A homecoming for two of our core touring six, Swansea being the home of Nia Davies and Joe Dunthorne. So much is said about Swansea, or was said to me, as I expressed excitement to come here for the first time in my life. It's clearly a place that engenders strong feeling, of pride or criticism. Off the train, the cab driver, born and raised, told me how much he hated it, before dropping me off at a beautiful B&B with expansive sea views over clear blue skies, surrounded by cafes and shops in the Upplands. Meeting the other poets and driving back into town to the incredible venue, what used to be an Iceland Supermarket and is now the Volcano theatre, on the high street, minutes from the train station, I began to get the impression that while Swansea has its edges, it is also an energetic, distinct and striking city.
I collaborated with Joe, and we had written a poetic dialogue that diffused the notion of the nation of Iceland, and our respective visits to that place, with the Iceland Supermarket that once inhabited our performance space. We created an overlapping narrative, something written to be read, and it came together with incredible ease and speed. We also gave out cards with the names of foods sold in Iceland, the supermarket, to be shouted out between our reading, a kind of call to the frozen ghosts from the audience.
The performance space was unique and like all of Gelynion so far, each of the pairs, 10 in all this night, took the commission extremely seriously and presented an array of differing and energetic works. And again the nature of the collaborations and the community feel created an open, generous and expansive atmosphere. We were joined again by our Indian contingent, Jeet Thayil and Sampurna Chatterji reading, and I finally got to meet and speak to poets I've read and followed from afar - Meirion Jordon, Aneirin Karadog, Lyndon Davies, Graham Hartill and John Goodby. Their work was brilliant, such strength in depth, such a wonderful representation of Swansea.
We had our first in Wales day off and I spent many hours walking along the seafront to the Gower and around the city, and attacking a long run on the particularly soft sand and up the particularly steep hills, in particularly hot sun, getting lost in seemingly endless winding suburbs, before we reconvened for a barbeque at Nia's house and I heard about the revelry that went on late into the post-reading night, after I had left getting ahead of the Friday night crowds.