Another magic engagement with Surbiton's Museum of Futures, a unique community gallery that I've been able to work with through Writers' Centre Kingston and Kingston University. Students, local artists and writers, and those able to travel to the gallery nearby contributed to a brilliant month long exhibition of writing art, aligned with my poem brut project, on the theme of scribbling and scrawling. The work was uniformly good and once more, by taking on the labour of an open submission process, I had the chance to meet a load of talented new people, from Nicole Polonsky to Denise McCullough, there was some real discoveries for me. Moreover my students had the chance to see their work walled for the first time, and help me, significantly, in the curation of the show and it's events.
As part of my new series of art book publications for Poem Brut I've written a series of essays. Each one acts as a kind of contextualised full stop to the books and their otherwise un-explained content, but they aren't explanations, just ruminations. The brilliant online journal The Learned Pig have kindly published the essay On Time and Mess, which closed out I fear my best work behind me, with selections of the work from that book
Once we understand excess, then we can get really simple.
– Robert Rauschenberg
Exploring poetry’s absent indispensable character
"Because poetry is not a thing that lives, to put it mildly, upon the regulation and control of grammar and correct spelling, in the final preparations for the publication of my book, ‘I fear my best work behind me,’ an exploration of the rudimentary character of poetry – that is letters and words – there was only one correction to make for my editor. Only one deliberate error, with all the obsequiousness that this phrase entails, for him to find and for me to defend. The title. I fear my best work is behind me. Remove the is. Then perhaps, to those dozen or so reading the title, and those few within the dozen who are concentrated by interest, the absence of the is will take on its proper significance. The primary significance I would posit that poetry has, outside of letters and words, is purposeful semantic omission.
I do not imagine my best work is behind me, literally, but in those whom I’ve discovered – and that is the right word to use (for they have to be unearthed, do poets, in England) – who have given me permission to make such works as those that often litter my pages, they are behind me, and are the best work, for they were and are not making what can be mine. What they have made was original, or based on poets they have buried with themselves, as I shall not do........"
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 beautiful job has been done, the exhibition runs until October 31st and is really well worth a visit. Some wonderful and works and installations by some brilliant artists and thinkers. http://hubbubresearch.org/event/rest-discontents/
DATE & TIME 30 September – 30 October 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
VENUE: The Mile End Art Pavilion Mile End Park, Clinton Road London, E3 4QY United Kingdom
Rest & its discontents, a new exhibition from Hubbub exploring the dynamics of rest, stress, sound, noise, work and mind-wandering. Rest & its discontents explores the dynamics of rest, stress, relaxation, sound, noise, work and mindwandering in an evolving laboratory of moving image, performance, drawing, poetry, data, sound, music and debate.
Rest & its discontents features a video installation of my Soundings project with Wellcome Library. A specially made highlight video, edited by Ed Prosser, shows my works with Maja Jantar, Emma Bennett, Tamarin Norwood and Sharon Gal.
DATE & TIME 30 September – 30 October : 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
VENUE: The Mile End Art Pavilion, Mile End Park, Clinton Road, London, E3 4QY United Kingdom
The final two legs of the tour, in Bath and Bruton. All the blog and documentation www.stevenjfowler.com/southwest
In the end the evening was frantic, the largest number of poets and an excellent attendance, with some tech demands in between hosting and all the usual responsibility of organising an event. Camilla and I's work seemed to respond to this, and was contextualised, and perhaps amplified, with a more literary feeling for the majority of the collaborations being shared. It allowed us to play, to use the space, to make our performance a dance of sorts, but also a playfight of another sort - a physical poem alongside our text - not entirely, and deliberately, careful, not entirely graceful, but full of something close, intimacy perhaps. A really resonant experience for me, working with Camilla, extending our curatorial collaboration with such proximity and tactility, and begin a conversation with her work, one I've definitely benefited from being exposed to....
Bruton - August 7th Our final stop, the week passing, predictably, with alarming speed. We were able to stay close to the extraordinary gallery and gardens of Hauser and Wirth, everything that so many on the tour had told me it would be, enjoying local hospitality in some style. It allowed the poets who had seen through every leg of the tour to really spend some memorable time together, not only travelling in mini car flotillas, often through the dense English countryside and its receptionless roads, in the middle of the night, but around dinner tables and long after that, talking. A privilege to get to know some brilliant, warm-hearted, talented and wise human beings through the excuse of reading poetry, part of the experience that will stay with me longest I think.
The reading itself was pretty remarkable, over 150 people climbing the gentle incline of the garden in the Hauser & Wirth complex, up from the gallery itself into what seemed a giant ant pod, or upturned paper-mache tugboat. I thought it an installation on first approach, only to discover it was hollow and airy, allowing us to pack an enormous audience in the space for our 18 poets and our final event. Some brilliant work on display here, and I had the chance to read with Annabel Banks. We built our poem on abstracted meta-references, to the tour and its happenings, and then wrote it out to the other four who had been on the road, to engage multiple voices, to surround the audience, in a kind of mini-play.
A high point to bow out upon, drawing poets and audience from the surrounding area, Bristol and beyond, and to be in such a special place. We ate together then finished our last proper day of the project saying farewell at train stations or around a dinner table, talking very late into the night. A really resonant, generous, memorable week in the south west, a time that will be hard to forget, made up by people I am better off for having worked with and lived beside.
As part of an event at the Essex Book Festival, a Camarade I had the pleasure of putting together, I got to read with my friend and collaborator, David Berridge. We launched our book 40 feet, which has been published by Knives Forks and Spoons press. http://knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/
40 Feet is a poem in dialogue. 40 poems as 40 moments, 40 fragments, 40 conversation starters / enders. It is a poem deliberately broken, misheard, overheard and overlapping. It is a record of meeting, writing, witnessing; mulching and reflecting London in 2013, where both of us lived and frequently met. 40 Feet is the events of that time and the character of that place, fixed in the subjective, the miniature, the specific - through an open-ended poetics of expression and conversation.
We wrote the book over a year ago and revisiting it in Essex was a beautiful thing, to feel the book as a record of a friendship in poetry but also a marker of a time in my life.
And you can read more about David's work here http://verysmallkitchen.com/
Very pleased to see two new publications emerge in March.
Tractography is the first of a new series of poems, called Neurocantos, and is launched in a boutique limited edition by Pyramid Editions, edited by Owen Vince. The poem is partially built from the words of a paper by the neuroscientist Daniel Margulies. http://pyramideditions.co.uk/
40 Feet, written with David Berridge is to be launched at the Essex Book Festival Camarade, on March 20th 2016, 40 Feet is published by Knives Forks and Spoons press. http://knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/
40 Feet is a poem in dialogue. 40 poems as 40 moments, 40 fragments, 40 conversation starters / enders. It is a poem deliberately broken, misheard, overheard and overlapping. It is a record of meeting, writing, witnessing; mulching and reflecting London in 2013, where both poets lived and frequently met. 40 Feet is the events of that time and the character of that place, fixed in the subjective, the miniature, the specific - through an open-ended poetics of expression and conversation.
An excerpt featured in Enemies: the selected collaborations of SJ Fowler (2013) and is now published in it's entirety by Knives, Forks & Spoons press. And you can read more about David's work herehttp://verysmallkitchen.com/
An amazing opportunity to speak at Humboldt University Berlin, in the lofty environs of the Mind & Brain school, for an event called, which celebrated the art competition. The event brought together artist Mriganka Madhukaillya, curator Elena Agudio, Daniel Margulies, neuroscientist and head of the Max Planck institute and myself (!) and we each delivered talks that somehow related to art and science interdisciplinary practise and the efficacy of such collaborations. It is the only thing I have developed any expertise on really, the nature of collaboration and through the Enemies project, the Hub residency, the Salzburg Global Seminar and A World Without Words, the neuroaesthetics field, though still often opaque to me, is increasingly of interest. My talk went well, seemed generally uncontroversial, despite my relatively critical stance and in fact seemed to stoke a really positive energy with the scientists who attended. Brilliant for me to be beside such lofty peers and learn from them.
Lovely 2nd print run of my 1st collection arrived today from @KFandS_press pic.twitter.com/xv3yQbGmsy
— Steven J Fowler (@stevenjfowler) January 25, 2014
Iain Sinclair's Red Museum comments, so humbling 3 years on http://t.co/dT7mccZPQv pic.twitter.com/zIGfDFfC0w
— Steven J Fowler (@stevenjfowler) January 25, 2014