Intercollective: Intercompetitive Finale


“What power does the hedgehog have?” Poet Ciaran Callan asked an entranced audience and the words barely left his mouth before someone excitedly responded with “teleportation!”

Upon asking where the hedgehog would not go, another audience member, equally confidently, yelled “Galway!” This began Ciaran’s second poem, a freestyle piece based around audience suggestions that reaches its absurd peak when halfway through he exclaimed “the time travelling hedgehog is tripping balls!” Whilst a freestyle piece about a high time travelling hedgehog may not at first seem like the type of thing you would expect to hear at a slam event, his piece encapsulates a fundamental aspect of what the Intercollelctive is about, and that is community.

The interaction between performer and audience, creates the distinct communal feeling that draws people to this event week after week. On every Sunday in the basement of the International Bar on Wicklow Street, Dublin the Intercollective is an event that features both musicians and poets with a walk-in open mic. Performance poet and facilitator, Lizzy Byrne a.k.a Shauna Byrne, explains why she started the Intercollective:

“I wanted to make an open mic night that my younger self would have felt more comfortable at. One where people respectfully listened when someone was on stage and where there was someone on hand to help you with the equipment.”

This night in particular had a slightly different format as the Intercollective were hosting the final of Intercompetitive, a competition sponsored by 5 Lamps Brewing Company for poets and musicians. The final consisted of two poets: Ciaran Callan, Philip Lynch, and two musicians: Jane Willow and Niamh Keane. Whilst there was a competitive element to it, the night still retained the relaxed, fun, and respectful atmosphere that’s associated with the Intercollective, and this was the intent of the organisers: “We’ve done our utmost to make it feel less like a competition and more like an open mic and we’ve been blown away by the performances.”

This atmosphere is immediately felt upon entering the basement of the International bar where great effort is put into creating a space conducive to watching live performances. The stage has bright lighting, while the surrounding area is dimly lit with candles on each table creating a sense of friendly intimacy between audience members. While there are many regulars to the night, newcomers are very much welcomed, and one feels as though they are entering a little community upon descending the stairs. The size of the room forces people to interact with each other, and this is a great place for anyone interested in poetry or music who is looking to meet other like minded people.

Each of the four finalists were given fifteen minutes, allowing their distinct style to come through. After the eccentric opening poet Ciaran Callan, came Jane Willow who likewise engaged in audience participation as she got the room to sing “I’m the fool that keeps going back for more” in her song The Fool.

Then came more poetry with Phil Lynch whose hypnotic voice made the room fall completely silent, and finally the musician Niamh Keane who gently strummed the guitar while singing cutting lyrics such as “I’m not infatuated your ego’s just inflated.”

Each audience member was given a vote and Jane Willow and Phil Lynch were announced as the winners, with Jane receiving a day’s recording at Auckland Studios, and Phil receiving an embossed beer mat with his own piece of poetry on it that will be featured in the International Bar.

The night ended with two featured acts, the musician Junior Brother and spoken word poet Brian McMahon Gallagher, reminding everyone again of how the Intercollective can be a hub of undiscovered Irish talent. While the Intercollective has established itself as a night of great poetry and music, Lizzy has plans to expand it further:

“My next endeavor with it is to create masterclasses with local musicians, poets, sound engineers, event organisers and everything in between that would be held an hour before the show starts. That way, I can give back to the people that have supported the night so far and give them their very own platform to educate the people like me years ago, who didn’t really have a clue where or how to start a career in the Industry. It’s a collective way of doing things I suppose.”

The Intercollective’s emphasis on community makes it a night that is guaranteed to be entertaining and renew one’s love for music and poetry.

Written by Dermot Christophers

Melanie O'Donovan