dedicated blogsite to Dave Wood's participatory poetry project in Northern Ireland. Started late August and finishing September 2004, it does a compare and contrast with previous visits 1988 - 1998. Also see

1 Oct 2004

Banbridge to Belfast

Three quarters of the way through the workshop, Mairead from the library service pops in to see how I operate and how things are going. The session went very well, and from what I gathered and hoped for, the feedback was good. After everyone had gone, we chatted a while - in fact too long a while; we realised that time was speeding on. About half an hour ago, I'd agreed to come downstairs and have a cup of tea with the library staff. So Mairead had to be unblocked from the car park and we sped off. Some comedian once quipped - I don't know why they call it the rush hour -everyone's going incredibly slow. The Belfast ring was clogged up to the hilt with cars, lorries and us. We were moving at a (dead) snail's pace. Not sure what it was about - I couldn't see any roadworks but there could have been the usual heavy haulage you get as part of the process. Oh the joy.

We talked of my plans to come back to Northern Ireland - next year, possibly for St Patrick's. We talked of twinning with England - bringing together writers' groups, library services, Irish language courses - everyone really. Perhaps I'm obsessed by arts projects, perhaps I'm just a workaholic and a glutton for punishment, perhaps there's something about joining together that would bring about some understanding. Maybe twinning could be the new multi-nationalism. Hopefully I can make the project pay financially from getting some funding.

I was dropped off at the Belmont Road, desperate for a pee, physically and mentally shattered and craving to look at the two sets of photographs I'd just had developed (I joked with the woman that the machine reading my card was probably slow because it was desperately searching for money - funny - no?).

One short phone call later and I was chatting with Mick from Slugger in Holywood.

So do you think Ireland's changed?, he asked

'Yes', I said, but where do I start?