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.
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.