The annual Coventry-Cork poetry exchange is now in its twelfth year. Two rising stars of Coventry’s local poetry scene, Emilie Lauren Jones and Matt Black, were this year selected to travel to Cork (Ireland) to represent the city and perform their work.
Coventry is twinned with a multitude of cities around the world (twenty-six!), a fact many local residents take pride in – and, in 1958, became the first city with which Cork ever twinned. This connection was formed due to a high number of Cork people emigrating to Coventry to work and settle there.
The Coventry-Cork poetry exchange has been going since 2008, as a scheme for writers to promote peace, friendship and cultural understanding between the two cities as creative communities. In addition to performing at poetry events, the poets take a tour of significant landmarks, network with other local writers, and pay state visits to both the Coventry and Cork Lord Mayors.
Normally, as part of this international scheme, Emilie and Matt would have travelled overseas to Ireland in August. Instead, due to Covid-19, they visited Cork virtually this summer, socialising with the local poets, performing at two special poetry events – O’Bheál in Cork City and Psoken Wrod in Clonakilty – and meeting with the city’s Lord Mayor. All of this took place via Zoom meetings.
In November, it will be the turn of two poets from Cork – Jim Crickard and Molly Twomey – to visit Coventry (also virtually). On Wednesday 4th, they will share their work with a live audience on Zoom at an exclusive poetry event to welcome them. Then, on Thursday 5th, they will perform headline sets as the guest poets at Fire & Dust (HCE’s monthly poetry event, which is normally hosted at The Big Comfy Bookshop but currently also on Zoom). Emilie and Matt are themselves regular performers at Fire & Dust, and have headlined at the event in recent years, so this is likely to be a fun reunion for everyone involved.
The Cork poets will also meet the Lord Mayor of Coventry, be invited to share poetry and chat with Kate Hill on Radio Hillz FM, and hopefully, despite being unable to explore places in person this year, feel introduced to Coventry and surrounding West Midlands by touching base with the area’s diverse literary scene.
HCE‘s chief editor Raef Boylan shares his thoughts: “There’s a great tradition of poetry in Ireland; their audiences and their poets are passionate and very welcoming people. I was lucky enough to be part of the 2019 poetry exchange and it was a great experience for me to visit one of Coventry’s sister cities. I also attended the two Irish gigs via Zoom this year – Matt and Emilie are both excellent poets who did the city proud, and we now look forward to enjoying poetry from, and sharing poetry with, Jim and Molly.”
More information about the Coventry-Cork Peace Poetry event on Wednesday 4th November can be found on the Eventbrite page. (Open mic slots available.)
Visit the O’Bheál website to discover more about the previous poetry exchanges, as well as Matt and Emilie’s 2020 gig.
Here Comes Everyone is grateful to acknowledge the continued support of partner organisations: Coventry City Council, Coventry Peace Festival, Silhouette Press, and Cork City Council, O’Bheál and Psoken Wrod in Ireland.