A note on: launching 40 feet, a new book, written with David Berridge

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/ 

Published: 2 limited editions released in March: Tractography (Pyramid Editions) & 40 Feet (Knives Forks & Spoons press)

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/ 


collaborations with David Berridge & Tom Jenks on Cordite

Both these works are about to emerge in their entirety with Knives forks and spoons press, and really kick off the Enemies series, a selection of my collaborative works published as stand alone books in their full form. // http://cordite.org.au/poetry/collaboration/40-feet/ David Berridge and I wrote 40 feet, made of 40 poems over a year ago now, and it stands to me as a very specific representation of a time, and a city, before David migrated south.

now everything’s big, everybody’s mother
is bluer than blue, whiter than white
privileged as a dip in the car thief fame and muscling up
for money
sounds like a good deal to me
when I’ve become wealthy
I’m bound to be calmest
said a Giant, currently fashionable
if the screaming doesn’t end by sunday we’ll call a doctor, said the elephant

http://cordite.org.au/poetry/collaboration/1000-proverbs/ Tom Jenks and I took an unknown amount of time to write 1000 proverbs, and an unknown amount of wisdom. All of his are very very funny. 

Better an egg today than an egg nog tomorrow.
Better Butlin’s than a Russian prison. Better a scarf in Skegness than rubber gloves in Minehead.
Better a wrestler in the vale than in Bognor Regis.
Better a bugger in Bognor than a penis in Penistone.

Knowing your Enemies by David Berridge


"Over at Sabotage Reviews David Clarke has written a fascinating review of Enemies: The Selected Collaborations of SJ Fowler. Drawing on Bakhtin’s arguments around the dialogic text Clarke (as I understand it) argues that the dialogic elements are actually most evident in texts that refuse a clear sense of who wrote what, maybe even of form and subject. Without this certainty, the reader has to get involved, and the possibility of the text as a multiplicity of possible and actual voices emerges.

I found myself relating Clarke’s ideas to some of the decisions Steve and myself have been making regarding the book form of our collaboration, forty feet, an extract from which appears in the Enemies book. Something of the process Clarke describes has been evident in our ongoing and changing decisions about how to arrange the text on the page, what kinds of sections and designation to give the writing, to what extent the text should indicate the presence of two authors, and/or a more general process of exchange and response by which the book’s writing unfolded.

Originally our text had forty distinct sections, in which we took turns as author. Although we never had a manuscript that named our respective contributions one early idea was to have two distinct fonts for our respective writings. For the extract in the Penned in the Margins book, sections were cut up, placed in columns, our separate contributions mashed one to the other. I thought the book might take this further, but instead it seemed right to go back to 40 numbered sections, although now those numbers broke up some our existing sections, whilst the text itself no longer had each section starting neatly on a new page.
cyril-connollyCyril Connolly Enemies of Promise (1): Getting Blocked in By Your Own Book Collection

Reading what we have now, I no longer know who wrote what. This isn’t entirely true, of course, but there are specific lines and sections where I mean this literally, and the whole text has moved, in my reading of it, beyond that sense of two alternating voices as its organising principle. This unknowing in the face of my/ our own text made me think of Maurice Blanchot’s comment about the text that removes itself from its author. I could only remember Blanchot’s view in these most general of terms so I went back to The Space of Literature and read on page 24:
The writer cannot abide near the work. He can only write it; he can, once it is written, only discern its approach in the abrupt Noli me legere which moves him away, which sets him apart or which obliges him to go back to that “separation” which he first entered in order to become attuned to what he had had to write. So that now he finds himself as if at the beginning of his task again and discovers again the proximity, the errant intimacy of the outside from which he could not make an abode.
All I have said here, of course, is from the writer’s point of view. Clarke’s review focuses on the experience of reader and reading and how the knowledge that a text is a collaboration (more particularly in the case of Enemies: some sort of couple) relates to the sense of voice, location and exchange that is  named or intuited by that reader in the text’s form and content. The (currently) final version we have made of forty feet seems one where writer and reader find some sort of equivalence.

One other point that I found useful in Clarke’s review was his sense of why the book – and Steve’s collaborations project as a whole – should be called Enemies, a title I realised I had responded to primarily as a provocation that cleared away a certain complacency about what might be involved and at stake. For Clark, again, it is best understood through how we read:
His collaborations are not friendly: neither in the sense of seeking to arrive at a position of harmony between those producing the work, nor in the sense that a finished artistic product offers the reader any easy answers. In fact, these collaborations are the opposite of a ‘finished’ product: they remain open to a dialogue with the reader, indeed to many dialogues (as in many re-readings) with the reader.
Steven’s own introduction to Enemies can be seen hereForty Feet will be out soon from Knives Forks and Spoons Press.

Vídeos de los enemigos

A very literary event, interesting to hear the translations in Spanish. The event was rescued by two lovely Spanish speaking poets living in London. Thanks to them. Jeff Hilson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq9i8ao5ZoA