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

2 Jan 2005

Some background to the project

During 1988 - 98, I toured internationally with community theatre co-operative, Word And Action (Dorset) Ltd. My main position in the work quickly fell to organising tours in Britain as well as to undergo the practical hands-on work of helping groups build stories and act them through to completion in a central space. It was exhilerating work that kept you on your toes (and behind the wheel of a car for long periods of time) and gave a richness of experience that, for me still lies unsurpassed in any other job.

One learnt to expect the unexpected, groups hotch-potching together highly original plays by responding collectively, vocally and abstractedly to a random question and answer process. Parts in the play were acted by the audience supported by ourselves. Everything was represented by people - tables, chairs, the moon (!) etc. Because of the speed of the story gathering process these often quirky statements revealed (through symbol) great insights into the groups concerned. But that (sorry) is another story…

It was through Word And Action, I made my first visit to Ireland. I'd previously been across the water to other countries that spoke English as their non-native tongue. Sweden was my first sojourn abroad (Italy came later) The Swedes' English was perfect.
Ireland felt different; 'it is foreign, because it's across the water, but it's not…' I pondered, and I remember having the conversation with my colleague at the time, Michael Fealty.

I had a lot of questions to ask and was ready to make some bold statements about a subject I came to realise I knew little about in terms of the grass roots. I was soon shushed down in the public arena. The song 'whatever you say, say nothing' has always been a reminder of those times. Sensitivity was not my strong point but it was to be an absolute essential.

We got on with the job in hand; working in schools, colleges, hospitals and universities. In the first year of being an apprentice to the work, utmost concentration had to be in learning a process which felt (and was at the time) completely alien to me. Along with learning came periods of stress, frustration and anger, usually projected on to my colleagues who were experienced in handling most battle periods in the growing pains of a newly initiated community arts worker. The processes of Instant theatre was digging its talons into me, asking me to respond quickly and fluidly to situations way beyond my ken. Somehow I pulled through and stayed to enjoy and grow a further ten years. Christ knows how.

The journey through Ireland was about four weeks with a lot of time spent in the north. Mick (or Michael to his mum) had instigated the tour. Now the brains and spirit behind, he continues a similar role that he held in Word And Action; facilitator of a myriad voices. His (now award winning) blog site, dedicated to the Irish situation is dipped into by everyone from the passing surfer through to political representatives wanting a genuine cutting edge update on the peace process. Best check it out yourself (also check out

So Mick became my knowledge base - both for the work and for his home background. He was from Holywood near Belfast where his mother still lives (I wish I knew what tea she bought, because she seems to thrive on it!).

The company's dedication to the freeing up of language led me into poetry. I'd never really studied it except at school. As a child I went through a period of composing what I went on to call tum te tum verse, the kind of stanzas that would trip merrily along like your were bouncing on the back of a camel. My vision of poetry changed when I joined Word And Action. Regular gatherings run by the collective invited the reading out of poems previously written to the evening. There was no critical analysis just gentle probings to clarify and open out points in the lines. My own poetry by this time was run by the intellect and the heart hadn't quite brokered free as yet; I was writing it as 'part of the job' . I could hear my muse laughing her stockings off in the back of beyond. Nevertheless I persisted.

I returned to Ireland, not always with Mick, and each time my experiences of the country were recorded into notebooks. Some were scratchings at verse or short lines that seemed prose, others were far tighter poems and honed over several days.

Nowadays, you can still almost hear the gasp when you tell people you'll be going to Belfast or that you've already worked there. But it's a lively and lovely city. Yet, looking back, I can understand their fear. On an early visit there, I was put off walking into a department store by being confronted by a heavily armed guard. He didn't say anything (he didn't need to) but somehow it gave me the jitters. Later, encounters which should have put the wind up me dropped away like nothing, the cancellation of a scripted play because of a bomb scare at a school being just one example. Perhaps they just didn't like the play.

So when I left the co-operative in 1998, I had notebooks bulging full of poetry covering the day to day, the peace process, the breaking up of reconciliation (consequently the furious anger) and the massive demonstrations demanding real radical change from within and without.

I primary focus will be to tighten my existing poetry as well as create a new block of poetic work based on Ireland. My task is not to change the vision of the country. My quest is to find an understanding, both for myself and for readers and listeners of my poetry. Wish me the luck of the Irish.

Co-operative Business Consultants are part sponsors of the project, website

Dave Wood's C.V. 18/8/04

my tenet is that everyone is creative. I work with all groups and individuals to enable them to access their imaginative spark.

administrated - arts projects and tours throughout Britain. provided arts-based training for professionals in education, health, business and community arts.

writer in residence, Waterstone's, Nottingham - writing workshops. storytelling sessions - Unity Primary/Draycott Primary . design/painting of giant book. In-store storytelling/Laugh Your Pants Off Stall (Comic Relief). haiku/tanka workshops. soap opera session with writer Richard Young. invented/administrated big word day. refuge sessions - published in store. doctor love's poetry clinic - writing sessions for Valentine's Day. a write-a-thon-ic day. monthly writing sessions

language worker - published in; The Green And White Bag, South, Doors, Poetry leaf, From to Bangkok to Bangladesh, The Round Organ, The Daily Round, Clay and Words, Poetry Nottingham International, Egg-Cups. Guest editor Doors 53. self published choosing paths/stealing the river and boon. read Wimborne Poetry Fair, Round Festival Jam Session 1996, South Gathering 1995, Broxtowe College, Celebrating Stapleford, Beetroot Tree Gallery, Waterstone's, St.Swithun's Church, (Belper Arts Festival), Round Festival 2001, NSF Nottingham. Sawley Wesleyan Guild. Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture - Galleries of Justice - reading with Vickie Rouse. poem/reading for marriage of Andrew/Sarah Rampton, naming ceremony of Amy/Tom Mepham and wedding of Mick Fealty and Fay Bowden, Dorset. created play - The Pink Cog, performed Dorset and The Round Festival, London

further educationally - Broxtowe College Development worker (Stapleford, Long Eaton, Sawley) - April 2002 - September 2003. administrating open your art - students' exhibition at local Library. whole day workshop - Beeston Day Centre. creative writing and development sessions - Long Eaton Skills Shop. stress release fair 2001 - poetry session - growing old disgracefully - creativity for elderly residents. getting your words out (writing/editing sessions) - Long Eaton. staff training session - Broxtowe College Staff. Open Door Writers' Group - weekly creative writing sessions. banner session with African Caribbean Elders. drama sessions - Beeston Day Centre. arts/crafts sessions – Stapleford, Awsworth, Beeston Rylands. representing Broxtowe College at Local Area Forum meeting and Community Operations Group. printing session - Mental Health Fair. sculpture session with partially sighted group, Eastwood. creative writing and collage sessions with Beauvale Court stroke group. administrating wake-up monday (community education tasters) Stapleford 2003. creative writing workshops - Stapleford Library and The Manor Centre, Beeston. (devising and) facilitating confidence and creativity - personal development course. blowing the dust off your biro (creative writing) for Notts Uni Continuing Education. administrating open your art too; community art exhibition (including design of banner)

visual artist - maker - Giant Poetry Scrabble. creator - Poetry Dominoes. spoken poem prints and sculpture - Beetroot Tree Gallery, Draycott. poetry self portraits (language and visual arts) stall - Celebrating Stapleford. designer - cover for open door creative writing collection (mental health awareness week 2001) design of becus' (credit union) logo.

actor - (theatre in the round), Word And Action's Instant Theatre. directed/acted Claim with Richard Young - International Theatre in the Round Festival/Stress Release Fair 2001. the journey (dance-drama) - co-produced/directed - Wimborne, Dorset. the gift (Chris Johnston) - Ireland. the woman (R.G.Gregory) - Dorset. the monster (R.G.Gregory) - Dorset. poems in action - Britain/Europe. famine (M.Fealty) - Round Festival/Ireland.

also completed - Trent Uni - six workshops. two workshops - Beetroot Tree Art Gallery. Erewash Writers' - two full day writing sessions. C.V./press release for artist, Karen Thompson. South Notts College poetry session. prose workshop - City Arts' Writing to Reach You. reading for NSF Nottingham. poetry session in Erewash Museum Maze. writing session - Swanwick Hall School. performance with musicians' collective (aware). haiku workshops - Kirk Hallam School. launch of boon - Stapleford Library. creation myth workshops - Herbert Strutt Primary. printing workshop at Erewash Museum. Giant Poem - Stapleford Jubilee Celebrations 2002. building life-size pit-pony for museum. making walk-on board game. Postcard Project with Open Door Day Centre. commissioned poem for Wimborne Poetry Fair. creative writing session - Stapleford Volunteer Bureau. poetry and pictures - Roundhill Primary. creatively developing - devising and facilitating course for Notts University. Mediaeval puppet workshops - Erewash Museum. local voices poetry project, Creswell. monoprint books - project with young mums. Durban House - creative reviews and five minutes writers' drinks mats. designed publicity/header for Sign-Hear (Deaf Awareness Training). workshop/reading for National Poetry Day - Ruddington Library. three poetry workshops - St Martin's Special School. Workshop, Erewash Museum (National Poetry Day). Hallowe’en storytelling - Durban House. printing stall - Stapleford Health Day. creative writing sessions - Long Eaton Skills Shop, Durban House, Stapleford Volunteer Bureau and Manor Centre, Beeston. reading for National Tree Week – Draycott. exhibit, Which Makes Me Smile’, at Surface Gallery, Nottingham. Nottingham Tennis Centre - children's creative sessions. Nottingham Credit Union/s - devising/facilitating poetry project. exhibits for Postcard Project, Surface Gallery. poem for sign hear (sign song). poetry and prose – workshop with Spondon Writers. paintings and reading at Erewash Art Exhibition. prints and reading at Surface Gallery Open Exhibition. Tall stories workshop with Erewash Writers. making a manuscript – Long Eaton Skills Shop, Durban House Heritage Centre and University of Nottingham. blowing the dust off your biro (2004) – University of Nottingham. Bookmaking - Learning Works, Nottingham. Creative Writing Session - Ruddington Library. Poetry Bunting - Broxtowe Hemlock Happening. Poems and Pictures - Eastwood. Sculpture course - Broxtowe College (Stapleford). collaborative installation project - The Beetroot Tree with Sue Jarman (textile artist). milestones - writing/printing project with Open Door Centre. Participatory theatre work in Sicily. Writing sessions with Sneinton House.

2005 - Workshop with Deaf Community & Blind and Partially Sighted Groups, Angel Row. sculpture sessions - Stapleford. Creative writing - Eastwood, Sawley and Trowell. Haiku dialogues with Notts reading development officer. Sculpture Sessions - Beeston Day Centre. Project with Nottingham City Arts' Art in Mind at Portland House Hostel. Commissioned poems for exhibitions at the Surface Gallery, Nottingham. Workshops at Derby Gallery, Editing sessions - Notts Uni, Two workshops on culture - Beeston Fields School. Week's work at the Wetherby Day Centre, Derby. Poems on Pappadums, Poetry reader in Doctor's Surgery, Radford.

contact me davewrite2002(at)

27 Dec 2004

press release - an invitation

please use and abuse this freelly and immediately

Poet from England, Dave Wood begins his travels through Northern Ireland on 24th August. Already from one day's appearance on award winning he has picked up a contact in Kilrea who wants to find out more. Although Dave wasn't planning on going to the area, (he's got a stinker of a schedule) he's trying to work out a way that the two of them can meet up. Check out the itinerary for his location over the fortnight.

He'll be running at least three (arranged) creative writing sessions and will be interviewing people on an as and when basis. If he stops you mid-shop, please give him some of your time.

Meanwhile, if you want to meet up, whether out of curiosity, from a press perspective or want to add their voice to this poetic snowball (!), contact Dave asap. He'll be logging on to his own site and to slugger when he can. davewrite2002@ at

Have patience.


the build up (6 days to go)

Wednesday 18th August - mad rush again. Tried out the tent last night - it's perfect (probably because it's hardly been used!). Still got to arrange insurance for the project and there's a couple of days at the end I have to sort out. I'm hoping to have some work (and hence some accommodation) in Portstewart. It looks beautiful around there. Good news - a camping barn in Cushendall has agreed to give me free accommodation, even though the proprietor is away! They have lots of storytelling and songs and sounds like a place of veritable hoolies! No early night for me.

26 Dec 2004

Poetry previously created in Ireland

Poetry previously created in Ireland to be re-worked and re-vamped. New work to be created as a compare and contrast. Getting very stressed in the build up to the project. Anyone got the gin? Meanwhile, are an organisation supporting the project. Visit their website

driving at night through ireland

a sting in my neck from driving
through roads too thin to walk on
two eyes that squint from living
hell - a headlight's glare left full on

a music tape plays company where
tiredness stills our late night tongues
so many thoughts arriving here
we find our eyelids dried to bones

two thirty a.m (thereabouts)
the door's alive with our knocking hands
- our saviour host - she takes our coats
leads us to beds through moon-time lands

ballyronan day centre

she said
i'll say a prayer for you tonight

she called me sir
and constantly asked me
what to do

amidst all the bombs
and the threat of more

i try to make sense of old age 

beach at orlock

a wind strong enough to eat the words
from your thoughts

(or vice versa)

i become a mist here
tilting myself
to cope with the incline of a few slippery rocks

in my bag
i have a notepad and pen
and an unwillingness to turn back
(for the want of a few toppling words)

i feel the shave of the sea

against my own judgement
and where jagged lines meet
i retreat back to a house
where i temporarily live 

a smouldering coil

i have used my collection of sleep
felt sick on waking
my shards a smouldering coil
a pain that cannot spring itself from dream

the roots on which i stand
pull a game of to and fro
my words tarnished with puzzles
whether strife or joy
i end in question marks

o god help us
more news form soft accents -
like games in tight aviaries
the angry voices march
and march

bitter phrases give future some sort of hope

the question marks have taken shape
(the words point up and scratch the itching feet
to ask for more)

sometimes the razored doubts of me
break out and give up too quick

then I feel the flap of wings

this place could be the home
that's worth the tears some day
counting (an analogy)

walking a difficult world

i put down how much has been spent
in terms of loss

(i had taken off the day
to concentrate on other things)

my hands get ready to count
and i find only fingers and thumbs


how many more times?
the constant waiting
for time to draw closer

the need to deal with
trouble in mind

and the likelihood
it will happen again

christchurch cathedral (dublin)

- shards of coloured glasss

i feel nothing (the more I struggle here)
sexless men
eagles of still gold
shards of coloured glass

the more of less I feel

i can constantly search for movement
but giving up is the hardest part

as always

free whisky - bushmills visit

a golden glass at the end of here
stings a shudder where shudders
tend to avoid

a short term task
as we spend what's dear
and we suffer goods
(we'd normally abhor)

at bushmill's factory
they're selling history
by the bottle

the displays in the gallery
hide ireland's poverty
which seeps like old oil

dublin to belfast (traffic)

you said
(stepping out the volvo)

and slamming the door
(christ almighty
it made a bang!)

i remembered
a song and sang it


postcard to kelvin from ireland

remember how we talked
of wild times?

rainbows -
coming up
going down

and the many uses
of policemen's helmets


ready to deliver us
on homeland's
silent welcome

we make a keen break from
dreaming shores
and order drinks on the boat

the more i tip it back
the tea just doesn't
taste the same
now we're leaving

after four weeks

section one -

the sky in rolls of grey like stones
drops on dublin
city of diamond thoughts

the lights we reach for
but never seem to touch
draw scattered pins upon our sleep
and winks its eyes
(says goodbye to each of us)

section two -

six forty five a.m.
leaving ireland
- a small darkness
in early morning folds

we pull back her blankets
and feel the surge
pushing us away

and finds (giant's causeway)

through seaward wave (the birds riding
bumps on watery lifts)
the cold daft wind comes home in drifts
and finds the lonely three walking
(just walking)

and the sea shells crunch under tread (and the
words are lost)
our thoughts caressed by winds that
somehow the three start talking
- just talking

teelin point rock face

and here the screaming rock
its eyes against the sea and all she hides
shouts obscenities
where heather clinging to its sides
gives whispers to our feet

but do you think that holes its grown
will swallow us
like stories made for children?
(the fairytales
the giant's desk
the dark cliff murmurs)
then think again
and hear us walk
so clumsily

our words that scream
towards your ears
one two three four five
this is the day we come alive
donegal - teelin point (1995)


how down the cliff's hold
that spraying
going and lost

how paths collide into heather
sentences which burn the throat
and coat us with rain

what gives us clues for the way to walk

we stand in growth
and listen for the answers

sunset - muff hostel

these continents - great shifting reds
and greys and blues begin to merge
(pastel lines across a scrap of sky)

this gorse that rips the arms
to lines of basic flesh
bends supple to the wind's embrace
and prays to be left alone

behind clear windows
anecdotes are swapped
the night upon us
pulled down tight

those fading reds
gone by and by
by and by

end of i.r.a ceasefire

a promise given from both sides

a hundred injuries
(and death)
and shattered glass
cuts politics in half

who's to blame?

over the wharf and far away

we wonder what the hell
we are praying at

for belfast

we hear the news
of another bomb

there is barbed wire
around these
jigsaw pieces

ballyronan - 15/2/96

slow overlapping
cold breaths

(fall upon each other)
split a massive grey cloud)

this drowsy sun
a sunken fence
(all at sea)

the end of a ceasefire -
a helicopter shaped in the distance
carries a pregnant weight
beneath its belly

it could be anything

taking it all personally

there is nothing here but war

and you have closed this door to me
something that you gave
hits the floor
and starts sinking

down and down

waterford - 26/7/97

the coast hid behind the city's shadows
fixed plans with the car parks
tasted the petrol fumes
and coughed a little

in here a woman squeezes
(man handles) a trainer
as if its juices will flood from its holes

a man
quite proud of this purchase
smokes a cigarette
towards the window

these are times of observations
of seeing how truth walks
on the paving i lay

this is the café where they don't have toast
but plenty of bread on the table

the tea is black
and still
it manages to get darker

this is the place
where there is music
and the kids scream ulterior motives

this is the café
where the vinegar
sits in its proper bottle
and butter is out
(and melting)

to my side
a child runs away
is picked up
strapped in its place

for this - we are all grateful

this is the café where
i see the edges
spiky tongued
soft syllabic

the air has not touched me yet
except with flu and a good irish headache

traffic by-passes this place
lorries fold back the evening
and spit on the floor


i share my night with
the smell of burning peat

the taste of the sea

and an almost full moon

i share my sleep
without meaning

my hand lifting a pen

and my thoughts cutting me tight

until it doesn't matter anymore

25 Dec 2004

I'm still in Stapleford (kickstarting the Ireland Poetry Project) 18/8/04

Hi Folks

I'm just about to embark on the tour - gathering information, opinion, doing creative writing workshops and getting ready to bring it back to England for publishing on line and as hard copy. There's readings already booked but I'm always happy to offer more. I'll be staying Derry, Omagh, Holywood, Armagh, Portstewart, Portadown, Portaferry and Attica (in the Mournes). I will hopefully be stopping for a Guinness or two on the way and a bag of Taytos of course!

I sent out the following press release about six weeks ago to and have been working like mad to raise the money and to get the project financially stable. I also want to make sure I can cover the marketing when I return.

It's been a mad rush trying to get things organised. I'm still waiting for people to get back to me about whether they can get enough people for a workshop. I realise now that I should have waited, but there's a stubbornness in me that really won't let go. Anyway, wish me luck. More soon.

You should also check out who'll be hosting my diary whilst over there.

All the best

Dave Wood

d a v e w o o d
( w o r d s m i t h e t c )

August 2004

Press release for immediate use

Free Creative Writing Sessions from Visiting Poet!

From 24th August 2004, for two weeks, Dave Wood, poet from Nottingham, England will be touring Ireland offering free creative writing sessions to groups, organisations and communities. Normally he would charge £85 for the two hour session. What he asks for is simple - for participants to get involved and for a roof over his head that evening.

Nottingham Poet Dave Wood is returning to Ireland after a long break. Previous visits were with touring interactive theatre co-operative, Word And Action over the years 1988 - 1998. This time he's on his own, ready to enjoy the culture, the writing and the zest of Ireland's shores! He's bringing some real bargains with him too.

He's offering free creative writing workshops to any group, organisation or community who's willing to put him up for the night. He assures us he is entirely well behaved and doesn't take much looking after. He says, 'for the project to be successful, I need people to chat with me about Ireland, their own community and, of course to share their writing with me.'

Whilst travelling, he'll be recording his passion for Ireland in his own style of poetry. He'll be returning to England with this as well as his re-worked creative work from previous visits. It won't take long launching them on his own website as well as on Whilst there, he'll also be keeping a written creative diary on award winning He'll also be reading the results to captive audiences in England.

He promises us, These creative sessions are entirely free. If you find it impossible to help with accommodation but would still like a workshop, do get in touch with me. You can contact him at (please send no attachments and make sure you put poetry project in the title bar)

Dave Wood was (Nottingham) Waterstone's writer in residence 2000 - 2002.

Press contact Dave Wood

24 Dec 2004

Itinerary of The Screaming Rock

With thanks (for organising and/or providing accommodation and /or workshops) to Mary and Charlotte (Belfast), Liz (Cushendall), Mairtin (Derry), Margaret (Portadown), John (Armagh), Mairead (Attical) and Linda (Barholm).

Tuesday 24 August
Fly to Belfast International Airport from Nottingham East Midlands
12:45 - 1.45pm
Stay Belfast

Wednesday 25th August
day in Belfast
Stay Belfast

Thursday 26th August
day in Omagh
Stay Omagh Hostel

Friday 27th August
Stay Cushendall Hostel
Travel to Derry

Saturday 28th August
Move and stay in centre of Derry
(activity to be confirmed)

Sunday 29th August
Day in Derry
(activity to be confirmed)
Stay Derry

Monday 30th August
Day in Derry
(activity to be confirmed)
Stay Derry

Tuesday 31st August
Day in Derry
(activity to be confirmed)
Stay Derry

Wednesday 1st September
Travel to Portadown
workshop in Portadown 7 -9pm

Thursday 2nd September
Travel and visit Armagh
workshop in Armagh 7.30pm - 9.30om
Stay Armagh (as guest of organiser)

Friday 3rd September
Newcastle Hostel, Downs Road, Newcastle

Saturday 4th September
Arrive and stay
Cnocnafeola Centre, Atticall, Kilkeel

Sunday 5th September
activity to be organised
Cnocnafeola Centre

Monday 6th September
Travel to Portaferry
stay Barholm Hostel
work 7 - 10pm

Tuesday 7th September
Travel, visit and stay Belfast

Wednesday 8th September
Fly back to England from Belfast Int'n'l

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.

23 Dec 2004


Desperate for a Saturday lie in. I've not had much contact from the press, but I haven't really had time to follow it at all. If anyone out there sees any postings (real or virtual), please let me know and save me a link or a photocopy.

Realised it wouldn't make sense to stay only one night at Attical. So I've moved things around a bit and now I'm in the Mournes for two nights on the second weekend and getting over to Cushendall for the first Friday when there's lots of music. Could do with a bit of stress release.

It does mean however I will spend only a fleeting visit to the Giant's Causeway. The last time I paid a visit, it was raining (February surprise) and I slipped gin over tonic in the mud. Not a pleasant surprise, but alleviated by a hot toddy on the Bushmills tour.

So today I've got a whole heap of stuff to do - sort out the final links and postings to, last minute shoppings, party later with some ex-students and at some point some ironing. Not sure what to do about the camera. Do I take my 35mm, whic takes up baggage space or grab several disposables or even treat myself to a digital. Decisions decisions. Speak soon.

22 Dec 2004

a correction regarding 'writers inc'. Dave Wood apologises...

please read the following apology

The organisation [who are supporting the project is] The Incwriters Society (UK), not Writers Inc and the work will appear in [their] on-line magazine Incorporating Writing (ISSN 1743-0380)...any further press releases will be rectified

The Incwriters Society (UK) have posted the corrected Press Release on the Inclusion Stop page.

Given time, I will seek to alter previously sent press releases. Thanks again for their support.

The Night Before

Monday evening and I'm hoping to get a swift pint tonight before I skidaddle tomorrow. Had a response to the press release from the Northern Ireland Library service who want me to write a 400 word article for their newsletter. So much quicker than the press in England! I'm hoping they pick up on the offer for me to have a table in the central building so I can chat to people. I did this as poet in residence for Creswell. I'd sit there Thursday mornings at the door and invite people to talk with me, offer there thoughtsm reminiscences, visions of the town and as much as possible ask them to create or bring poems of their own. The process worked a treat. In the afternoon I'd facilitate a school group in a more structured workshop. It was different in the working men's club though. I'd quite happily sit with a half pint (pushing it for me but when in Creswell etc) and probe for gossip, dirt and the social history of the area (a cross between E.P.Thomson and a certain tabloid). The second week I met a bloke who brought in some incredibly sensitive poems about life, relationships and his dad. We'd agreed to meet up after I'd set him (and myself) some homework. We never met up again, but I've since found out he's on the main steering committee for this year's events. The scheme really highlighted how poetry can be an incredibly livening, rejuvenating and healing process. Everyone wanted to add their two penn'orth.

Realise this is going a bit off the beaten track as far as slugger goes but I do want impress on people the importance of this simple, concise and poignant language form. For those still in doubt, read the Uses of Poetry - Denys Thomson and (of course) the legend of the great Finn(Mary Heaney's Over Nine Waves is a good starting point)as he learns the high disciplines of the poet. Argue with him, you'd be in for a roasting! Meanwhile, I'll be glad when I'm in Ireland just to let the stress of waiting go.

all the best


just here

belfast city library

here at last
(excuse the typos)
i have just one hour
on the net

i won't go into the nitty gritty
(checking the gas umpteen times)
leaving the flat

my mate margaret giving me
a donation toward the project

but the wait
the wait
the wait

bmi bmi baby - ohohoh
have they never thought
of that as a catchy song they use?

if they're out there
and they use the idea
i want free flights for a year

you listening baby?

poems from the notebook
will have to be posted tomorrow
or at the end of this if i get the chance
or at my guests
och - o i don't know

belfast is like nottingham
lots of shops that have become
unmpteen symbols of how we now live

i remember how macdonalds hardly
existed in northern ireland

then they all sprang up -
sides of motorways to start with
then they must have had some kind
of reproductive frenzy

now - in belfast -
o supersize someone else please do

but it's strange how the streets
had obviously dug hold of me

the h and w
the water
the signs for newcastle
on the one way system
which had the map twisting
in my lap

and in my sleep

since my visit
all those years ago
some things stay the same

within five minutes
i ask three times
where's the library
three different accents

each as soft as the others

i'll be sending snail mail cards out soon

50p each - treat them like gold

i have left my copy of over nine waves at home (sulk)

21 Dec 2004

First scratchings in Northern Ireland

Wednesday and I'm already awake at, what? 6.30am? About 11pm last night I tried writing but got past the first stanza of a rhyming piece but found myself (oh – there I am!) drifting off

first trust the bank of ways that you could go
you step slow avenues or head for goals
if you could choose – then tell or show
the passions there – then trust your soul

(first trust is the name of a bank in Ireland and I like the way the two words jump about with each other.)

I let sleep take me (along with its friends the beer)

At about 7am, the alarm clock went off and I was given a joyful series of licks by one of the hairy beasts of a dog I'm sharing the house with. The other one's a grump and because of mistreatment being bred in its bones is just getting used to me.

I'm staying off the Belmont Road, outside Belfast with a friend’s sister and her partner. There's (apparently) a lovely long line of shops on the main thoroughfare, which because I'll be feeding myself tonight I'll have to investigate. I'm saying apparently, because everything's been a bit of a whirl so far. It's been years since I flew, years since I've been away from the office (even thoughts of it) and now something I've been promising myself is telling me to 'get on with it and trust what comes out'. Brutal advice, but a paraphrased piece of wisdom I use with my students when I’m running a creative writing session and the block sets in. Seems to work, but can I take my own advice?

It’s also been years since I saw the towering yellow H and W cranes, Samson and Goliath, been caught in the rain at the side of an Irish slip road and even more years since I’ve had an egg soda* Now that’s a thought – I still haven’t.

I have to create a mantra – come to Ireland and write, come to Ireland and write come to Ireland and write come to Ireland and write come to Ireland and write ad inf. There, I’ve done it.

I'm a bit of a blunderer in new places. Similar to my Dad, but he has a more inquisitive nature, likes to investigate and find things out. He’s also 72, has a yen for fixing things, doesn’t like waste and unlike me, can use the Taurus part of him for positive. I’m a bugger when it comes to stubborn-ness.

Yesterday I registered with the main city library. It had a beautiful revolving door. Cumbersome, particularly when one has two rucksacks slung across the shoulder and would fall foul of the D.D.A. But, strangely enough, the latter is the last thing on my mind. So the librarian was brilliant. I presented my details, gave her my temporary address and within fifteen minutes was up and running on the net. She was even sweet enough to tell me how to use the well known search engine..., google eyd (groan) I waited.

I wandered the bowels of sluggerotoole and picked up the entrails of Once finished, made my apologies for my mistakes (that’s another story) I rain-danced my way back to the bus station and was questioned (by a very polite English accent0 about how to get to the Europa (a bus station which sits cheek to cheek with a pub seemingly built round is own snugs, called T he Crown). I did my best to probe the timetable and work it out then went off to plague with my own questions on how I could get to my hosts’ house. When I was told ‘you need a city bus…not here…first you need to go…that’s when thoughts of taxis came in and my anal attitude with pound stirling loosened it’s sphincter. I’m glad it did.

I don’t know if it’s the nature of the poet, the nature of the taxi driver or the nature of the Irish but we just talked all the way. We agreed on the similarities of my home city and Belfast being the appalling one-way system (and currently the weather) and quickly went on to music. Obviously it was part of his yearly life-cycle as it should be of everyone.

Meanwhile, there’s a virtual poetry guide/talk/reading at the library today in Donegal Square North. That's where I'm heading (e.t.a 1.10pm). There'll be an excellent opportunity for some networking and some interviewing. I’ll write more soon.

*Toasted soda bread with , yes you guessed it, with a fried egg (or two) on top.

20 Dec 2004

further scratchings - after wednesday - a belfast laminate

part one

first church for sale
i thought we english were the ones
to lose our hub

along the belmont road
toward the lagan bridge
the union jacks
seem stiffer than before
more resolute
(have they been reading porn?)

run down estates
(like some buses here)
are flowered up
red white and blue
catch traffic's eyes
no comments then
no comments
(as before)

the morning works me hard
to find a breakfast (late)
that's cheap and
doesn't baulk at calories

and gone eleven
i give up
behold the greasy joe is dead!
long live the frothy world
that's full of air and softness then
the one that thatcher's ice cream woke
and brokered on the world

part two

chip restaurant (traditional) it said upon the glass (o - and fish!)
i wander in - coins rattling loose and teased on by my belfast tongue
the floor is laminate (o laminateé!) the room stretches dist-
antly along its spine - i sit disturbed and swallowed up by muzac song

and if i stay here long enough - will they cover me (too) in loving laminate?
will salt and vinegar loose their grain - get de-acidified - oozed down
with soul-less sweet talk - and will the fish and chips get eat
en up with flash or dettol now - each sprinkle seals its fate

with long floor laminate - if I should sit here - will they smooth me out?
they sell ciabatta here (o i say! - how posh) and dippers too
(for salad lips) choose egg soda then - eat roughness in (brown sauced)
sprinkle life with sharper cuts - chew (for once) some bloody truth

part three

donegal square - north south - four cornered like a learned hat
each road sprouts off and bounces round - breathes out
sucks in and draws the tourists back
each road leads fast to where it came - to where the city's fat

each road sprouts off and bounces round - exhales deep
becomes asthmatic when one tourist finds the path away
and when they do - the square (like english rain) weeps
hard – complains its coffers going down into the grey

square breathes in and takes the tourists’ stack
it's been there long enough - it's earnt its grub
and now with flung out doors - flung back
squats hard sobs down then reaches for its sub

part four

and in the middle of this sea
of banks
(not one nat west)
the tourist board
(that rides an escalator trip)
smiles with a digital display

come in
it shakes its hips
at me
winks dolefully

i take my number then -
walk round to murder time
and drum into my eyes
the stuff they seal with love and
shamrock glue

(flat caps
and calendars)

it's true -
they almost caught me
but not this time
not yet

the girl behind the counter
confesses she's downpatrick bred
she helps me sort my transport out

each bus is like a magnet returning to one place
(europa) we work diligent - i realise

whatever journey that i make
acceptance works both ways

19 Dec 2004

thursday 27th august

piece one

branches hammer at my morning
from the bus the flags are yawning
the only sign of life’s toward
the centre now where dreams are shored

the covered mountains
smoking far ahead
still lazy and in bed

piece two

europa’s brassy brassery
o fantastic-ary
all should be bustly
but aren’t that fuss-ily

all seem relaxedly
quite un-taxedly
not taxidermed-ly
unlike the english
who like to squirmid-y

and here’s the coffee shop-pery
with its breakfast-ery
but iIl go a wandery
not money squandery

and there’s the sign-ery
in all light finery
not quite on time-ry
like my rhymery

journey to omagh

just past dungannon signs
already hints of omagh
these are like any other roads
it is not a spectacular journey which is fine

enough – if it wasn’t for the label subway
(it is not macdonalds here)
ireland’s meat no longer
sits on two warm halves
but is wrapped in soft white dough