Manuscript Returned/Lewiston Laureate – Poetry News Roundup May 29th

Today on My Poetic Side we take a look at a valuable manuscript being returned to the community where the poet who penned it once lived. We also have an article about the first Youth Poet Laureate for Lewiston in the US.

Manuscript by Famine-era Poet to be Returned to Community

For generations, a US family have held a very valuable and unique manuscript have returned it to the community where the Famine-era pet who composed it once lived.

A special ceremony is being planned by the folk of Carrigtwihill, Co Cork in order to honour the local poet, author and tenant farmer, Dáibhí de Barra. The poet came into the world in 1757, and he lived in Woodstock and farmed there until he passed away in 1851.

De Barra was good at English, which he had learnt at the local school, but he was natively an Irish speaker. Barra’s poetry covered a wide range of topics from political topics to local religion. He wrote humorous verse about his knife being stolen, and also the issues that he encountered when his cat died.

Two of the works that he completed later in life


are lauded as being some of the most noteworthy works written in the Irish language from the period 1800 to 1850.

He is recognised in the Irish Biography Dictionary and also Cambridge’s History of Irish Literature for his great work.

A plaque located at his graveside was unveiled as part of the celebration surrounding the handover of the manuscript.

The manuscript was taken to America in 1865 by the great-grandfather of the man who has returned it to the community. The de Barra manuscript was just one of a collection of manuscripts and books that he chose to take with him.

The manuscript is bound in leather and is believed to contain a number of works that have never been seen before. It is very valuable not just from a cultural point of view but also a social one. Due to its age and the nature of the binding, expert advice is to be sought on how best to store it.

Lewiston Names First Youth Poet Laureate

Last year Joao Victor was named the victor of the competition “Poetry Out Loud” in the state of Maine with his reading of a poem entitled “Bright Copper Kettles”. Victor then went on to compete in Washington at the finals.

The young poet is a high school senior in the city. He is originally from Angola but arrived in the United States over three years ago and is now seeking asylum. On 4th June he will compose and recite a poem for the “Night of Excellence” at Lewiston High School.

The position is a newly created one and it is hoped that it will run-in two-year cycles just like the position of mayor does in the city. In this way each new mayor will be responsible for naming a new youth poet laureate who will serve during their term.

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