May 14th, 2007 at 7:44 am
Posted by pc in Poetry Events and News

First All-Ireland Poetry Slam team announced

On Friday the 11th of May 2007, history was made as 2 regional winners from each province sized up their compositions at McHugh’s pub in Belfast, the oldest building in the city. The eight poets had only 2 minutes and 15 seconds to perform each of their pieces in rounds one and two. Then four went through to the final round; Gerard McKeown (Ulster), Colin McKeown (Ulster – unrelated), Noel Sweeney (Leinster) and Brendan Murphy (Connaught).

The excellent organising from Mark Madden (Creative Writer’s Network) and dazzling MC work from Chloe Poems made this a truly great event, and benchmarks the beginning of many to come. The intention is for the annual event to alternate throughout the four provinces.

First and second places went to Brendan Murphy and Gerard McKeown, who now represent the Irish team. They’ll be up against the Welsh, English and Scottish at the BBC Radio Four Slam Championships in July.

Videos of the performances can be viewed here

May 7th, 2007 at 1:20 pm
Posted by pc in Ópen minds in Poetry

Last week I received a call from Gordon Hewitt, spokesperson and performance member of the Belfast Poets Tour Group. Having recently completed successful tours of Australia and Ireland, he found that organising a tour of the open mic venues here was by far the more difficult. There are less than a dozen countrywide and only a handful who run every week.

His concern has led him to initiate an open-mic tour circuit of Ireland, so that any ambling poets may visit or perform at all of the six major venues (held in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Derry and Belfast) within a week or two. Not only will this boost poetic diversity and exposure, furthering the appreciation of Irish talent locally, but will also encourage International poets visiting Ireland access to these venues with an attractive ease and immediacy. Ó Bhéal has given its complete support to the venture and will be involved in the project’s first meeting in June. Post will be updated.

April 14th, 2007 at 11:36 am
Posted by pc in Ópen minds in Poetry

Comments: A spoken word or two – Where does ‘Performance’ Poetry stand?

There was a psychic moment in a reading once, when I heard someone thinking in a condescending tone, “Well that’s poetry too”. Their expression was all too transparent for my comfort. I imagine my poet posture had appeared during a sprawling appreciation of an organised ‘Published Poet’ reading, and I was transformed into a vividly present symbol of spoken word poetry, as distinct from the written. I was actually being stereotyped from my posture by the somewhat all too common Literati Elitist of poetic classism.

As if the spoken word were resident below fighting mindlessly somewhere in a hell realm, Dante’s ninth maybe, praying to Cuchullain and Tailtiu, Macha and Amergin whilst from above the glass floor peered the epitome of poetic integrity and purpose.

The difference is in the mind. Spoken Word performance Poet in the left corner, Written Word published Poet in the right. Then as they engage they both speak at the same time, failing to make any contact, and their words fuse into a poet thrice the size of either. The Written Spoken Word Published Performance poet emerges (with a bit of filmmaking perhaps or music on the side). The spectators run for the fire exits. The referee cowers beneath the judges’ table.

As Todd Swift (see link below) points out, being more or less of one or the other are just two aspects of any poet’s journey. So are we to commercialise mp3 poetry in order to get funding for the almost exclusively Spoken word poet? To get him or her the right dose of recognition? I think not. Most of the payment is in the giving of the poetry, in the engagement, in the fire of poetry … and what fire needs no fuel? Perhaps the spoken form is too fine to be appreciated enough.

The need to be published in order to get funding is akin to having to have a degree to speak English. At least more universities are accepting life experience in lieu of certain course credits for mature students … maybe this way of thinking will catch on more. Make paper transparent? Many of our praise poets, political poets, 21st century seanchaithe, satirists work almost entirely with writing for the Spoken Word. And is it Art? Expensive in it’s creation, profound in its influence, some just do it better with their mouths than with their literature.

When nepotism climbs into any of the Arts bodies we know what happens to the foundations. Three cheers for the impartial Arts Funders. Fair funding bodies encourage a fair society. How pc of me you may think. But i am PC – Poetically Confussed. And I plan to stay that way. What I love most about MCing is the diversity in Poetry; Form, Style, Content, Passion, Truth, Finesse, Engagement. The unique vision within every voice. Discrimination is only a ‘word’ after all … Calliope, I’ll have a good medium to rare one-hour reading, followed by an epic, a drop of unplugged ceol followed by a story, a good open-mic session and a dash of Slam for dessert.

More articles on the state of the Spoken Word today:

Maureen Gallagher’s article:
Is Slam Poetry the last resort of the failed comedian? … here
(with reference to the Todd Swift interview by Kevin Higgins … here)

Todd Swift’s response to Maureen Gallagher:

Trish Casey’s article:
Slam On – Performance Poetry In Ireland … here

Desmond Swords’ response to Trish Casey … here

Kevin Higgins’ article:

James J McAuley’s response to Kevin Higgins … here

Miceál Kearney’s response to James J McAuley is in the comments section herein.

by pc

April 14th, 2007 at 11:00 am
Posted by pc in Poetry Events and News

I hope you enjoy this blog. Any open-mic news is particularly welcome, and please add any poetry links you feel are worthwhile with your comments (and any of your original poetry).
This post includes interviews of guest poets by Jennifer Matthews. So far these include the following poets starting with the most recent (and more on the way!):

Máighréad Medbh
Anamaría Crowe Serrano
James Harpur
Rick Mullen
Lothar Luken
Robyn Rowland
Dairena Ní Chinnéide
Knute Skinner
Niall Herriott
Dominic Taylor
Seán Callahan
Miceál Kearney
Trish Casey
Gearoid Mac Lochlainn

Thanks Jen for all the quality work! (which is here)

Comments: Poetry and Miscellaneous. Please feel free to contribute.