Last week Riddel's Warehouse in Belfast's city centre was re-configured as the arts fringe space at the Peace and Beyond Conference. Poetry Jukebox was in residence both in a Label Lit incarnation and as a sound installation.
A real highlights was seeing the thought-provoking messages left by visitors and writers from around the world and across the city, hanging side by side with our own micro-poems. Another was watching the film 'The Grappling Hook' made by Raymond Watson who physically scaled one of the city's peace walls, "escaping" from one ideological prison o ly to find himself in an opposite but equal prison on the otherside. A timely reminder of what unites - as well as divides - us, twenty years on from the Good Friday Agreement.
Belfast's newest resident, the Poetry Jukebox, was installed at Crescent Arts Centre a few months ago with a deceptively simple mission: #changingthemessage
A new curation arrives at the beginning of April marking twenty years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and asking the question.. "What else?" And this is the type of question McGibbon O'Lynn's post-human narrative likes to interrogate and explore in The Xenophon Project. So I am vey delighted that one of my Xeno poetry fragments, 'The Signal' from our Almanac of Tomorrow piece has been selected to be part of this new curation. Words have power, language carries a resonance far beyond ourselves.
A consensus could not be achieved on whether this was an explosion or an implosion.
The poems in the #GFA20 curation will also become a LabeLLit intervention, part of the arts hub of the Peace & Beyond Conference which is being organised by the Centre for Peace & Democracy, Ulster University & Queen's University Belfast (10-12 April). Our poetry will be an installation of literature designed for conference delegates to take away with them - little thoughts on where the future will take us all.
This weekend marked the final of the three XBorders:Accord sessions, with a last seminar in Belfast. Of course we took our writerly friends around the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Queen's quad, the Naughton Gallery and last - but certainly not least - to listen to some of the inspiring voices (including our very own Adam Trodd!) on the Poetry Jukebox at Crescent Arts Centre #changingthemessage
After a very pleasant morning of meandering in a shockingly sunlit Belfast, what awaited us within was a rather more rigorous and intensive seminar on sharpening our editing skills and really honing our writing to be the best that it can be. I am a terrible editor so this was a tough session for me but I feel like I have learned a lot from it and I hope the ideas will percolate well over the nextfew weeks as I prepare my work for the last few steps of the XBorders project - a 1:1 mentoring session and a showcase at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin in May.
We had earned our wine after all that!
jWell, there's me at last night's pretty fancy Hennessy Literary Awards. The whole evening was fabulous from beginning to end - a Hennessy cocktail bar! John Lavery art on the walls! A Hennessy swag bag to take home! People wearing beautiful dresses! Canapés! (Priorities, people...) Bernard MacLaverty there in person to be inducted into the literary hall of fame! Marina Carr up on the judging panel! The Irish literary institution that is Ciaran Carty himself who had plucked all our stories and poems to publish from a submissions pile of over 3000 entries in 2017! Roisin Ingle compering the whole thing!
It is fair to say I am beyond starstruck!
Huge congratulations to the three very deserving awardees from last night: Aaron Finnegan, Louise G Cole and Manus Boyle Tobin.
Extremely delighted to be amidst some pretty exalted company on the shortlist for the Hennessy Literary Awards 2018 - and especially in the same year that the venerable New Irish Writing reaches the half century milestone.
Got some pretty cool post into the bargain, inviting me to the awards ceremony in Dublin the week after next - can't argue with that, though it is very definitely the first time my name has been on the guestlist for a party sponsored by Hennessy. Feel like a rap star.
And of course had to go and buy a copy of the paper today, because I'm not a rap star - I am a geek.
Siobhan and I are very please to announce our new show, Xenophon: From the Beginning, as part of Drogheda Arts Festival, at Droichead Arts Centre.
Featuring artifacts old, new and post-human from The Xenophon Archive, we will be employing sculpture, narrative, animation and technology to explore the interstices between art and science, and the future of the human species. There will be some new text incorporated through poetry and multi-layered journal entries.
Entrance is free, everyone is welcome, all are one and details are here.
On Saturday we had the second of our three XBorders: Accord project sessions, this one taking place in the Playhouse Theatre in Derry.
One of the group, a writer called Sue Divin who is also a community development manager in the city, took us on a guided tour of the walls which certainly blew the cobwebs away and got me thinking about physical borders and changing perspectives.
One of our other XBorder comrades, Rory Duffy, came up with a good name for us...a "puck" of writers...and this epic video to match!
We then had a seminar led by Michael Doherty, which touched lightly on his mediation work but delved into his personal history and the history of the city, and the set of historical, geo-political and personal circumstances that led him into this field of work in which he has had a long and distinguished career.
After all that we were almost too wiped out to write (what am I saying, I am never too wiped out to write) but we had a great session with Maria McManus and Freya McClements on the shifting ways in which we are all starting to think about, write about and feel anxious about borders and barriers - political and otherwise.
Then, after a long day, it was time for us to pile into the poetry-mobile and head homewards to Belfast, across a countryside sliding into dusk, the border between day and night, along roads crisscrossed with lines of communication.
I spent this evening doing a site visit and some field recordings for a new project I'm working on as part of House Taken Over, a weekend of talks, performances and artist responses within a historical home in South Belfast, curated by Hickey + Hickey.
House Taken Over is presented as part of the Sonorities Festival organised by the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s which this year has as its focus techno-human encounters and matters such as machine listening and audio coding, and forms of listening, sounding and voicing embodiment and affect.
The exhibition and events programme takes place from 20th - 22nd April 2018. Viewing is by appointment only. For more information, to book an event or to view the exhibition please email: email@example.com
Following a journey through waterlogged fields and final frozen remnants of the snow that blanketed the country last week, I crossed the border (X-ed the border?) and attended the first session of XBorders: Accord in the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin on Saturday.
It was a real pleasure to meet so many disparate writers from across Ireland and beyond and to listen to them reading extracts from their own recent work. We also met with and took part in an introductory session led by Maria McManus, the poet who is going to be our mentor / guide / guru for the duration of the project, and Valerie Bistany, the Director of the Irish Writers Centre.
I am looking forward to drawing on the wealth of experience and perspectives to inform my own writing, and to cross some boundaries and push through some borders in my practice in the months ahead.