Yeats Fundraising/Paul Laurence Dunbar House Reopening – Poetry News Roundup June 16th

Today on My Poetic Side we look at the urgent fundraising campaign for the Yeats Society Sligo and the reopening of Paul Laurence Dunbar House.

Crowdfunding for Yeats Society Sligo

In March 2020, like most businesses all over the UK, the Yeats Society Sligo had to close its doors to tours and visitors.

Now the society has launched a crowdfunding campaign. They believe that the future of the society is at risk for the future if they are not able to find this additional funding that they so desperately need. Before the pandemic, the society was host to the Yeats International Summer School which saw visitors from all over the world flocking to Sligo. The Yeats Building itself offered information on WB Yeats many inspirations to locals and visitors. Last year’s summer school was, of course, cancelled and this year’s has been moved online, a move which is wise in the current climate, but which will lead to a reduction in much-needed revenue. They believe that in order to guarantee their survival it will be necessary to raise the sum of €100,000 by September.

The society was founded in 1960 by contemporaries of the poet, and the Yeats building is home to a large collection of archive materials and books that can be used for scholarly research. They also run the nearby Hyde Bridge contemporary art gallery which is home to around 11 exhibitions each year.

Yeats is hailed as the greatest poet to come from Sligo and his legacy is important to the local communities and their economy. Over the years the society has attracted many aspiring writers and poets who have found their own connections with literature.

Paul Laurence Dunbar House to Open to the Public Again

On 18th June, the home of one of the first nationally renowned African American writer, Paul Laurence Dunbar, will reopen to the public.

The house in Dayton was purchased by the poet in 1904 for his mother. It was his final home and is now a National Historic Landmark.

Inside the house appears to be “frozen” in time with memories of his travels covering the study desk and his typewriter still sitting ready to use.

The poet had tuberculosis and was chronically ill. He spent his last few years in the house and died at the age of just 33 in 1906. His mother continued to live there until she died in 1934 and two years later it became the first ever state memorial in honour of an African American.

Dunbar loved to write and penned his first poem aged 6. Whilst at high school he edited an African American newspaper published by one of his classmates. On leaving school he found employment as an elevator operator, a job which gave him plenty of spare time to write poetry between calls and also study the many people he came into contact with. His first book “Oak and Ivy” sold for $1 a copy to those who used his elevator.

During his, short, lifetime he produced over 400 works, these included four novels, 12 books of poetry, short stories and even song lyrics.

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