Sunday, March 21st is World Poetry Day 2021. But on Evelyn Grant's Weekend Drive, they celebrate the written word every Saturday evening in the popular Poetry File segment. 

The basic idea of Poetry File is a simple one – no fuss or frills – no interviewer or deep interrogation – just the poet's voice reading her or his work and then briefly commenting on it.  Sometimes it is about how the work originated, a family story or a brief encounter.

Other times the poet will talk about the actual making of the poem, for example using a certain poetic structure to bring the subject matter into sharper focus. Often there something to learn, whether an insight into how a poet’s mind works or a sense of the words themselves pulling the writer inside out.

Listen: Celia de Freine reads Mo Lorg Carbóin/My Carbon Footprint

"Poetry File has become a highlight of Saturday's Weekend Drive", says presenter Evelyn Grant. It is the variety I love. Different voices, different topics, different thoughts to reflect on each week. It is such a special pleasure to hear the voice of the poet doing the reading and giving us an insight into the context and background to the creation of the poem."

On Poetry File, the emphasis has always been on the aural – these are poems specially chosen to land well on the ear. Unlike picking up a collection in a bookshop, the radio listener gets to first hear the poem without any directional pull – the words and pauses make their own resonances with the listener before there is any explanation of the poem itself. In this way, their choices are left completely open – not influenced by a jacket cover, a photo, or a rapturous recommendation.

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Listen: Nick Laird reads The Cartoons 

Poetry File is a collaboration between RTÉ lyric fm and Poetry Ireland – a synergy between the two organisations to promote more audio avenues for poets and more exposure to poetry for listeners.

Adds producer Eithne Hand: "I love producing Poetry File - even in lockdown! While it's been tricky with poets having to do their own self-recording, we have still managed to have great contributors. Plus we have been able to include more Irish poets living overseas. The only criteria is generally that a poet should have a collection or chapbook published already but we have lots of poets still to record, both new and established voices."

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Listen: Damian Gorman reads A Time Comes

To date, Poetry File has had a wide and illustrious collection of poets participating, including Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paula Meehan, Theo Dorgan, Pat Boran, Doireann Ni Ghriofa and John W Sexton. We have recorded in various venues around the country with poets from all corners, and the current series features Nick Laird, Celia de Freine, William Wall, Nithy Kasa, Justin Quinn, Jessamine O'Connor, Declan Collinge, Judith Mok, Simon Costello, Elaine Feeney, Philip Mc Donagh and Julie O’Callaghan. 

Poetry File broadcasts every Saturday evening at 6:05 pm on Evelyn Grant's Weekend Drive on RTÉ lyric fm - listen back here.