Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Winter Warmer festival 2014

Ó Bhéal’s 2nd Winter Warmer festival takes place this coming Friday and Saturday 21-22 November in Cork City, and I'm very happy to be taking part in it.

More than twenty poets - also including Eleanor Hooker, Astrid Alben, Máighréad Medbh, TemperMental MissElayneous, Sarah Clancy, Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhúigh, Alan Jude Moore and Paula Meehan - will be reading/performing in the amphitheatre at Sample Studios, some of whom will be accompanied by musicians. There will also be poetry-focused comedy games, poetry-theatre, a selection of poetry-films from around the world, and a closed-mic for ten local poets.

I'm scheduled to read on Saturday, in a session that starts at 3.30pm and also features Ciarán MacArtain (with Michael O’Callaghan) and Simon Ó Faoláin.

All events are free admission.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

launch of gorse no. 2

On Wednesday 19 November I'll be reading at the launch of issue 2 of gorse.

"Please join us in celebrating the launch of gorse no. 2, in the The Library Project Temple Bar, on Wednesday 19 November with readings from the issue by Claire-Louise Bennett, Dylan Brennan, Rob Doyle, Hugh Fulham-McQuillan, Christodoulos Makris & Colm O'Shea, and an exhibition of the artwork of cover designer Niall McCormack."

I'm particularly looking forward to this: there will be a special & very exciting announcement.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Camaradefest II, zimZalla & Poets Live: the videos

For the second year running, last month's Camaradefest brought together 100 poets to present brand new, specially commissioned collaborations in 50 pairs. Once again the range of approaches was extraordinarily wide, reflecting the richness of contemporary innovative poetic practice coming out of London and elsewhere. I was able to witness the last 3 sessions in their entirety, that's 30 poetic collaborations, none of which was less than engaging. The final session in particular was incredible - but I was particularly impressed & delighted by the efforts of Jow Lindsay & Anne Laure Coxam, Lila Matsumoto & Samantha Walton, Sam Riviere & Crispin Best, and Holly Pester & Emma Bennett.

Links to videos of all Camaradefest II performances are available here. Below is footage of my collaboration with Nathan Jones. Not knowing each other before beginning to write, we decided to give each other access to our subconscious by writing down our dreams every morning for a week and exchanging them, with an 'analysis' of each other's transcript to be returned the same evening. For the performance itself we decided to present only the text of the analyses in a manner that reflected the intensity of the process, the 'cross-contamination' effect between analysis and dream, and an undercurrent of competitiveness present in the exercise:


In contrast to the large-scale nature of Camaradefest (which attracted an audience of several hundred) two days later an intimate gathering celebrated the zimZalla exhibition of poetry objects at the Hardy Tree gallery on Pancras Road through a closing reading. zimZalla is an endlessly innovative imprint run from Manchester by Tom Jenks, and its activities were appropriately marked here with a range of readings/performances by Olga Peková and Zuzana Husarova, Kimberly Campanello, Lucy Harvest Clarke, Iain Morrison, Ryan Van Winkle and Tom Jenks himself - before I closed the evening:


The reading down in the cellar of Carr's near the Tuileries Garden in Paris last Tuesday as part of the Poets Live series attracted a good-sized anglophone crowd. The audience was particularly attentive and the vibe was serious but welcoming. Strong work by Carole Birkan & Will Cox, introduced as poets working towards their first book, was followed in each half by sessions from Freke Räihä and myself. Wonderful to talk to everyone afterwards upstairs in the bar, to see old friends and to make some new connections. Edited footage of the evening below:

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Poets Live in Paris

Poets Live is Paris' foremost anglophone poetry reading series. Established by Dylan Harris in 2010 and currently curated by Pansy Maurer-Alvarez, it takes place monthly and offers "an eclectic range of English-language poetry, all styles and tastes, instream and outstream, from the anglophonie, from outside the anglophonie..." Previous featured poets include Jerome Rothenberg, Trevor Joyce, Zoë Skoulding, Harry Mathews, Alice Notley and Carol Watts among others.

I'm very happy to be featuring in the November 2014 edition along with Freke Räihä, as well as Paris-based Carole Birkan and Will Cox. The date is Tuesday 4 November and the venue is Carr’s Pub, 1 rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris (Métros: Tuileries or Concorde). The organisers advise: "drinks at the bar from whenever you like, poetry starts downstairs at 19:30." Admission is free.

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.