confederation has shared the NHS70 poem, Confidence, on their website. Many thanks to them for sharing the poem (and handy for those who prefer reading poetry than viewing it!). The Irish News has alsoshared the video.
I also had the honour of reading the poem at Stormont, as part of a special celebatroy event hosted by NICON. The event was joyous and moving: poignant stories from Tenx9, big, bold and defiant songs from the NHSCT Children's Choir, and a performance from Arts Care Orbit Dance Company that moved me to tears.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland recorded me reading the poem at the steps of Stormont - thanks once again to Damian Smyth, and to Angela Warren of ACNI, for the video.
Happy birthday NHS! Here's my poem for #NHS70 commissioned by Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care (NICON) with support from Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
It's all about people, about everyone who uses the NHS, and the amazing staff who provide the care and support for the nation. Enjoy.
Many thanks also to Damian Smyth from ACNI for his kind words regarding the poem, and for featuring it on the ACNI website: "Poet Colin Dardis has risen to the challenge and the subject memorably, capturing both the big benefits of the NHS and the often small overlooked contributions and sacrifices which make them possible. The Arts Council is delighted to be associated with the celebration and this new artwork in its honour.”
Geraldine and I are running a family poetry workshop, Say Hello to Haiku!, at Seamus Heaney Homeplace on Saturday 4th August, 11am.
"Seamus Heaney and WB Yeats both had a fascination with the Japanese art form haiku. A typical haiku is a three-line poem, often featuring an observation about a fleeting moment involving nature. In this fun and accessible workshop, parents/carers and their children can work together to create their own haiku exploring a variety of topics."
Tickets are available to book now, £5 adult, £3 child. Come along and introduce your children to joy of haiku and play some fun writing games!
Michael Frank - The Mighty Franks