Matt Hodd started Poetry in the Park Killarney in April 2017 and has brought together between 8 and 20 people to read and listen to poetry every month since.
The group meets at Killarney National Park outside the Deenagh Lodge, which is currently being used as a café run by Down Syndrome Ireland in the Summer months. Everyone is welcome.
We asked Matt what he loves about Poetry in the Park and why he cares …
From your own perspective: What is Poetry in the Park all about?
Poetry in the Park is a platform for people to come and perform and listen to poetry in any language, whether it be their own or someone else’s. It is a very empowering experience, or at least has been for me.
There are lots of ideas out there to start, why did you choose to get involved with Poetry in the Park?
I have been writing poetry since the age of ten and in many ways it is an art form that has grown with me throughout my life. I have been involved in poetry groups and see it as a medium that very much defines me as a person. Other ChangeX initiatives interest me such as Street Feast, GIY and Welcome Dinner, but Poetry in the Park is for me the most expressive and something I feel most comfortable facilitating.
What’s the difference you are hoping to make by running Poetry in the Park?
I want to connect the performance of poetry with the natural environment around us – to combine performance with place and enable that sense of oneness that comes from expressing oneself and being at home in Nature.
Tell us about something that surprised you after starting Poetry in the Park?
For me the biggest surprise was meeting people who weren’t expecting to find us in the middle of the Killarney National Park. One person was a poet who was used to performing in pubs, but never thought there would be a group like ours performing in the outdoors outside a cafe. Another character was the Poem guy, an American writer who could put together poems in three minutes and was able to recite many poems from memory.
What’s on the post-it you would stick to your bathroom mirror to remind yourself of every morning? Is there a motto, a quote, a belief that you love and that drives you to just get things done like starting Poetry in the Park?
The Dalai Lama once said ‘I can do it and I will do it’ – if he needs to remind himself of his limitless potential then so shall I.
Which other idea would you like to see in your community and why?
One of the ideas that I feel ChangeX lacks in its environmental section is one that directly connects people to the natural world around them. The Earth is our home, yet we separate ourselves from it using technology and by living in seclusion from earth, sky and water in houses, occasionally visiting our true home on weekend walks and camping trips.
There must be a way to nurture a direct connection to the Earth and for me using activities such as Ecophilosophical techniques such as eco-art therapy, performing Tai chi and artistic performances in nature are the way to go. It is not about saving the environment as if it were something outside of ourselves, it is about changing the way we perceive the natural world, so my idea would be to enhance this natural relationship with the Earth. I name this idea Coming home.