Awaken Your Soul Event at Merlin Woods Galway: Kevin Bateman


A surrealist poet called Kevin Bateman contacted me a month ago on Twitter and asked me to perform at a spoken word event he was holding in a forest in Galway.

My immediate reaction was to say “I don’t do poetry and I don’t really do performance stuff.”

He said, in effect, “Ah sure, go on.”

I said “I dunno.”

After a couple of weeks, he messaged me again:
“Are you performing at the show?”
I said “I dunno.”

On Friday night, he asked me again. The show was on at 2pm on Saturday afternoon.
“I’ll come to it,” I said, “but I dunno.”

The event, held in the open air in Merlin Woods, on the eastern outskirts of Galway, took a small trek to reach. There’s an environmental group, Friends of Merlin Woods, and Caroline from that organisation was good enough to lead us through the forest on a quick guided tour before we arrived at our stage, An Néad (or The Nest). Kevin kicked things off.

The short poems Kevin read appear in part characterised by an embracing of darkness, whether that darkness is ignorance, or the fearful but brave taking of a journey into the unknown of life.

Perhaps the latter point is a philosophy I ought to embrace, given his wonderful encouragement to his fellow performance artists.

In one poem, Mr Bateman claimed that he would like to be an air hostess, seizing on the mundane day-to-day life of red eye service, requiring little thought, emphasising appearance over the inner life – this idea seems to echo Eliot’s wish to be a pair of ragged claws.

Another line from Kevin:
Nightfalls and bats fly, let us all belong to the darkness.

Polly Richardson chose to read poems about nature, given the beautiful surroundings. Her first dealt with the frustrations of finding inspiration and dancing in the rain, inter alia. Links and Beyond was inspired by the Hill of Tara, Ireland’s ancient capital city north of Dublin.

Kenneth Nolan‘s performance included dream imagery, perhaps capturing the cynicism of a post-McQuaid, post-Haughey Ireland while keeping the best bits of poetic sincerity from an earlier, Celtic-twilit era.


Nolan’s cat-related yarn, the most humorous piece of his set, tackled how he believes himself – perhaps accurately – in a battle of wits with a household pet for the affections of his wife.


Catherine O’Donoghue‘s beautiful short poems deal with (perhaps) ADHD culture soaking our “cerebral core”, bereavement and friendship, and – if one is to consider metaphor beyond the sowing of seeds – the good deeds performed by someone that are carried forward with dividends for others, beyond their original intent.





Dario Cannizzaro, an Italian writer and poet who writes in both languages, also showcased some poetry related to bereavement. A poignant piece related to his father’s passing touched on his living up to the responsibilities he had as a parent, inter alia. Dario then shared a short story related to childhood. 

Out of archaeological respect – and health and safety issues – the kids today probably wouldn’t be allowed to play soccer in the grounds of an ancient temple, but Dario recounted a Southern Italian childhood spent bouncing footballs off the walls of a Roman ruin.

Natasha Helen Crudden‘s hip-hop inspired poetry touched on friendship; a tough-love piece to a friend was particularly instructive to all slackers, myself included. The Ballad of Christopher Robin warned that we only live once and to seize the moment.

The most active of the participants in terms of movement, perhaps something we should all be doing, Natasha’s meter and rhythm were perhaps the most pronounced. 

Her off-book performance was also particularly impressive. She brought a wonderful punk aesthetic to the afternoon’s performances.

Seamus Murtagh was up next. His poetry addressed societal concerns, one of them breaching the topic of war. Talking to him afterwards, he explained that if he was to categorise his work broadly, it would be about awakening. A yoga instructor, photographer, journalist and poet, Seamus appears to be a man of many skills.


A great event, all told. Kevin Bateman is a treasure on the Irish Spoken Word circuit. Many thanks for his organising of a unique and spirited occasion. Most of the marvelous shindig was live-streamed and captured by the man himself on Periscope. Check it out here.

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