A series of portraits, of people who, at the time of painting, were buried in the place the paintings were made - Kensal Green Cemetery, the first of London's magnicifient seven, as part of the Worm Wood exhibition.
Set in the beautiful Dissenter's Chapel as part of the remarkable and historic Kensal Green Cemetery, over a dozen London poets will read mostly new works responding to Kensal Green Cemetery or something to that effect. Readings from Eley Williams, Fabian Peake, Joe Turrent, Michael Zand, Ariadne Radi Cor, Clover Peake, Adriana Diaz-Enciso, Ahsan Akbar, Alex MacDonald, Lavinia Singer, Richard Scott, Giovanna Coppola and an audio installation performance by Pascal O'Loughlin. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/dissenterschapel
Worm Wood : an exhibition at Kensal Green Cemetery The Dissenter's Gallery
by Tereza Stehlíková and SJ Fowler - August 3rd to September 3rd
391 Ladbroke Grove. London W10 5AA. Entrance via Cemetery door on Ladbroke Grove or Main Gate during opening hours. Viewings by appointment.
An exhibition of found objects, artefacts., paintings, photographs and a new collaborative film from Czech moving-image artist Tereza Stehlikova and writer SJ Fowler which explores the historic, hidden and idiosyncratic in Kensal Green Cemetery, and its connection to disppeared and ever disappearing London. www.stevenjfowler.com/wormwood
Special View : Poetry Reading - August Wed 16th : Doors 7pm : Free Entry
Held in the beautiful Dissenter's Chapel, nearly twenty London-based poets will read mostly new works responding to Kensal Green Cemetery with Eley Williams, Fabian Peake, Joe Turrent, Michael Zand, Ariadne Radi Cor, Clover Peake, Adriana Diaz-Enciso, Ahsan Akbar, Alex MacDonald, Lavinia Singer, Richard Scott, Jonathan Mann, Giovanna Coppola, an audio installation performance by Pascal O'Loughlin & more.
Special View : Performance Night - August Thurs 24th : Doors 7pm : Free Entry
The exhibition's official special view before closing with screenings, interactive tours and performances, featuring new works in response to the place and themes on display from Gareth Evans, Thomas Duggan, Alexander Kell, Tereza Stehlikova, SJ Fowler and more to be announced.
The exhibition is one of many facets of Worm Wood, a collaboration between the artists begun in 2015 and planned as ongoing with the area’s development. Worm Wood has included a summer long residency at Kensal Green Cemetery Dissenter's Chapel, multiple events, a film and publications.
Note: Poetry submissions are open only for the Duos and Poem Brut series. No other submissions will be read.
- Duos: collaborative poems written / made by two poets. There is no criteria for the poems or process. Please send a single bio and single photo for both authors.
- Poem Brut: poems exploring handwriting, abstraction, illustration, asemic and pansemic writing, visual poetry and material process, colour, scribbling, scrawlings, crossings out, ink, forgotten notes, found text, interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, geometric poems, inarticulate poems, minimalism, collage, toilet wall writing. No works produced on a computer.
From a lovely night at Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, when I was chatting about the idea of home with the brilliant Rasha Abbas amongst many European poets. Thanks again for all involved and the british council. More here www.stevenjfowler.com/epn Also Im in this vid for like 2 seconds
Pleased to be a part of Aaron Kent's Poetic Interviews project, where he pitches interviews in the form of poems between him and a poet responder, and normally with quite innovative results, explores the nature of poetic language as a counterpoint to 'functional' language, which is certainly a concern of mine - testing these boundaries, forcing readers to think about poetry can do, and then, perhaps, should do?
There was no night / The night you refer to was not a night / Nor was it possible as the opposite of a day / It seems your memory has more than it needs
As part of my upcoming collaborative exhibition Worm Wood at Kensal Green Cemetery I'm exhibited a series of new paintings. The series are ostensibly portraits made under the constraint that I can only paint them on site in the Dissenter's Chapel with materials found in the chapel, the catacombs, cemetery stores and in the cemetery grounds. So far they are also of those buried in the cemetery. My upcoming The Poem Brut project has led me to spend lots of time with the work of painter-poets like Asger Jorn, Francois Aubrun and others and they are clearly an influence in these works.
Recent happenings from July 2017 : Two new publications, three great events in Kensal Green Cemetery, others at Ledbury Festival, National Poetry Library, Poetry Ireland & more.
Subcritical Tests: a new book from Gorse Editions
A pair of grand launches in a basement in Soho and a packed Poetry Ireland in Dublin for a book already making mushroom clouds on the Irish poetry scene. A beautiful thing Gorse have made, sharing Ailbhe Darcy and I's poems, three years in the writing. www.stevenjfowler.com/ireland
Landscape Learn : Growth & Decay
Part of my ongoing residency with award winning landscape architects J&L Gibbons, a day in Kensal Green Cemetery with speakers from Urban Mind, Museum of London and a debut screening for my collaborative film with Tereza Stehlikova. Follow Landscape Learn.www.stevenjfowler.com/gibbonsresidency
The Ecchoing Green
A reading with Chris McCabe and Tom Jeffreys in Kensal Green Cemetery Dissenter's Chapel, part of the Wood Wood residency, a discussion of changing London and its cemeteries www.stevenjfowler.com/wormwood
Worm Wood Old Oak
Short fiction published by Sampson Low, a publisher founded in 1793. A weird story about a property developer terraforming London, available here https://sampsonlow.co/2017/07/14/worm-wood-old-oak-sj-fowler/
Ledbury Poetry Festival
Performing and curating the 87th event of the 21st international poetry festival in Ledbury, presenting a new collaboration with Harry Man. More here
Poem Bruts : Hotel Magazine
New art poems published in the brilliant hotel. Taken from an upcoming artbook 'New Prim' with Hesterglock Press. http://partisanhotel.co.uk/S-J-Fowler-Poem-Brut-ii
Illuminations II: Erich Fried
A brilliant second instalment of the Illuminations series, surrounded by friends and family of Erich Fried, presenting new performative and literary responses to his life and works. www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations
National Poetry Library Special Edition: celebrating Shearsman Books
A chance to read from my collection out this year 'The Guide to Being Bear Aware' alongside poets like Peter Riley, celebrating Shearsman who have been publishing for 35 years. www.stevenjfowler.com/bearaware
Interview with Jana Astanov A quick chat with the new york based Polish multidisciplinary artist about recent things. www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poetry-is-an-opportunity/
Some upcoming other stuff:
August 1st to 31st : An exhibition at Kensal Green Cemetery - Worm Wood, with Tereza Stehlikova
August 31st : Reverse Festival Copenhagen
September 3rd : Fiender - Swedish Enemies in Malmo
September 19th : WOW Festival South Korea
November 15th (to be confirmed) : Illuminations III - Peter Handke
November 22nd : The Poem Brut at Rich Mix - a new programme of events, exhibitions and talks begins, exploring art poems, pansemic writing, abstract portraiture - the intersections between brutalism, text, handwriting and abstract illustration.
A dynamic public facing project from J&L Gibbons, Landscape Learn is an exciting venture that Ive been able to be involved with through my residency and tie into my time at Kensal Green Cemetery, with Tereza Stehlikova, with this event. A one day mix of cemetery tour via geology and lost rivers, to talks on the bones of the city, the urban mind, neuroscience, landscape architecture and finishing with a screening of a film I have small part in, made by Tereza. Tickets were sold to a group of nearly fifty and the day felt really communal and engaged, I met so many really interesting people, all of whom shared a complex and intensive interest in their city and its changing environment - often changing for the worst, as the discussion of the nearby Old Oak Common development seemed never too far from the discussions. It's inspiring for me to work with people such as Jo Gibbons and Neil Davidson, this is the kind of day that feeds into my work, takes it into new places, where it needs to be, always growing.
The second event as part of my residence at Kensal Green Cemetery, Worm Wood, a really resonant and communal night with Tom Jeffreys and Chris McCabe, all three of us sharing somewhat deeply intertwined reflections on London, cemeteries, psychological interactions with space and history. I took folk down into the catacombs during my reading of my new limited edition short story publication from Sampson Low - Worm Wood Old Oak. I am really happy with the little chapbook, its beautifully done and this was the right place to share it with the world. https://sampsonlow.co/2017/07/14/worm-wood-old-oak-sj-fowler/
A really brilliant magazine is Hotel, and they've once again generously published some of my new art poems or poem bruts which will form the major output of my work over the next year or so, with a series of events at Rich Mix and four new limited edition books. These three works are taken from the book New Prim.
I am aware it’s easy to project one’s hopefulness onto places other than where you live, and in the context of launching books and doing events, its true in London I tend to rack them up, so perhaps numbing the experience for myself. But what a beautiful reception in Dublin for the launch of Subcritical Tests. Maybe it was the presence of Gorse as a really brilliant journal birthed by the city and its literary history somehow, or Ailbhe Darcy returning to her city. Maybe it was Poetry Ireland behind it, hosting it in the most grand of buildings. But we had a good hundred people, many students from American university summer schools, around the Dublin literary faces behind and supporting Gorse. And people listened close. We did a reading, just a reading, something I do resist nowadays, feelings its limitations like nails on a chalkboard a lot of the time, feeling oversaturated with the mode, and feeling few are honest about what it can do, and what it can’t do. But here, it was perfect. Ailbhe and I were succinct, in our last moment of a long, three year writing journey, a friendship in a book, reaching a peak of some sort. And as Christodoulos said in his intro – it is a difficult book, a gorgeous thing thanks to Gorse and Niall McCormack’s illustrations, but the content is dense and modern as well as lyrical. It’s not a book to whizz through certainly, not in its making or tone or subject. And then on top of that its collaborative, which seems to distance people for some reason. This was an evening really about friendships, and a community, in a place where it seems to me poetry is taken seriously, perhaps that isn't where I belong- a place I should just visit. All told, it was a really memorable evening, a fitting end to a three year writing and collaborating journey.
Well where else but the basement of a pub in old soho to launch a poetry book about the nuclear bomb / apocalypse / threat / possible sweet release from all the puff? A weird and wonderful night in a dark corridor with people I am so fond of it comes close to a fraternal love - Christodoulos Makris, Susan Tomaselli, Ailbhe Darcy - and some new folk who will become friends. We spent a good five hours down there, relaxed, talking and reading and into the world was launched Subcritical Tests. Watch on on the video for the very end, where the performative urge just nearly just nearly got the better of me. Ailbhe is a sport. www.stevenjfowler.com/subcriticaltests
Ledbury Poetry festival is an internationally renowned fest, one entering its 21st year in fact, and for my first time attending I was happy to perform and organise a small Camarade with poets local to the festival or tied to it in some fashion. Set in the beautiful Malvern hills its very much a festival aligned with the more formal in British poetry than myself and the Enemies project, but as I’ve repeated a lot -my tastes and work is what it is for my own ends but that can only exist within the range and width and panoply of traditions, and it’d be hypocritical to not seek out difference in poetry, to not always be open to generous invitations, and be ready to listen and learn and discover what people are writing. I found the festival to be utterly welcoming, hospitable and full of interesting work. Myself and 11 other poets in the Camarade were treated so well, we had a lovely audience in the Market Theatre, a great space and in fact were asked to be the very last, 87th, event of this 10 day incarnation of the festival. My work with Harry Man, one of my closest friends in poetry, went down well and though my visit was brief, it was a really positive experience.
The second of the Illuminations series took place at Kensal Green Cemetery Dissenter’s Chapel this past Thursday. It was unique for a number of reasons. The first, is that it celebrated Erich Fried. His poetry has been special to me since I began reading poetry because it is indelibly tied to where I have lived for a decade, West London. He was recommended to me by Sheila Ramage of the legendary Notting Hill bookshop, one of the very many writers Sheila gifted me and so many others over many decades, and then, by chance, exploring Kensal Green Cemetery, just over the canal from where I live, I came across his grave, by accident. Pure chance led me to find his burial site and then go deeper, beyond the Calder books of his love and political poems, into exploring his life. For years his presence has been there with me, writing poetry as I have done, in the cemetery and being concerned with the middle European post war aesthetic more than any other. Then this past year the very generous Austrian Cultural Forum allowed me to develop the Illumination series, and I choose Fried immediately.
What followed deepened the aforementioned connection even further. I was able to secure the Dissenter’s Chapel through my collaborative exhibition with Tereza Stehlikova, so host the event in the place of Erich’s burial, which he choose over Austria, as London was his home in exile. I ran the entire event alone, getting in early to set up projections, seats, switching off alarms and locking catacombs. It was well worth it, the audience was able to take in the most beautiful view of the cemetery after hours, sneaking in through a small gate on Ladbroke grove. And vitally, the connection Stephen Watts gave me to John Parham and then David Fried and Kathy Fried, Erich’s children, allowed me to bring the Fried family to the event. Generations of the family were there, with even Maeve Fried contributing, two generations removed from Erich.
A personal affair for me, one tied intimately to the west London literary history I am value so much and feel myself to be in the lineage of. And the performances were really great, full of different, not too reverential to Erich, but not completely oblique either. All the videos can be seen here www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations and some pictures too by Madeleine Elliott who was kind enough to attend and document.
A deep poetic compliment from a peer and friend, referring to my 2014 book, - a new poem! as part of The Learned Pig's Wolf Crossing season, which is as excellent as this poem http://www.thelearnedpig.org/rottweilers-guide-dog-owner/4855
"If you were a fruit,
what fruit would you be?
Black banana, fruit flies,
les ananas ne parlent pas,
(a little song of two children learning french on Canadian TV)."
a new collaborative poetry collection by Ailbhe Darcy & I, the first book by Gorse
I'm happy to announce my latest collaborative book, written with Ailbhe Darcy, will be published as the very first Gorse edition - Subcritical Tests. Available here to buy, do go here and click links and purchase it, why not? It's a difficult book but a rewarding one, certainly the parts Ailbhe wrote, which are mashed up with mine now completely, to the point where I genuinely don't know who wrote what, which is perhaps as it should be with a collaboration? gorse.ie/book/subcritical-tests/
London launch of Subcritical Tests
Monday 10th July 2017, 6.30-10.30pm, Sun & 13 Cantons, Soho
with readings from Niven Govinden, Susana Medina, Colm O’Shea followed by the launch by Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler. [RSVP]
Dublin launch of Subcritical Tests
Wednesday 12th July, 7pm-8.30pm, Poetry Ireland, 11 Parnell Sq East
with Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler, introduced by gorse poetry editor Christodoulos Makris. [RSVP]
About the book
"The nearness of nuclear holocaust, always just one clumsy accident away, forms an entry point into this record of a friendship. The poems in Subcritical Tests stubbornly make connections, ever conscious of the impending threat of annihilation. Oblique, modern, lyrical, humorous, these poems represent the range of Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler‘s individual practices, modulated and melded through the collaborative process." www.stevenjfowler.com/subcriticaltests
Gorse have established themselves as one of the finest literary journals in Europe, if not the world, and so to have this book open their venture into publishing standalone books is an immense privilege. The book is beautifully illustrated and cover designed by Niall McCormack.
3:AM: I recently had the pleasure of reading your four collections of poetry: the latest “The Guide to Being Bear Aware”, Enthusiasm, published in 2015, The Rottweiler’s Guide to the Dog Owner, from 2014, and your first book, Red Museum, published in 2011. How is “The Guide to Being Bear Aware” different from your previous works?
SJ Fowler: Thank you. I’m sorry you had to slog through four of the, one is normally enough for people. As you probably picked up, each one is very different from the next – different style, method, tone, subject. You couldn’t tell they are from the same person, I’ve been told that anyway, and I take that as a badge of honour. The language I reclaim from the world and plop down on the page is not supposed to represent me as an individual but just some of my mental activity and inquiry. The Guide is different as it’s a return to more literary ground, it’s more notably poetic. That’s because I only discovered poetry in 2010 and this kind of writing, post war European poetry, is what got me into the field. So for the first time I feel I’ve been reading that work long enough to let it speak out. And I’ve also been more active with really experimental pieces of performance, visual art and theatre over the last few years, and so I felt, organically, my poetry could be a little more lyrical.
3:AM: In this collection you begin most of the poems with quotes from a wonderfully curated list of European poets. Could you explain the concept behind this?
SJF: When I first began reading poetry I would take out huge anthologies from Senate House Library in London, big dusty things from the 60s, 70s, 80s that no one else was looking at, and I would spend all day reading them, stopping only to write down lines from poets, both known and obscure, that struck me intensely. It sounds untrue but back then I would read poetry for six or seven hours a day, I was so excited to have discovered it. So for this collection I raided this old word doc of stolen lines. I assigned the epigraphs randomly, often, and I know people hate epigraphs, they take it to be the poet being a prick, showing off their learning, so I thought if I put one for pretty much every poem that’d be quite funny. It’d also force people to look for meanings between the poem and the epigraph which perhaps don’t exist aside from their own analysis, which is also nice. .... CONT'D
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.