Each Poet Laureate will reveal and present their poem to the people of their Poetry Town.

Tipp's own Poet Laureate

Poetry Ireland has announced the names of the Poet Laureates selected as part of the Poetry Town initiative, which will see more than a hundred poetry-related activities take place in 20 towns across the island of Ireland between 10th and 18th September 2021.

Carrick-on-Suir in Co Tipperary is among the Poetry Towns, and Poetry Ireland, in conjunction with Tipperary County Council Arts Office, has appointed Billy Fenton as the Poet Laureate for the town.

A poet and short story writer, Billy Fenton was born and grew up in Carrick-on-Suir (further information below).

All Poet Laureates announced today are either from the respective local area or have strong connections with it, and have been commissioned to write a poem honouring and reflecting their Poetry Town and its people.

As part of the week-long Poetry Town celebrations next month, each Poet Laureate will reveal and present their poem to the people of their Poetry Town at a series of flagship online events, one of which will be hosted in each town. Each event will also feature contributions from other local poets, artists and musicians (further details about these events is available on the Poetry Town website).

Further activities will include a series of poetry events involving local poets; poetry workshops; public poetry displays, including ‘Poetry Underfoot’; and a range of physical activities called ‘Poems that Move You’, which will vary from town to town.  Local businesses, including cafés and chemists, will also be participating in the activities to celebrate their towns by distributing ‘pocket poems’ to customers. The full programme of activities for each town will be made available on the Poetry Town website during the last week of August.

Commenting, Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell said: “We are delighted we could secure such a strong cohort of Poet Laureates for this exciting new poetry initiative, which is characterised by collaboration and communal experiences.

“The aim of Poetry Town is to celebrate the vitality and strength of our towns and communities, and to shine a light on the wealth of creativity and talent that can be found in them. The diversity of this talent is reflected in the selection of Laureates, which includes both well-known visionary poets and new powerful voices.”

Billy Fenton added: “It is a great privilege to be appointed Poet Laureate for Carrick-on-Suir for the all-island Poetry Towns project, particularly when I reflect on the wealth of literary talent that the town and area holds, from Charles Kickham, to Michael Coady, and many others.

“The Old Bridge in Carrick was built in 1447 and is still in use, symbolising the history and continued vibrancy of the town, and I will aim to use this role to help strengthen connections across Carrick and its hinterland, and to celebrate that most ancient of forms, poetry.”

Poetry Town is an initiative of Poetry Ireland in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices. It is made possible with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call funding, and is also supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

For further information, visit the Poetry Town website: poetrytown.ie.

About Billy Fenton

Billy Fenton was born and grew up in Carrick-on-Suir. He writes both poetry and short stories. His poetry has been published in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Irish Independent, Crannóg, Honest Ulsterman, Abridged, Crossways, and many others.

He was shortlisted for a Hennessy Award in 2018, the Fish poetry prize in 2021, was chosen as a mentee for the Words Ireland National Mentoring Programme in 2019, and was a runner-up in the Waterford Poetry Prize 2020. He regularly reads at the Carrick-on-Suir Poetry+ Open Mic events.