St Joseph's student Anna shines at John O'Connor Writing School Festival

THE English Department at Saint Joseph’s Grammar School Donaghmore are immensely proud of AS student, Anna Jane who was successful in securing a scholarship to attend The John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival held recently in The Market Place Armagh. Below is this young, budding poet’s memories of her three days spent in the company of leading literary lights...

Thanks to a scholarship I gained the remarkable opportunity to attend The John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival. I attained a place on the Intense Poetry Course. On arrival, participants were given a warm welcome at the spectacular Robinson Library. The Writing School and Festival was officially opened by the Lord Mayor who offered words of encouragement and support to all.

My tutor for those three days was the amazing Peter Fallon himself. Peter firstly greeted us and introduced himself before then speaking of the importance of the lines and assembly of a poem. After this, Peter talked about the basics of a poem. Peter led us through beautiful poems such as Memory Unsettled by Tom Gunn which helped me to understand not only how to construct a poem but also how a poet’s use of words can touch a reader’s soul!

Day two and we focused on riddles and the way in which words can be used to create puzzles and secrets. This astounded me and caused me to think of all the fascinating ways a message can be delivered to each and every reader.

Discussions over and a change of location and we came face to face with the one and only, Roger McGough! Roger told us of his child hood and how he had grown with words and was bewildered by their many interesting ways. Roger also read a few of his unpublished, if you may “doodle” poems. I was at home in his company and honoured to be in his presence

Unfortunately, Sunday had to arrive, the last day of my wonderful experience! In this day’s workshop we analysed the work of others and then got time to talk about our own poems. Different styles, different forms, different techniques and also subject matter yet all the poetry I listened to was so enlightening and moving!

I am grateful for all the advice and encouragement I received, advice that now shapes the style of my poetry and the course of my future career.

I will forever be eternally grateful to Saint Joseph’s Grammar School and the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival for providing me with this writing experience of a lifetime!

Underwater City

Her eyes close gently as she feels, .

The presence of the dolphins and the seals

The seaweed softly tickles her feet,

As the crabs and the jelly fish silently meet

Their dark eyes scan her calm, skinny frame,

While the sharks and whales play a game.

Where one is the rabbit, the other a fox,

And they chase each other amidst the rocks.

Many whisper that she’s lost her mind.

Others say that she’s just trying to find,

A way through the water and through the waves,

For she is trapped in those underwater caves

No! She isn’t kooky nor is she insane.

She is simply trying to cope with her pain.

By imagining a world with no anger or pity,

This, my friend, is her underwater city

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