Friday, 24 October 2014

zimZalla in performance

“zimZalla is a unique publishing imprint specialising in literary objects. With twenty-five objects published to date, including poetry tea bags, greetings cards, scented chocolate bars and a backwards book in a miniature coffin, zimZalla celebrates the handmade, the ephemeral and the eccentric. zimZalla at the Hardy Tree, co-curated by The Enemies Project, is a never before available opportunity to see all twenty-five objects in one place at one time. A true trip down the rabbit hole.”

I'm excited to be participating in the closing reading for the zimZalla exhibition at the Hardy Tree Gallery (119 St Pancras Road, London NW1 1UN) on Monday 27 October. Starting at 7.30pm, the event also features the TRYIE Collective (Zuzana Husarova, Olga Pekova +), Tom Jenks, Kimberly Campanello, Ryan Van Winkle & more.

Admission is free.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Camaradefest II

The 2nd edition of Camaradefest, Steven Fowler's monster festival of poetry collaborations, takes place this coming Saturday 25 October in the Main Space at the Rich Mix (35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA). Beginning at 12 noon and running until around 10pm, it will feature 100 poets presenting 50 brand new collaborative works.

I'll be performing my collaboration with Nathan Jones, Liverpool-based writer, curator & producer, in the final session, starting at 9pm.

Admission is free. Full Camaradefest II lineup below:

John Clegg & Holly Corfield Carr
Nick Murray & Aki Schilz
Sarah Dawson & Robin Boothroyd
Jonah Wilberg & Lucy Furlong
Vera Chok & Sophie Herxheimer
Jon Stone & Harry Wooler
Paul Hawkins & Mali Clements
Cali Dux & Simon Pomery
Angus Sinclair & Laura Elliott
​Ross Sutherland & Thomas Bunstead

George Szirtes & Carol Watts
Gareth Rees & Gary Budden
Robert Kiely & Doug Jones
Mike Saunders & Emilia Weber
​Tamar Yoseloff & Claire Crowther​
Andy Spragg & Emma Hammond
Alan Halsey & Geraldine Monk
Nia Davies & Sarah Howe
Tim Allen & Richard Barrett
Prudence Chamberlain & Eley Williams

Hannah Silva & Andra Symons
Harry Man & Kirsten Irving
Vicky Sparrow & Dave Spittle​
​Agnes Lehoczky & Astrid Alben
Stephen Watts & Cristina Viti​​
Isobel Dixon & Claire Trevien
Ollie Evans & Becky Varley Winter​
Rebecca Tamas & Martin Jackson
Sarah Kelly & Seekers of Lice
Jow Lindsay & Anne Laure Coxam

Colin Herd & Iain Morrison
Marcus Slease & JT Welsch​
​James Wilkes & Ariadne Radi Cor
Edmund Hardy & Amy Cutler
Sophie Collins & Livia Franchini
​Nikolai Duffy & Rhys Trimble
Ryan Van Winkle & Ghazal Mosadeq
Calum Rodger & Anthony Autumn
Cristine Brache & Holly Childs
Lila Matsumoto & Samantha Walton

James Davies & Philip Terry
Nathan Jones & Christodoulos Makris​​​​​​​
​Zuzana Husarova & Olga Pek​
​David Berridge & Stephen Emmerson​
Alison Gibb & Kimberly Campanello
Sean Bonney & nick-e melville
​Luke Allan & Graeme Smith​
Sam Riviere & Crispin Best
James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar
​Holly Pester & Emma Bennett

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

ISLA Festival 2014

Organised and presented by Instituto Cervantes in Dublin, ISLA is a festival of literature now in its third year that focuses on writers from or with links to Ireland, Spain and Latin America. This year the programme of events runs over three days, between 17 and 19 October, and features 21 authors (including John Banville, Claire Keegan and Hugo Hamilton) engaging in a range of discussions and readings. There are also screenings of documentaries on Gabriel García Marquez and Octavio Paz.

I'm participating in a reading & discussion with title 'Building Identities' taking place on the fist day of the festival, Friday 17 October - also featuring Donal Ryan and Anamaría Crowe Serrano and chaired by Philip Johnston of University College Dublin (UCD). We start at 6.15pm. The venue for all events is the Institute's Café Literario at Lincoln House, Lincoln Place, Dublin 2. Admission is free - but due to limited capacity the Institute encourages those interested to book places in advance at

Friday, 10 October 2014

YBAWE report #3 - Dublin & London

Dublin 25/9/14

If I'm honest - and why wouldn't I be - I suspected the Cork gig would turn out to be the apex of this tour. On arrival in Dublin the six of us dispersed briefly to different locations and commitments, but this only acted as a welcome breather for what's undoubtedly turning out to be an intense if joyful overall experience. We returned refreshed the following afternoon to the Irish Writers' Centre to a welcoming environment and a well-organised performance space, despite the challenges of facilitating not only a couple of pieces making use of audiovisual backing and another with props (a reprisal of Aodan McCardle & Áilbhe Hines' performance from Derry) but also a panel discussion prior to the performances. The room was packed, in fact both rooms on the Centre's first floor were occupied throughout the event. Keen & prompting questions from our moderator Susan Tomaselli ensured any early stiffness in the discussion quickly evaporated, and as we warmed up we made arguments on the avant garde poetry scene/movement's need to overcome its self-imposed status as a contained & embattled gang, talked about issues around creative translation and collaboration, fiction-writing as a collaborative process between authors and characters, curated spaces where the diversity of poetic practices can coexist, appropriation and other experimental writing techniques, print against and/or in conjunction with online publishing tools, and more. We ended on an open, non-decisive note, the stage set for what was to come as an illustration perhaps of some of what was being claimed. John Kearns and Kit Fryatt began with a multivocal rumination on the instability of translation, and the evening continued with among others a reverse poetic commentary on the rivalry between Liverpool FC and Manchester United, a Jack Kerouac-inspired piece from Dave Lordan and Rob Doyle, and Billy Ramsell and Steven Fowler addressing the historical enmity between England and Ireland with a little help from a chorus of voices scattered among the audience. The reaction to the event on the night and subsequently on social media and personal communication suggests that it delivered in backing up and extending claims made prior to the journey and during the discussion. Audiences, as has become evident throughout the tour, are thirsty for new approaches to writing and poetry in particular. The success of the Dublin gig also brought home to me that there really is no apex to this tour, just a series of different, multifarious, exciting happenings.

London 27/9/14

And sprint to a finish: after 10 days that I won't be forgetting or shaking off in a hurry, our project comes to an end. It was - and I absolutely mean this, I don't resort to platitudes - a joy and a privilege to travel, write and spend time with Ailbhe, Billy, Sam, Pat and Steve. Many new friendships and connections, both personal and poetic, have been established. I suspect we're all a little more aware and rejuvenated as writers for having had the chance to know intimately each other's modes, styles, preferences and processes. Special mention for Steven here, the originator & curator of the overall Enemies project for his vision, energy, drive and conceptual agility. I would additionally like to pay tribute to those who travelled of their own accord to take part in more than one event without being part of the core group: Sophie Collins, Robert Maclean, Sarah Hesketh, Eleanor Hooker, Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Cal Doyle, Aodán McCardle, Áilbhe Hines, Kit Fryatt. The spirit of this enterprise resides with them as much as anyone. The London show at the Rich Mix arts centre was another singular event being of course the only one taking place outside of Ireland and also Steven's regular curatorial space, but also because two of our guest poets were unable to attend and therefore prompting their collaborators, Sarah Kelly and Stephen Mooney respectively, to perform solo. And what a great job they did responding to that challenge - while Philip Terry and Martin Zet managed to reinvent Seamus Heaney as a sound poet by reversing his poem 'Anahorish' letter by letter and also translating the result into Czech. At the conclusion we are all exhausted and happy, emotional and reinvigorated. And on we go.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

YBAWE report #2 - Galway & Cork

Galway 21/9/14

It's always invigorating to alight in Galway and encounter its Atlantic air and backpacking energy. For the whole of this weekend in particular the city was bathed in sunshine and made being here feel at times too much like a holiday... We took advantage of our first performance-free evening to get together for a long meal in a Thai restaurant, where the round table format enabled communal conversation and banter and a cementing of relationships. The Galway Arts Centre proved an intimate venue for the third date in the tour - and whether it was because or despite of this or a complete coincidence, it was the scene for the most radically diverse presentation of work and approaches to collaboration - and a vigorous interrogation of performative poetics - so far. Ranging from Anamaría Crowe Serrano's & Elaine Cosgrove's passionate and resonant exploration of domestic violence to the loss-themed interactions between Eleanor Hooker & Sarah Hesketh to Patrick Coyle's embedding of Billy Ramsell's words into the structure of the minstrel song Camptown Races and to Ailbhe Darcy and Sam Riviere's beautiful epistolary exchanges - among others - it was an event I'm sure will stay in the memory of the audience that experienced it, for various reasons I'm quite happy to acknowledge.

Cork 23/9/14

Since we got together a few hours before the first gig in Belfast five days before, the bonds between the six touring poets have been strengthening rapidly - and by the time we passed the halfway stage of the tour somewhere between Galway and Cork we felt as if we'd been in the company of each other for weeks (but in a good way!). Our growing intimacy coupled with time and space afforded to each other to individually explore our surroundings at our own pace imbued the group with a kind of familial ease. And the wow! factor at encountering a wall mural in Cork city centre featuring Billy Ramsell was tinged with something like collective pride. Beyond this, the links we establish with the locally-based poets we meet at each stage of the tour, and especially with those generous enough to travel for a second performance, are helping turn this project into the welding agent between scenes and poetic worlds that I hoped it would become when Steven & I began talking a year or so ago about bringing the Enemies project to Ireland. The event at the Triskel Arts Centre (Theatre Development Space) was extraordinary in quality, scope and audience interest. An expectant and open minded crowd packed out the space and witnessed a stunning opener from Rachel Warriner and Sarah Hayden, and as we moved through the evening to the climax provided by Patrick Coyle's conceptually astute treatment of 'home' poet Billy Ramsell's contribution (the structure of their collaboration reversed from the previous event and further tampered with) the atmosphere had built into something like reverie.

An independent review of the Cork event, by Rosie O'Regan, appeared a few days later on Sabotage Reviews.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

YBAWE report #1 - Belfast & Derry

Belfast 18/9/14

The six touring poets arrived in Belfast separately over the 24 hour period preceding the first event, and we quickly got to acclimatising to the travelling mode that awaited us for the next 10 days. A welcoming atmosphere during the first reading and its aftermath, facilitated as much by the eagerness of our guest poets to respond to the challenges of collaboration as by Stephen Connolly & Manuela Moser's excellent work in establishing a community of open minded poets over the past couple of years through The Lifeboat series of readings, was key. The Cube space at the Crescent Arts Centre with its huge black curtains as backdrop accentuated a sense of seriousness and weight running through the majority of the work presented here. Beyond a diversity in theme, it's the range of approaches to collaboration that I'm anticipating to be a preeminent feature of this tour - and we got off to a fascinating start. Following the five Belfast-based pairs, the core partnerships of Billy Ramsell & Steven Fowler and Patrick Coyle & Ailbhe Darcy moved things into the realms of heresies and object exchanges, before Sam Riviere & I swapped mild unpleasantries, passive aggression and a (sort of) reconciliation through the medium of 'letters to the editor'.

Derry 19/9/14

A welcome return to Derry for me, where I had such a great time with the Poetry Parnassus posse a couple of years back. This has a different feel, though: whereas two years ago I was seen as part of an exotic group of poets from around the world, this time the English/Irish aspect is hanging in the air, noticed in particular by the English-accented poets among us. Our event here was part of the annual Culture Night, when numerous events take place across cities with audiences free - and encouraged - to go in and out of venues as they please, and was quite strangely part of a buzzing night of MTV concerts and historical reenactments on the city walls and craft workshops and much more. We were preceded at the Verbal Arts Centre by a British Council-sponsored discussion/reading on the theme of writing and travel with Colette Bryce, Leontia Flynn and Qatari poet Maryam Al Subaiey. Our gig was quite a different animal altogether, not only from what came before it in the same space but also from the previous night's tour date, with its own rather electric identity. Aodán McCardle and Áilbhe Hines kicked us off with an intimate piece featuring bodywriting and the use of performative props including a skipping rope, while James King and Ellen Factor upped the ante with word choreography and scrambled utterances and improvisational dialogue. Top 10 countdowns, Iris Robinson, nuclear holocaust and undermined recipes for writing poems rounded off the evening.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

gorse no. 2

The second issue of gorse, a wonderful print journal of literature edited in Dublin by Susan Tomaselli, was published last week and includes a new long poem of mine.

gorse publishes high quality work in the form of essays, fiction, interviews, poetry, variations of these and much else. It's distinguished by top production values with beautiful cover art, extended knowledge of and interest in a diversity of writing traditions and movements, an experimentalist thrust, cosmopolitanism and wit combined with seriousness of attention, and an interrogative outlook - a confluence of dimensions generally lacking from other Ireland-based journals.

Issue 2 also includes work by Claire-Louise Bennett, Matthew Jakubowski, Rob Doyle, Colm O'Shea, SJ Fowler, Dylan Brennan and Lies Van Gasse among others.


My poem has title 'Civilisation's Golden Dawn: A Slide Show' and is composed out of specifically-written captions to old family photos of trips to Greece, with fragments from official publications about the country and various references to recent political events, accounts of which are typically delivered through online/social media, interspersed among them. Two of the 'entries' are translations of the transcript of a public, multiphobic rant by an MP from the far-right party Golden Dawn as provided by separate online translation engines.

Apart from purchasing individual copies or taking out a standard subscription, there are several additional ways of supporting gorse: please do so if you can.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

In anticipation of Yes But Are We Enemies ...

... here's Auld Enemies: a poetry documentary by Ross Sutherland. Auld Enemies was a poetry collaborations tour of Scotland undertaken under the auspices of the Enemies Project in July.

Yes But Are We Enemies kicks off at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, next Thursday 18 September. Full tour details here. And here's why my curatorial partner and overall Enemies Project curator Steven Fowler is excited by the prospect.

Monday, 25 August 2014

essay on Jacket2

An essay I've been making notes towards for the best part of two years has now seen the light of day courtesy of Jacket2, the online journal of contemporary poetry and poetics associated with PennSound and the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Titled 'Monoculture beer no more: other poetries from Ireland', it aims to offer an interrogation of the territorial concerns of the vast majority of the poetry coming out of Ireland, and a discussion of emerging avant-garde tendencies brought about by political discontent and driven by poets and editors/curators straddling linguistic & national divisions.

I like to think that the effect of the article having been written over a period of time is akin to that of long-exposure photography: in addition to capturing individual items it also records time. In it I discuss, link to and/or quote from the work of (among others) Catherine Walsh, Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Dylan Harris, Kit Fryatt and Susan Connolly.

I'm excited & proud to be joining the list of contributors to Jacket2. Thanks in particular to Julia Bloch for her editorial attention and support.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Chances Are on 3:AM Magazine

My mass collaboration poem 'Chances Are' is now live on 3:AM Magazine.

"... it involves embedding the HTML code for a Twitter widget bringing up a feed with all tweets that include the word "chance". I have the code - the idea is to present it as it is as a 'conventional' poem in the new book, along with instructions to go to a specific web page for an online application of it. There's currently around 100 tweets per minute feeding through, so the poem gets constantly updated, and fast, by everybody/anybody (knowingly or not) and is in effect never the same twice."