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

24 Dec 2004

four days to go

England still - the guttering still spews out its complaints of weeds. The shed lock is broken and the computer is probably thinking about joining it as if it was six feet under. I wish to leave the weather behind and get on with Ireland.

The stress is building. I managed to get a last minute (fairly local) booking to do a mono-printing workshop today. I was in half and half decision mode as to whether I should do it. Not because I wouldn't have enjoyed it. It was incredibly well organised, ran smoothly and the indoor and outdoor events kept the audience fiery throughout the downpour. Though time is at a premium with the Ireland scheme, I'm glad I did it. Oh, and the marquee waited until we finished then collapsed around us like a broken spider web.

After a wait around for equipment to be put away, I got a lift with Dave the organiser and Harj (who was running the mask-making stall next door). I got back about 5.15pm - shattered. I was expecting company at home 6pm so things had to be quick. Things fell into place though… it's been like that recently - happening in waves - one thing falls down and something picks up and everything works out. Peaks and troughs.

The day took my mind off my travels for a while - much needed. Sometimes passions have to be put on hold in order to appreciate them when they happen.

I've been panic-ing over Ireland quite a bit. I know I'm up to it - I can gather the information and turn it into poetry. I can hone, polish and work it until it’s a good solid manuscript. I'm used to it. I've worked in Waterstones as their writer in residence, in Creswell, turning local history in poetry through interviews and workshops. But there's something special about this. Possibly because I've organised it all myself and I'm carrying the whole weight on my shoulders. I also want to do Ireland and her people proud. There could be lots of reasons why I'm nervous - but I can't quite tie them down yet.

I know the task on return will be larger than the initial visit. I have to get the results out to audiences as well as convince those in the upper echelons that the work is valuable to the area and to the arts world. Still, the only thing I remember from my geography tutor was the phrase 'an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less'. I thank you, Mr Burns, sir.

Meanwhile, it has to be printed up and will need a further investment of cash and energy.
There's been a couple of glitches come up about accommodation today and a bit more good news. On 5th September, I'll be staying in Cushendall and I've been invited to an Irish music night by the host (Liz Weir - storyteller ( ). I've been assured by a contact's partner in Belfast that the area is on a par with the same beauty as Canada. I've also had confirmation that I can stay in a hostel in Attica in the Mourne Mountains. It's been a long time since my last clamberings there. Be ready to listen for the screams of an Englishman slipping off green grassy rocks.