ONE of Ireland’s youngest and most innovative performance poets is the first spoken word resident in Laois.
Stephen James Smith from Tallaght has just started a ten-month residency, bringing a unique blend of poetry and song to schools, youth workshops and other venues.
The 35-year-old, already familiar locally from his high-energy performances at Electric Picnic, was formally introduced at the Leaves Festival of Writing and Music in beautiful Emo Court.
The announcement was among the highlights of a festival that celebrated writers, musicians and the worlds of film and theatre, giving arts lovers an opportunity to meet performers and talk about their work. The imaginative programme ranged from poetry and book readings in schools and libraries to film screenings at Dunamaise Arts Centre and a wonderful weekend-long series of musical and literary events at the Emo estate.
As expected, there was a packed house for the premiere of Thresholds, a new music piece in celebration of pollinators which was composed by Ian Wilson and gloriously performed by saxophonist Cathal Roche. The sublime piece included recordings of local people working with nature, pollinators such as native bees and evocative sounds from wildlife habitats ranging from Abbeyleix Bog to Clonaslee and the Rock of Dunamase. It was a perfect ending to a very special weekend.
As he takes up his new role as spoken word resident, Stephen hopes to bring lyrics to life through interactive workshops and other events for people aged between 12 and 20. He will work with young people throughout the county through secondary schools, Laois Youth Theatre and Youthreach.
The increasingly popular performance art of spoken word is ideally suited to teenagers and young adults as they search for an effective way to express themselves. The new programme is run by Dunamaise Arts Centre and Laois Arts Office, with the support of the Arts Council and Creative Ireland.