A note on: A performance for those who pretend to have read

Another talking performance I came up with on the day, a stricture I’ve been putting myself through for over a year now, to maintain a sense of liveness and improvisation and roughness.

This time I had only in mind that Krasznahorkai is indeed an author that everyone pretends to have read but hasn’t, especially in the bourgeois london circles, and I also had some props, which is cheating. A spider. Some weird mirror paper that makes the looker look. A pirate costume.

It went alright. https://www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/europeanwriters


A note on: The European Poetry Festival Camarade is almost upon us

THE EUROPEAN CAMARADE www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/camarade19
April Saturday 6th at Rich Mix 7.30pm - Free Entry

EPF 2019 presents The European Camarade : April Saturday 6th at Rich Mix
7.30pm - Free Entry : 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA, UK 
34 poets in 17 pairs from 25 countries present brand new collaborations of literary and avant-garde performance, made especially for the night at Rich Mix, near Brick Lane, London. The grand event of the European Poetry Festival. www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/camarade19

Pierre Alferi & Christodoulos Makris  / Maria Malinovskaya & Jon Ståle Ritland / Leonce Lupette & Alessandro Burbank / Iris Colomb & Fabian Faltin / Maja Jantar & SJ Fowler / Sophie Carolin Wagner & Harry Man / Patrick Savolainen & Serena Braida / Muanis Sinanovic & Amadej Kraljevič / Vilde Valerie Bjerke Torset & Simone Lappert / Robert Elekes & Ricardo Marques / Olga Stehlíková & Simona Nastac / Cosmin Perta & Yekta / Astra Papachristodoulou & Lina Buividavičiūtė / Tibor Hrs Pandur & Andras Gerevich / Frank Ruf & Frank Keizer / Morten Langeland & Ida Borjel

A note on: László Krasznahorkai celebrated at the HCC

A really considerable night at the Hungarian Cultural Centre in Covent Garden, the first of a new series celebrating european literary artists of the 20th century from Hungary, starting with the incomparable László Krasznahorkai, who has been important to my own writing because his kind of roving, ambiguous, menacing, incomplete completeness is rare in UK novelists. I commissioned 7 poets and artists to respond to Krasznahorkai, knowing them all to be fundamentally innovative with purpose, without indulgence, artists who worry about liveness, the people actually in the room, to create an event that at the very least would be memorable and polarising, especially when set against the luxury of the venue. It was a really energising and generous night, and the hospitality we were shown by our hosts was wonderful. All the performances can be viewed here https://www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/europeanwriters

A note on: Robot toy performance at Second shelf bookshop

Had the chance with no room to breath to do a wee performance to mark the launch of two beautiful books by Dostoyevsky Wannabe, of which I am in one, the Queen Mobs Teahouse anthology, at second shelf bookshop in Soho. The shop was tiny but beautiful, the audience seemed a little cool / afraid and doing this, I didn’t feel it, but on video it looks better I think - neat and fine. I used a robot rat, mouse and teeth to time very short randomised readings. These creatures were found on the day and I gave them away afterwards.

Also the night featured some other rapid and wonderful bursts of poetry from the likes of Nadia de Vries and Astra Papachristodoulou, videos of whom are below.

Published: a poem in Queen Mob's Teahouse: Teh Book anthology


Queen Mob's Teahouse: Teh Book is a collaboration between Queen Mob's and Dostoyevsky Wannabe.  It’s a big and beautiful tome. I have the last word in it. Yes but it’s not a word, but a bird. A wakabird. A bird that is a letter. A bird that is an asemic, pansemic, geometric, wormy lined poem. It’s a vispo, and it’s taken from my upcoming book Unfinished Memmoirs of a Hypocrit, to be published by Hesterglock. But anyway, this huge anthology book, buy it below


“There couldn’t be a more exciting book, or not one containing mostly words, or not for people who want their wordage talent-flushed and electrifying. Teh Book is extra proof that Queen Mob’s Teahouse is the crux of almost everything that’s literary and/or happening.
Dennis Cooper, author of The George Miles Cycle

Guest Editor, Contributors Queen Mob's Teahouse: Teh Book was edited by Russell Bennetts

Published: Hotel issue #5 featuring Iain Sinclair's poem about my film


I would (but yes Im biased) highly recommend picking up a copy of the fifth print edition of Hotel, one of Europe’s most considerable literary journals. It’s a beautifully produced anthology of works, featuring a unique collection of writers. Generously it’s got one of my poems from my film The Animal Drums, but perhaps more extraordinarily, scanned to the right here, it includes Iain Sinclair’s new text written in response to the same film and read at the premiere at Whitechapel Gallery in December 2018. Worth getting the journal to read the full version and works by Jenny Hval, Isabel Galleymore, Thomas Bunstead, the legendary Akutagawa and many more


A note on: my collaborators for European Poetry Festival 2019

As part of the oncoming European Poetry Festival I have the opportunity to collaborate six times with six poets from six places. With Maja Jantar, Patrick Savolainen, Fabian Faltin, Morten Langeland, Krisjanis Zelgis and Tom Jenks. From April 6th to April 13th, one week, I do six new performative collaborations. It is one of the most exciting parts of the fest, this constant collective creative output, in live settings, making new things, writing them, negotiating in cafes, changing plans minutes before the event starts, having to also announce the lineup, help all the other poets, work the venue, then perform too. Making new friendships also, I have never worked with Patrick, Krisjanis and Fabian before. Cementing friendships too, Tom, Maja and Morten are all very close and dear friends. It is obvious terrible for them they have to work with me but sacrifices must be made on the altar of poetry.

Check out when and where here www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/programme

A note on: Leaving-your-own-Continent Camarade at Gulbenkian, Canterbury

Thursday 28th March 2019 : The leaving-our-own-continent Camarade 
Gulbenkian Café / Gulbenkian, University Of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NB 
7.30pm - Ticket Prices: £5 thegulbenkian.co.uk/event/an-evening-of-european-poetry 

Dynamic, innovative, collaborative poetry from over a dozen European and British poets, marking the night when the UK officially, hypothetically, leaves it’s own continent. New works, made in pairs by these poets, both local to Kent and visiting from across Europe, will be performed just for this night. A unique celebration of the possibilities of collaboration and contemporary poetry aiming to alleviate, however briefly, the malaise of brexit. The event will feature Serena Braida & Stephen Emmerson / Simon Nastac & Lucy Harvest Clarke / Dragan Todorovic &  Bob Tsukada Bright / Theo Chiotis & Dorothy Lehane / Astra Papachristodoulos & Michał Piotrowski / SJ Fowler & Iris Colombwww.europeanpoetryfestival.com/gulbenkian

A note on: Tyrant Hotel audio magazine, a poem and a poem about my film (by iain sinclair)


This is a really considerable representation of what my film The Animal Drums is about. It is beautifully mixed too, something going on here, music and poetry synthed and lapped and smothered. It’s a grand work in and of itself, and it means a lot for the film to keep life through these offshoots from its core.

Iain wrote this poem after watching the film a few times over and read it live at the whitechapel gallery at the premiere. It was pretty stunning to hear, unexpected. For it to be kept and captured here is special somehow. All thanks to dominic jaeckle for his work here, really he is making hotel into something magical and considerable

Notes on the Readings [†] Sinclair’s ‘Prompt Note’ was read in lieu of an introduction to the premiere of Joshua Alexander and SJ Fowler’s motion picture Animal Drums; the screening took place at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, on December 13th, 2018. Fowler’s poem ‘Animal Drums’ is also featured in the film. Both works appear in the recently published Hotel #5  

A note on: Frankfurt's Fokus Lyrik festival, performing, flowers of death

Fokus Lyrik is one of the biggest German poetry festivals and conferences ever organised. 126 poets over 4 days. Loads of panels through the days and events in the evening. I was offered a chance to perform on the opening night and did a mostly improvised powerpoint presentation. During the performance I ate some flowers. All is well in the heart of Europe.

It turned out to be a huge audience. I put a lot of pressure on meself by doing a performance that mostly improvised. I found myself thinking, in the moments leading up to my own, after many speeches and being later in the order, why do I do this? And this informed what I said, as well as some local research and stealing from conversations I had with others who were in the room so I could show off to them and they alone would know I had done so. This is the code, the private joke motivation.

Previously in Germany I’d found warm receptions but also a kind of false frankness, honesty as though it were a virtue so powerful that one must affect honesty, and be rude, saying things that are not more true than niceties, misunderstanding general manners. This did not happen here. Everyone, pretty much, was remarkably generous. Though it was particularly German for so many of them, given that I genuinely conjured this performance from research coupled with steel nerves and reaching into my own neck, to mention the flowers. Flowers can be toxic, these flowers look toxic, you will be sick, you might die. It was weird. I puked them up even though I felt completely fine.

The rest of the festival was really smooth, the people running it couldn’t have been more nice. I saw some poets I really admire, and reunited with some old friends. Everything was in German though and because I’m an idiot it was therefore mostly lost on me. oh well, still a highpoint to be invited. Great to be able to work in Europe at these big things as though I were big. All thanks to Monika Rinck and Tristan Marquardt for inviting me. / It was held on Thursday, 7 March, 8 pm 2019 and called The Ideal Opening – a Phantasm in Five Voices Venue: Evangelische Akademie Frankfurt, Römerberg 9 With: Steven J. Fowler, Barbara Köhler, Prof. Dr Christiane Voss, Magnus William-Olsson and Angelika Niescier https://www.fokuslyrik.de/english

A note on : a full mad Poem Brut to end Futures PhotoLit exhibition

This was a full-bore weird-poe unexpectedly-intense night down at the reclaimed shopfront community centre that is the Museum of Futures. It was hallucinogenic and memorably. 10 performances as part of my Poem Brut project www.poembrut.com The poets definitely took the licence to play and experiment with the material of live poetry to heart. The finish, with the entire room as animals, made my year. All the vids are here https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/poembrut2019/

A note on: my performance - a curator's auction - at Poem Brut : Museum of Futures

My performances are about context. In this case, acknowledging I was performing at an exhibition I curated and presenting something that embraced the strange line between the amateur and professional artist, and how work is valued. This is the third Auction style performance I’ve done and lowest amount of money I have raised so far, which bodes well, as the room was full of friends.

A note on: Animal Drums screens in Oxford

The first screening outside of London of my feature length poetry film made with Josh Alexander happened in Oxford, at the beautiful 100 year old one screen Ultimate Picture Palace. Josh is at Ruskin and the place was pleasingly busy. I again found it difficult to sit and watch, though I should have, but perhaps that is not the point of making a film, to watch it. The day itself, lolling in oxland and wandering around in the sun, was pleasant. To travel, to go and see your own film screened, it is a privilege not lost on me.

A note on: performing poems for Speak at Ink 84 Bookshop


OO I had the chance to give a performance for the opening night of a new series in London called Speak, curated by Martin Wakefield.

The event featured myself and Vanessa Onwuemezi, Valentine Carter and Martin himself presenting short new works, in 5 minute bursts, twice over, a format that I appreciate.

We were all together at Ink 84 bookshop on Blackstock Road. This is a remarkably beautiful place, a quintessential modern independent london bookshop. https://www.ink84bookshop.co.uk/ Betsy Tobin and Tessa Shaw run the place and were our very hospitable hosts.

I presented a new performance whereby I first told the audience that i don’t like reading poems anymore, because Ive catalogued all my readings and so know Im bored of them, which is true. I also mentioned how I love Blackstock road because of the Gunners Fishbar and the rival cat charity bookshops. Also true.

I played Hot Chocolate’s 70s hit everyone’s a winner (baby) while telling the audience that we were to make a new collection of my old collection, the guide to being bear aware. I had them rip pages from my book, then go to the front and pritt stick these ripped pages, with their names, and some edits, into the notebook I had brought with me. Pictured right.

Then in the second 5 minutes, I pretended this was an award winning collection, read in a posher voice and dedicated each poem to the person who had popped their name down, with an apocryphal story. Sounds good, but was it good? I don’t know.



A note on : Celebrating László Krasznahorkai : March 20th at Hungarian Cultural Centre

Hungarian Lit Night: tributes to László Krasznahorkai  
March Wednesday 20th 2019 : 7pm at Hungarian Cultural Centre : London  
10 Maiden Ln, London WC2E 7NA : Free Entry but registration is required! Please email bookings@hungary.org.uk www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/europeanwriters

The event will feature Eley Williams, David Spittle, Mischa Foster Poole, Karen Sandhu, Benedict Taylor, Christian Patracchini, SJ Fowler & Stephen Watts.

László Krasznahorkai has produced an iconoclastic and utterly unique body of work throughout the 20th and 21st century. This event, the first in a new literary series, celebrates the idiosyncratic Hungarian novelist through brand new commissions of contemporary artists, writers and musicians, who will respond to Krasznahorkai - his novels, ideas & life - with new performances, recitations and readings. 

Free to attend at the Hungarian Cultural Centre in the heart of Covent Garden, this is a chance to re-experience the writing of one of the foremost novelists of our time through innovative, literary and experimental live works. Supported by http://www.london.balassiintezet.hu/

A note on: Buying a soul and eating an egg - my performance at Museum of Futures

The short of it is I now own Iris Colomb’s soul. I bought it for just £10. It was witnessed by nearly 100 people. She signed the contract and now, for eternity, I may feed off her non-corporeal being. This will come in great use post brexit. An egg with a shell upon it is simply a crunchy egg. A soul with a shell upon it is simply a crunchy soul.

(I was happy with this one. Often my performances have to balance the fact that I am also introducing the event and my role as an organiser, and in this case, a lecturer to many of those in the audience, so I must walk a line between playful and menacing, strange and direct.)


Iris has since written to me, after I wrote to her, to ask if she too felt it had suddenly grown cold,

Dear Steven, 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you the sincerest congratulations for your acquisition of my French Soul. 

Nevertheless, since the signing of our agreement, it has come to my attention that, in order for the European Union to redress the political and economic uncertainty that recent political events have triggered within it, along both its material and transcendental planes, and so that it may fulfill its prerogative to exercise complete sovereignty over its Constituent Souls, the Union must renegotiate the terms of previous transactions involving European Soul Dealers and buyers on the British Soul Market completed between the date of the United Kingdom’s 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union and the European Single Transcendental Market, and its impending withdrawal from these formations. 

Thus, in accordance with the above legal imperatives, I hereby propose the organisation of a ‘Referendum For My Soul’ as part of our collaboration on Thursday, 28th March 2019, at “The leaving-our-own-continent Camarade”, delegating to our audience members the democratic right to exercise their own collective will by determining which party enjoys the legal right to the legitimate ownership of my French Soul. 

Yours Sincerely,
Iris Colomb

A note on: Poethetic Pathogens exhibition at Avivson Gallery

A wonderful opportunity for me to exhibition at Highgate’s Avivson Gallery for just over a week this month. My exhibition consisted of new asemic poems, blotchpoems, responding to an original Michaux centred on the walls. We had a powerful opening night and I invigilated for a few days too, with posh people and weirdos coming in to peruse my inks and ask what they were? I tried to change my answer everytime. Midochlorians, mitochondria, pathogens, people, abstracts… The real joy was beginning the relationship with the gallerist Janus Avivson and his colleagues. Amazing people, generous and dynamic and completely unique. I hope it’s not the last time I’m in this space, one too rarefied for my dirty work. www.stevenjfowler.com/pathogens

Published : Nemesia #4 - Detonations with Yekta


Yekta and I met in Macedonia but I had known his work for sometime before, having just missed each other at Ledbury festival and my own interest in French contemporary poetry making me keen to pluck his brains. We became fast friends and have since corresponded and collaborated. Amazingly he wrote his parts of his bursted poem straight into english.


Really lovely this work is the 4th in the series I am doing with the energetic Wazogate magazine with new collaborations between myself and european poets.

A note on : Museum of Futures Exhibition / Opening 2019

It is inevitable that repetition will blunt a certain kind of joy. Yet this is the third year I have run an open call visual literature exhibition at Surbiton’s Museum of Futures - a DIY community reclaimed shopfront - and it seems to get better every year. I do it not only because my university is nearby and it helps to fuse student community and alumni with local artists and poets, but also because the people behind the Futures are amazing humans. That is really why we might do things like this, to be around people like them, active and creative and strange within an environment that encourages that.

This year the theme was photopoetry or photoliterature. A month before the deadline I had perhaps 10 very talented artists involved. On the opening night the walls had been installed with over 50 works and the futures was packed to the brim with people, taking in the exhibition, but also witnessing and participating in a special Camarade, full of quite notable performances.

Repetition of this project has not diminished it’s generosity. It has increased it. It is an equaliser, it places professional artists next to students next to those local. The night was uniformly enthused, energised and there was the sense everyone contributing had done so with a seriousness and consideration that elevates others. All the performance films are here https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/futures2019/ and More on the exhibition here https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/futures

A note on: reading translations of Helena Artus' BSL poems

The Sampson Low Writers’ Centre Kingston publication series has been a really joyous project. It essentially involves a collaboration between the literary centre i run at Kingston Uni and local publisher Alban Low, with an open call to students and alumni of the Uni, to publish debut or rarefied chapbooks of pretty innovative poetry. All 9 of the poets have been quite brilliant so far, and this year’s cohort is no different. Julia Rose Lewis, Helena Artus and Marcia Knight Latter are all gifted writers. This past week, at the opening of the Museum of Futures exhibition we had a second launch of their works, and I had the pleasure of reading the English translations of Helena’s poems, which are written entirely in British Sign Language. Her pamphlet is essentially hands, signing letters, forming poems. This is undoubtedly the bestest part of sharing ideas at a Uni, for work, meeting and working with writers like this. (Buy the publications here https://sampsonlow.co/wck-pamphlets/