A note on: Kakania in Berlin at Lettretage

A brilliant night of performances from contemporary European poets and artists, radically recreating and responding to figure of Habsburg Vienna, around one century past, at Lettretage in Berlin, supported by the brilliant Osterreiches Kulturforum http://www.theenemiesproject.com/kakaniaberlin

I had a blast putting this one together, it ended up being so easy to work with everyone from start to finish and the event was welcoming and dynamic in good measure. The performances ranged from playful poetic texts to tech savvy sound performances, and some conceptual performance too. I admire the work, and the generous personalities, of Lea Schneider, Rike Scheffler, Kinga Toth, Norbert Lange and Fabian Faltin, and they made it something special.

A note on: Kakania Berlin – May 9th at Österreichisches Kulturforum

A wonderful thing to be able to travel to curate something, to be able to leave my home and bring together artists who genuinely excite me, in Berlin. A chance to watch people who offer permission to push boundaries and to learn. Thanks to the generosity of the Österreichisches Kulturforum, I was able to put together a Kakania project in Berlin. I brought together 5 artists from across Europe and each presented a new work responding to a figure of the Habsburg Era, 100 years ago or so. We were in the grand performance space of the Österreichisches Kulturforum itself, just off Tiergarten, an imposing curved hall with giant curtains and high ceilings. The Österreichisches Kulturforum couldn’t have been easier to work with and the performances on the night had some real highlights, definitively making an impact on the audience with some of the best sound poets in the world interspersed with conceptual text performances. There was a really dynamic energy to the evening and a clear enthusiasm and intensity, as I’ve often felt in Berlin. Just great to spend time around so many artists I admire under such professional conditions, and to visit Berlin again, having time to bop down Kurfürstenstraße with old friends.

Kakania Berlin - May 9th : 7.30pm at Österreichisches Kulturforum

7.30pm at Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin kulturforum berlin: kulturforumberlin.at 
ree Entry - May Monday 9th 2016
Stauffenbergstraße 1, 10785 Berlin. T: +49 30 202 87-114 E: berlin-kf (at) bmeia.gv.at

Very happy to announce that the Kakania project will debut in Berlin, with six new literary performance commissions from contemporary artists, each of whom will present a work that celebrates / responds to a figure from the Habsburg era. The event is free to attend if you're in Berlin, please share with friends in the city if you're not http://www.theenemiesproject.com/kakaniaberlin

Book your place here: http://www.kulturforumberlin.at/veranstaltung/kakania/

Max Höfler on Ludwig Wittgenstein
Maja Jantar on Lou Andreas Salome
Stephen Emmerson on Rainer Maria Rilke
Tomomi Adachi on Josef Matthias Hauer
Ernesto Estrella on Gustav Mahler
Ann Cotten on Otto Neurath

This is the first of two Kakania events that will take place in Berlin in 2016, supported by Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin and follows six events, a symposium, two publications and over fifty new artist commissions in London from 2014 to 2016 thanks to the Austrian Cultural Forum. www.kakania.co.uk 

About Kakania

There has been no one city's culture, at one singular time in modern history, more widely influential on contemporary thought than that of Habsburg Vienna a century ago. A time so densely constituted with intellectual revolution in fields as diverse as poetry, fiction, journalism, music, composition, philosophy, psychology, art … that it seems it can often only be evoked through a wistfulness that belies the melancholy, the energy and the seismic change that constituted it.

With Kakania, decidedly contemporary, avant-garde, original works of text and art are presented in an attempt to be as complex and genre testing as the works, and the people, they are responsive to. This is a project where the past, and our understanding of it, is not be refracted through historical analysis, but the creative process, and one that is utterly contemporary. Kakania is an opportunity for audiences to discover the Habsburg era in a wholly new guise, as our era.

A note on: The Enemies Project - Spring Programme 2016

The Enemies Project Spring Programme 2016 includes Icelandic, Argentinian and Georgian Enemies projects, Camarade events in Essex and St.Andrews, the return of Kakania in London and Berlin, a collaborative exhibition in Newport, a collaborative event involving five Universities and a one day festival celebrating English PEN and their writers-at-risk project. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/springprogram16/ 

January Sat 30thOvinir: an Icelandic Enemies project in London
Rich Mix Arts Centre : 7.30pm : Free entrance
Óvinir brings together two generations of Icelandic poets and writers to the UK to premiere brand new collaborations with British poets following events in Iceland. A unique chance to see some of the most interesting performers in Europe, feat. Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir & Jack Underwood, Eiríkur Örn Nörðdahl & Hannah Silva, Joanna Walsh & Andri Snær Magnason, Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir, Inua Ellams, Vahni Capildeo & more. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/iceland

February 3rd to 10th: The Enemies Project: Argentina
The Enemies project in Buenos Aires; an embedded collaborative program between a host of poets from Argentina and the UK, writing brand new collaborations over nearly a week in the Argentinian capital. Featuring Julián López, Anahí Mallol, Camilo Sanchez, Patrick Coyle & more. Co-curated by Flavia Daniela Pittella. www.theenemiesproject.com/argentina

February 29th: Respites: Wellcome Collection - London
Respites is a carefully curated series of day-long gatherings, exploring ideas and activities about rest, pleasure, contentedness, critical thinking and creativity. It is aimed at being a generative and respectful series of engagements with people who need and deserve more respite than they receive. Respites is curated by Ayesha Nathoo, Lynne Friedli and Steven J. Fowler, and is supported by, and part of, the Hubbub group, in residence at Wellcome Collection. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/respites

March Saturday 5th: The StanZa Camarade – St.Andrews
http://stanzapoetry.org/festival/events/stanza-camarade-performance
Camarade Workshop - 13:00 - 16:00 (The Town Hall, Queens Gardens - Upstairs Foyer) followed by the performance 15:55 - 16:10 in the Supper Room
The StAnza Camarade will see new collaborations written by poets both attending and participating in the festival, and a collaborative workshop beforehand. The StAnza festival are pleased to offer the opportunity to take part in the workshop and performance for a small group of attendees. Anyone who would like to participate in the project should email a short biography to stanza@stanzapoetry.org. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/stanza

March Sunday 20th: The Essex Camarade – Colchester
at the First Site Gallery - 1pm to 3.30pm - Free Entrance
Commissioned by the Essex Book Festival, this Camarade will see a series of brand new collaborations written by poets in pairs, from the Essex area or attending the festival especially. Feat. James Davies & Philip Terry, Vicki Weitz & Isabella Martin. Anna Townley & Lawrence Bradby, Jeff Hilson & Tim Atkins & more. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/essex

March Thursday 31st: Kakania at the Austrian Cultural Forum: London
Kakania returns to London after five extraordinary events in 2015, and two unique publications. Contemporary artists present new literary performance commissions, each responding to a figure of the Habsburg Era. www.kakania.co.uk (date to be confirmed)

April Saturday 2nd: The English PEN Modern Literature Festival
Over 30 contemporary English writers present works new works, each in tribute to a writer who is part of the English PEN Writer's at Risk programme, writers living under oppression around the world. The one day festival takes at Rich Mix, 2pm onwards, in 3 sessions throughout the day. All are free to attend but attendees are encouraged to join English PEN. Feat. Mark Ravenhill, Caroline Bergvall, Sam Winston, Emily Berry, Emily Critchley & many more. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/englishpen

April Thursday 7th: The Night-Time Economy: an exhibition, Newport
The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre: Newport. 7.30pm. A collaborative exhibition of photography and poetry from Kate Mercer and SJ Fowler exploring the often violent environment of Newport's nightclubs and pubs. This special view event will feature readings and is supported by Arts Council Wales and Poetry Wales. The exhibition runs for three weeks. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/nighttimeeconomy

April Saturday 23rd: The University Camarade
Entrance is free. 7.30pm doors for 8pm start http://www.richmix.org.uk/
The University Camarade will present over 10 new collaborative works, premiered on the night, written by pairs of young poets, all of whom are undertaking study in Creative Writing departments at five different UK Universities including Kingston, Glasgow, Edge Hill, York St John. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/unicamarade

May Monday 9th: Kakania in Berlin
8pm at Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin
Kakania debuts in Berlin, with new literary performance commissions from contemporary artists, each of whom will present a work that celebrates / responds to a figure from the Habsburg era. Featuring Max Höfler on Ludwig Wittgenstein, Maja Jantar on Lou Andreas Salome, Stephen Emmerson on Rainer Maria Rilke, Tomomi Adachi on Paul Wittgenstein, Ernesto Estrella on Gustav Mahler and Ann Cotten on Otto Neurath. http://theenemiesproject.com/kakaniaberlin

May Saturday 14th: The Enemies Project: Switzerland for European Literature Night
A night of new collaborations celebrating contemporary European poetry at Rich Mix, with a cohort of Swiss poets collaborating with British counterparts, amongst others. The event is part of the wider European Literature Night celebrations.

May 16th to 21st: Mtrebi: a Georgian Enemies project in Tbilisi
An Enemies Project in Tbilisi, three British poets visit the Georgian capital to create new collaborations with local writers. Feat. Luke Kennard, Sarah Howe & more. Co-curated by Davit Gabunia.

Supported by UNESCO Reykjavik City of Literature, The British Council, Norwich Writer's Centre, International Literature Showcase Fund, El Tercer Lugar, The StanZa festival, The Essex Book Festival, English PEN, Arts Council Wales, Austrian Cultural Forum London, Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin, University of Kingston, Glasgow, Edge Hill and York St. Johns, Rich Mix & more.

www.theenemiesproject.com

A note on: speaking at Humboldt University, school of Mind & Brain, Berlin

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. 

Berlin Poesiefest 2015

Though I have had the privilege to present my work a few times in Berlin, the first time reading & presenting at the Berlin Poesiefest was an intense experience. I had the chance to stay for nearly a week thanks to the festival and the time in the city, as is often the case – that is the process of being there, rather than the work I presented – will be the enduring legacy of my participation. I had the opportunity to turn acquaintances into friendships, and to make many acquaintances which will become friendships, with people who had travelled from across the world. http://www.literaturwerkstatt.org/en/poesiefestival-berlin/home/

I presented a keynote on collaboration, in a colloquium which featured Cia Rinne, Ricardo Domeneck, Kenneth Goldsmith and others, over a four hour session. I laid out the principles behind the Enemies project, engaged in a few discussions and then ripped up another of my books to give to the audience, and ask them to read back to me. A privilege to be there and share my ideas with such a discerning audience.

Berlin Camarade: June 23rd at lettretage

Really the hospitality Lettretage had shown me on our first meeting, in early 2015, and the interest I have in so many poets in the city of Berlin, how exciting I think their work is, drove me to put on an extremely ambitious Camarade event in June 2015. Thanks to the generosity of Daniela Seel, I was able to invite poets from different scenes in the city, as well as people I knew and followed, and some British poets visiting. The end result was really one of the better events in the history of the Enemies project, with 28 poets in 14 pairs each presenting really high quality work, with such a variance of style and approach, yet with a palpably shared sense of community and aesthetic. Amazing to have the likes of Cia Rinne, Uljana Wolf, Jeroen Nieuwland, Sam Langer, Alexander Filyuta, Tom Bresemann, Catherine Hales, Max Czollek, Ernesto Estrello, Rike Scheffler & many others involved. It was not one of the easier events to put together, the city not being without it’s literary politics, but the result was worth the labour and for the sheer pleasure of seeing such brilliant poets, some of whom were discoveries to me, in terms of live performance, I could not help but feel humbled by people’s enthusiasm and engagement.  www.stevenjfowler.com/berlin

the Enemies Project: Spring Programme 2015

I’m happy to present the new Enemies project website in time to announce our full Spring program. The website explains our previous programs and future plans in some depth, and stands as a resource of documentation for all the work the 400 poets and artists have put into the project so far. Please have a look and share the word.

www.theenemiesproject.com

You can also follow the project on Twitter @enemiesproject 

As well as the previously mentioned Wrogowie: a Polish Enemies project  & a Cemetery Romance, both free to attend and taking place on March Saturday 28th, here are our events up to the summer.

Enemigos: a Mexican Enemies project www.theenemiesproject.com/enemigo

April Tues 14th : 7.30pm : Rich Mix Arts Centre: Main Space : Free Entry

in partnership with the British Council, the London Book Fair & Conaculta

New collaborations from Rocio Ceron & Holly Pester, Nell Leyshon & Carmen Buellosa, Adriana Diaz Enciso & Fabian Peake, and Amanda de la Garza & I. Also the launch of the long awaited Enemigos anthology.

Co-curated by Rocio Ceron.

Feinde: an Austrian Enemies project www.theenemiesproject.com/feinde

in partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum

May Friday 8th : 7.30pm : Rich Mix Arts Centre: Main Space : Free Entry

New collaborations from Jörg Piringer & I, Max Höfler & Robert Herbert McClean, James Wilkes & Esther Strauss. Also featuring Ann Cotton, Tim Atkins & Jeff Hilson Philip Terry & James Davies, Purdey Lord Kreiden & more. 

May Tuesday 12th : 7.30pm: Austrian Cultural Forum

Solo readings from Ann Cotton, Rebecca Perry, Jen Calleja & more. 

The Feinde exhibition – May 1st to 14th at the Hardy Tree Gallery

An exhibition of contemporary European concrete &  visual poetry, celebrating the contribution of Austria to this tradition, among others. New works from Anatol Knotek, Victoria Bean & others. There will be a special view and reading held on May Sunday 10th at the Hardy Tree Gallery, free entry, from 7.30pm.

European Literature Night: Edinburgh www.theenemiesproject.com/eln

in partnership with UNESCO, Edinburgh City of Literature, Caesura & others.

May Thursday 14th: multiple venues, 6pm then 8.30pm : Free Entry for all 

4 simultaneous events with solo performances from poets travelling across Europe culminate in a massive 24 poet collaborative camarade event in the city of Edinburgh. Featuring Mariusz Pisarski, Valgerður Þórodds, Eduard Escoffet, Martin Bakero, J.Johanneson Gaitan & many others.

Co-curated by Ryan Van Winkle, Graeme Smith, Iain Morrison & Colin Herd.

Gelynion: a Welsh Enemies project www.theenemiesproject.com/gelynion

in partnership with Arts Council Wales, Poetry Wales and the Hay-on-Wye festival

Enemies Cymru: Six poets – Nia Davies, Joe Dunthorne, Zoë Skoulding, Eurig Salisbury, Rhys Trimble & I - touring new collaborations across Wales drawing in poets for Camarade events in each location. Beginning in Newport on May 19th, Gelynion visits Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Bangor before a culminating premiere performance at the Hay-on-Wye festival on May 29th. Then the project will close for 2015 with a reading at the Rich Mix in London on June 5th. 

Co-curated by Nia Davies.

Mahu: an exhibition www.theenemiesproject.com/mahu

June 6th to 27th at the Hardy Tree Gallery, Kings Cross, London.

An exhibition exploring asemic live writing where an entire novel will be inscribed onto the walls of the gallery only to be erased when the exhibition finishes. Ten events over three weeks features events celebrating presses (Test Centre, Influx, Blart, If p then q), poets (Tom Raworth, Tomaz Salamun) and collaborative practise.

a Berlin Camarade www.theenemiesproject.com/berlin

June Tuesday 23rd: at Lettretage in Kreuzberg 7.30pm : Free Entry

in partnership with Lettretage & Kookbooks.

Drawing on vast and brilliant vanguard poetry community of Berlin, this Camarade event, taking place during the Berlin poetry festival, will feature new collaborative work in multiple languages from some of the most exciting poets in Europe.

Featuring Max Czollek, Ernesto Estrella, Tom Breseman, Alexander Filyuta, Daniella Seer, Cia Rinne, Uljana Wolf, Monika Rinck, Alexander Gumz, Christoph Szalay, Eugene Ostashevsky, Georg Leß & more.

More information forthcoming about each project as it arrives and our equally exciting summer and winter program for the year. www.theenemiesproject.com

 

Lettretage - a conference of literary activists : January 2015

I was properly excited to attend this unique conference of literary organisers and activists, hosted and led by the extraordinary Lettretage - Tom Bresemann, Katharina Deloglu, Moritz Molsch & co, in Berlin, precisely because, absurdly, it seemed wholly focused on the extremely niche thing that I have found myself doing in poetry - that is organisation, curation, innovation, but also something more fundamental than this - the two extensive days of discussion in a room in Kreuzberg were about action. and the possibilities of doing that across Europe, with ambition and energy, while maintaining consideration and ephemeral sensitivity to what literature might be, rather than what it should be.

Lettretage itself is cutting a path for things like the Enemies project. It is doing what I've often inadvertently found myself trying to do. This conference was the best possible example of this, having been around near a decade, Lettretage is now innovating ways to grow and centralise a network of similarly minded people and organisations. They have secured fantastic funding support from creative europe and many others to create a tour of Europe, through their CROWD project and to develop things like an app which will allow visitors to new cities to get 'local' information on readings and performances. Always their emphasis is on the ground up outfits, the artists and curators who are building up from communities and live, contemporary cultures of poetry, literature and performance arts. Rather than shutting up shop after their successes, they are aggressively searching out those who share their mission and their general attitude of openness and innovation.

I have waffled about so many theoretical notions that gel perfectly with their approach, it was genuinely gratifying and made me feel wholly at home visiting them. So I trotted out these ideas again in Berlin - people before poetry, process over product, respect in the world, disrespect in the text... The guerrilla nature of Enemies was brought into sharp focus here, how reactive I am, and how grounded Lettretage and the many other organisers here are in their worlds and communities. I realised London is different place to organise, in a sense wonderful and anonymous and incremental because of its sprawl. The participants here are more rooted, they take responsibility with deeper ties, and all the while they maintain these positions of giving space to mostly avant garde, or contemporary, work and supporting artists while reaching actual people with that work. 

I came across so many artists and organisers I had never met before and felt a genuine kinship with so many of them. I got to know the brilliant Daniela Seel and admire her incredible editorship of Kookbooks, I met the committee from Forumstadtpark in Graz, with the immensely charming Max Hofler leading their poetry program, Andrea Inglese too, who runs Nazione Indiana. Valgerður Þórodds from Reykjavik who has revitalised the poetry scene in Iceland with her ground up, community led, handmade press medgonguljod. Sasha Filyuta, Lily Michaelides & many more - it was such an intense two days, 10 hours of talking and listening back to back, it's not yet really sunk in how the environment was such a gift to someone like me, because really its purpose to was affirm the notion of mindful, self-orientated activity that stakes out the ground of our generations literary spaces. This has always been in my mind curating Enemies, but as an emphemeral notion. Lettretage solidified this idea, gave it back to me in a way.

I'm sure this will be the beginning of many relationships that Lettretage provided me, friendships I would venture to say, and I hope my work intersects with theirs often, for they are lighting a path I want to follow. www.lettretage.de

Trepidation commended for the Forward Prize 2014

I'm pleased to say my poem Trepidation, which featured in my latest collection, the Rottweiler's Guide to the Dog Owner, has been highly commended by the Forward Prize. It means it'll feature in the anthology the prize puts out to celebrate it's awards later in the year. I wrote the poem as a set of ten on two days in Berlin for a performance with Alessandro Eramo, sat with WS Graham in a bedsit in Wedding, in a snowing February in 2013. I've never once thought back on that poem as being in anyway exceptional, for it to be singled out is pleasing as it surprises me to reread it and see what people might see when viewing it in isolation. A random thing, but good to have recognition for the thing within the thing. http://www.eyewearpublishing.com/products-page/books/s-j-fowler/

on the Lettretage Soundout! project longlist

www.lettretage.de/soundout   Really nice to be one of the best losers for this remarkable enterprise in Berlin, pioneering new forms of literary events, alongside friends like Ryan Van Winkle, Iain Morrison, JL Williams and Jorg Piringer. Together we shall cry from the distance of the longlist. http://lettretage.de/soundout/kuenstler/longliste

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