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.
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.