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Poetry ban takes away very essence of Tralee

Published 23/08/2016

I write to comment on the decision by the powers that be at the Rose of Tralee festival to ban the recitation of poetry by Roses at this year's televised contest. I refer specifically to comments by Rose of Tralee spokesperson Mr Drummey, that "poetry had a place in the contest in the "olden days" when "poems were seen as a form of entertainment before all the modern entertainment we now see".

As a poet, I take umbrage with the suggestion that poetry and poems are no longer seen as a form of art or worthy entertainment. It seems strange that a festival which traces its genesis to the lyrical verses of the popular iconic rhyming poetic ballad The Rose of Tralee has abandoned poetry, the very basis of its foundation.

Even more interestingly, the poetic ballad that spawned the festival suggests that the literary Rose:

Was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer and 'twas not her beauty alone that won me;

Oh no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,

That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.

I call on the organisers to revoke their decision to exclude poetry from the contest. If this isn't possible and there are to be no poetry recitations this year, will they forego the singing of the poetic ballad that is the very lifeblood of the festival?

The poet Shelley and many others have suggested that it has been proved time and again in history that poetry is the highest form of art and literature.

In our new culture of TV ratings and false urgency, nothing - even traditional poetry recitation - remains immune from galloping tides of mass popular media.


Trinity College Dublin

Belfast Telegraph

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