It has been a delight and an honour to visit Cork this week as part of the annual Twin City Poetry Exchange, with fellow poet, Janet Smith.
Cork poet, Paul Casey, gave us a warm welcome at the airport, transported us to our home-away-from-home B & B with the very lovely Finbarr and Marion, arranged our guest poet readings and gave generously of his time during the week to show us some of the local sights of interest.
Paul is the founder and organiser of Ó Bhéal (meaning from the mouth or by word of mouth) which provides weekly guest poet readings and open mic, and co-hosts annual exchange visits between Cork and Coventry poets, the forging and fostering of poetry links and friendships which constitute the Twin City project.
As honorary Coventrians for 2012, Janet and I were guest readers at Monday’s event. The venue: upstairs in The Hayloft Bar of The Long Valley, Winthrop Street. Lord Mayor of Cork, The Right Honourable John Buttimer was present for the early part of the evening which included the Five Word Challenge: a level playing field in which all present are given 10 minutes to write a poem incorporating five words provided at random by those gathered. These are then read out at the mic, the winner being the poet who receives the loudest applause.
I began my guest reading with my self-penned effort (‘nough said) followed by my planned repertoire. The response: genuine, I think; I could sense which poems went down best. In this city of poets, applause doesn’t seem to be given gratuitously. I liked that.
Janet’s reading followed; I could now relax and enjoy her fine words and delivery, including some of my favourites of hers.
Then followed the open mic; poets from Spain, Italy and France as well as regulars, with poems in a range of styles. Antonella Zagaroli, a poet from Rome, read from her Selected Poems, Mindskin, with Jennifer Matthews translating. We were also treated to the wit of Conor McManus, one of the two Cork poets who will be on the exchange visit to Coventry in November.
Midnight. The end of the event, but not the evening, as we went on to a late night wine bar with several of the local poets: we chatted, drank, eventually left by taxi around 2.30 AM…