Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999
From: "L. MacMahon and T.R. Healy" Subject: Cork 99
The Third Cork Conference of Alternative Poetry & Performance Art, Make It New Again, took place over the weekend 23rd to 25th of April.

I'm afraid I was enjoying things too much to take notes so what follows is fragmentary. In particular there is no way I can do any justice whatever to the papers. Also having had some spectacularly long conversations with various participants I'm afraid of mixing up what may have been casual chat.

I was late for the Dublin to Cork train by one minute and so missed the first two readers, Maurice Scully and John Goodby, which was annoying. I hadn't heard John read before and had been boning up on his work which I have come to like a lot. But arrived in time for Karen Mac Cormack's useful and interesting paper "Innovation's inventory: Some Starting Points Along the Way."

Billy Mills kicked off Saturday morning by reading from a work in progress. It began with _Tiny Pieces_ and then there were poetic sections interspersed with prose sections. The prose wasn't in any way prose poetry as I know it, it was straight prose, full of polemic, historical insights and data. Which made it a very exciting work to listen to, one really didn't know what was coming next, a work which stirred up the audience mightily.

Michael Smith was unable to attend due to personal commitments.

The order was changed around. Keith Tuma read his paper "_Whatever_ Irish Poetry: Some Musings " which was as lively a paper as I've ever heard. Terrific stuff. I hope to read it again and will perhaps comment then because he made some very provocative points, but I'd be afraid of burlesquing his arguments by inadequate recollection.

Jools Gilson-Ellis did a performance called "Graze". The first part was lovely but it really went somewhere special in the second part as she recited texts based on the etymology of the word _secret_ her dancing in a light dress seeming so exposed, the opposite of secret, in front of a roomful of seated primates.

Fanny Howe read from her poetry and fiction everyone hanging on her words. Karen Mac Cormack read from a number of works including her recent magnificent collaboration with Alan Halsey, "Fit to Print", which I'd urge anyone who hasn't got to get. One of the few times I wish I taught English, I could have a ball with this one.

Alex Davis read his paper "Making it New? Alternatives and Mainstreams" another entry in his excellent record of giving critical support to a handful of otherwise almost completely undiscussed poets.

Judy Kravis read from her series of beach poems, some of which I think are in Angel Exhaust 17, while black and white slides of changing huts were projected on the wall beside her.

Geoffrey Squires read from a number of works, one of which is called _Untitled_. His voice reminds me of the wizard in Lord of the Rings who used his vocal chords to bewitch gulls. Geoffrey's works only for good however, and operates on groups as well as individuals.

Drew Milne kicked off the evening session and almost sent it into orbit. It was my first hearing of this poet. People have been making a great deal of fuss about the boul' Drew. And they were dead right. Fast, witty, inventive and a diction so sharp you could make out the poem if an aircraft landed on the roof of the reading hall.

Next up, Danny McCarthy, a performance artist from Triskel Arts Centre who performed "ARTuation XXVII". He wore some kind of mask, muslin perhaps, had a blindfolded teddy tied to his back and walked around detaching dolls heads from his clothing and using them to snuff candles which where laid out with various toys and religious bric a brac on a white circle.

Then cris cheek performed an iridescent septet of extremely various pieces under the rubric "matter unaccounted for". I can't say anything remotely articulate about his performance, but it was sheer happiness being there. Intellect as nimble and as big as his big and nimble frame. Everything from subtleties that would out doctor acquinas to the broadest of farce. This is what it's like to be alive.

Sunday morning began with Trevor Joyce who read from _Syzygy_ , _Without Asylum_, and _Hopeful Monsters_. The latter consists of long prose pieces whose density became gorgeously overwhelming, the poem as a consciousness to consciousness ISDN.

Catherine Walsh read all the published parts of her _City West_. I love the way the voices of different people weave through this poem, the way she let them into her head, not an I'm-here-you're-there visuo-verbal screen.

I read next, and had a great time, can't answer for the victims.

Then Romana Huk brought things to a close with her marvellously titled paper "On foreign-national locations of the place and/or non-place of the(ir) unpronounceable _idir eatortha_: Returns of nationalism in/as disguise undisguised, or: Ironies inherent in current inscriptions of Irish experiment in the Anglo-American tradition."

A triumph of a conference. Well done and thanks to Alex Davis.