‘Collectively Counting’ is a new poem by Stephen James Smith and film by Craig Kenny in collaboration with First Fortnight. The poem and video highlight the need for cohesion and solidarity at this time of disruption resulting from the Covid 19 pandemic.
Now in its tenth year, First Fortnight is an arts-based mental health charity which runs an annual festival every January aimed at ending stigma. The charity was instrumental in founding the European Arts Festival model and helped stage Europe’s first mental health arts festival in Athens, Greece in 2016. First Fortnight subsequently hosted European Mental Health Arts Festival in
communities across Ireland in 2019. An awareness campaign commencing in the First Fortnight of the year was designed as everyone is a little raw this time of year and more likely to be open to an empathic response. First Fortnight has become a fixture in the cultural calendar and synonymous with mental health awareness, challenging prejudice and ending stigma through cultural action. First Fortnight also runs a Centre for Creative Therapies, which provides a free creative psychotherapy service to vulnerable children, young adults and adults experiencing or at risk of homelessness. For further information go to https://www.firstfortnight.ie/
Stephen James Smith is a Dublin poet and playwright central to the rise of the vibrant spoken word scene in Ireland today. To date, his poetry videos have amassed over 3 million views online. In 2017 he was commissioned by St. Patrick’s Festival to write a new poem as a “celebratory narrative” of Ireland. The resultant piece My Ireland is accompanied by a short film by Director Myles O’Reilly, arranged and mixed by Conor O’Brien (Villagers), with music by Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Loah, Saint Sister, Eithne Ní Chatháin (aka Inni-K) and Ye Vagabonds. It has been viewed over 300,000 times online and was screened at London Film Festival in Trafalgar Square on March 17th. The poem was in many ways a follow on from Smith’s previous poetry video Dublin You Are, which itself clocked up in excess of 250k views. Stephen’s debut collection Fear Not, published by Arlen House, was released in September 2018 and he has recently released a poetry pamphlet Hear Now. He can be found at https://www.stephenjamessmith.com/