Field Notes: A process and a poem

From Planet 234

by Damian Gorman

Damian Gorman draws on his own experience of the ‘Troubles’ to share the story of how he came to be involved in a project marking fifty years since the start of the conflict. He describes how the project engaged with people on both sides of the divide who were profoundly affected by violence, followed by the poem he wrote which emerged from these dialogues.

We are in a season of remembrances in Northern Ireland. Maybe we always are, but this one has particular resonance for me as it marks fifty years since the start of the ‘Troubles’ – that most recent episode of violence and unrest which has filled so much of the time of my life and has, to some extent, defined it. Some people say that the Troubles began on October the 5th 1968, when a civil rights march was attacked by the police in Derry. Others would tell you that we really ‘crossed the Rubicon’ with the violent events of August 1969 but, one way or another, we are in a time of marking anniversaries, and I myself was asked to be part of this public remembering late last year. I was asked to spend the months of November and December in a process of engagement with people deeply affected by our conflict, and with young people not born until this century, then go back to Wales and write a poem: ‘a new piece of writing saying something new, and holding out the possibility of healing’. No pressure there then…

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