In 2015, Ireland celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Nobel Prize-winning poet, William Butler Yeats. As part of the commemorations, Your Yeats is an ambitious project to create an extensive online archive of live recordings of the poems of W.B. Yeats.
In 'An Introduction for my Plays' (1937), Yeats wrote: "I have spent my life in cleaning out of poetry every phrase written for the eye, and bringing all back to syntax that is for the ear alone."
If ever there was a poet whose poems were meant to be heard and enjoyed, as equally as they were meant to be read, then Yeats is the forerunner, his poems holding the lyric and the sharp, clear expression of thought throughout.
With this in mind, we've invited fifteen poets (each originally from or currently residing in Northern Ireland) to share their favourite Yeats poem, taken from across his entire canon. The first ten poets and poems confirmed for the project are:
Joseph Allen – Her Praise
Gary Allen - Remorse For Intemperate Speech
David Braziel – He Wishes For The Clothes of Heaven
Stephanie Conn – When You Are Old
Ross Thompson – Broken Dreams
Jenny Cleland - The Lake Isle Of Innisfree
Kathleen McCracken – The Second Coming
Adrian Rice – The Pilgrim
Ray Givans – An Acre of Grass
Olive Broderick - To a Child Dancing Upon the Shore
We will be revealing the remaining five poets and poems shortly, and letting you know when the recordings will be online. The fifteen poems will be available to stream and download via Soundcloud.
With the recordings, we hope to embody Yeats's own feelings on the reading of verse: "[My] ears are only comfortable when the singer sings as if mere speech had taken fire, when he appears to have passed into song almost imperceptibly."