Poet Róisín Kelly’s Residency at Tippet Rise
October 13, 2023
The transition from summer to fall at Tippet Rise is often a bittersweet feeling, shifting from long, warm days filled with visitors, concerts, and activity to several months of behind-the-scenes projects and planning as our team prepares for the year ahead.
We were delighted this year, however, to host one very special guest from Cork, Ireland. As part of Poetry Ireland’s International Residency Program, Róisín Kelly spent the past ten days at Tippet Rise exploring the region, participating in community events, and taking time to reflect upon art and nature in ways that we hope will add inspiration to her work.
Róisín Kelly shared, “My time at Tippet Rise was unforgettable. I will take many memories back with me to Ireland, especially moments when nature left me in awe: a line of elk crossing the misty brown hills in the distance, like cave etchings come to life. My first glimpse of the Crazy Mountain peaks rising like an island on the horizon. The way the autumn landscape was all rainbow: the trees shading the creek with red and amber and green; blue sky, yellow prairie grass, violet mountains. An eagle crying, a skunk running silky black and white in the headlights of my car. The star of red metal stamped on the vast sky overhead when standing directly below the sculpture called Proverb; the sculpture called Beartooth Portal framing the snow-dusted peaks of the Beartooths, which gleam like quartz when the sun shines directly overhead.
Most of all I will remember walking at night below the Milky Way and knowing that I was looking at the same constellations that shone above the people who had inhabited that land for thousands of years before I ever came there, who told each other stories about those stars, stories that imbued their lives and landscapes with meaning, as all stories do, no matter where they are told in the world.”
With the art center as her home base, Róisín traveled to Billings to meet with creative writing students at MSUB, toured the Yellowstone County Museum, and led a poetry reading as part of MSUB’s Sue Hart Memorial Reading and Lecture Series.
In addition to time with university students, Róisín met with children ages 5-9 at the Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County in a program planned by Tippet Rise’s Art Education Manager, Beth Korth. Following a brief discussion, the group wrote a collaborative poem titled ‘Apples’ and Róisín worked with them to write and illustrate poems of their own about some of their favorite things.
In the months leading up to Róisín’s arrival, the Tippet Rise team learned that as a child she had always dreamed of visiting Wyoming. Not letting those dreams go to waste, Beth and our Visitor Experience Manager, Jenny Van Ooyen, took Róisín on a journey to visit the Wyoming border, Cody, Bear Creek Mine, and several mountain overlooks before stopping by the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam where Róisín’s only regret was that she could not take all of the beautiful driftwood she found back with her to Ireland.
Róisín’s last two days in Montana were spent in Bozeman where she led a reading as part of MSU’s Honors College Presents Series, visited with many members of the MSU community, and observed programs hosted by the City of Bozeman and MSU in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, including a Round Dance hosted at MSU’s American Indian Hall. Her last stop in the United States was San Francisco for the LitQuake literary festival, before returning home to Cork.
Many thanks to Poetry Ireland, a collaborative partner of our sister organization, the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation, for selecting Tippet Rise as a host for this exciting program, and to the many Montanans who helped make Róisín’s time here so special, including MSU’s Ben Leubner and Maeve Daley; MSUB’s Bernard Quetchenbach and Tami Haaland; and Corby Skinner.
Photos by Beth Korth