The Guide to Being Bear Aware : Shearsman Books (April : 2017)
My latest poetry collection, The Guide to Being Bear Aware.
To buy the book, please visit the Shearsman Books website.
From the publisher : Incorporating a breathtaking sweep of international literary and philosophical influences and drawing deeply from the great European poets of the 20th century, The Guide to Being Bear Aware is a poetry collection for our time. From incisions into the political and moral factionalism which so often dominates our online existence, to sincere negotiations of our private lives, our bodies and our minds, in love and in death. This is not only a collection about the ephemerality of human life, but the Anthropocene – the permanently altered world we will leave behind."
"... advice for living in a world gone awry. Wry, violent, contemplative, political, intimate and raucous by turns, these are poems that laze on your lap only to get their claws in. Morphing into unfamiliar shapes beneath the watching eye, these refreshing, quizzical, well-traveled poems forge a world entirely their own: they won’t let you go of you easily.” Sarah Howe
Launches : March and April 2017
A quartet of performances, launching my book with new live artworks relating to its character, content and production - thanks to everyone who came to my book auction at York Literature Festival, my interactive fake film shoot at Kingston Writing School, my digressive introduction of possible performances ideas at the Arnolfini in Bristol and my transformation into a bear at Swedenborg House.
"In SJ Fowler’s work, which surprises & delights by turns, I’m fascinated throughout by the fast moves he makes, quick on the draw & changing rapidly from image to image, meme after meme as it were. His is in that sense a markedly original enterprise, but one which carries with it another thrust – toward sharing, even collaboration – that has been central to much of his earlier work. Here every poem starts off with the words of some other poet (present or past, close or distant) before his own voice enters & takes over, with those other voices, spirits, hovering around. It is all new as I read him, all special, and I’m drawn to follow him now wherever he takes us." Jerome Rothenberg
On the book: This collection brings my work back to the more formally literary, engaging with the 20th century European traditions that brought me into writing poetry in the first place. The poems mark a re-engagement with narrative, a first-person subject, though fluid and ironised, and explore ideas surrounding contemporary political and moral conflicts, and their often infantile, hypocritical character, and the place this has in a wider notion of humans as arrogant animals divorced from our history, planet, consciousness and fellow animal beings. The presence of so many great poets and writers sits beneath this collection too, with each opened by an epigraph.
About the publisher: Shearsman Books, who for nearly three decades have been a home to some of the most extraordinary high modern and literary poets the UK has produced since WWII, who have published many poets profoundly influential on myself, from Cesar Vallejo to Fernando Pessoa in English, as well many peers whose work has given me much, from Vahni Capildeo to John Hall. http://www.shearsman.com/
You can read a poem from this book published by Poetry Magazine online here: The Robin Hood Estate : Poetry Magazine October 2016
Readings from the book at Times Lit Fest, India and Poetry International Vlieland, Holland.
Excerpt from interview with Poetry Spotlight: November 2017
Finally, can you tell us a little about the poem you’ve submitted to Poetry Spotlight?
This is from an upcoming collection called The Guide to Being Bear Aware, due out in 2017 with Shearsman Books. I’ve spent the last year or two really rereading poets for the first time, as I only started to read poetry in 2009. I had never looked at it before then. So I’m looping back and rediscovering the world poetry that actually brought me into the field in the first place – poets like Mayakovsky, Esenin, Herbert, Rozewicz, Cesaire, Ekelof, Seferis, Sachs…
It’s meant my writing has taken on a more conversational tone, maybe a softer tone, accidentally, perhaps ironising the first person, rather than avoiding it as I have done in the past. It’s also a book that’s trying to reflect on the Anthropocene – our relationship to language, consciousness and animals. http://poetryspotlight.com/sj-fowler/
Discussing Bear Awareness on Resonance FM with Jude Cowan Montague : April 8th 2017
A fine hour talking with Jude Cown Montague as the only guest on her The News Agents show, a longstanding highlight of Resonance's saturday programming. We talked about ... Education, Animals, Snobbery, Ethical Perspective, Language, Consciousness, Mortality, Epigraphs, Russian Revolutionary poets and soooo many other things, including some talk of my new book, topically, The Guide to Being Bear Aware. It was a lovely experience and I'm hoping I don't sound pretentious, certainly Jude was anything but and even made a new piece responding to one of my epigraphs https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/the-news-agents-8th-april-2017/