Gene Barry, of the Blackwater Poets, formerly the Elbow Lane poets, started the Fermoy International Poetry Festival. To which others tagged along, as it benefited them, taking advantage of the fruits of his efforts, until everything got official.
And then, in a scene similar to how Fred Johnstone got shafted from Cuirt in Galway, whose literature of late does not even recognise him (Johnstone) as founder, amid allegations of impropriety which Gene Barry steadfastly refutes – and I for one am on his side having read what I have read of both sides – Gene Barrys operation is not now the “official” poetry festival of Fermoy, with a renegade committee backed by the inner clique of Fermoy powers that be, but the Fermoy International Poetry Festival shall be proceeding as normal under the guidance of Gene Barry and his committee.
It begs the question, should artists and festivals not power themselves,Â and leave the officials out of it – I ponder it in this post – which would leave the arts and the events unpolluted of the egos and politics involving outsiders with vested interests than unavoidably become involved when they are brought in?
I hope to be there myself this year – I had the pleasure of being there two years agoÂ (I read Angry Sea among others) but missed last years due to work – and will try to drag along a few of the Tullamore Rhymers with me as well!
Genes account of the debacle is backed by the budget debate last January of Fermoy Town Council, where Olive Corcorans “Fermoy Arts Committee” is getting funding – at her insistance to be ringfenced, whereas Gene’s festival, which she was happy to support on its inception, wasnt even mentioned for consideration. The website for Genes festival is at www.fermoypoetryfestival.com