Friday, January 19, 2007

Kindness, Generosity and great Poetry too.

I picked a very good night to venture down to Limerick. With the launch of the second issue of Revival, a good crowd of people arrived to the White House pub on O'Connell Street. Some were contributors and others were proud supporters.

Many contributors read from their freshly minted Revival copies, including me, and the support and reception were tremendous. I spoke briefly to the Editor, Dominic Taylor, expressing my admiration to him and Barney Sheehan, for the work they put in weekly in bringing diverse talents to their loyal audience at the White House Pub, and their hard work in promoting the written and spoken word in Limerick and its hinterlands.

The MC, Barney Sheehan, (he's the guy with the dicky-bow) kept the flow moving along nicely and once Revival was launched, read from, and declared to be selling well, the proceedings moved along to the Belfast Poets group.

Revival 2 Launch 1Barney Sheehan

The Belfast Poets present touring group comprises: PhatBob, Aisling Doherty, Ellen Factor, Chelley McLear, Gordon Hewitt and Jenni Doherty. Their readings are vivid and expressive, using visuals to back up their readings, adding depth to the performance. Their writing is born out of the context of NorthernIreland as it effects them, with some emphasis on the political. They take that political edge and fuse it with their individualised vision, personalising it both in the words they use and in the method of expression, and making it relevant in the wider context of the world - calling to mind world experiences of human atrocity.

I really enjoyed the whole set; in particular the duet, His Words, by Ellen Factor and read to great effect by herself and Aisling Doherty; and the chilling piece by Chelley McLear, Silence is Deadly, with its really effective visuals and voiceover. Gordon Hewitt's reading of Welcome to the Terrordome took performance poetry to another dimension - his energy is almost tangible; and PhatBob's gentle romantic lyrics in Not Sleeping Without You grounded the performance in a calm expression of humanity too.

Revival 2 Launch 18Aisling and Ellen

The group offers something for everyone, and not least is their interpretation of poetry as a performance, as something that makes you think again about the world around you. The effect on the audience was palpable, raising the bar on poetic expectations of what performance can add to poetry.When I spoke to them later, they told me about their Australian Tour last year, and how they were welcomed there.

But they also told of the personal cost of making that Tour happen: that was when I really realised their commitment to their passion in poetry. And if you have passion and talent - poetry might carry you further than you think. Buying their chapbook afterwards showed my support and allowed me to re-read in calm the poems that had fired me up.

To round out the night nicely, the MC invited readers to participate in the Open Mic part, and many volunteers read again, including me, allowing everyone a chance to air work in progress.

Afterwards a few of us retired to a later-opening hostelry across the road, where I had the chance to speak to PhatBob and Ellen Factor about their work and ethos. I also made great friends with Bertha, Martin, Seadna, Ed and Kate, an artist, and we even made it as far as the dance floor!

I learned from an earlier exchange with Miceal Kearney, a Revival contributor, about North Beach Nights, (that's Galway, not San Francisco), a Monthly Open Mic night in Galway, and that both of us would be attending the Over the Edge reading next Thursday, also in Galway - so someone to look out for there too!

Overall the night was so enjoyable. I made some new friends and the generosity and hospitality shown to me was so warm and welcoming (in the tradition of all those in the Wesht!), I felt like part of the furniture in such a short time.

I'll definitely be returning to Limerick! A big thank you to you all down there!

Barbara SmithBarbara Smith
All pictures can be viewed here, courtesy of Dominic Taylor:
Revival Launch 2

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