Poetry Wales Editor, Nia Davies, takes us on a tour of an intriguing new performance project where collaboration is the key.
Relationships. They’re made of conversations – communication, argument, miscommunication. As humans we relate to each other through language (or, in Wales, through our languages). So an art form that deals primarily in language – poetry – is ideally suited to exploring the terrain of relationships.
Not that poetry is very often thought of as the stuff of relationships – people often imagine the poet as a lonely outsider remote from society and the world. But in fact poetry is highly social. If you’ve been to a poetry event with a bar you’ll probably have noticed this already.
So the potential of poetry in collaboration is huge. Gelynion – Enemies is a project aiming to explore and celebrate relationships between human beings – in all their messy, antagonistic or beautiful dimensions – through the potential of poetic collaboration. Gelynion brings together over fifty poets from Wales and beyond to work in pairs on original pieces for live events taking place from the 19th of May to the 5th of June.
The Enemies project has been taking place across Europe bringing together hundreds of poets. I wanted to work with its curator SJ Fowler to bring Enemies to Wales because I feel the unique multilingual, multifarious culture and poetics we have here will play out through collaboration in a really exciting way. Gelynion draws in poets writing in Welsh and English, from the North and South and from across generations, styles, traditions and approaches.
The name ‘Enemies’ is a little bit playful. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Because not all relationships are easy. Not all communication is smooth. In fact right now our society feels very divided indeed. But I think poetry is an art that can explore and redefine the complex difficult landscape of communication. And creative collaboration not only brings people together, it is also often naturally experimental as it asks people to step outside themselves and relate to each other in totally new ways. So it’s likely that the new pieces the poets are making together at the moment will be surprising and original.
I’ve already had some glimpses of what’s in store and I can’t wait to see the performances. There’s seven events taking place – starting in Newport (19-May), Cardiff (20-May), Swansea (22-May), Aberystwyth (25-May), Bangor (26-May), Hay festival (29-May) and one final event in London (5-June). A core group of six poets will be touring their collaborations in rolling pairs – myself and SJ Fowler alongside Joe Dunthorne, Zoë Skoulding, Rhys Trimble and Eurig Salisbury. At six of these events we’ll be joined by around 10 – 12 poets – a huge range of some of the most exciting writers and performers currently working in Wales as well as further afield. I do hope you can join us for what I think will be an explosively human and unexpected set of events – the exact opposite, I think, of the rather quiet and lonesome pursuit many conceive poetry to be.
Tuesday 19th May, 7pm, Free
Project space, 147 Commercial Street, Newport, NP11 6EE
Zoë Skoulding & Nia Davies / Joe Dunthorne & Eurig Salisbury / Rhys Trimble & SJ Fowler / Jonathan Edwards and Tishani Doshi / Rhian Edwards & Ranjit Hoskote / Cris Paul & Samantha Walton / Kate North & Katrin Selina Lloyd / Josh Robinson & Mr & Mrs Clark / Suze M C de Lee & Andres Anwandter.
Wednesday 20th May, 7pm, Free
The Abacus Rooms, 18-20 St David’s House, Wood St, Cardiff, CF10 1ER
Joe Dunthorne & Nia Davies / Eurig Salisbury & Rhys Trimble / SJ Fowler & Zoë Skoulding / Wanda O’Connor & Peter Finch / Kevin Mills & Damian Walford Davies / Emily Blewitt & Rebecca Parfitt / David Greenslade & Richard Gwyn / Steven Hitchins & Camilla Nelson / Llŷr Gwyn Lewis & clare e. potter.
Friday 22nd May, 7pm, Free
Volcano Theatre, Iceland building, 229 High Street Swansea, SA1 1NY
Nia Davies & Eurig Salisbury / Joe Dunthorne & SJ Fowler / Rhys Trimble & Zoë Skoulding / Lyndon Davies & Graham Hartill / Robert Minhinnick & Frances Presley / John Goodby & Calum Gardner / Richard James Jones & Natalie Ann Holborow / Meirion Jordan & Aneirin Karadog / Siân Melangell Dafydd & Sampurna Chattarji.
Monday 25th May, 6pm, Free
Aberystwyth Arts Centre Studio, SY23 3DE
Joe Dunthorne & Zoë Skoulding / Nia Davies & Rhys Trimble / SJ Fowler & Eurig Salisbury / Kath Stansfield & Nicky Arscott / Mari Siôn & Elin Ap Hywel / Siân Melangell Dafydd & John Barnie / Jemma King & Amy McCauley.
Tuesday 26th May, 7pm, Free
Blue Sky Cafe, 236 High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 1PA
Nia Davies & SJ Fowler / Zoë Skoulding & Eurig Salisbury / Joe Dunthorne & Rhys Trimble / Ifor Ap Glyn & Ghazal Mosadeq / Karen Owen & Sian Northey / Alys Conran & Robert Sheppard / Fiona Cameron & Sophie McKeand.
Friday 29th May
Hay Festival, Elmley Foundation Cube, 8.30pm, £7
The touring poets present extracts from their collaborations.
Friday 5th June, 7.30pm
Rich Mix Arts Centre, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA,
Nia Davies, Zoë Skoulding, Eurig Salisbury, Joe Dunthorne, SJ Fowler & Rhys Trimble. Amy Key & Wayne Holloway-Smith, Sharon Morris & Sampurna Chattarji, Cris Paul & Stephen Mooney, Harry Gilonis, Wanda O’Connor, Amy McCauley and more to be confirmed.
More information can be found at:
Follow: @poetrywales @enemiesproject Facebook
Gelynion is an Enemies and Poetry Wales project supported by Arts Council Wales Big Lottery, the Hay festival and partners Chris Paul, the Abacus Rooms, Volcano Theatre, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and the Institute of Literature, Languages and Creative Arts, Bangor University and Rich Mix Arts Centre.