Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

Two Stephen Murrays and an International Poetry Team, please. To go.

How many Stephen Murrays are too many? Indeed, what actually is the plural of Stephen Murray - is it Stephen Murrays, or Stephens Murray? And how did Swords Orthodontics end up sponsoring an international slam poetry team?

It sort of started when I got an email asking me to perform my poetry at a festival in Galway. I didn't have any poetry to perform. Now it might have been fun to bluff my way onto the bill, but I might have been caught out relatively soon.

I discovered the basis for the error when my internet connection needed technical support and the guy on the phone advised me to type my own name in to google to see if I was back on line - it turns out there is an award winning poet called Stephen Murray, who lived in the same county as I did. I had won competitions for public speaking and debating, and he had won a major prize for his slam poetry - that's original poetry performed live in competition in front of an audience. It was possible to see how we might get mixed up. 

(Actually, if I was performing slam poetry and he was doing dentistry, which of us could keep up the bluff the longest?)

I met him at the Electric Picnic the following year. I really liked his poems - I enjoy poetry, but I am fairly traditional and like poems to rhyme. Stephen's poems have a great rhythm to them and when he performs them publicly, he doesn't feel the inexplicable need to acquire a Caribbean accent or talk about "da gover-ment" and the like. We had stayed in touch on occasion and when I heard he was looking for support for his international youth slam poetry team, I was in straight away.

Brave New Voices is an international slam poetry competition organised in the USA, and the finals are broadcast on HBO television. There will be 60 teams from all around the world at it, including TeamIreland BNV as they're called.

The Irish team is made up of:

  • Ryan Mangan
  • Neasa McCormack
  • Iobhar Stokes
  • Melissa Kavanagh 

and they are managed and organised by (the other) Stephen Murray. Melissa is sponsored by Swords Orthodontics. Although this isn't directly to do with teeth, it does have plenty to do with the potential of the mouths of young people. The practice already supports a couple of sports teams, so it seemed a reasonable progression to help some people with their artistic challenges. The finals will be on HBO TV, but TeamIreland have already been featured on radio and TV - including a lengthy special programme on Al Jazeera.

Stephen is taking the team out to Atlanta next week, so wish them luck. You can follow their progress on facebook (facebook.com/teamireland) and twitter (@teamirelandBNV) - and of course on Swords Orthodontics!

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