ARNOLDI: This week marks the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916, the bloody rebellion, in which Irish nationalists, including poets and writers, fought against the British. While the uprising only lasted a week, it marks a significant moment in Irish independence.
HUMBERT: This weekend’s celebrations will kick off with a night of poetry and music honoring Irish poets. Shandukani Mulaudzi met with two contemporary poets who will be paying homage to their predecessors.
MULAUDZI 1: I meet Theo Dorgan and Leann O Sullivan in their airbnb on the lower East Side. They’re still bit jet lagged after their arrival yesterday. One of Ireland’s best exports is poetry and so the list is of poets who will be honoured tonight is pretty long…
O SULLIVAN 1: Pardick Pearce
DORGAN 1: WB Yeats
O SULLIVAN: James Connolly
DORGAN 2: Thomas MacDonagh
O SULLIVAN 3: Joseph Mary Plunkett
DORGAN 3: Sean O’Casey
MULAUDZI 2: Using poetry to celebrate the Rising is significant some people even refer to the event as the Poet’s Uprising.
DORGAN 4: The proclamation of the republic was signed by seven people – three of them were published poets.
MULAUDZI 3: Even the director of military operations was a poet and Dorgan says:
DORGAN 5: to the best of my knowledge before he joined the volunteers he couldn’t have told one end of a rifle from the other. They were Imagining a republic. So tonight’s event at Cooper Union pays tribute to the poets at that time but it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the absolutely central role that cultural change has in promoting political change
O SULLIVAN 6: just to add to what Theo is saying is what it did was it animated the landscape so that Ireland became you know – a living breathing person
MULAUDZI 4: A living breathing person whose role model was America. The leaders of the rising wanted to be like the Republic of America and to share values…
DORGAN 6: The idea of democracy, equality, justice, dignity before the law all those things were implicit in the rising.
MULAUDZI 5: also, where I was meeting Dorgan and O Sullivan, a lot of Irish people lived there in the 1900s.
DORGAN: The revival of the Irish Language in Ireland was paralleled by Irish language classes in New York. At one stage the biggest Gaeltacht outside of Ireland – Irish Speaking district was in Lower Manhattan. There were whole chunks in Manhattan that were Gaelic speaking.
MULAUDZI 6: Dorgan says even today, there are still strong connections between the Irish poets in NYC and those in Ireland.
DORGON 7: You see to us the atlantic is a kind of a myth you know and it’s so easily bridged. Most Irish poets are very familiar with America specifically New York City. The Irish poets here often their published in Ireland our Irish poets are always here. So that conversation is always unbroken and constant.
MULAUDZI 7: So tonight will be a reunion for these poets at Cooper Union it will be a reunion for those poets who are based here in America and those who flew in from Ireland. Some of these poets will be on the Ferry from Wall Street to Brooklyn tomorrow afternoon between 12-3pm. And more information can be found on http://cualagroup.com/.
Shandukani Mulaudzi, Columbia Radio News.