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Prince Charles pays a fitting tribute to Seamus Heaney on National Poetry Day

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 06/10/2016

Irish writer Seamus Heaney with the Prince of Wales in 2003
Irish writer Seamus Heaney with the Prince of Wales in 2003

The Prince of Wales has recorded a reading of a famous Seamus Heaney sonnet to celebrate National Poetry Day today.

A minute-long recital of 'The Shipping Forecast' will be aired on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

It is part of a nationwide celebration of all things poetic.

The recording will also be featured at the newly-opened Seamus Heaney HomePlace centre in Bellaghy, which showcases the late poet's life and work.

Prince Charles' voice will be heard by visitors as they journey through the building's exhibition, which has been created to celebrate the life and literature of one of Ireland's greatest writers. Charles is a patron of the arts and a great admirer of the work of Heaney, whom he met several times.

Heaney was a regular teacher at the annual summer school run by the Prince's Teaching Institute.

During the summer schools, Heaney inspired the participants by sharing his own and other poets' work, often quoting extensively from memory.

Trevor Wilson, who chairs Mid-Ulster District Council, said Prince Charles' reading was a fitting tribute.

"To have a contribution from Prince Charles is testament to the esteem in which Seamus Heaney was held and the great influence of his work," he said.

"This is a wonderful addition to our exhibition and when better to announce it than on National Poetry Day when we celebrate writing and our great writers."

The recording will be played in HomePlace among those of friends, family, neighbours, cultural and global leaders who have recited a favourite poem or recounted their memories and feelings about Heaney.

The poet's own voice is also heard reading his own work. National Poetry Day is an annual mass celebration of poetry and all things poetical.

Also today, poems by young refugees and migrants will be featured on Channel 4 in place of the usual short video introductions that appear before each programme.

St Pancras International Station in London will distribute poetry-themed tickets to travellers, who will also be treated to poet storytellers performing throughout the day.

Singer PJ Harvey will collaborate with young poetry producers who will be curating readings, films, performances and workshops facilitated by The Poetry Society and Southbank Centre.

National Poetry Day director Susannah Herbert said: "A poem can reach places that prose just can't.

"That's why we're inviting all with anything important to say today to say it with a poem."

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