The annual Coventry-Cork poetry exchange is now in its fourteenth year. Next week, for the second leg of the 2022 exchange, two talented poets – Dean Browne and Victoria Kennefick – will visit Coventry as representatives of Cork (Ireland).
In 1958, Coventry became Cork’s first ever twin city. This connection was formed due to a high number of Cork people emigrating to Coventry at that time, to work and settle. The Coventry-Cork poetry exchange has been going since 2008, as a scheme for writers to promote international peace, friendship and cultural understanding between the two places as creative communities. In addition to performing at poetry events overseas, the four poets take a tour of significant landmarks, network with other local writers, and pay state visits to both the Coventry and Cork Lord Mayors.
2022 is the first time in three years that the poets are able to set foot on Irish and British soil respectively as part of their experience. In 2021 there was still uncertainty around flights and quarantining, so, instead of in-person adventures, the ‘Twin Skies’ anthology was produced and published to celebrate all the poets on both sides who had taken part in the grassroots exchange programme since it began.
In August, two rising stars of Coventry’s local poetry/spoken word scene (Sujana Crawford and John Bernard) travelled to Cork and headlined at legendary event O’Bheál, among others, to perform their work. Now, across November 2nd-4th, Cork poets Dean Browne and Victoria Kennefick will be welcomed to Coventry as guest poets for two events, including a welcome event at The Royal Oak in Earlsdon and a special Fire&Dust open mic at Café Morso in the city centre. We’re hoping to have good turnout for both events, with tons of Coventry representation to help our Irish visitors feel welcome – so please save the dates in your calendars!
Wednesday 2nd November, 7.30-11PM
The Royal Oak, 22 Earlsdon St, Earlsdon, Coventry, CV5 6EJ
Twin Cities: An Evening of Live Poetry
Hosted by Andrea Mbarushimana and Emilie Lauren Jones. Featuring: headline sets from Victoria and Dean, plus poetry open mic and a Q&A with our Cork guests. Sign up for an open mic slot on arrival. Free entry/Pay As You Feel, everyone welcome!
Thursday 3rd November, 7.30-10PM
Café Morso, 16a The Co-operative, Corporation St, Coventry city centre, CV1 1GF
Fire&Dust: Cork-Coventry Special
Hosted by Ann Atkins and Raef Boylan. Coventry’s monthly spoken word poetry event. Featuring: headline sets from Victoria and Dean, plus poetry open mic. Slots are 3 mins max., sign up on arrival. Drinks and food on sale at the venue. Free entry/Pay As You Feel, everyone welcome!
Here Comes Everyone is grateful to acknowledge the continued support of partner organisations who have funded and/or champion the exchange scheme: Coventry City Council, Cork City Council, Coventry Association of International Friendship (CAIF), Coventry Peace Festival, DeBarra’s Spoken Word, Hillz FM, BBC CWR, Nine Arches Press, O’Bheál and Writing West Midlands. Special thanks for their involvement also goes to Paul Casey, Moze Jacobs, Ann Atkins, Aysar Ghassan, Andrea Mbarushimana and Coventry Poet Laureate Emilie Jones.
DEAN BROWNE was a recipient of the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2021 and his pamphlet Kitchens at Night (published by Smith|Doorstop in 2022) was a winner of the Poetry Business International Pamphlet Competition. His poems have appeared widely in journals such as Banshee, Poetry (Chicago), Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Review, PN Review, Southword, Stinging Fly, and elsewhere.
VICTORIA KENNEFICK’s debut poetry collection Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet, 2021) won the Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize 2022 and was awarded the Dalkey Book Festival Emerging Writer of the Year 2022. Most recently, it has been shortlisted for the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry 2022. In 2021, it was shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Book Award. It was also a book of the year in The Guardian, The Irish Times, The Telegraph, The Sunday Independent and The White Review. Victoria is the current poet in residence at the Yeats Society Sligo.
SUJANA CRAWFORDis a multi-lingual poet, playwright and researcher working in English, Nepali and Hindi. Sujana’s creative work is driven by a fascination with people, places and folklore. She has been featured in various magazines and anthologies, and plays have been developed in collaboration with BBC Radio 4, Birmingham Rep and Warwick Arts Centre, among others. Sujana has also featured in BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, BBC Contains Strong Language Festival and British Council’s International Changemakers. In her day job, Sujana works as a UX Researcher, and has worked across the UK public sector helping research and design better IT services. Born in China, Sujana was primarily raised in Nepal, and currently lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two young children.
JOHN BERNARD is a Coventry based Poet, Rapper & Writer who uses his artistry to inspire, influence and invigorate his listeners. He has featured on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, BBC Radio 5-Live, BBC Contains Strong Language Festival and BBC 1xtra, as well as performing regularly around the UK. Distinctive delivery, commanding voice, an intricate lyricist – his content is authentically raw and potent. John has undoubtedly carved a lane for himself infusing Spoken Word poetry, Alternative-Rap and Neo- Soul.