Opinion

Body and Soul

Karl Parkinson portrait
Karl Parkinson

Karl Parkinson is a poet and writer from the north inner city. His works include The Blocks (New Binary Press, 2016) and Litany of the City and Other Poems (Wurmpress, 2013). His work has also appeared in several anthologies and journals.

Check bag: spare socks, underwear, T-shirt, shades, toothpaste, WaterWipes, performer ticket, coach ticket, water, books, iPod. Shower, dress, move, hit the street. Jump on Luas, catch the coach right on time, get good seat by the window, on the road to Body and Soul.

We arrive, and I am sun-glad at the bright sky, no rain makes the festival a smoother experience, let’s hope it lasts, the coach unpiles and I am in my first Portaloo queue of the day, and thank the holy spirit it’s clean. Right, gotta find gate entrance for performers and collect my wristband, security says

“Out tha way to your left and fifteen minute walk up the road, pal.”

“Thanks mate.”

First trek of the day, bag switching from right to left shoulder, enjoying the air as I do. As I walk into the performers’ collection point, the Happy Pear brothers are standing in front of me, all clear-eyed, tanned, fresh-faced, and fun. I get my wristband and move on through the car-park area, a shout comes at me from over my shoulder: poet John Cummins, the long-bearded hippy-hoppy word magician. He’s stood at a camper van, inside is another spoken-word poet, Cormac Lally, who’s cooking up some breakfast, and John’s partner Davina, we chat about how was last night at the festival, where we’re performing later and what time, they offer me tea with no milk, nah can’t do it, and a sandwich if I want, I decline, I’ll get a bite to eat inside, cost yuh seven euro for a sambo in there, says John laughing. Handshakes and see ya laters, and then I stroll on in to a food area in the woods, food on board, I get some salad, lamb skewers, and a bun, it does the trick. Time to find the Library of Progress, where I will be performing later on.

Body and Soul is much like a mini Electric Picnic, I walk through the wood-ways and into the main area, and on my immediate left is the Library of Progress tent. A large marquee tent with rows of brown wooden benches, lined before a small nicely lit stage. Seated on stage are DJ and presenter Rick O’Shea, who is hosting various intellectual discussions and debates here over the weekend, he is joined by two authors, one I recognise, ginger curly hair and beard, as author Dave Rudden, and Tramp Press publisher Sarah Davis-Goff is there too. They’re talking about sci-fi dystopias, politics, Star Trek, favourite books, it’s a fairly light-hearted easy-going debate, which I listen to for a bit, and then leave my bag behind the stage in a safe spot, then casually leave the tent, to go explore the festival.

Girls in sliver moon-man tight-fitting outfits, ravers with painted faces, stars, flowers, portable AIB bank link, many food trucks, burgers, hot dogs, chips, pizza, vegetarian, crepes, pork ribs. Short skirts and bra tops, topless boys, abs and beer bellies, head-boppers, pill-poppers, white-powder people, Garda patrolling, security standing by, Indian headdresses, pink lipstick, yellow glowing headbands, high heels and wellies, beats, banging tunes, pints in plastic cups, vomit, tomato ketchup, bugs and bug eyes, pissers with cocks out, the sun scorching us from above, hay-fever sneezes, lovers getting off, thumping music from the main stage, bodies laying on the grass smoking and smiling, souls in hedonistic play, I eat a hot dog with relish and mustard, and head on down to my stage, which awaits me.

Emmet Kirwan, who has recently come into the public’s consciousness with his spoken-word short film Heartbreak, is the host of Beats and Rhymes, he takes the stage and gives us a short rap-influenced poem, and then introduces me to the full-up tent. I have zero nerves, and full confidence in myself as I step up to perform for what I now take as my audience, and give all I can to them, try to connect on a deep human level, make this something they will remember, make it worth it, I finish to much applause and leave with the energy of the stage in me, I sell all my books, a good night’s work done. Next up is Derry poet and high priestess of Irish spoken word Abby Oliveira, she performs backed by tunes coming from the sound system, part rap, part poetry, part shamanic instruction, all dynamite. Before the gig began I had a good chat with Denise Chalia, an African-Irish girl, a young spoken-word artist who normally performs with the band Rusangano Family, this would be her first time performing on a stage like this on her own, and she was feeling some nerves about it, but when she did get up there in front of the people, she delivered her words expertly and with great presence too, the crowd responded rapturously to her, one to watch. The previously mentioned John Cummins, poetician, wowed us all with his finely tuned and crafted wordplay, his deft humour and extreme likeability. The final act of the night, Mango and Mathman, a Dublin grime-rap duo, took us to a sweaty, swaggering, pumped and pimped-up crescendo, these guys have the sound of the no-go, watch-what-yer-saying side of Dublin city, mixed in with the maddest floor-bouncing, roof-shaking club-night party vibe ya could think of, the place is hopping, gerrrr up ouaaa dat! Then it’s backstage, cans and shenanigans, jokes and well-dones, stories and gigs that are to come.

End of the night, after more food, and backstage chats and banter, I hitch a lift with Mathman, and we drive back to Dublin city, talking about, art, music, books, and people on the way. Back home, back to have a real cup of tea, then take my body and soul to my bed, awaiting the next journey.

 

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