Praise Song for Inspirefest: A unique end to day one of the sci-tech festival

7 Jul 2017

Attendees make the most of all that Inspirefest 2017 has to offer. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Science, technology and the arts collided at the opening day of the annual Inspirefest event, and poet Kate Dempsey summarised it best.

Inspirefest day one has passed with a bang, many laughs, and a few tears shed at some poignant moments.

The festival of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) with a creative edge began in earnest with the main conference at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre amid Dublin’s Silicon Docks. The new Irish Taoiseach, the US National Science Foundation chief, the CTO of Nokia and president of Bell Labs, the lead writer of Tomb Raider, and the co-founder of one of Ireland’s greatest sci-tech success stories all graced the stage on day one.

We also heard about the intersection of pop culture and our robotic future from Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic, how to disrupt yourself from tech pioneer Dr Sue Black, and touching stories from the event’s charity partner, Debra Ireland. All of this was followed by an evening Fringe event in Facebook’s EMEA HQ.

To sum up the events of the day did seem an impossible task, until the opening act of the Fringe festival made the impossible seem effortless.

Poet Kate Dempsey at Inspirefest’s Fringe event in Facebook Dublin

Poet Kate Dempsey at Inspirefest’s Fringe event in Facebook Dublin. Image: Elaine Burke

The Facebook Fringe event was opened by Kate Dempsey, a poet with a background in physics who has become known for poems with a STEM bent. Dempsey recited poetry previously written for Science Hack Day Dublin and one that was inspired by a article. But we were truly honoured to have Dempsey present us with a new poem, written as the day unfolded. The poem is what Dempsey described as “a praise song”.

“If you don’t know what that is, I got the idea from the American poet Elizabeth Alexander, who wrote and read a praise song for President Obama’s first inauguration,” she explained.

Dempsey’s poem was also inspired by Twitter, and she added: “Some of the best tweets are those that are sharing something you find amazing, inspirational, interesting or just useful to know. So think of this praise song as a long, threaded tweet.”

So here we have it, reproduced below as Dempsey wrote (and signed) a copy exclusively nabbed by Silicon Republic. It is a perfect summary of a day in which STEM was fired up in a crucible of arts, culture and creativity to become all-encompassing STEAM. And we look forward to more as the event rolls on.

Praise Song for Inspirefest

By Kate Dempsey

Praise to the science, technology, engineering and maths
Praise to the art, design, music and writing
Praise to the thinkers and teachers, colleges and libraries,
Praise to the giants who came before us
Praise to Socrates who said “Wisdom begins with wonder”

Praise to the planning, the lanyards and lists
to the volunteers who are still smiling though the queues are long
Praise to the meeting up with old colleagues and new friends,
the hugs, the manly shoulder slaps,
the checking out of the face then the eye-drop to the name tag

Praise to the inclusion of the leaders of tomorrow
Praise to the diversity and inclusion, the stepping outside of our own echo chambers
Praise to the Lottie dolls and the real kids that inspired them
Praise to the youth and the experienced

Praise to the different paths
Praise to the wandering for not all who wander are lost.
Praise to the trying of new things, to saying yes more than saying no
even if we’re really bad at being bad at things

Praise to Leo for showing up,
for calling out William Rowan Hamilton, poet, mathematician, scientist,
graffiti-ing the equation on Broome Bridge that sent us to the moon
and enabled the wonders of FIFA 2017.
Praise to the massive human effort to put one person in space

Praise to the impossible dreams and moments of clarity.
Praise to the running of the gauntlet of every relative who says “you’re going to do what?”
Praise to the failure, yes, and the courage to try and fail and try again and fail better
Praise to the not letting go
Praise to doing the unexpected and inviting the unexpected to happen

Praise to basic manners, dignity and respect for all
Praise to the telling of the past through the eyes of the excluded
and planning the future with inclusion
Praise to the raising awareness of diversity
Praise to the calling out of companies who are creatively avoiding taxes
Praise to the listening, observing, checking the data,
reading the article before you share

Praise to the cross-disciplinary, heart sleeve research,
the twisting and squeezing
Praise to the brains, the inventors, the beautiful minds
bringing the bits of the jigsaw together
Praise to the confidence

Praise to science fiction voraciously consumed, subliminally infectious
Praise to the robots, the software mind and no body, the mind blown
Praise to the jumping in slow motion for years
Praise to the hoovers and dishwashers

Praise to the delicious, nostalgic ping-buzz of the dial-up modem
(which is surely too recent to count as nostalgia?)
Praise to the sound system, the scary cracks and sparks, the sound engineers
the presenters and spectrum of speakers
the super seed snacks which get stuck in your teeth,
(the lunch that keeps giving)

Praise to the culture of creativity and imagination
Praise to the art and science beautifully entwined
Praise to the collaboration and innovation
Praise to the poetry

Praise to the writers creating full, rich characters
and leaving behind the triangular boobs
Praise to the orchestral score, the blues song
and the collisions with technology
to the ability to make an idea come to life for others to experience

Praise to the science, a light to illuminate our place in the universe.
Praise to the engineering, a means to create a different world
Praise to the beautiful elegant maths
Praise to the technology, the computer, the engines of creativity and imagination, which married
with liberal arts and humanities yields the results that makes our hearts sing
Praise to the humans behind it and the humans it is for
Praise to Steve Jobs, to Ann O’Dea, to the memory of Mary Mulvihill,
to the corporate sponsors who did more than pay lip service

Praise to the last two years and the next year and the next
Praise to the days
Praise to Inspirefest.

Poet and blogger Kate Dempsey runs the Poetry Divas, a collective of women poets who blur the wobbly boundary between page and stage at events and festivals all over Ireland. Her debut full-length poetry collection, The Space Between, is available from Doire Press.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM.