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 below and / or visit www.writerscentrekingston.com for more details on the centre and the year ahead.

Event Programme for 2017

#1 – October Thursday 19th : 7pm - Free entry at Dorich House, Kingston a literary event about Living, with guest speaker Tom McCarthy alongside Stella Bottai and Sara Upstone.

#2 – October Thursday 26th : 7pm - Free entry at The Rose Theatre, Kingston a literary event about Dying with guest speaker Iain Sinclair.

#3 – November Thursday 9th : 7pm - Free entry at a venue to be confirmed, a literary event about Remembering, with guest speaker Nell Leyshon alongside John Stuart and Winsome Pinnock.

#4 – November Thursday 23rd : 7pm - Free entry at a venue to be confirmed, a literary event about Travelling, with guest speaker Alexander Frater.

#5 – December Thursday 7th :  7pm - Free entry at a venue to be confirmed ,a literary event about Hoping, with guest speaker to be confirmed alongside Helen Julia Minors.

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. 

A note on: Subcritical Tests, Cemetery poems & other recent happenings

Recent happenings from July 2017 : Two new publications, three great events in Kensal Green Cemetery, others at Ledbury Festival, National Poetry Library, Poetry Ireland & more.

Subcritical Tests: a new book from Gorse Editions
A pair of grand launches in a basement in Soho and a packed Poetry Ireland in Dublin for a book already making mushroom clouds on the Irish poetry scene. A beautiful thing Gorse have made, sharing Ailbhe Darcy and I's poems, three years in the writing. www.stevenjfowler.com/ireland

Landscape Learn : Growth & Decay
Part of my ongoing residency with award winning landscape architects J&L Gibbons, a day in Kensal Green Cemetery with speakers from Urban Mind, Museum of London and a debut screening for my collaborative film with Tereza Stehlikova. Follow Landscape Learn.www.stevenjfowler.com/gibbonsresidency

The Ecchoing Green
A reading with Chris McCabe and Tom Jeffreys in Kensal Green Cemetery Dissenter's Chapel, part of the Wood Wood residency, a discussion of changing London and its cemeteries www.stevenjfowler.com/wormwood

Worm Wood Old Oak
Short fiction published by Sampson Low, a publisher founded in 1793. A weird story about a property developer terraforming London, available here https://sampsonlow.co/2017/07/14/worm-wood-old-oak-sj-fowler/

Ledbury Poetry Festival
Performing and curating the 87th event of the 21st international poetry festival in Ledbury, presenting a new collaboration with Harry Man. More here

Poem Bruts : Hotel Magazine
New art poems published in the brilliant hotel. Taken from an upcoming artbook 'New Prim' with Hesterglock Press. http://partisanhotel.co.uk/S-J-Fowler-Poem-Brut-ii

Illuminations II: Erich Fried
A brilliant second instalment of the Illuminations series, surrounded by friends and family of Erich Fried, presenting new performative and literary responses to his life and works. www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations

National Poetry Library Special Edition: celebrating Shearsman Books
A chance to read from my collection out this year 'The Guide to Being Bear Aware' alongside poets like Peter Riley, celebrating Shearsman who have been publishing for 35 years. www.stevenjfowler.com/bearaware

Interview with Jana Astanov A quick chat with the new york based Polish multidisciplinary artist about recent things. www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poetry-is-an-opportunity/

Some upcoming other stuff:
August 1st to 31st : An exhibition at Kensal Green Cemetery - Worm Wood, with Tereza Stehlikova
August 31st : Reverse Festival Copenhagen
September 3rd : Fiender - Swedish Enemies in Malmo
September 19th : WOW Festival South Korea
November 15th (to be confirmed) : Illuminations III - Peter Handke
November 22nd : The Poem Brut at Rich Mix - a new programme of events, exhibitions and talks begins, exploring art poems, pansemic writing, abstract portraiture - the intersections between brutalism, text, handwriting and abstract illustration.

A note on: Hosting Landscape Learn : Growth and Decay

A dynamic public facing project from J&L Gibbons, Landscape Learn is an exciting venture that Ive been able to be involved with through my residency and tie into my time at Kensal Green Cemetery, with Tereza Stehlikova, with this event. A one day mix of cemetery tour via geology and lost rivers, to talks on the bones of the city, the urban mind, neuroscience, landscape architecture and finishing with a screening of a film I have small part in, made by Tereza. Tickets were sold to a group of nearly fifty and the day felt really communal and engaged, I met so many really interesting people, all of whom shared a complex and intensive interest in their city and its changing environment - often changing for the worst, as the discussion of the nearby Old Oak Common development seemed never too far from the discussions. It's inspiring for me to work with people such as Jo Gibbons and Neil Davidson, this is the kind of day that feeds into my work, takes it into new places, where it needs to be, always growing.

A note on: The Ecchoing Green, part of Worm Wood at Kensal Green Cemetery

The second event as part of my residence at Kensal Green Cemetery, Worm Wood, a really resonant and communal night with Tom Jeffreys and Chris McCabe, all three of us sharing somewhat deeply intertwined reflections on London, cemeteries, psychological interactions with space and history. I took folk down into the catacombs during my reading of my new limited edition short story publication from Sampson Low - Worm Wood Old Oak. I am really happy with the little chapbook, its beautifully done and this was the right place to share it with the world. https://sampsonlow.co/2017/07/14/worm-wood-old-oak-sj-fowler/

Published: Three new poem bruts in Hotel Magazine

A really brilliant magazine is Hotel, and they've once again generously published some of my new art poems or poem bruts which will form the major output of my work over the next year or so, with a series of events at Rich Mix and four new limited edition books. These three works are taken from the book New Prim. 

http://partisanhotel.co.uk/S-J-Fowler-Poem-Brut-ii

A note on: Launching Subcritical Tests in Dublin

I am aware it’s easy to project one’s hopefulness onto places other than where you live, and in the context of launching books and doing events, its true in London I tend to rack them up, so perhaps numbing the experience for myself. But what a beautiful reception in Dublin for the launch of Subcritical Tests. Maybe it was the presence of Gorse as a really brilliant journal birthed by the city and its literary history somehow, or Ailbhe Darcy returning to her city. Maybe it was Poetry Ireland behind it, hosting it in the most grand of buildings. But we had a good hundred people, many students from American university summer schools, around the Dublin literary faces behind and supporting Gorse. And people listened close. We did a reading, just a reading, something I do resist nowadays, feelings its limitations like nails on a chalkboard a lot of the time, feeling oversaturated with the mode, and feeling few are honest about what it can do, and what it can’t do. But here, it was perfect. Ailbhe and I were succinct, in our last moment of a long, three year writing journey, a friendship in a book, reaching a peak of some sort. And as Christodoulos said in his intro – it is a difficult book, a gorgeous thing thanks to Gorse and Niall McCormack’s illustrations, but the content is dense and modern as well as lyrical. It’s not a book to whizz through certainly, not in its making or tone or subject. And then on top of that its collaborative, which seems to distance people for some reason. This was an evening really about friendships, and a community, in a place where it seems to me poetry is taken seriously, perhaps that isn't where I belong- a place I should just visit.  All told, it was a really memorable evening, a fitting end to a three year writing and collaborating journey.

A note on: Launching Subcritical Tests in Soho

Well where else but the basement of a pub in old soho to launch a poetry book about the nuclear bomb / apocalypse / threat / possible sweet release from all the puff? A weird and wonderful night in a dark corridor with people I am so fond of it comes close to a fraternal love - Christodoulos Makris, Susan Tomaselli, Ailbhe Darcy - and some new folk who will become friends. We spent a good five hours down there, relaxed, talking and reading and into the world was launched Subcritical Tests. Watch on on the video for the very end, where the performative urge just nearly just nearly got the better of me. Ailbhe is a sport. www.stevenjfowler.com/subcriticaltests