Published : The Wrestlers

CoverRoughMinimal2.jpg

I'm happy to announce the release of my latest poetry collection - The Wrestlers - from Kingston University Press, is available to purchase here The Wrestlers

From the publisher "Wrestling, the world’s oldest sport, has been used by artists, poets and sculptors as a metaphor for the internal struggle of the human mind for millennia. In the poems of SJ Fowler it becomes an action verb, a metaphorical crux which reflects not only upon the contradictions of our interior selves, but also the endless proliferation of entrenched argumentation in our contemporary world. Finding its origin in a commission from Tate Britain, where Fowler’s poetry responded to Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s extraordinary eponymous relief, The Wrestlers is an accomplished collection from one the UK’s most thought-provoking poets, often playful, surreal, satirical and ambitious." www.stevenjfowler.com/thewrestlers

The book will be launched in London on July 12th at Burley Fisher Books http://burleyfisherbooks.com/event/triple-launch-vahni-capildeo-steven-j-fowler-and-zaffar-kunial/ A further launch to follow at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, in September 2018.

Produced to a remarkable standard by KU Press, it collects together poems from a five year period, including poems published in Gorse Magazine, Test Centre magazine, 3am magazine, The Wolf, Poems in Which, The Honest Ulsterman, The Bohemyth, and the anthologies The Long White Thread: poems for John Berger (Smokestack Books), Millets (Zeno Press), Dear World and Everything In It (Bloodaxe Books), Hwaet: Ledbury Poetry Festival (Bloodaxe Books) and Shifting Ground (J&L Gibbons) alongside commissions by The Hay Festival : Arequipa, Peru and Tate Modern.

A note on: Illumations - Thomas Bernhard at Austrian Cultural Forum

]another grand entry into this event series i'm lucky to be curating for the austrian cultural forum, this time celebrating thomas bernhard, an author who has always been important to me, seeing the world as it is, and not the plastic rendition of optimism that creates an opposite feeling in the hearts of those with their bloody eyes open. 

The lineup was really stellar, I got to work with the amazing Maja Jantar once more, and the equally inspiring Tereza Stehlikova, and discover two visiting austrian poets, Raphaela Edelbauer and Sophie-Carolin Wagner, who i had naturally researched but never seen perform live.

as ever what the artists do in these events, recreating the authors in question through such innovative means, is inspiring, and the ACF couldnt be cooler to work for http://www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations

Published: an interview with HIPOGLOTE

This was really fun, i had a blast chatting with portuguese sound poetry achivers / activists / investigators tiago swabl and nuno nevers who have been part of the Hipoglote interview series for 87 issues, up to mine. Everytime I get asked to mark my contribution to sound poetry is feels special, as I do feel a sense of great respect for those who created and lead the practise, it's always something on the frontline, and to be a little part of it, and to be recognised as such in europe, means something special

Nuno and Tiago have created a great route in to discussing sonic and sound poetry, with some brilliant conversations in the past. we got on like a house on fire, really a privilege to be part of the project for me, we chatted about loads of stuff, and they seemed to enjoy my notion that sound poetry is what we do the moment we are born and in the last moments before we die

listen in here https://www.mixcloud.com/Hipoglote/87o-hipoglote_2018-06-18_interview_-steven-j-fowler/

A note on: Poem Brut at National Poetry Library

Fun was had in the wonder library of london. I love this library. It is a pure space. A space of generosity and discovery. I had the pleasure too to work with my friend pascal o'loughlin and the lovely jessica atkinson, librarians, in developing a special edition event. This time the event was part of my poem brut series, which asks poets often on the margins of what people think poetry is, to produce works that entirely concerned with liveness and material. Liveness in time, in language, in motion. Proper performance. Organically weird then, weird in a way that the world is weird. But also weird in such a range of ways. Saradha Soobrayen, Chrissy Williams, Patrick Cosgrove, Maja Jantar, Harry Man. They were all magic. And we had a packed out house, a nice audience of people, some of whom were suspicious, but in a way that made me trust them all the more.

My performance was a little naff, but something playing with ideas Ive had for awhile. I used a friend of mine, a chatimal, to repeat back words that I had said, to undercut the pompous tone of the recital. I read from in the stacks. I tried to asphyxiate myself. It was a good time.

A note on: The Oldest Sports - June 30th at Rich Mix

The Oldest Sports: a literary celebration of wrestling and boxing
June saturday 30th 2018 at Rich Mix : 7.30pm - Free Entry
www.theenemiesproject.com/pugilistica
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA, UK

With Lynn Nead, Oliver Goldstein, Declan Ryan, Anna Whitwham, Toby Litt, Simon Pomery, Iris Colomb, Joe Turrent, Stewart Home and more..

OldestSports.png

Bringing together some of the UK’s finest novelists, poets and academics, this event celebrates the world’s oldest sports, wrestling and boxing, in literature. A perennial topic for writers throughout the 20th and now 21st century, this event, in innovative style, examines our ongoing fascination with combat sports, exploring their history, culture and paradoxes through readings and performances.

The event will also be a launch Toby Litt's Wrestliana from Galley Beggars Press and SJ Fowler's The Wrestlers from Kingston University Press.  https://www.richmix.org.uk/events/spoken-word/oldest-sports-%E2%80%93-literary-celebration-boxing-and-wrestling

A note on : The end of the Other Room

The Other Room has come to an end. Ten years of remarkable events that have led the way in a resurgence of decidedly contemporary forward thinking poetry in the North West have wrapped themselves up as of April 2018. The trio of curators, all markedly influential poets, publishers and educators themselves – Scott Thurston, James Davies, Tom Jenks – have worked together in putting on dozens of poets in dozens of events, publishing 10 anthologies and posting hundreds of updates online for events and publications across the UK. They have done the kind of work that acts as an invisible inspiration to generations that come up behind them, that create concrete connections between writers and happenings that influence the future of poetry in the UK, especially outside of London, and I for one have often made it known their very specific way of working events has been a massive influence upon me. https://otherroom.org/

I would say my experience reading at The Other Room in 2011 was the singular influence on the nascent Enemies Project then and has concentrated my focus ever since. What I discovered was that there isn’t a contradiction between a warm, welcoming, hospitable, funny, unpretentious atmosphere and poetry that is challenging, complex, oblique, idiosyncratic and strange. In fact, these two things are complimentary. This discovery made me realise the often experienced distance, coolness and hierarchy of many readings was a deliberate imposition fashioned in order to create for themselves a sense of exclusivity. The Other Room showed this to me, this vital realisation and in so doing eliminated any instinct I might’ve had for utopian projects in poetry, allowing me to focus on each night at a time, to be present with the poets on those nights, enjoy their company, listen concentratedly to their work and then have a laugh whenever possible. This is very likely the reason my events are still going, 8 years after they began. 

images (2).jpg

The Other Room also showed me that the superstition some poets have as a legacy from the last century, that organising too successfully blots out appreciation of your own poetry, a spectre of conflicting interests somewhere in the poetry ether (being a poet and editor is fine though apparently, and anthologising, and teaching) is also a myth. Scott, James and Tom are some of the most interesting poets writing in the UK, each with their own markedly original oeuvre and intellectual concerns, rendered in a multitude of forms and spaces, each with their own influence over many of their peers. Scott was one of the very first poets I met, and I listened to him carefully then, as I do now - his work offered me great possibility. James has done as much as anyone to make conceptual poetry in the UK its own separate exploration with its own decidedly British concerns, separate from the humourless aggrandisement that can be indicative of people’s understanding of that area of poetry. And Tom’s prolific invention, insight and deep erudition worn lightly has been a huge influence on my use of satire, humour and the balance between lyricism and found language. Tom, like Scott and James too, is such a clear thinker about poetry, has such a mind for the art, but carries this knowledge with great humility, always in a mode of learning, always open to new ideas.

The end of The Other Room is a loss for the UK poetry scene. I had always hoped similarly organic homes for interesting poetry would pop up in cities across the country, that it would procreate into more rooms of otherness, so that we could build a circuit that would be exponential, that would serve as a link for new poets coming through everywhere, doing what they have done for a decade, leading a way, lighting a path, providing a space. Yet, after this time, after such selfless labour, one can’t help but understand why it should end, so neatly, so that it doesn’t just dissolve as often the best things in poetry do, into something lesser, to disappear unnoticed. For my part, I’m grateful to them, they’ve run something powerful for longer than I’ve been involved in writing at all, and I hope as the next years pass The Other Room is remembered as a real moment in 21st British poetry.
 

Published: Selected Scribbling and Scrawling : - ZimZalla

Available to buy here http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/sj-fowler/selected-scribbling-and-scrawling/paperback/product-23659470.html

My new asemic writing / art-poetry collection is now available from Zimzalla Press. It contains over 50 works of writing art, pansemic poems, doodles and scrawls, celebrating poetry that harries semantic content and explores the possibilities of the handwritten and illegible. The book contains essays by Tom Jenks and myself, and will be launched on June 6th at National Poetry Library for Poem Brut.

From the publisher "The scrawl or doodle is not a by-product of distraction; it is an active production of the mind when concentration moves downwards in the brain. It is the poetry of the mind’s rearguard, and it is more often a product of writing, pen in hand, than it is a visual art. So why should poetry, the language art, not have held scribbling to its chest? This volume of SJ Fowler’s collected works in the line let loose tradition attempts to return the wandering shapes of letters and words back to the front. Selected from over 1300 works spanning 11 & ½ years and touching upon asemic and pansemic writing, widely varying in tone, density, form and character, this selection of poems shows SJ Fowler’s fundamental impatience and childishness."

a5ae96d2-ea80-4ad8-bd93-d4844e8d17d5.png

Open Call : Articles for The European Review of Poetry, Books & Culture

Throughout June I'll be taking proposals for new articles for The European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture www.versopolis.com

versop.png

Ideally, the articles, essays, non-fiction pieces will be non-academic but intellectual, engaging and distinct while not being opinion driven or journalistic. There’s complete freedom in subject matter, but a lean towards literature, culture, the arts is inevitably the journals speciality.

The finished essays / articles should be around 1200 words, or 7000 characters with space. Articles commissioned are paid.

Please email stevenjfowler at yahoo/co/uk with a concise pitch and bio. 

A note on: Stablemates at Poetry Cafe, Shearsman Books reading

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.

Dd_jh2NUQAApUuG.jpg
FotoJet (4).jpg

A note on : South of the River conference at Greenwich University

20180518_145009.jpg

Thanks to Emily Critchley I got to premiere one of my new films made with Joshua Alexander (the animal series about london and menace - this one was Canalimal about the grand union canal around willesden junction and its soon disappearance at the hands of an ugly development) at the Uni of Greenwich for a conference entitled South of the River.

It was a lovely long afternoon with peers i respect in a little troupe - amy cutler, tom chivers, edmund hardy - speaking to each other and academics about south london. I admitted i had something against south london, half joking, and its a place that hasnt featured too much in my 11 years of walking miles upon miles of london streets. I learned a lot from everyone else through the day, it was communal and generous.

A note on: Undergoing Rorschach testing live at Illuminations launch...

The Austrian Illuminations Anthology launch was a surprisingly intense evening. Always with launches things are smaller, there's nothing to make, the book is done, it's a ship being pushed out, so the energy and often audiences are lower, but in this case that slight reduction created concentration. David Fried's reading was especially intense I felt, personal and direct, and Iris Colomb is a gifted performer.

I read my fiction made of quotations story from the anthology, for Peter Handke, giving a far longer intro than I would normally do, explaining my habit of collecting quotes from novels and poems, which are past 11000 in total now, and how I intend to shape these into a novel one day.

Then came David Rickard's rather remarkable work. He suggested to me, as his piece in the book was the ink of a squid he has crushed in his original illuminations performance rendered as a Rorschach type piece of artwork, that he would follow this theme down a rabbit hole. He discovered the importance Klecksography and poetry to Hermann Rorschach original idea and how this overlap was too much to resist, so he contacted Doctor Marc Desautel, clinical psychologist and director of Rorschach Society. He invited Marc to participate in the event by analysing me live, before the audience. All I wanted to do is commit with full verity to the test, to not try and game or perform, and though we met briefly before, it was genuinely under the auspices of analysis that we did the test. I thought his insights about me were mostly true, all told. You can watch the videos of this below

A note on: Illuminations celebrating Thomas Bernhard - June 7th

Illuminations IV : Thomas Bernhard
June 7th 2018 : 7pm = 
Austrian Cultural Forum in London

Free Entry but booking suggested = Austrian Cultural Forum London - 28 Rutland Gate, Knightsbridge, London SW7 1PQ, UK

New pieces of literary art and performance responding to the life and work of the great Thomas Bernhard.

Perhaps no 20th century European author expresses so vitriolically, so powerfully and so truthfully, an utter disdain for pretension, intellectual and emotional laziness, and stupidity. Thomas Bernhard's immense output of novels, theatre and poetry is often marked singularly by a tone of contempt, unapologetically against hypocrisy and pompousness. Fully realised in Bernhard’s work is the irony of an author who felt compelled to demean publicly the very idea of culture and thereby provocatively offend the public’s complacent sense of cultural identity, and in so doing provide his own output with a meaning based on its lack of meaning. Bernhard’s genius was that, at great artistic risk, he achieved his aims by undermining his achievements. 

Featuring Maja Jantar, Raphaela Edelbauer, Tereza Stehlikova, Oliver Evans, Christian Patracchini, SJ Fowler and more. www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations

A note on: Wrestliana event at Burley Fisher Books

I had a lovely evening in discussion with Toby Litt to marks the release of his Wrestliana book, pulled in gently as the resident writer who knows about wrestling. We chatted about lineage, melancholy, regionalism alongside the wrestling in front of an intimate audience at Burley Fisher which is a really beautiful bookshop with a deserved following on Kingsland Road. Nice to be asked to do these kind of events, talking wrestling and boxing, as they are resolutely hobbies for me now, but the first things I truly loved to do, so will always be part of me, and seem even more important and attractive now I spend most of my time doing writing things.

Worth getting a copy of Toby's book here, it's really ambitious and energetic. https://www.galleybeggar.co.uk/shop-1/wrestliana

Published: The Austrian Illuminations Anthology is in the world

thumbnail (5).jpg

The Austrian Cultural Forum and the design agency Polimekanos have done an extraordinary job bringing together 20 separate artists work drawn from the first three events of the Illuminations series. What really makes the book so brilliant is its beautiful design, its produced to such a high quality and the variation of work within. There's poetry, fiction, non-fiction, photography, visual art, conceptual -- all aligned, feeling cohesive and complimentary. It's a book I'm proud to have edited.

"Bringing to light the work of writers fundamental to the unique Austrian contribution to world literature in the post-war era, Illuminations presented three events in 2017, in London, with over 20 artists. By commissioning truly contemporary and avant-garde writers, poets, filmmakers, performers and artists, asking each make new work responding to the oeuvre or life of the celebrated figure in question – Elfriede Jelinek, Erich Fried, Peter Handke – the aim was to transpose the brilliance of the original into a new moment. One that would stimulate as well as illuminate. 

This anthology brings together those new commissions made for the project, from some of Europe’s most exciting artists. It transposes many live works onto the page, and is full of the originality and resonance of the project as a whole. New fiction, poetry, visual and conceptual art, translations, photography and drawing makes up this unique volume, the 17th edition of the Occasions series for the Austrian Cultural Forum in London."

Published: a new article on The Photographer's Gallery

last day at the museum of futures (sochipoems)_0 (1).jpg

The first article relating to my course The Written Eye is now online alongside one of my photopoems from the sochi series I made in Latvia in 2015. 

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/viewpoints/poetry-and-photography-essay

"An exploration of the intersections between poetry and photography is an act of defining terms. It is a process of identification. Of a question. But it does not entail an answer, necessarily. How does one align such disparity between mediums that can only be connected through recourse to metaphors? How does one move past the traditional alignment of image and word that tends to emphasise precisely this dislocation? To begin, we must ask ourselves what these mediums actually are, at heart, and then what they can be together? Finally, what is the purpose of their combination? What can they do together? And why is it relatively rare to see a cohesive combination of the two - with fidelity to poetry that isn’t just text, or discourse, or opinion, and photography that isn’t just pictorial?.........." 

A note on: Selected Scribbling & Scrawling launches June 6th

20180512_154821 (1).gif

My third artbook or art-poetry book arrives on June 6th with the remarkable ZimZalla. https://zimzalla.co.uk/ They have been putting out truly avant garde publications for many years and I'm pleased I get to launch it at the National Poetry Library as part of the Poem Brut event there that night https://www.poembrut.com/poetry-library

The scrawl or doodle is not a by-product of distraction; it is an active production of the mind when concentration moves downwards in the brain. It is the poetry of the mind’s rearguard, and it is more often a product of writing, pen in hand, than it is a visual art. So why should poetry, the language art, not have held scribbling to its chest? This volume of SJ Fowler’s collected works in the line let loose tradition attempts to return the wandering shapes of letters and words back to the front. Selected from over 1300 works spanning 11 & ½ years and touching upon asemic and pansemic writing, widely varying in tone, density, form and character, this selection of poems shows SJ Fowler’s fundamental impatience and childishness.

A note on : performing at Phonica in Dublin

Dublin has become one of my favourite cities in which to perform. I’ve had three brilliant experiences, in 2015, 2017 and now, for Phonica, in 2018. Every time the audience has been alive to what I’m doing, always generous and inquisitive. Phonica itself is a grand achievement by curators Christodoulos Makris and Olesya Zdorovetska, who have brought together cutting edge contemporary musicians with poets and literary performance.

I went on last for Phonica 8, spending all night up on the very highest flooring of a spiral staircase within the gorgeous Smock Alley Theatre, lying down, peeking down to the performance stage, listening, waiting. There were some great discoveries for me, Alyce Lyons and Justyn Hunia presented a wonderful filmpoetry collaboration, many years in the making, subtle in that connection between those arts. Alex Bonney presented a sound piece that was immersive and made me want to collaborate with him. And Diamanda Dramm, a remarkable performer, a violinist singing poetry amidst her playing.

I had the chance to follow them and did so with a mostly improvised piece, one of my recent Powerpoint performances, where I have nothing planned really apart from some aberrant slides that respond to the specific event / place. It went better than I could’ve hoped, I think, I don’t know, I discerned from the feedback. The performance was about self-awareness I suppose, about the conflation of self-knowledge where things can become so true they are false. It was also about performance itself, and poetry’s place in that. We all decamped after the event to an underground speakeasy bar by the river before I skulked back to my Airbnb happy.

Published : my essay The Online Empire : on sex and poetry on Versopolis

Nice to have this essay on sex and poetry published, forever locked onto the internet, readable in perpetuity, appropriately, by Versopolis, and the european review of poetry books and culture. It was written for my book Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire, which is tangentially about pornography and will feature in an upcoming volume of my selected essays too. 

http://www.versopolis.com/long-read/604/the-online-empire-on-sex-and-poetry


"The whole business of eroticism is to destroy the self-contained character of the participators as they are in their normal lives.            Georges Bataille

You can never discover for yourself what you’ve been given. Bodies and knowledge, both. The primary purpose of this book is to worry about the division between the experienced and the perceived, and what is lost between that ever expanding gap.

Bataille suggests that you try to imagine yourself changing from the state you are in, to one in which your whole self is completely doubled. He means this to be a disturbance. He reminds us, you would not survive this process since the doubles you have turned into are essentially different from you. Each of these doubles is necessarily distinct from you as you are now, as while you’ve split into two new versions of yourself, you cannot be the same, twice over. A kind of procreation is what he is suggesting and the metaphor is about writing, I think. To mark the pages then release them is to indulge oneself, fundamentally, in a productive onanism. Cells dividing, with some of that division escaping you. No wonder it feels sad, a let down, to release things into the world......"

A note on: Austrian Illuminations Anthology (launch May 10th)

Austrian Illuminations Launch - May 10th at 7pm

Free Entry but booking suggested www.acflondon.org/events/austrian-illuminations/
Austrian Cultural Forum London - 28 Rutland Gate, Knightsbridge, London SW7 1PQ, UK

Bringing together over 15 new literary artworks made by the artists and writers commissioned for Illuminations events celebrating Elfriede Jelinek, Erich Fried and Peter Handke, this beautifully designed limited-edition anthology will be launched in London with readings and performances from contributors. The anthology is issue 17 in the ACF's remarkable Occasions series, a publication project celebrating the groundbreaking work they do, and was designed by www.polimekanos.com in London.

Featuring live works by David Rickard, Iris Colomb, David Fried, Joshua Alexander, SJ Fowler and more. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations