A note on - Hard to Read : an exhibition at Rich Mix

HARD TO READ
Paint Poems, Poet Portraits, Pansemia : an exhibition by SJ Fowler
December 9th 2017 to january 15th 2018 at Rich Mix Gallery

www.poembrut.com/hard-to-read
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA (downstairs from the Indigo Cafe) 

Once we understand excess, then we can get really simple.
                                                                           Robert Rauschenberg


From the gallery "Collecting together the art poetry of SJ Fowler, this solo exhibition aims to pose several questions of the poem as a concrete, visual thing in the world. What is in the shape of a letter and what images do words recall? What is the meaning of colour in poetry and text upon the page, and white space? How does the situation of a poem change its meaning? Why is composition not a concept that applies to a medium that is innately visual? In literature, why has content overwhelmed context? Why has product dominated process? HARD TO READ poses these questions and answers them poorly, playfully, with over 40 original works drawn from multiple publications and previous exhibitions - works that interrogate handwriting, abstraction, illustration, asemic and pansemic writing, scribbling, crossings out, forgotten notes, strange scrawls - the odd interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, and coloured words that randomly collide with image recalling words."

Special view performance event : January Saturday 13th - Rich Mix Gallery : Free Entry - 7.30pm www.poembrut.com/gallery featuring Paul Hawkins, Imogen Reid, Christian Patracchini, Patrick Cosgrove, Mischa Foster Poole, SJ Fowler and more.

Part of Poem Brut, supported by Arts Council England.

P1140477.jpg
P1140522.jpg
P1140498.jpg

Pictures by Alexander Kell http://www.alexanderkell.com/

A note on: The European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture

I'm pleased to have been named an executive editor of the European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture. Over the next 12 months I'll have the chance to commission and publish over 80 original essays, articles and reflections from writers across the world. 

Initial commissions include new pieces by Rasha Abbas, Harry Man, Joanna Walsh, David Spittle, Christodoulos Makris, Andrew Gallix, Rocio Ceron, Catherine Humble and many more. New articles are soon to be published daily at www.versopolis.com

The European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture is an online literary journal, funded by the European Union, aiming to create an anglophone publication platform with a focus on continental Europe and world beyond. 

versop.png

Published : I fear my best work behind me

'm happy to announce the release of my debut art book, in a limited edition, from Stranger Press. Available to purchase here I fear my best work behind me

The book will be launched on December 15th at The Poetry Society's Poetry Cafe at 7.30pm, free entry. Details here www.poembrut.com/ifear

Produced to a remarkable standard by Stranger press, I fear ... is a book exploring poetry as a fractured, overwhelmed, handwritten victim of colour, brutalist child-like portraiture, abstract illustration and negative space. 

I'm just messin' about, Karel Appel once said. Nothing was further from the truth. 
I'm just messin' about, says SJ Fowler. Nothing is further from the truth. Bas Kwakman, Director - Poetry International Rotterdam

i fear my best work behind me presents raw simulation of tentative and tender frailty. The respondent stares at fragments of attachment comprehension lost comprehension, becomes involved in a relationship of mark facture and scripted text applied sequentially or contemporary with each other, scripted in tandem or over the smudge. It is as if the intent has been hidden and that there rests an implicit coded discrepancy in each smudge demanding a decode, a search in the rubble, a decipherment that matches the pages of fleeting uncertainty and assured presentation without transcription. The work shakes with an engagement with these conditions.     Allen Fisher poet & artist

The volume features works published by Oxford Poetry, Test Centre magazine, Gorse Magazine, Fractalia and others, and an example can be found online at Partisan Hotelhttp://partisanhotel.co.uk/S-J-Fowler The book is closed by an essay, soon to be published onThe Learned Pig.

The works call back to the post-war and latter 20th century explorations of Henri Michaux, Jacques Racquet and the CoBrA group especially – Christian Dotremont, Pierre Alechinsky, Asger Jorn, Lucebert, Gerrit Kouwenaars, Karel Appel. This book is a reconnection to their principles and practises, knowing it to be familiar ground, but one rarely tread and increasingly necessary in a still predominantly colourless medium.

Part of Poem Brut, supported by Arts Council England.

A note on : Munich with the British Council

IMG_20171122_163833.jpg

A few days in Munich thanks to the hospitality of Elke Ritt and the British Council in Germany, this was a chance to develop a project that I hope will become a significant moment in contemporary British innovative poetry in Europe. Proposed by myself and Chris McCabe, it centres around an exhibition of English Concrete poetry in Munich, that will trace the visual poetry revolution of the 50s through to those making the work on the island now, whom are not greatly well known beyond the UK. It will connect to German vispo too, but vitally, it will show the range of poetic practise that has emanated from visual innovation. From performance, to conceptual work, from kinetic poetry to installation. These few days were spent discussing the idea, touring the beautiful city and meeting some brilliant folk. Discovering the Lyrik Kabinett was a revelation, a library gallery event space, with a really progressive understanding of poetry and art together, and visiting the grand Literaturhaus once again reminded me of what we’re missing, not having these institutions, in the UK. Once again, I’m lucky to be working with the British Council and after this beginning, hopefully this ambitious idea comes to fruition next year. 

Published: Poems into Slovenian by Muanis Sinanovic

epitA.png

Rimska žena
grozna ljubezen ki konča pokol
požgi najino kot dvojčka podžunglane vojne
vključi pojem prijaznega konca
ki duši pesem o visokem koncu
stolp pobega v ure
priskrbi ga za vse kar pomeni preden je bil
da ne bova znova sama dokler eden od naju ne umre

A real privilege to have the brilliant Slovenian poet Muanis Sinanovic, whose work shares many of my concerns, translate some of my poems from 2013 into Slovenian. He's done a beautiful job and for them to appear in the respected Lud Literatura magazine is grand too http://www.ludliteratura.si/branje/poezija/epitalamiji/

A note on : Animal Bones

Animal Bones : The first of a new set of five cinema-poetic collaborations with the artist-filmmaker Joshua Alexander. / The animal films explore the particular, baffled and morbid character of English attitudes to mortality, along with the specific influence of place and conformity on the quintessentially English deferral of emotion and melodrama. The films aim to capture the ambiguous menace of an often accidentally humorous resolve, manner, apology and understatement so prevalent in the English character. / The first of these five filmpoems, Animal Bones, was shot on location at Hythe Ossuary, one of only two open-to-the-public human bone crypts in the UK. / Supported by the Eurimages TEM grant and Arts Council England via The Enemies Project.

A note on: BBC Radio 3 sunday feature 'Resurrecting Mayakovsky'

I had a grand time chatting to Ian Sansom and Conor Garrett for the making of their brilliant radio documentary 'Resurrecting Mayakovsky', which was the sunday feature on BBC Radio 3 on November 19th. I think I'm in it a matter of seconds, but we chatted extensively when we met, which was a really fruitful experience, and I was delighted to be invited to be a part of it. They excerpted my play too, which gives it a small second life in a way that feels positive. 

It remains listenable as a podcast here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09fmkh5

A note on: reflecting on Handke for Illuminations III

Held at the Austrian Cultural Forum in London I had the chance to put on an event reflecting on the work of my favourite novelist, Peter Handke. It brought together performers from Amsterdam, Vienna and across London, and the varying works on the night showed the range of achievement of Handke. My own performance was made up on the night really, a mix of the impersonal and personal, gentle and threatening. 

All the videos from Stephen Watts, Phil Baber, Eley Williams, Verena Durr, Iris Colomb are here www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations and I'm very happy to say this series, which has had three successful episodes this year, will have another next year, on the remarkable Thomas Bernhard.

Writers' Centre Kingston blog #6 - Remembering was good

My short time so far as direktor of Writers' Centre Kingston has been smooth sailing, the challenges are different, but the remit is clear, and I've been lucky to have friends I've been able to ask to be guest speakers on quite short notice after my summer takeover. Our first few events were all about trying new formats, working student readings next to newly commissioned talks, and trying new venues, but this was all straightforward, the issue has been in a very different event culture in Kingston than in London, or in the other big cities I normally work. What I take to be relatively given and maybe even mundane is perhaps a little startling for others, so that's interesting. But having Iain Sinclair, Tom McCarthy and our beautiful pamphlet series, for example, tends to produce interesting events.

IMG_20171109_215417.jpg

The third event was on the theme of Remembering and saw the best trio of talks I think I've ever been able to commission for a similarly faceted event. Between them Winsome Pinnock, John Stuart and Nell Leyshon produced genuinely remarkable reflections. It was so lovely to see Winsome, who is responsible for me being at Kingston, John, whom I look up to, being an avid history reader interested in the legacy of empire, and Nell, who has really got me writing fiction, and has become a close friend, after we met in Mexico and Peru, and had mad adventures over the last few years, speak together. 

You can see all the videos and pictures here www.writerscentrekingston.com/remembering

Here is a picture Nell sent me after the event, a year old but just developed from film, of us sitting in an event abandoned train carriage in Peru. This event is what I'm trying to do with the centre, inspire students, and anyone interested, anyone in this part of the world, with programmes which feel friendly but have a core of something challenging, something defiant and intellectual.

A note on : Learning to letterpress for 'Hard to Read' exhibition

Had a grand time at the London Print studio, on the grand union canal no less, learning how to manually work a letterpress and how to turn works into photopolymer plates, in order to create a limited edition run of pansemic poems and new minimalist poems for my upcoming exhibition Hard to Read, at the Rich Mix this December. www.stevenjfowler.com/hardtoread

IMG_20171111_121758.jpg
IMG_20171111_164616.jpg

A note on: Subcritical Tests reviewed, briefly, in the Irish times

GorseEditions-SubcriticalTests-Front (1).jpg

It's at the bottom, and spelling words differently than how they are given in a dictionary can be deliberate, and full of meeeninggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/leontia-flynn-serious-about-the-butts-of-her-jokes-1.3291470

"Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler’s collaborative collection, Subcritical Texts, is the first book publication from Gorse (€13). Nicely designed but not entirely typo-free, its poems are often obscure and tense, pulled this way and that in what feels like a tug-of-war between Darcy and Fowler.

Images of nuclear bombs and fall-out recur and, every so often, in among the cross-talk and non sequiturs, pellucid lines or vivid passages emerge whose clarity feels both hard-won and relieving. “It is wrong” they write in Snooperscope,” to think of the day as busy, / or the army as impotent because of cakes / and waltzes. Do not be fooled, you cannot list / your way out of a fight, even with these beautiful men.” This is a strangely compelling book whose productive tensions are well described in Trumpet: “But no winter could be arrived at that / both parties would agree on; / the nations of you writing and I writing.”"

The book is http://gorse.ie/gorse-editions/subcritical-tests/

A note on : Revolve:R 3 available for pre-order

An opportunity to pre-order a copy of the Revolve:R, edition three publication. Edition three is the result of a multi-disiplinary collaboration (between artists from the UK, Europe, Africa, and the USA) over a two-year long duration and includes: 2D visual artworks, poetry, films, sound-art, and music.  /  Pre-orders of edition three will enable us to meet the publication costs and so are very much appreciated. To begin our funding campaign we are now offering a number of copies at a greatly discounted price (75% off). All pre-order backers of the project will be credited by name within the publication. 

Revolve:R, edition three includes: > 300+ 2D Visual Artworks > 15 Poems > 6 Films > 4 Soundscapes and 2 Songs / Pre-order Revolve:R, edition three  Here
Continuing from the thematic development of edition one and two - inspired by concepts of chance and synchronicity - in 2016 the curators sent an artwork to a number of artists with the invitation to respond with an artwork of their own by a set date. Once all these artworks were received a new work, both a synthesis, edit and reply to the collective works was produced and sent back to all participating artists. Within each Revolve:Rproject there are six such rounds (referred to as 'Revolves') of this process of communication, which effectively form six chapters within the edition.

For Revolve:R, edition three poets were invited to write poetry in response to the collective artworks of each of the six Revolves. These six poems were then forwarded to six artist-filmmakers who each made a short film in reply. Each  poem was also forwarded to another poet who in turn responded with a poem of their own. As well as the poets artists working with sound as well as musicians were also invited to create a soundscape, or song, inspired by the collective artworks of each of the six Revolves.

As a multidisciplinary site and source for experimentation and exchange, Revolve:R aims to support the artists involved through the publication and exhibition of their work. With a strong focus on collaborative practice, the project facilitates communications between national and international arts communities, transcending geographic and linguistic boundaries, and is intended as a vehicle for new and responsive artistic dialogue and interaction. Revolve:R, edition three is near completion and will be published in 2018.
Poem:11/15

The Instinct of Life is Trained Out of Memory When You're Tired

by Steven.J.Fowler.

The instinct of life is trained out of memory, for a moment.
Your flat earth we acknowledge as a series of visions, in two dimensions
that contain colour, shape, compositions under a guiding hand,
not like a poem in any visible sense.
Every point and place of this planet contains images like these,
in time, but not poems to match them, being out of time, their opposite.
Bone, rust, soil samples, sideways cities printed upon card.
They can be a votive for you, book owners, away from the adoration of dropbox.
Portals, twins - boxed images that confuse the rushing to our next meeting -
 hammers, those soil samples, writing visions as a competitive award.
 A black bin that appears a rose. But flatter than a black rose.
 What would be more hopeless than the claim that life itself
is to have survived long enough to have free time
that we do not need
to make books, images, objects and poems
that are less than the things they've been invented to oppose? 
Where sub-reality is more uniform,
more schedule, than actuality?
There is something in the bottom of this bucket worth reaching in to see.


Title of Bookwork: Revolve:R, edition three Publisher: Arrow Bookworks (in collaboration with a publishers - to be announced) Publishing date: 2018 Bookwork dimensions: 21.5 cm, 21.5 cm, 7 cm Number of pages: 360 (approx) Edition size: Limited edition (exact number to be decided) Media: Card, Cloth, 170 GSM paper (plus HD card) Pre-order price: 100.00 Retail price: 250.00 Contact:  revolve_@icloud.com Website:  www.revolve-r.com Pre-order Revolve:R, edition three:
> All pre-order backers will be credited by name within the publication (unless specifically asked not to be).
> Initial pre-order backers will receive the edition at a discounted price (75% off).
> Pre-order Revolve:R, edition threeHere

Poem Brut : blog #2 - Brut at Rich Mix - Nov 25th

pa.jpeg

Poem Brut at Rich Mix : November Saturday 25th 2017 : 7pm - Free entry
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA www.richmix.org.uk/events/spoken-word/poem-brut-i

A literary event celebrating of the visual, visceral, messy, handwritten and colourful in poetry with new unique commissions from writers exploring alternate ways of making literature. Each presentation will be different from the last, with readings, performances and talks alongside pop up exhibits, interactions, video poems and more. 

Featuring new works from Harry Man, Imogen Reid, Stephen Emmerson, Hiromi Suzuki, Paul Hawkins, Chloe Spicer, Kate Wakeling, Christian Patracchini, Patrick Cosgrove and Christopher Stephenson. These works will explore the possibilities of literature and liveness, responding to the page and to the act of writing itself.

Commissions include explorations of erasure and lettering, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and poetry, video poems, gif poems, passive reading, children's languages, abstract illustration and more.

Poem Brut is an exploration of poetry and colour, handwriting, composition, abstraction, scribbling, and illustration, affirming the possibilities of the page, the pen, the pencil - in a computer age - generating over a dozen events, multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences and publications.  Our first event will be followed by an exhibition - Hard to Read - also at the Rich Mix, opening December 9th. 3am magazine, a partner in the project, is also running open call for new works that fit within the tradition. Future events:

A note on : Two new courses for Poetry School - European Poetry Now!

VD-C 1660.jpg

I'm delighted to be returning to teaching at the Poetry School, after nearly two years away from the fold. It is a place where I have met some of the finest poets and humans I've come across in this tiny tiny world. In the spring 2018 I am running two separate but intertwined courses. Please do book one of them and come be a part of our continent still yes.

You can see all my Poetry School experiences, including these below here www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool


European Poetry Now (& Then) – International Course

Online Course Celebrate and explore the best-kept secrets in innovative, contemporary European poetry https://poetryschool.com/courses/zur-holle-european-poetry-now-international-course/

As the UK sadly divorces itself from the EU, this course with SJ Fowler, director of London’s European Poetry Festival (April 2018), abjures further divisions by embracing (and reclaiming) contemporary European poetry. In this course you will be introduced to dozens of working poets and multifarious traditions, drawing on modern poetic history and with an emphasis on the radical, experimental and avant-garde. Exploring constraint, concrete, visual, sound, performance and language poetry, this is a chance to gain access to poetic cultures and scenes almost completely hidden from British poets and readers, and making your own new work in response.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.


European Poetry Now! – Two Day Workshop

Face-To-Face CourseA practice-focused weekend looking at what is happening right now in a golden age of poetic innovation just over the Channel https://poetryschool.com/courses/zur-holle-european-poetry-now-two-day-workshop/

This intensive two-day course with SJ Fowler, director of London’s European Poetry Festival (April 2018), explores what is happening right now in a golden age of poetic innovation just over the Channel, and how that offers British poets the chance to expand their own poetic practice. Focusing on methodology and making over two days, exploring relay-style the ten themes of the Festival, this crash-course draws on huge array of ground-breaking yet little-known European poets to blaze new paths into language, visual and live poetries. Participants will also have the opportunity to develop their own works for presentation at the European Poetry Festival.

A two-day workshop running 10:30am – 4:30pm on Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 March.

A note on: Illuminations Peter Handke on Wed November 15th

I am very excited for this event. Peter Handke is my favourite novelist and maybe playwright too. I cannot speak to the influence his work has had on me. Come along.

Illuminations III : Peter Handke

Nov 15th 2017 - 6:30pm doors for 7pm start
Free entry
(booking required, link http://www.acflondon.org/events/illuminations-iii-peter-handke/)
Austrian Cultural Forum. 28 Rutland Gate, Knightsbridge, London SW7 1PQ

New performances, readings and artworks by Verena Duerr, Eley Williams, Phil Baber, SJ Fowler and more to be announced.

One of the world's foremost novelists, playwrights and poets, Peter Handke's body of work is a question to the entire consciousness of post-war Europe. Wholly singular, often particularly divisive, Handke's work creates an intensity out of the observational, skewers complacency and layers literature with the kind of distant complexity and forceful difficulty that actual living tends to bring. His work has been a beacon of critical and prolific experimentation, and his polarising persona and numerous works have forced European novelists of the last 50 years to, at the very least, accept or reject his style and substance. His output is remarkably underappreciated in the UK, if not generally unrecognised and so this event, in a small way, aims to rectify a considerable imbalance. 

This event, by commissioning contemporary artists, writers, poets and theatre makers to each make a new work responding to the works or life of Handke, aims to transpose his work into a new moment – one that will stimulate as well as illuminate.

Published: European Institute of Imaginary Authors by Robert Sheppard

Robert Sheppard's brilliantly inventive new book has just been released and I'm delighted to have been included Twitters for a Lark: The Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Author is published by Shearsman Books at £9.99 and in available here: http://www.shearsman.com/ws- shop/product/6460-robert-sheppard-ed---twitters-for-a- lark

This is from Chris McCabe - Working in collaboration with a team of real writers, Robert Sheppard has created a lively and entertaining anthology of fictional European poets. There is no resultant ‘Europoem’, but a variety of styles that reflects the collaborative nature of the poems’ production, the richness of a continent. The works range from the comedic to the political, from the imaginatively sincere to the faux-autobiographical, from traditional lyricism to the experimental. Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own. Although devised before the neologism ‘Brexit’ was spat across the bitter political divide, this sample of 28 poets of the EUOIA (European Union of Imaginary Authors) takes on new meanings in our contemporary world that is far from fictive, ‘fake news’ or not.

The collaborators are: Joanne Ashcroft, Alan Baker, James Byrne, Alys Conran, Kelvin Corcoran, Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Patricia Farrell,Allen Fisher, S. J. Fowler, Robert Hampson, Jeff Hilson, Tom Jenks, Frances Kruk, Rupert Loydell, Steve McCaffery, Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Sandeep Parmar, Simon Perril, Jèssica Pujol i Duran, Zoë Skoulding, Damir Šodan, Philip Terry, Scott Thurston. 

Twitters for a Lark heralds a new movement: the European Poetry Revival. It is a book that arrives like a new channel forged by collaborative poets, with all past ideals of state rolled up in an old five pound note. This illuminated sect of future Rimbauds lightens the island’s burden, the lights on their vessels burning like the tips of duty free cigarettes. Chris McCabe

Writers' Centre Kingston : blog #4 - a performance, Dying

IMG_20171026_224906.jpg

The first few months of running the new literary centre at Kingston University have been really interesting, and our first few events have been as good as I could've hoped for. The second, the official launch, at Rose theatre in Kingston, featured Iain Sinclair, Andrew Teverson and myself speaking on the theme of Dying, to a full house.

Find out more at www.writerscentrekingston.com/dying

I had to give a performance for the event as a speaker dropped out in fact. I did an improvised talk, the kind I've been focusing in on the last year. Lots of speed talking, lying, comedy rhythms. As a condition I write them on the day, a few hours before, as bullet points and then just work them out live, frightening but satisfying. I wrote tonight's on toilet papiere while waiting for the audience to arrive.