Colm MacNiallais, 13, wrote a short poem about the World Trade Center Disaster when he was still 12 and won the children’s section of the competition. It is judged by poets and actors, this year including Paul Muldoon and Philip Levine.
MacNiallais’s brief, poignant poem was inspired by Sept. 11. It captures the void left by the disaster in simple language.
He is the son of Derryman Liam MacNiallais who teaches Gaelic at Rocky Sullivan’s bar, and lives in Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, which had an unobstructed view of “The Two Towers,” as he called the poem:
I used to see
From this window
The two tallest towers
I ever saw.
After that day
I can’t anymore.
The competition is organized by the Poetry Society of America, whose “Poetry in Motion” posters will be familiar to anyone who has ridden the New York City subway or transit systems in Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia and others.
The program, started in New York in 1992, reckons that its selected poems are read by as many as 13 million people a day.
Poems are selected from works by famous poets such as W.B. Yeats, Frank O’Hara, Ezra Pound, and Emily Dickinson, as well as in an annual contest open to adults, young adults and children.
Unfortunately, Liam MacNiallais told the Echo, his son Colm was in Ireland for the awards presentation last Thursday and missed the event at Symphony Space when Paul Muldoon read his poem aloud.
The Poetry Society was unavailable for comment. The winning poems, including MacNiallais’s “The Two Towers” will go in subway cars this winter.