London Sinfonietta - Blue Touch Paper blog entry

Blue Touch Paper preview event  Wednesday 16 May, 7.30pm, Village Underground, London "Our Blue Touch Paper preview event, where the three works-in-progress which have been developed on the programme over the last year will be showcased, is almost upon us. Click here to view a picture gallery showcasing a selection of moments from the evolution of the works, and here to read a blog post from poet Steven J Fowler about the challenge of combining poetry and music." Blue Touch Paper is delivered in partnership with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation with support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Poetry and music does not mix easily… that is perhaps what is attractive about the union… The London Sinfonietta’s Blue Touch Paper programme nurtures and promotes the next generation of composers and interdisciplinary collaborators by providing the context and space to develop new work. On Wednesday 16 May collaborative works currently being developed by 3 groups of composers and artists on the programme will be showcased in a works-in-progresspreview event at Village Underground, Shoreditch.

Composer Philip Venables and poet Steven J Fowler’s work The Revenge of Miguel Cotto, explores the violence, sanctioned by society, that is boxing.  Steven writes…
Tragedy is a subject best approached indirectly, certainly one runs immense risks in writing tragic poetry in 2012. We opened ourselves up to that contingency when we decided to take on the narrative that we did. When first Philip and I agreed, at my gentle urging, to formulate a piece about the boxer Miguel Cotto, he had yet to rematch the man who beaten him into a state of near death using (discovered posthumously) hand bandages loaded with plaster of paris. It is boxing’s own particular brand of madness that such a rematch with this man, Antonio Margarito, was allowed to happen at all. All to our advantage. The point being our work together was born of possibility, of chance, of contingency and we welcomed that into our process and our collaboration. Poetry and music does not mix easily, nor gently, and that is perhaps what is attractive about the union. And beyond that, when first scores were being drawn, staging arranged, poetry mooted we did not even know whether the piece would be a story of tragedy or of revenge.
As Philip has trusted me into the world of boxing (and poetry) so I have trusted him to shape the narrative beyond the narrative, and therein lies the key to our work being successful, that it might utilise notions apparent in the subject to embody something original, and powerful, perhaps even aggressively so. And as I have suggested, it has always been my experience that music doesn’t synthesis easily with poetry – it requires innovation, intention and a fair measure of sacrifice. So I believe our piece, as it nears its beginning (which can feel like an end, strangely, for the preview show) has become defined by its rough edges and at its core, will retain something of the volatility of both our subject and our method. I have been asked already if our piece might allow those who don’t appreciate boxing to enter into my perception, and thus appreciation of the sport … I can only say I feel it’s not for me to say, nor has it become a concern of ours. Boxing is a repository for a palpable sense of being, of alive-ness, whether it is enjoyed or not. And I would venture the same goes for good music and good poetry. If our piece comes close to achieving the same sensation, we will be exceedingly happy.
Steven J Fowler, poet, The Revenge of Miguel Cotto