13 June 2015, Yeats Day, is the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats, and a centrepiece of Yeats2015, the year-long commemoration and celebration of the Nobel Prize-winning poet.
Throughout the year, and especially around Yeats Day, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its Embassy network is marking this anniversary by organising and supporting an extensive range of cultural and educational activities all around the world; over 70 events in total.
Many of the events feature the Department’s travelling exhibition on Yeats, which was developed in 2011 drawing on material from the major exhibition on Yeats curated by the National Library of Ireland. The exhibition consists of 13 panels, telling the story of Yeats’ life and work, and has been made available in ten languages: English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Already this year, the exhibition has toured through five continents.
Among the many events and activities taking place this week are the following:
- The Embassy of Ireland in Washington DC has organised a joint public celebration of Yeats Day and Bloomsday at DuPont Circle Park in the afternoon of Tuesday 16 June, featuring music and readings from the works of Yeats and Joyce. In New York, the Consulate General supported a performance by the Abbey Theatre of Down off his Stilts, a short play about the creation of the Abbey in Yeats’ own words, to coincide with a Yeats installation at the Morgan Library. In Atlanta, the Consulate General has organised a celebratory event, Still Here/ Here Still, to take place at Emory University on Yeats Day. Full details of events in the United States throughout 2015 are available here
- In London, When You are Old will feature in the June sequence of Poems on the Underground, displayed right across the London Underground system for four weeks, to be enjoyed by all of those taking the 100 million plus tube journeys in London each month. This follows the display of Sailing to Byzantium and He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven over an eight-week period in March-April. At the House of Lords, the Lord Speaker and Irish Ambassador will jointly host an evening of Yeats poetry on 15 June, which will feature special guests, including actor Michael Gambon.
- On Yeats Day, almost 2 million subscribers to a poetry channel on WeChat, the most widely used Chinese social media platform, will hear a recording of Prayer for My Daughter, read by President Michael D. Higgins, and a recording of When You Are Old, read in English by the Irish Ambasssador to China, and in Chinese by Robin Li, Founder and CEO of Baidu, China’s largest online search company. When You Are Old has received significant attention in China this year, since a song with the poem as its lyrics was performed by a well-known singer during the Chinese Spring Festival TV gala this year, as well as being the song that won the Chinese equivalent of The Voice TV show!
- In Madrid, a major new art exhibition, Of this Place, is taking place at the Ateneo de Madrid, featuring 26 paintings and sculptures by eight contemporary Irish visual artists, inspired by the landscapes that helped shape Yeats’ poetry.
- In Australia, Melbourne Yeats Day 2015 at the State Library of Victoria on 13 June will feature the presentation of the 2014 Yeats Poetry Prize, A Noh Vision Play by WB Yeats, and a discussion on “The place of the Arts and Humanities in the 21st Century?”
- In Austria, the Embassy hosted two performances by Irish performance group Tale of the Gael, at the Centre for Irish Studies in Vienna and at the Museum of Folk History in Graz, in collaboration with the City of Graz. The performances, entitled The Poet and the Harper, presented aspects of the poet’s life and work set to appropriate music.
- In the Netherlands, a two-day Yeats in Europe Symposium is being organised at the University of Utrecht on 19-20 June. Lectures will look at Yeats from a cultural biographical perspective, and in particular his relationship with Europe. The symposium will also include a Yeats poetry translation competition (English – Dutch) and a theatrical performance of one of Yeats’ works.
- In Seoul, Republic of Korea, the Embassy has supported the organisation of an international conference at Dongguk University, featuring Irish and Korean scholars. This will be complemented by an evening of Irish music and literature, readings from guest author Christine Dwyer Hickey, and lots more.
- In Slovakia, an evening of poetry and music commemorating Yeats was held at the Vichy Palace, in the Old Town of Bratislava on 11 June.
- In Warsaw, an evening of Yeats’ poetry, accompanied by harp music, will take place in the garden of the Museum of Literature.
For Full Listing of International Events Visit Yeats2015
Irish Poems on the Underground- celebrating Yeats2015 – https://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/poems-on-the-underground
Embassy/Consulate twitter feeds
Courtesy of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade