Poemathon with Older People Launches with Climate Crisis Theme

older lady with a book

Poetry Ireland with the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) and Creative Brain Week is inviting older people across the island of Ireland to write a line of poetry for a Poemathon with Older People. 

The contributions will be combined to form a collaborative poem capturing the thoughts and imaginings of older people right now on the theme of climate crisis. 

Former President of Ireland and Adjunct Professor for Climate Justice at Trinity College Dublin, Mary Robinson, has penned the opening line of the poem: 

Growing up we did not know; now we need to mend

Mary Robinson said, “It’s wonderful to see the Poemathon with Older People focusing on the climate crisis as its theme and bringing together the voices of an older generation through the shared experience of creating a poem.

“As we get older, we think more often about our legacy and picture the world that will be inherited by the next generations. I look forward to seeing how the contributors to the Poemathon engage with the idea that now is the time we need to mend.”

This is the second year of the Poemathon with Older People, which will again be curated and edited by poet and editor Seamus Cashman. Submissions can be made through a form on Poetry Ireland’s website from 1 March until 5pm on 28 March – at this link.

Niamh O’Donnell, Director of Poetry Ireland, said, “The Poemathon is a creative opportunity to express reflections, reactions and responses to what is happening in society, through the perspectives of older people. 

We’re delighted that Mary Robinson has joined us for this year’s project. Last year’s Poemathon brought together rich thoughts and feelings on the COVID-19 pandemic from hundreds of contributors - we’re looking forward to seeing all the lines of poetry in response to this year’s timely and impactful theme.” 

"As an Atlantic Fellow at the Global Brain Health Institute, I work to promote brain health for the world’s aging populations," said Francesca Farina. "I am delighted that GBHI is supporting the Poemathon in partnership with Poetry Ireland and Creative Brain Week. Our brain health is inextricably tied to the richness of the physical world. Addressing the climate crises is therefore essential in safeguarding the well-being of individuals and our societies at large.

Collaboration in poetry writing has a long history and tradition, often used as a method of ‘opening the voice’ in poetry workshops, based on the idea that when writers share in a writing process, the outcomes often prove to be imaginative and surprising, with a creative conversation taking place within poems themselves."

A reminder that the opening line of the poem is: “Growing up we did not know; now we need to mend”. Entries can be submitted until 5pm on Monday 28 March on the Poetry Ireland website

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson bio
Mary Robinson is Adjunct Professor for Climate Justice at Trinity College Dublin and Chair of The Elders.  She served as President of Ireland from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002. She is a member of the Club of Madrid and the recipient of numerous honours and awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Between 2013 and 2016, Mary served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy in three roles; first for the Great Lakes region of Africa, then on Climate Change leading up to the Paris Agreement and in 2016 as his Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate. Her Foundation, the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, established in 2010, came to a planned end in April 2019.

A former President of the International Commission of Jurists and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, she was President and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002-2010 and served as Honorary President of Oxfam International from 2002-2012. She was Chancellor of the University of Dublin from 1998 to 2019. 
Mary Robinson serves as Patron of the International Science Council and Patron of the Board of the Institute of Human Rights and Business, is an Ambassador for The B Team, in addition to being a board member of several organisations including the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the Aurora Foundation. Recently she became joint Honorary President of the Africa Europe Foundation. Mary’s memoir, Everybody Matters, was published in 2012 and her book, Climate Justice - Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future, was published in 2018. She is also co-host of a podcast on the climate crisis, called Mothers of Invention.

Poetry Ireland 
Poetry Ireland connects poetry and people, and is committed to achieving excellence in the reading, writing and performance of poetry throughout the island of Ireland. The non-profit organisation combines its role as a promoter and supporter of poetry with advocacy for poets, advancing the art form through solid development goals. Poetry Ireland is one of the few organisations that receives funding from both Arts Councils on the island.

Creative Brain Week 
Creative Brain Week, a GBHI Initiative at Trinity College Dublin, is a pioneering event illustrating innovation at the intersection of arts and brain science, featuring both online and in-person sessions. It will explore and celebrate how brain science and creativity collide to seed new ideas in social development, technology, entrepreneurship, wellbeing and physical, mental and brain health throughout our lives. Creative Brain Week takes place across the digital and physical Campus of Trinity College Dublin and out into the heart of the City between 12-16 March 2022. To learn more visit www.creativebrainweek.com.

Seamus Cashman bio
Seamus taught in Tanzania in the 1960s and then in Ireland before founding Wolfhound Press in 1974. After 2001, when he ceased publishing, in addition to his poetry writing, he was a workshop facilitator in schools across the country. Seamus has read his own poetry in Ireland, England and other EU countries, and the USA and the Middle East. His poetry books include That morning will come: new and selected (Salmon, 2007), The Sistine Gaze: I too begin with scaffolding (Salmon, 2015), and the children’s anthology of new poems by Irish poets, P is for Poetry (O’Brien Press, 2020). His forthcoming collection, Talking down the clock, is due from Salmon Poetry this summer.