Published : Calligramms with Penteract Press

Grand to start 2019 with a new publication, and probably the only thing I’ve released that can be enjoyed by human animals of all ages. The brilliant Penteract press, who have been carving out more appreciation for formal and visual poetry over the last number of years, have released a selection of my animal Calligramms as a pamphlet. It’s beautifully produced, very delicate and elegant, a fold out document.

It can be bought here https://penteractpress.com/store/calligramms-sj-fowler

“‘The Calligrammes are an idealisation of free verse poetry and typographical precision in an era when typography is reaching a brilliant end to its career, at the dawn of the new means of reproduction that are the cinema and the phonograph.’ (Guillaume Apollinaire, in a letter to André Billy)

‘Animals are cute when they're not real, and my calligramms are forgeries.’ (SJ Fowler in a letter to Anthony Etherin) .”

A note on : reading at the Tomaž Šalamun Poetry Centre

Tomaz was a bit of a mentor of mine, along with Anselm Hollo and Tom Raworth I’d say his influence extended way beyond our brief friendship. In all three cases what I learned was really about the way I wanted to be as much as how I wanted to write. These things are inexorably intertwined, and you can’t realise that until you meet people who have lived it. He was very generous, and rightly, in Ljubljana, his place has been somewhat cemented by this amazing venue, which is really a reference library with all his books - that is his book collection - full of rarities. It’s a working library but also, thanks to Miha Mauric, an event space. I had the chance to read alongside friends too, Morten Langeland and Endre Ruset. Though in my actual reading I bored myself and had a weird sensation realising how hard I find it to just read nowadays, the evening was wonderful all told.

You can find more about the library here https://www.culture.si/en/Toma%C5%BE_%C5%A0alamun_Poetry_Centre

A note on: The Animal Drums premiere

It’s been a month since my first feature length film, made with (owed to) Joshua Alexander, premiered at Whitechapel Gallery Cinema. It was a strange night, satisfying, undoubtedly, but strange for me to experience sat the rear of the cinema, watching myself, my own film, on a huge screen. It was wonderful so many friends and people I don’t know came out, and the introduction by Iain Sinclair, where he firmly placed Josh and I in the tradition of Patrick Keillor et al, was pretty wonderful, as a moment of recognition. So the experience, as a night, was brilliant. And I feel the achievement of finishing a film is a thing to be left alone, to be enjoyed. However it was all uncanny because in watching the film in this way, the first time removed from Josh and I and editing, in a sense, I saw what it was really about, as a piece of work. And this was different than what I thought it was about. It was a little disturbing, but perhaps that’s best. And really we owe this night, and the momentum it’s given the film, entirely to Gareth Evans, a constant hero of the often hidden work that needs working in London. He was so helpful to us and continues to be.

I’m happy to say the film will go to some festivals in 2019 and Hotel Magazine will soon run a feature on it, with a new poem about the film by Iain Sinclair and a really generous critical article by David Spittle.

A note on : Writers Centre Kingston event on Myth

A really lovely start to the WCK programme for 2019 at The Rose Theatre. Max Porter, Winsome Pinnock and Catherine Humble were a mesmerising triplet of speakers, all presenting really powerful and alive pieces of literature, all pretty much shaped or new for the night. It would have been cool to have a few more in the audience but the battle I suppose is getting the work resonant and the people there feeling as though they’ve witnessed something special, and this was definitely the case. Grand too to see how much it meant to Marcia Knight Latter to launch her debut poetry pamphlet. All the documentation from the event is online at https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/myth/

A note on : European Poetry Festival 2019 initial programme

I am happy to say the European Poetry Festival will return in 2019 bigger than last year, which was exceptional. We have over 100 poets involved, with nearly 70 visiting from across Europe, and there will be 12 separate events. www.europeanpoetryfestival.com

Lots of the specific and concrete details are to follow for the official programme launch in February but for now we can confirm the dates and venues below and poets visiting will include:

Fabian Faltin, Maja Jantar, Leonce Lupette, Sophie Carolin Wagner, Morten Langeland, Jon Stale Ritland, Endre Ruset, Vilde Valerie Bjerke Torset, Katerina Koulouri, Iris Colomb, Serena Braida, Astra Papachristodoulou, Theodoros Chiotis, Michelle Steinbeck, Michael Fehr, Vanni Bianconi, Daniele Pantano, Patrick Savolainen, Simone Lappert, Olga Stehlikova, Andras Gerevich, Alessandro Burbank, Ricardo Marques, Amadej Kraljevic, Anastasia Mina, Muanis Sinananovic, Dragan Todorovic, Dovydas Laurinaitis, Simona Nastac and loads more!

Partners include Arts Council England, Austrian Cultural Forum, Pro Helvetia, Goethe Institut London, Latvian Literature, NORLA, National Centre for Writing Norwich, Manchester MET poetry library, International Anthony Burgess Centre, Lithuanian Cultural Institute, Balassi Institute and many others.

  • March 28th - Leaving-our-own-continent Camarade : The Gulbenkian - Canterbury, Kent

  • April Thursday 4th - Norwegian poetry in-focus at Writers' Centre Kingston : Rose Theatre, Kingston

  • April Saturday 6th : The European Camarade : Rich Mix, London

  • April Sunday 7th : Back into the Mouth - a celebration of Sound Poetry : IklectiK Artlab, London

  • April Monday 8th : Swiss poetry in collaboration : Poetry Society’s Cafe, London

  • April Wednesday 10th : Austrian Poetry in collaboration : Austrian Cultural Forum, London

  • April Friday 12th : Norwich’s European Camarade : The National Centre for Writing

  • April Saturday 13th : Manchester’s European Camarade : The International Anthony Burgess Centre

  • April Monday 15th : European Camarade at Riverbank Arts Centre : Newbridge, Co Kildare. Ireland

O it’s going to be great this year.

A note on : Intersemiotic Journeys between Media!

Really cool to have a new collaboration with Robert Prosser (we made it for the livenesses and it became new because we paged it, made it flat) in a beautiful academic tome entitled Translating across Sensory and Linguistic borders, edited by Ricarda Vidal and Madeleine Campbell that’s just come out with Palgrave MacMillan.

https://www.palgrave.com/br/book/9783319972435

Great to be in the book alongside folk like Vahni Capildeo and Jen Calleja and it’s a pretty groundbreaking collection, very much rooted into ideas that drive much of my collaborative practise and curation.

“This book analyses intersemiotic translation, where the translator works across sign systems and cultural boundaries. Challenging Roman Jakobson’s seminal definitions, it examines how a poem may be expressed as dance, a short story as an olfactory experience, or a film as a painting. This emergent process opens up a myriad of synaesthetic possibilities for both translator and target audience to experience form and sense beyond the limitations of words. The editors draw together theoretical and creative contributions from translators, artists, performers, academics and curators who have explored intersemiotic translation in their practice. The contributions offer a practitioner’s perspective on this rapidly evolving, interdisciplinary field which spans semiotics, cognitive poetics, psychoanalysis and transformative learning theory. The book underlines the intermedial and multimodal nature of perception and expression, where semiotic boundaries are considered fluid and heuristic rather than ontological. It will be of particular interest to practitioners, scholars and students of modern foreign languages, linguistics, literary and cultural studies, interdisciplinary humanities, visual arts, theatre and the performing arts.  “

A note on: editing the Sampson Low poetry series for students at Kingston Uni

Two things I sweared off early on - being a publisher and editing an anthology. I’m not really doing either here and somehow I’ve avoided all the pitfalls of being an editor by squeezing in between the gaps. In fact this project has been one of the most personally satisfying. Basically every year at the University where I teach, Kingston, I invite all students and alumni from the last five years, no matter their background, to send me short manuscripts, with an open call. Then I choose three and work with the brilliant publisher Sampson Low, which has been around for over 200 years and really are amazing to work with, Alban Low is a remarkable editor and publisher, to develop three young poets debut or near debut pamphlets. This series for 2019 is the third set. You can find them all here www.writerscentrekingston.com/sampsonlow

So it’s new work from Helena Artus, Marcia Knight Latter and Julia Rose Lewis and all three are beautiful works. Marcia has a rare energy, organically tuned into experiment and play without being an at all laden with theory, Julia is one of the finest poets working in the UK now in my opinion and Helena’s pamphlet, exceptionally, is entirely in sign language, being visual sign translations of her poems, drawing on her experience of BSL. The pamphlets will be launched at WCK events on Feb 21st and April 4th.

A note on: The Ljubljana Camarade and performing with Morten Langeland

A grand reading in Ljubljana, some amazing talent in the city I’ve been visiting for nearly 20 years now. In 2019 the European Poetry Festival will leave the UK a fair few times, always in its design to be moveable, to bring the collaborative model of the Camarade to cities across the continent and expand the connections between poets doing interesting work. That’s what this event did, connecting people in Slovenia who might not get to read together alongside a solid cohort of outsiders.

This EPF new wave started on January 12th with this event co curated with Muanis Sinanovic and bringing 20 poets together. It was a really relaxed and playful show. Many of the poets were new to me and its rare that an event mostly in a language I don’t speak holds my attention entirely, as this did. The event was in a beautiful venue too, Skuc, a gallery that’s been around for nearly 40 years, in the shadow of the castle.

I collaborated with the Norwegian poet Morten Langeland, whom I met last year in Macedonia, and we presented short research poems about the other poets reading on the night, which trod a fine line between satire and self-referentiality. All the videos are at the link below

https://www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/ljubljana

A note on : Revolve:R edition 3 - film responses to my poems

I recently wrote three new poems for the Revolve:R project, in its third edition. These poems were then responded to by three film-makers, which is something indeed. Links below to those films, which I am glad don’t show the poems, so one must read into them the oblique poetic translation process (the still here is taken from Daniel Smedley’s film)

Revolve:R is a pretty magical project curated by Sam Treadaway and is aboout = Revolve:R is a multidisciplinary and international collaboration which explores the transmission of ideas through collaborative forms of communication ranging from the physical and tactile forms of communication. Each Revolve:R edition is presented as a limited bookwork publication.

The Revolve:R, edition three bookwork has arrived. Here are links to films and soundscapes (3-5) from edition three, which are now Live on the website.

Revolve:R, edition three, Film:3, I Am a Slowly Deflating Balloon, by Daniel Smedley. Responds to artwork 265 by Sam Treadaway, and Poem:3 by Steven J Fowler. View here: http://www.revolve-r.com/index.php/edition-three---films/film3/

Revolve:R, edition three, Film:1, An Imposed Technique by Maria Anastassiou Responds to artwork 217 by Sam Treadaway, and Poem:1 by Steven J Fowler. View here http://www.revolve-r.com/index.php/edition-three---films/film1/

Revolve:R, edition three, Film:5, Out of Memory, by Alexandros Pissourios. Responds to artwork 310 by Sam Treadaway, and Poem:5 by Steven J Fowler. View here: http://www.revolve-r.com/index.php/edition-three---films/film5/

Published: a collaboration with Pauli Tapio & the Nemesia series on Wazogate

The second edition of a new series I’m doing with the brilliant active relentless Spanish magazine and online journal Wazogate, entitled NEMESIA, which will see monthly publications of my newer collaborations with fellow European poets.

The second in the series, following my work with Auzra Kaziliunaite, is this poem written with Finnish new wave poetry powerhouse Pauli Tapio, whom I met this summer in Macedonia, at the Struga fest, where he won their big award, deservedly. And look at this picture I made for us oh my

Enjoy - We Could Try https://www.wazogate.com/nemesia-2-we-could-try/

A note on: in Amsterdam to watch Diamanda Dramm, a timeline of our collaboration

Timelines are rubbish. But, when one hasn’t the words for something mysterious, perhaps formulas come into their own.

Diamanda - 28 nov 2018-05.jpg

Monday March 26th 2018 : in Dublin, for Phonica, musicians and poets performing together. I feel sick and drift out of attention. Diamanda Dramm plays though and I see her work very powerfully set itself aside as something else. She dragons up on people. I have no context for the technique talent of being a violionist or whatever, but she’s using (bad) old poetry alongside, singing. She’s no wearing any shoes. I do a thing which people seem to see, I eat an apple etc… and afterward meet her and her father, who is also a (brilliant, I later find, researching) musician. They are both very nice, to go with the talent. How attractive are collaborations with other humans when they don’t do what you do and can confound what you do and realise your own suspicions about your work being pointless and sad and an endless arrangement of jumbled words very very few people care to read. How motivating.

March to September, spring to autumn 2018 : Diamanda and I begin a correspondence. She sends me an audio recording of her setting one of my poems, The Tradition, to herself and song. It’s quite moving, to have this kind of gift. I reciprocate and send her poems. I bury them away after sending, they are not going to be published elsewhere, I don’t read them once the email attachment attaches and the email disappears. But they seem to land somewhere. I keep getting audio files back, putting them on my mp3 player. Somehow something I once marked down is resurrected, edited, interpreted, better than before, like a dead pet returned to life. Diamanda is putting together a tour, a solo one woman show, which knits music written for her by Garth Knox with Dutch creation myths and of course a massive wooden lungbox that is her violin and how she plays it. She includes some of my poems, which is stranger still.

Diamanda - 28 nov 2018-04.jpg

October 13th 2018 : Diamanda and I meet for a second time and collaborate for European Poetry Festival. The digital curtain is drawn back and will the exchange of poems into songs be able to keep its jelly walls intact? It seems so. It’s fun, Diamanda is a brilliant performer and we make fun of it.

November 29th 2018 : I travel to Amsterdam for one night to witness the start of Diamanda’s Violin Spaces tour at Bimhuis. It is clearly a marked moment in her career. The venue is quite extraordinary, set over the water, huge letters denoting itself, which I see in the distance walking towards it in a rainstorm which is pleasing. It’s a blackbox jazzclub. Diamanda is clearly famed in Holland and Europe in general. Her separation of herself from her skill with the violin is admirable, but she still has that skill and that separates us in a profitable way. I arrive a little early and see that some of my visual poems, specifically my Scribbling and Scrawling, which Diamanda obtusely requested is projected onto the stage and over her face, for significant portions of the show. This is the most graceful and considerate use of my visual works ever. The show itself is mesmerising. I’m quite wordless, but write some things during it. The energy it requires, the multiplicity of skills, the idiosyncrasy, the technique, it’s bizarre. Three or four times during the show, the opening, near the closing, in its heart, are my texts. The resurrection of the dead pet has now become a human, or pet, the dead poet pet, the collective platonic resurrection. I did once write these words, likely in my pants, sat on my bed, a long time past, in a tiny corner, but I might’ve well as not have. But here they are sung back to me. I feel the show, without sounding insane, is at times for me, and I am moved. How did I end up with this fortune that this stupid stuff lives on in the mouths of others? Diamanda is rightly celebrated and mobbed afterwards. Garth Knox has travelled, like me, to support. It’s a really resonant, transitory experience.

Here’s more info on Diamanda’s show https://diamandadramm.com/spaces/

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A note on : Prose Poem Poetics, launching my selected articles

A really magic night at Torriano Reading House in Kentish Town brought over a dozen poets together presenting new works, responding to the remit of poems in prose or poems as poetics. Some amazing performances, Jeff Hilson, Mischa Foster Poole, Chrissy Williams, Julia Lewis, Susie Campbell and the whole crew were really on.

I launched my selected articles It Won’t Go Well at the event and read from the opening essay with a robot hamster.

All the performances are here www.theenemiesproject.com/torriano

A note on : The Light Room: Poetry & Photography - a course for Poetry School

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https://poetryschool.com/courses/the-light-room-poetry-photographys-intersections/

Face-To-Face Course

Explore the light and dark of poems to develop new ways of seeing

A course that explores the traditions of photography and poetry, entwined. We’ll aim to reach beyond the notions of illustration and response to reveal the connections, potentials, and co-habitations of the two artforms and explore how collaboration can enhance each medium and evoke what makes them so uniquely compelling. Participants will discover poets, photographers and artists from around the world and discuss ideas surrounding composition, language, light, sound, space, printing, narrative and writing. We’ll take inspiration from the work of Blaise Cendrars, Paul Eluard, and Paul Muldoon, alongside Duane Michaels, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tacita Dean, Sophie Calle and John Baldessari, before producing new pieces of your own. This is a chance for poets to develop their own projects and understandings of new and original ways of seeing, reading, and writing. No photography experience is necessary.

Two-day weekend workshop. 10.30am – 4.30pm, 19 + 20 January.

All classes will be in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.

Plus an article for Poetry School, introducing a new course I’ll be teaching in the new year

Creative mediums are not indefinable. They have essential elements that mean they are not something else at root. But their practise is not best served by recourse to the ‘it is whatever you want it to be’ line of thinking…. https://poetryschool.com/new-courses/the-double-image-of-poetry-and-photography/

A note on: Babelsprech at Torriano

A really lovely night at Torriano in Norf London, it brought loads of interesting folk together presenting new works of multi / poly linguistic poems, or new performances that investigate a european language in some way. The event was commissioned as part of BABELSPRECH, a cross Europe literary platform for live events. This was the London leg of a project which saw events happen at the same time in multiple cities across the continent. Great to share the stage with some brilliant poets and friends, some amazing work, people treated it with such consideration, it was very gratifying.

www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/babelsprech

Published : a collaboration with Ausra Kaziliunaite

I’m picking heads of people / You’re picking heads of people https://www.wazogate.com/im-picking-heads-of-people-youre-picking-heads-for-people/amp/

This work that I like, that was written in a day because of a dropout, that was read so coming-togetherly at the Poetry Society Cafe for European Poetry Festival, with the brilliant and ebullient and kindly lithuanian powerhouse Ausra Kazilinunaite, is part of a new series of collaborations with European poets I’ll be publishing over the coming months. This is the first.

You’re putting books on shelves.
Bibles, novels, instructional manuals. No poetry collections.
Pictures in books,
pictures of human mud.
Into your mouth
Into my dreams
Into your poems
Into my vagina
Into streets thronged with heads.
Into people dull with streets

Thanks to Wazogate, the spanish magazine of cultural energy.


A note on : Oslo & expanding the European Poetry Festival locations

Spent a magic week in Norway meeting with poets and literary folk to learn about their systems for poetry, pretty inspirational they are, from the writers union, their library system, their writer stipends and many other things. Time with my friends Morten Langeland. Jon Stale Ritland and Endre Ruset is always welcome, immense warm hospitality alongside their special poetry skills is revitalising, helps me gain knowledge and perspective. I’m trying to build on the success of the first year of european poetry festival and begin some new long term collaborations between the UK and other nations, deep in their scenes, beginning with norway planning wise, but going to other cities around Europe with the fest first.

A note on: Poem Brut IX at Rich Mix, a full blown bruta

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A really beautiful evening of more than adequate even considerable even beguiling night in east london, at rich mix, my home for Poem Brut, with 11 new performances from artist poets who all took to the task of the project with quite remarkable professionalism seriousness enthusiasm and vivacity.

The works ranged from readings to naked wine baths, from bird paper throwing to choral sound poems, from live art peeling to cellophane octopi. All the performances can be seen on video here https://www.poembrut.com/richmix4

My own performance I came up with about 45 minutes before talking to James Caley. I came up with around 10 phrases and repeated them each 5 times.

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Published : It Won't Go Well - selected articles from Kingston Uni Press

Happy to announce the publication of a book of my selected articles, It Won't Go Well, from Kingston University Press. It's available for owning here for an exorbitant 7 quid. enemiesproject.bigcartel.com/product/selectedarticles

The book collects a dozen or so articles I've written for Tate Online, Versopolis, Magma, Penned in the Margins, The British Council, The Poetry School, Atlantic Drift et al, with pieces on poetry and sex, violence, time, composition, collaboration and sound, alongside non-poetry stuff.

The book will be launched at Torriano Reading House, Kentish Town, London on November 25th for an event entitled Prose Poem Poetics

The book has been featured in November's National Poetry Library latest acquisitions highlights, which is nice www.nationalpoetrylibrary.org.uk/news-stories/latest-acquisitions-november-2018
and there's a few samples from the book here www.stevenjfowler.com/articles

Published : Burning House press - excerpts from The Gush and Chimp

I have four new fragments of work published at https://burninghousepress.com/2018/11/09/sj-fowler-the-gush-more/ thanks to guest editor Paul Hawkins, running a month of new work around the concept of future facing poetry at the burning house press.

The Gush is a new long poem of sorts, about London, and it utilises online text quite heavily.

Chimp is another long poem, about a chimp. And about human beings inability to deal with our animal selves.

Two poem brut or art poems are also included, one an asemic geometric piece, and the other a copy of Hans Memling.

Pretty lovely to have a space to share work still growing into its final form.

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A note on : The IGNOR festival travelogue and performance

You can read a full whack travelogue of my recent time in Slovenia here http://www.stevenjfowler.com/slovenia

Excerpta : “The fullest of full moons on the first night in Ljubljana, I travel in with Astra Papachristodoulos and Scott Daughters from London, Astra will also perform. I see friends, knowing people in the city who aren’t the people I’m going to meet. Good and bad in that, not making it to the opening night. But apparently everyone decamps to a squat afterwards which is decorred with available browned mattresses and reasonably priced horse. Oh well, you can’t win.

The next day, performance day, I’m writing my thing during the day, with photos taken on this day, trying to shape it immediate and responsive. I scope out the venue, people try and sell me drugs, I’ve got my meds thanks, it’s an autonomous art squat space near the train station, very different tone than the rest of the plush city, and this is a theme, what perhaps the notion of IGNOR is about, being an alternative. The readings start on Balkan time. Basically all readings, in Slovenian, no performances, one spoken word thing, so perhaps the alternative is contextual rather than content based. Astra is great, as ever, she really has gifts in performance. It’s nice too to hang out with Muanis, who is responsible for my being here, who came to London for the first European Poetry Festival and is a considerable presence and poetry mind. Not without some pretty severe and wonderful humour too. He introduces me to some really warm and dry people.

ON MY PERFORMA : I did a Powerpoint performance, the third of this series in fact, following works in Bucharest and Dublin. Those first two were two of the best things I’ve done live. This was not quite there like those, but it was certainly an experiment for the audience within the context of the festival. Some things went fine, but perhaps diminishing returns on the concept, or my failing, my impatience crept into me with the night being quite standard readings in a language I don’t speak starting late and pulling, giving me an edge of harshness I didn’t necessarily plan on having. That does happen to me, I felt my humour was landing in chats but then up on a stage, with a mic, that kind of cut, it stings people a bit. I had a lot of positive vibes but definitely, as has happened to me in other countries when travelling and performing like this, a certain coolness crept into some people’s demeanours after the slightly savage fingertips of the performance were felt. Also the tech got proper balls up twice, in big ways, and that really did crush my rhythm. The second one, when music was supposed to play me out, left me without the possibility of my final words seeming sarcastic or satirical, as they’re supposed to me. All a learning process.

We all go to a bar after, which stays open til 2am, and I have colacao or whatever, hot choco and it’s the loveliest night, just chatting, laughing, the best of this kind of small poetry festival travelling thing.