Each year Cork and Coventry act as a staging point for a poetry exchange, swapping poets, poetry, experience and humanity. This year Rab Urquhart and Julie Field (aka Julie Goo) were Cork’s representatives for an itinerary that now includes three separate performances, the first of which was at the traditional opener, Night Blue Fruit in Coventry on Tuesday with local dignitaries in attendance, hosted by organiser and co-ordinator Tony Owen.
On Wednesday Cork came to Lichfield for the first time, hosted by the Lichfield Poets at the Kings Head. A strong open mic section included; Lichfield Poets Tom Wyre, Ian Ward, Mike McKay, Mike Seaton, Ben McNair and David Calcutt; Past Staffordshire Poet Laureate Mal Dewhirst; from Burton on Trent Gary Carr and Terri Jolland; from Stourbridge Mika Alma; from Leicestershire Jayne Stanton, and complimented by Tony Owen from Coventry.
The Lichfield Poets then performed a selection of original poems about Lichfield and Staffordshire before the main Event.
On Thursday the tour came to an end at The Old Crown in Digbeth, surrounded by pubs like the Kerryman, The Dubliner and the Irish Centre emphasising that this is the Irish Quarter of the city. Rab Urquhart even wore a “peaky blinders” flat cap to fit in with the location. Sponsored by the Irish in Birmingham charity, whose representative was Pat Murphy Wright, in association with Birmingham Poetry collective Write Down Speak Up, another open mic session preceded Rab and Julie. Open micers included Tom Roberts, Mike Alma, Tom Wyre and Tessa Lowe, and from WDSU, Charlie Jordan, Kurly McGeachie and a welcome appearance from Dreadlock Alien.
The Cork Poets came prepared with a book offering a selection from both poets, who were pleasingly diverse and accomplished performers. Julie was witty with an intellect which eschewed cheap laughs, and carried a message for tolerance which was understated, but unmistakeable, captured brilliantly in “Dear Society”. Rab wove his Scottish heritage with themes from his adopted city, laconic in “ A Chinese Proverb”, teasing with his piece on Scottish patriotism, and an unashamed tigerphile! Both poets perform regularly at O’Bheal, a weekly poetry evening , held on a Monday,at The Long Valley, Winthrop st, Cork, the Midlands was fortunate to have these two fine poets on loan for a few days.
The value of this exchange was reinforced continuously as new expressions and ideas sprung from the same language divided only by the Irish Sea, as Dreadlock Alien exclaimed, “Well Done”.
For more information on O’Bheal :http://www.obheal.ie/blog/