Yes But Are We Enemies? an Irish Enemies project - September 2014

Yes But Are We Enemies? an Irish Enemies project. Began on September 18th 2014 in Belfast and visiting Derry, Galway, Cork, Dublin and finished in London on September 27th. YBAWE was a multinational project about collaboration and innovation in contemporary poetry. Six core poets, 3 Irish, Ailbhe Darcy, Christodoulos Makris, Billy Ramsell and 3 English, Sam Riviere SJ Fowler and Patrick Coyle, presented new collaborative works across the six date tour. At each reading they were joined by numerous pairs of locally based poets and every event featured never before seen collaborative works. Yes But Are We Enemies, co-curated by Christodoulos Makris, was fundamentally about the creation of new collaborative works and the integration of differing poetic communities, and was possible through the support of The Arts Council of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, through their Touring and Dissemination of Work scheme. More than these facts and figures, YBAWE was one of the most generous, warm hearted, creative and close knit poetry projects in the history of the Enemies project and its impact will remain in Irish poetry for some.

You can read full blogs about the project and the tour here

Yes But Are We Enemies? : Belfast - a beginning : Sept 19th 2014 at Crescent Arts

An extraordinary beginning to the Yes But Are We Enemies? project in Ireland, the wonderful poets of Belfast couldn't have been more generous and hospitable, and enthusiastic, to us and the idea.

Stephen Connolly & Stephen Sexton -
Padraig Regan & Manuela Moser -
Sophie Collins & Robert Maclean -
Caitlin Newby & Andy Eaton -
Tom Saunders & Lorcan Mullan -
Billy Ramsell & myself -
Patrick Coyle & Ailbhe Darcy -
Sam Riviere & Christodoulos Makris -

Yes But Are We Enemies? - Derry : September 19th 2014 at Verbal Arts

The great strength of our event in Derry was the width and experimentation of the poets and their performances. So wonderful to see the work of Aodan McCardle, Ailbhe Hines, James King, Ellen Factor and others, all based in Derry, so experimentally vibrant and brilliant, complimenting the overall feeling of an Enemies event. 

Aodan McCardle & Ailbhe Hines -
James Kings & Ellen Factor -
Sophie Collins & Robert Maclean -
Sam Riviere & Billy Ramsell -
Ailbhe Darcy & myself -
Patrick Coyle & Christodoulos Makris -

Yes But Are We Enemies? - Galway : September 21st 2014 at Galway Arts

A full day in Galway and then to the arts centre for the reading itself. Some beautiful contributions from Elaine Cosgrove, Anamaria Crowe Serrano, Susan Millar DuMars, Kevin Higgins, Eleanor Hooker, the wonderful Sarah Hesketh who'd come all the way from London to join us.

Elaine Cosgrove & Anamaria Crowe Serrano
Susan Millar DuMars & Kevin Higgins
Sarah Hesketh & Eleanor Hooker
Christodoulos Makris & myself
Patrick Coyle & Billy Ramsell
Ailbhe Darcy & Sam Riviere

Yes But Are We Enemies? - Cork : September 22nd at Triskel Arts

The venue, in the Triskel arts centre, was packed, 50 seated, at least another 20 standing. It really felt as if Cork's poetry scene was highly developed, full of festivals, visiting poets, an active community. A wonderful night.

Sarah Hayden & Rachel Warriner
Doireann Ni Ghriofa & Cal Doyle

Eleanor Hooker & Sarah Hesketh
Paul Casey & Afric McGlinchey
Christodoulos Makris & Sam Riviere
Ailbhe Darcy & SJ Fowler
Billy Ramsell & Patrick Coyle

Yes But Are We Enemies? - Dublin : the end of our Ireland - September 25th at the Irish Writers Centre

One of the best Enemies events ever.. Hard to describe just how intense, and how brilliant this event felt. Very much, it would seem to me, to be a culmination of a variety of circumstance. The first being the underappreciation of the strength of the Irish avant garde. Here poets of that ilk came together, from Cork to Derry, from Dublin and beyond to share a series of works so radically different in their experimentation, but all wonderful in their power and authenticity, that it became undeniable there is an amazing thing happening right now in Ireland. From audiovisual collaboration, to performance art, to found text, to multivocal readings, the event did what we initially planned this tour might do, and it gave a home, and created a platform for really diverse writers to prove us right. It was also in the Writers Centre, a beautiful place, but known perhaps for its formality, and we crammed it, filled most of the two rooms, and somehow used the ornate nature of the surroundings to intensify the intimacy of the works. 

Yes But Are We Enemies? diary #6 - London & farewell

There were tears shed at the very end of it. Often the London event, following the time spent in the country of question on Enemies tours can feel like an afterthought, a rounding up. This was all its own thing, packed with people, full of great performances and full of its own energy. What can be said about #YBAWE? It was perhaps, overall, the best thing I've been a part of in the project so far. So good was the time in Ireland, in the cities and travelling, with the beautiful core poets and the local others we met along the way. So good was the work, the poetry, and so satisfying the feeling at the end as at the beginning. 

Why I am excited for Yes But Are We Enemies? an outside view of Irish poetry by SJ Fowler

I've had the great fortune to travel during my life, and recently (perversely) often through poetry. Yet, I've never been outside of Dublin in Ireland, never been outside of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Moreover, when I've spent time in Manchester and Edinburgh, and made public my admiration for the depth and consideration of the poetry scene in both those places, centred on, but not exclusive to, the Other Room and Caesura, so those local to the place have expressed surprise that I should feel that way so vehemently. What was most often said of the Auld Enemies grand show success at Summerhall in Edinburgh just last month was that only an outsider could've had a hand in such an event coming together. So my being an outsider to Ireland has allowed me to watch, over the last year or two, a distinct and decisive blossoming of extraordinary writers, poets, editors and curators coming out of those nations. It is too frequent that a poet of quality, that I will then go on to watch for, to invite, to follow, will come out of the Irish nations, that it might be an accident. 

Darran Anderson was my predecessor at 3am magazine, to him I owe the job of poetry editor there, and much more besides. His writing, and the clear energy of literary impetus is extraordinary. Susan Tomaselli has been doing for me, for my repute as it were, what often poets long for and few get, actual consideration and unexpected support. Her work with Gorse is nothing but a revelation, it is a singular project, and a magazine I will submit to for every issue, fail and or succeed. Michael Shank's Bohemyth is another extraordinary publication, genuinely marked out from its peers by its intensity and width, and the editorial care that Michael selflessly throws into it. Colony is an outstanding publication too, edited by a team that includes Kim Campanello, Dave Lordan, Anamaria Crowe Serrano and Rob Doyle, all of them authors whose work represents the quality of the magazine. Kim herself represents the depth of connection to Ireland that currently resides in London, and has informed and expanded, palpably, the scene I am actively a part of. Pascal O'Loughlin, Robert Kiely, Stephen Mooney, Sarah Kelly, Becky Cremin, Philip Terry ... all hold Irish passports of one kind or another, all are brilliant, and perhaps united, by being profoundly underappreciated. I'll say nothing of whether the famous Irish poets of the last half century have strangled any appreciation for just how inventive and truly Avant Garde Irish poetry is and has been, as I'm not Irish and I don't know enough. What I do know, with absolutely certainty, these poets, above and below, are extraordinary, and aren't considered so by more than a few hundred people. If this project makes it a thousand (or two), then I'll sleep better.

& Rob Doyle, whose book sits on my shelf, recently catapulted quite deservedly (and all the more rarely for that fact) into a literary exposure I could not have been more pleased to watch happen There's Aodan McCardle, who I saw perform in London before I published a poem, who leaves behind him here, while making similarly important work in Ireland, a legacy that generations will remember in Veer press. There's James Cummins, who I saw storm up Prague this May. There's Stephen Connolly, who I've had the pleasure to publish and invite to read in London, who is markedly, no matter where he might be from, one of the more generous and intelligent younger poets working today. There's Damian Smyth, a more open and supportive curator I have yet to come across from the distance I have been lucky enough to know him so far. There are these names, and so many more, whom I have read and whom I have the pleasure and privilege of meeting in the latter half of September - Kit Fryatt, Cal Doyle, Eleanor Hooker, Ailbhe Hines, Doireann Ni Ghriofa, James King, and many others,  please search them out, you will be better for doing so. 

I will not yet write about my co-tourees, Sam Riviere, an old friend who lives in Belfast, Ailbhe Darcy, Billy Ramsell, Patrick Coyle, as I will have plenty of time to do so during my tour diaries and this is about what is in front of me, that which is happening in Ireland now. But I will finish by speaking of Christodoulos Makris, someone who I'm very proud to say has become a friend since I interviewed him for my Maintenant series a fair few years ago now. I could not have found a better and more responsible and generous co-curator and collaborator for this project. He has managed to be so many things at once, in his work and in his person, humorous and warm, yet dignified and serious, experimental and innovative, and yet never trenchant or posturing, Irish and Cypriot, and yet neither / both of these. His recent work is up on 3am Have a look at 'Chances are' and the poetry of it speaks up itself. 

This is the right time to be exploring Ireland, and not just through poetry, but through collaboration in poetry, something that forces creative sociality, friendships, communication and bonds, made face to facem that I hope, being relatively young in my life, will last many decades into the future