Sunday 22 September 2019

My cultural life ... Stephen James Smith

Stephen James Smith
Stephen James Smith
Silent Pat Kinevane
Radie Peat

Stephen James Smith is a Dublin poet and playwright central to the rise of the Irish spoken word scene. His poetry videos have amassed over one million views online, including My Ireland, a short poetry film commissioned by St Patrick's Festival. Stephen has performed extensively at top venues and events such as Electric Picnic, Other Voices, the London Palladium, the Oscar Wilde Awards in LA, Glastonbury Festival and George Town Literary Festival (ML). For more info see He curated and will perform at Swift's Vision, a 350th Birthday Celebration, as part of the inaugural Jonathan Swift Festival at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on November 30.

Film: Amelie


Amelie (above) has a special place in my heart. Perhaps it's linked back to a first love and how we watched it so many times together. However, I feel you could pause any scene in that film and the still would be a work of art. Visually it's stunning and the soundtrack is equally sublime. I saw its soundtrack composer Yann Tiersen at Vicar Street many moons ago and I cried that night. Also Audrey Tautou puts in the perfect performance and I'd love to spend a day wandering about Paris with her.

Poet: Pat Ingoldsby

Pat Ingoldsby has been a source of inspiration for me for years now. I love his heart, his wit, his mind. No other poet impacts on me the same way he does. I also love that he decided to remove himself from 'the arts world' and just does the real stuff on the streets. There is honour in how he lives and a wonderful twinkle of devilment in his eye.

Actor: Pat Kinevane

Silent Pat Kinevane

Silent by Pat Kinevane (above) left me in awe of Pat as a performer and writer. Having seen it five times now and other work by Pat I think he is peerless. He is also one of the most generous performers you could witness (he's a decent skin off the stage too). I love how he amplifies the voice of the subaltern with care, fun and with an undeniable force that burns in himself. Notable mentions: Mark O'Rowe, Little John Nee, David Pearse (who somehow once had me in convulsions by pushing a chair across The Abbey stage).

Gig: The Night Before Larry Got Stretched

The Night Before Larry Got Stretched in The Cobblestone, Smithfield, and An Goilin in The Teachers Club are two hotbeds of songs, stories (old and new) that run with an inclusivity and kindness all could learn from. I've heard so many obscure old poems about Dublin and Ireland from them, that when I walk these streets they have a new life. Each event encourages new singers and storytellers to give it a go. They are keeping our oral tradition alive in this digital age. Notable mentions: sessions in The International Bar, Wicklow Street, and Walsh's, Stoneybatter.

Voice: Lankum

Radie Peat

Radie Peat (above) (Lankum), Eithne Ni Chathain (Inni-K) and Lisa O'Neill are three voices that I keep coming back to. They make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Most importantly I believe them when they sing. I'm excited to see what these women do in times to come, but they have already left such treasures for our ears and been unflinching in tackling important social issues. Notable mention: Conor O'Brien (Villagers), his heart would heal any ill if it could.

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