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This report is taken from PN Review 235, Volume 43 Number 5, May - June 2017.

Fertile the Isle: Report from Inishbofin Vahni Capildeo
THE RED-PAINTED BOAT is proceeding with expert guidance through a sea that has taken against it. Some of the passengers start chatting; others stop; a few start being sick, or making sick faces. Suddenly a woman unpacks a violin. With perfect good humour she walks up and down between the seats, smiling as she plays us across the water. Her balancing act brings more than a sense of equilibrium; it makes a joy of being within the craft, with and against the elements. I feel the liquids of which our flesh is made fall in time with the sea, because of being in tune with her playing. My blood and spit settle. My brain swoons into sleep. I wake up to disembark in Connemara.

‘Festival culture’. ’Tis the season for it. Once ‘culture’ becomes the headword to which another noun is attributively attached, anyone translating from British English will know that the tone to convey is one of disapproval. ‘Prize culture’. ‘Victim culture’.

Now primroses invade verges, plate glass is glaring back at pale sun, rain dries on the motorways, and the tax year is driven to its conclusion, everything urges the poetry traveller to book passage for Inishbofin – as the Anglo-Saxon Seafarer might re-work his lines, if resurrected; but this is not an advertisement for Inish: Island Conversations, the multi-disciplinary arts festival to which you have to voyage by boat, from Cleggan to Inishbofin…

What makes for a good festival? (If your brain automatically added the noun ‘experience’ after ‘festival’, you are in deeper waters ...


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