Ireland’s friendliest poetry festival will again animate the small, attractive town of Strokestown, Co Roscommon this May Bank Holiday Weekend. I suppose I would say that, since I'm this year's Director. Packed into three intense days, the festival mixes well known with emerging poets, features readings in English, Irish and Scottish Gaelic from the poets shortlisted for the Strokestown Poetry Prizes, as well as including satiric verse and a pub poetry competition. This year’s guest readers include founder and editorial director of Carcanet Press, Michael Schmidt, who will read from his new book, The Resurrection of the Body, and another poet-publisher, Pat Boran, director of Dedalus Press and a well known poet and broadcaster. Audiences will also have a chance to hear Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Eva Bourke, Gerry Muphy, Moya Cannon ,Scottish Gaelic poet Meg Bateman and current Galway Writer in Residence Michael O’Loughlin. The acclaimed Gaelic Hit Factory with poet Louis de Paor and singer-songwriter John Spillane will also be appearing at this year’s festival, and local Strokestown man Tommy Murray will entertain audiences with a selection of favourite popular poems, in what has become a traditional event at the festival.
Among the highlights of the festival are the announcement of the Prizes: the Duais Cholmcille, sponsored by Colmcille, the organisation that promotes links between Gaelic Ireland and Scotland and the Strokestown International Poetry Prize. Both of these competitions offer prizes of €4,000, €2,000 and €1,000. The shortlisted poems, by poets from around the world, and all the festival details are available on the website.
The brown paper bags stuffed with backhanders of €500, €200 and €100 are waiting for the authors of the wittiest political or topical satires who will read their work at one of the most popular events of the weekend. This year’s judge is John Waters, who shortly after the festival will be travelling to Helsinki to see how his song fares in the Eurovision Song Contest.