a note on : Poem Brut

www.poembrut.com An ambitious new project, 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.  The first event will take place at Rich Mix on November 25th 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 worksthat fit within the tradition.  Further information on the project below.

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Poem Brut aims to ask what is in the shape of a letter? 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? Poem Brut, in a playful, creative and accessible manner, aims to redress some of these concerns.

Poem Brut, conceptually, aims to not only support contemporary practitioners, but to illuminate an alternative history of modern poetry, while exploring how innovative methods of poetry are often utterly purposeful - often emerging from alternate experiences of language and consciousness in the world. In this way, Poem Brut aims to bridge a gap between poetry and art, and to support artists and poets who often have to navigate an unfortunate binary of outsider / insider.

Poem Brut will evidence the brilliance of poets working in underexplored traditions or whose work responds to their own alternative experience of consciousness, be that through neurological disorder, intellectual disability or mental health experience. It is a project which aims to share their methods and means, to create new works and bring light, primarily, to the inspiring potential of a poetry of colour, shape, composition, geometry, handwriting and material.

The project supposes that returning to the gestural and instinctual methods, often mistakenly associated with ‘high art / poetry’, can have an extraordinary effect on many individuals who are often ill at ease with formal learning of literature. In doing so, Poem Brut aims to create a narrative through historical poets who have explored this exciting territory, to show audiences and participants interested that they are part of a tradition. 

Poem Brut will be an examination of words that are meant to make you squint, to battle for legibility, rather than you be able to pinch and extend your thumb and forefinger against the page to get a closer look. It will be a celebration of scribbling, crossings out, forgotten notes, strange scrawls - the odd interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, and the colours that randomly collide. It is a project about the page as a block, about geometry, about lines that sever meaning, about inarticulate shapes, about minimalism and collage. It is about making, gesturing towards the handmade, the amateur, the outside, liquid and wood, ugliness, toilet wall draughtsmanship and mess. www.poembrut.com

a note on: a literary event on Dying this thursday October 26th at The Rose Theatre

Writers' Centre Kingston presents a literary event on Dying at The Rose Theatre
October Thursday 26th : 7pm : Free entry www.writerscentrekingston.com/dying

David Jacobs Room. Rose Theatre Kingston. 24-26 High Street. Kingston. KT1 1HL
WITH GUEST SPEAKER IAIN SINCLAIR ALONGSIDE ANDREW TEVERSON AND SJ FOWLER, WITH READINGS FROM ZAKIA CARPENTER-HALL, DACY LIM AND MOLLY BERGIN

Writers' Centre Kingston is launched with a free event on the theme of Dying. Each of the three speakers will respond to that theme with a brand new piece of literature, performance or an informal talk. Accompanying the main programme will be readings from poets, launching new publications in the Writers' Centre Kingston Sampson Low series.

Iain Sinclair is a writer, filmmaker and ‘‘psychogeographer’ whose work and documentation of London is unrivalled.  Andrew Teverson is Head of the School of Arts, Culture and Communication, and Professor of English Literature at Kingston University. He researches primarily in the areas of folk narrative studies and international literatures in English.  Steven J Fowler is a writer and artist.

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Our first event of the year, a pre launch at the beautiful Dorich House, was a brilliant evening with talks from Tom McCarthy, Sara Upstone and Stella Bottai. For more information on the event, including pictures by Alexander Kell and videos of the talks, visit www.writerscentrekingston.com/living

Please do forward this newsletter to anyone you think interested.
Apologies for any cross-posting
www.writerscentrekingston.com

A note on: Sampson Low Poetry Publication series

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I would say of all the initiatives I've lined up for my new role at Writers' Centre Kingston, this one, a series of new limited edition poetry pamphlets for current students or recent alumni of Kingston Uni, is the one I'm most excited about. It gives me the chance to work closely with some remarkably mature, original and exciting poets and its the first series I've edited like this, only seven years into my own writing. Molly, Zakia and Dacy have all made my time at kingston in the last few years more engrossing because of the constant surprises and reassurances their work has provided.  https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/sampsonlow

The link has the place to buy the booklets, and anything that supports Alban Low's work at Sampson Low is worthwhile. His professionalism and attention to detail is remarkable too. Here's my statement accompanying the series

“Kingston University brings together students from all over the world, from as wide a range of backgrounds and cultures as can be found in the UK. It creates a community that cross pollinates influences and ideas, and this is inevitably reflected in the work the students create. The university does not get enough credit for this – it is, I have seen, a vibrant, harmonious environment where originality and difference can be transformed into exciting and innovative expression. The students are hungry for that which is innovative, that which allows them to express the true size and complexity of their experience and their community at the university. This series of poetry pamphlets reflects that. The work is utterly contemporary, it is exciting and energetic. It is, I hope, the best kind of representation of what Kingston University stands for – intelligent, unique and various in its character.”  
Series editor, SJ Fowler

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A note on: my article on Home, in Dutch, published in Terras

very happy to have some of my journalism published in Dutch for the first time, featuring the latest issue of the respected Terras magazine. The magazine was founded by erik lindner and the article emerged from a commission for European Lliterature Night Amsterdam, thanks to the British council.

The full Dutch can be read here http://tijdschriftterras.nl/thuis-2/ and it was translated by Anne Tjerk Popkema

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"Het zijn onze vormende jaren op deze aarde die bepalen hoe we ‘thuis’ opvatten. Of het nu de plek is waar onze wieg toevallig stond, de plaats waar we opgroeiden of waar onze ouders vandaan komen: de omgeving van onze jeugdjaren vormt ons thuis. Althans, dat zeggen ze."

... and from the essay in English, an excerpt"I have always been distrustful of those who speak of home, actively, keenly, when they are young. Those who stay in the same town in which they were born. Home then becomes a word equivalent to repression, a soft claw coming up out of a bungalow, wrapping itself across my mouth.

London is my home, because I have no home. London is the world. As angry and lovely and populous as our world. As the population of our planet has doubled so London has become the biggest it has ever been, just recently catching the population of the pre-war era. I am one of these millions, delighted, against where I was raised, to be amongst the people of the world. I am home, briefly, with those I love, in a city which is not celebrated enough for being truly global, where I have never seen people in conflict because they are from different homes. Because everyone is from a different home here, almost no home is home when in London. So it is all of ours. Does this paradox qualify? Perhaps not, it cannot be a paradox if I say it is my home."

A note on: Millets anthology from Zeno Press

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http://www.zenopress.com/product/millets/

 

£7.00

Millets is the first of a series of anthologies published by ZenoPress. This issue features works by artists and writers who have been invited to respond creatively to nine of the most known Zeno’s paradoxes.

Featuring texts by:

Richard SkinnerMaria FuscoSteven J FowlerJohn BoursnellLiz ZuminPaolo InverniJeremy EvansRobin BaleNicola WoodhamClaudia KappenbergGiovanna CoppolaClover PeakeTasha HainesChristian Patracchini

 

Writers' Centre Kingston

I'm very pleased to have been named the new director of Writers' Centre Kingston - Kingston University's literary cultural centre. A brand new year of events, projects, festivals and initiatives will begin in October. 

The core programme consists of a dozen events – each themed, with three speakers responding to that concept with a new reading or talk or performance. The speakers are both guests to the Centre, including Tom McCarthy, Stella Duffy, Nell Leyshon and Iain Sinclair, as well as those drawn from the academic staff at Kingston University. Student and alumnus readings often accompany this main programme. 

The Centre will present brand new initiatives including a programme of adult education courses, a bookclub curated with Stanley Picker Gallery and a publication series for student poets with Sampson Low.

Please see www.writerscentrekingston.com for more details on the centre and the year ahead.

A note on : The end of Fiender in Malmo

A final event in the Fiender project, a Swedish collaborative enterprise that Harry Man and I put together, 12 poets presented new collaborations in Malmo, one of the most interesting cities in Sweden. The event was really thanks to Kristian Carlsson, whom I had met in Georgia in 2016, a remarkable activist and publisher living in the city, he was our key co curator.

We took over the Poet on the Corner shopfront venue for one night and poets from Mexico, Iran, Uruguay, American, England and Sweden trod the boards, a signifier of Malmo’s international character. It was an intimate, gentle, often quiet, even timid, Camarade, but as ever, meeting the poets and discovering new spaces, especially alongside old friends like Harry and JT Welsch, was rewarding. My collaboration with Iranian poet Naeimeh Doostdar was a literary work, quite careful, but opening into some interesting textual spaces at times. We always seemed at a remove from each other, no matter what I tried to do to allow her the space to define the context and content it always seemed gentle, generous but not really collaborative. A rare thing for me nowadays, and a lot to take from it, certain barriers can’t be crossed quickly, these things are miniature friendships and that takes time. So Naeimeh and I got on well, but it was merely a beginning.

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Malmo is an interesting place but it didn’t reveal itself immediately, felt metaphorically connected to the limitations of the event and my collaboration. It appeared obvious or residential on its surface, but clearly promised a great deal. This is attractive in a sense, enticing if not immediately gratifying. Certainly finishing another rare visit to Sweden, where I have blood ties and a quarter of me is actually from, sat around a dinner table with friends old and new, is something to prize.

A note on : Reverse - poetry festival in Copenhagen

My second time reading in Copenhagen, a visit to the Reverse poetry festival in Copenhagen. It’s a festival that exists because of a small group of dedicated people and it invites genuinely contemporary poets, clearly invitations that are the result some serious knowledge and research into the wider world of poetry. These festival days then were a concentration of much effort and attention and the Literatur Haus in the city was always busy. The highlight for me was meeting some really talented and good natured poets - Pierre Alferi, Derek Beaulieu, Ida Borjel, Jorg Piringer, to name but a few, and sharing a couple of what might be deemed anti-performances. Again I got visit the brilliant Ark books too, who are another volunteer led enterprise.

The night of my performance, the street of the Literatur Haus was closed and a small stage set up for Jorg, myself and a few others to read. It felt as though no many were there to see the poetry, which I can relate to, but as they milled in their black gowns and drank, which again, is fine, a DJ played us in. They DJ’d into my reading and before my performance I walked around introducing myself to strangers and handing them pieces of paper. They were genuinely contemptuous of me talking to them, perhaps this is why I have this lingering feeling now, writing this. Jorg did a wonderful set, technically brilliant, funny, captivating. Perhaps 30 to 50 people from the 200 or so on the street circled him, distantly, to listen. The rest continued to chat and drink, which again, is fine. I wasn’t really introduced, just took the mic when Jorg finished. I told the audience how about strange the experience is going to festivals like this – that you pass through so invisibly, its ghostly, often, and the travelling, the infrastructure of the amazing invitation, its often for a ten minute reading in a language foreign to the audience. So I wouldn’t do it, wouldn’t pretend they were going to listen. Instead I asked them to write down on those pieces of paper the name of someone they knew who had passed away. Then I said I’d sit in Ark bookshop talk to anyone who wanted to speak to me about that person, and write a poem about them, in memorial, if they wanted to.

So followed an hour I’ll not forget, a deeply sad and authentic series of conversations with very kind people who followed me into the shop, away from the crowd and its disinterest, and in the stories of dead lovers, parents, children, brothers, sisters, cats and poets, I made a corner of the world for myself.

The following day I had the grand pleasure to having lunch with many of the poets, thanks to the hospitality of my old friend Martin Glaz Serup. He is a wonderfully ebullient, funny and sweet hearted man, and this was another lovely hour. My final performance, which was supposed to be a talk, was perhaps even more memorable.

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Sat on stage with Ida Borjel and Henny Hagerup, my chair was placed for me. The stage was in three parts, and the flanking pieces were an inch lower than the central piece. So when I shifted my chair just a few centremetres from the middle of the stage, to better see the moderator, it fell out beneath me. This in front of a full audience and with a series of glasses on that stage. I wasn’t embarrassed at first, nor overly shocked, but it was quite spectacular. I stood up and said ‘my arse is wet’, then someone pointed out to me my leg had been cut and blood streaked across my trousers. Indeed the glass had cut into my knee joint somewhat, though I was lucky to not have been really hurt. We finished the event, a fine chat about collaboration, and then I spent some time trying to wack plasters over the wound, in my pants, in the literature haus’ office. It was clear I had to go the hospital and luckily the festival folk and my dear friend Harry Man were on hand to help me there where I was sewn up brilliantly. So ended my time at Reverse, hobbling through the Copenhagen night, eating cinnamon buns with Harry on a man made mound next to a man made lake, my leg full of synthetic stitches.

A note on: a solo exhibition at Rich Mix this winter - HARD TO READ : Collected Paint Poems, Pansemia, Cinematic Drawings and Logograms

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SJ FOWLER // Rich Mix Gallery : December 9th 2017 to january 6th 2018
 

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.

This is an exhibition about the page as a block, about geometry, about lines that sever meaning, about inarticulate shapes, about minimalism and collage. It is about making, gesturing towards the handmade poem, the amateur poet, the outside, liquid and paper, the absence of technology, and ugliness - toilet wall draughtsmanship and mess. It is a response to being called an artist in the poetry world, and a poet in the arts world."

This is my second solo sexhibition and will kick off The Poem Brut, a new project I'm doing which includes the books I fear my best work behind me (Stranger Press 2017), Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire (Hesterglock Press), The Collected Scribblings of SJ Fowler (Zimzalla 2018). It's also part of my time as Rich Mix Associate Artist. 

A note on: Atlantic Drift page on Edge Hill site

Really a grand anthology to be part of, so many poets included are quite beyond me, I am in every way the runt. It's been brilliantly fashioned by Arc publishing and the good folk at Edge Hill Uni, and they've thrown up a page about me

https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/university-press/steven-fowler/ 

It includes this interview, shot specifically for the project in Liverpool while I was there for Camarade'ing.

A note on: closing the Worm Wood exhibition

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One final event marked the end of this culmination of two years of collaborating with the brilliant tereza stehlikova, and the end of the summer, one spent with many days and nights in the chapel and grounds of the east end of kensal green cemetery. There was a palpable sense of emotion during some of the performances, all of those many artists who have contributed to the programme seemed to connect their new works often to their experiences of grief and death, and again, some of the works were very intense in a beautiful way. Perhaps its because these events have been intimate, 20 to 30 people and in such an amazing space. tony white, thomas duggan, susie campbell, iris colomb and more, they were all very generous about the project and to share their time and works. tereza and i plan to continue to work together on Worm Wood, for the foreseeable future, especially now it is so tied into the coming old oak development and the disappearance of the parts of west london we set out to explore long before we know old oak existed.

checkk out stevenjfowler.com/wormwood

A note on: New portraits for Worm Wood exhibition

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.

A note on: Poetry at Worm Wood - August 16th 2017

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

A note on: Worm Wood exhibition : August 3rd to September 3rd

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
www.theenemiesproject.com/dissenterschapel
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.

A note on: Duos & The Poem Brut - two new open calls on 3am magazine

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/submissions/

Poetry
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.

A note on: first salvo Q&A online at Poetic Interviews

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?

Answer 1
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

https://poeticinterviews.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/question-answer-1-s-j-fowler/

A note on: new paintings 'Cemetery Portraits' for exhibition

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.