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A poet remembered: An evening of poetry held to honour the late Shaun Traynor

A special evening to commemorate the life and work of poet and writer Shaun Traynor, who passed away in March 2021, took place at the illustrious Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead Heath on Thursday 7 September.

Friends and family of the beloved late author came together to perform poetry from his final collection – the newly launched Walking Away – an exquisite and poignant personal collection of poetry from Shaun, selected over a lifetime of work as he battled terminal illness.

Readers on the evening included his friends Rosalind Scanlon of the Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith, who says she regards Shaun as ‘one of Ireland’s great poets’; features writer for Best magazine Shelley Spadoni, who worked with Shaun during her time at The Irish World; the Pentameters host and founder, the legendary Leonie Scott-Mathews who performed with Shaun in Shakespeare’s Last Drink his last public performance , as well family, including his granddaughter Carmen Smicle and son-in-law Kevin Smicle.

The memorable readings from the captivating night were captured by award-winning documentary filmmaker Anna McGrane.

The night closed with music from the Pentameters house band playing songs from Bob Dylan, Shaun’s favourite.

(Clockwise from top) Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith’s Rosalind Scanlon, Pentameter Theatre founder Léonie Scott-Matthews, Best magazine features writer (formerly Irish World) Shelley Spadoni Shaun’s son-in-law Kevin Smicle and (inset) Shaun’s granddaughter Carmen who all read on the night.

Shaun, who was born in Nothern-Ireland and lived most of his life in London, was a prolific writer of poetry and children’s books, and long-time readers of The Irish World will remember Shaun’s acerbic and witty reviews which he wrote for a number of years, as did his wife Ursula O’Reilly Traynor who organised the poetry evening in his honour.

An affable and good-natured man, Shaun was however unafraid to speak his mind. In response to Brexit, Shaun announced in the Irish Times that he was turning his back on his Irish Protestant roots and became a proud holder of an Irish passport.

Shaun published five collections of poems in his lifetime, with Shakespeare’s Last Drink, The Hardening Ground, Images In Winter, Stormont and Van Gough In Brixton, and his acclaimed children’s novels include Hugo O Huge, The Children’s Giant, The Giant’s Olympics, The Lost City Of Belfast and A Little Man in England.

Shaun also published several poetry books for children and he was Editor of The Poolbeg Book of Irish Poetry for Children.

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Walking Away by Shaun Traynor is available to buy on Amazon, priced £10
• Leonie Scott-Matthews’ Give Me More, a CD selection of poetry set to music, is available at The Pentameters Theatre website
The Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead Heath hosts the Moon At Night every Sunday from 7.30pm for an evening of comedy, poetry and music.
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