The Guide to Being Bear Aware : Shearsman Books (April : 2017)
To buy the book, please visit https://www.shearsman.com/store/SJ-Fowler-The-Guide-to-Being-Bear-Aware-p102838710
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
Stablemates at Poetry Cafe, Shearsman Books reading May 26, 2018
Jill Abram's Stablemates series brings together multiple authors who share a publisher, a list buddy reading for poets at the Poetry Cafe in central London. I had the chance to be part of a lovely evening thanks to Shearsman Books, who published my Guide to Being Bear Aware in 2017. The evening also featured Richard Georges and Geraldine Clarkson, who were both remarkable in their readings - Geraldine with a concentrated range of work, full of phenomenological detail and play with form, and Richard, visiting from the British Virgin Islands, whose poetry was intense, serious, sonorous and charismatic.
I talked a little about my suspicion of readings before I read, and how I've come to see them as valuable entirely for their sense of community and human exchange, that they are a live moment, edged, which is worthwhile as they are purely alive, and then I mentioned to the audience that I'd ask them after each poem I read, whether they liked it. Those that admitted they did were given the poem in question, torn from my book. It was great to begin some new friendships and see some old pals, and to be in an almost entirely 'poetry' environment, rare for me nowadays.
Celebrating Shearsman Books at National Poetry Library : July 6, 2017
A grand evening at National Poetry Library celebrating Shearsman Books and their 35 years in publishing, constantly and carefully putting out books of brilliant modernist poetry from around the world. The library was full and I had the pleasure of reading alongside multiple Shearsman authors, including Peter Riley, who has been writing for over 50 years and someone whom I've been reading with great admiration for many years.
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/