Published : I Stand Alone by The Devils, and other poems on films

I Stand Alone by The Devils, and other poems on films
Broken Sleep Books : 33 pages : £5
www.stevenjfowler.com/istandalone
www.brokensleepbooks.com/product-page/sj-fowler-i-stand-alone-by-the-devils-and-other-poems-on-films

A book, though lean, I have been working on for years. It’s been a pleasure to bring it into life with Aaron Kent, editor of Broken Sleep. From the publisher = "26 new poems celebrating 26 cult films of the 20th and 21st century, I Stand Alone by The Devils is a slim volume of cinematic poetic ekphrasis. At play is an aberrant intersemiotic translation between the mediums of popular or arthouse cinema and contemporary, modernist poetry. The poems aim to re-imagine moving image in language, often cutting in tone, taking on the dark, symbolic and sardonic on film. Each poem is a single film, interpreting, reflecting, embodying and transposing, exploring both films familiar to many, and digging out, often from 20th century European cinema, more unorthodox motion pictures. From Querelle and The Baby of Mâcon, to American Werewolf in London and Don’t Look Now. From Aguirre and Festen to The Fly and Breaking the Waves, these poems are a strange and playful musing on cinema’s impact on poetry and language and a useless thinking through of how films are actually consumed."

A full list of films featured - Angel Heart, Querelle, Last Year at Marienbad, Ali : Fear Eats The Soul, The Fly, The Devils, Breaking the Waves, American Werewolf in London, Don’t Look Now, I Stand Alone, A short film about Love, En Coeur En Hiver, The Baby of Mâcon, Nightwatch (Nattevagten), Silence of the Lambs, Satan’s Brew, Aguirre, wrath of god, The Long Good Friday, Stalker, Salo, Festen, Three Colours Blue, Yojimbo, Possession, Beau Travail, M.

LAUNCH : August Thursday 29th 2019 at the Cinema Museum, London, alongside a screening of Peter Greenaway’s The Baby of Mâcon
http://www.cinemamuseum.org.uk/
7pm doors for 7.30pm entry. £8 (£5 concessions)
Readings, featuring Jonathan Catherall, Yvonne Litschel, Chris Kerr, David Spittle and more, alongside SJ Fowler, will mark this unique celebration of cinematic poetry, before a screening ofThe Baby of Mâcon, Peter Greenaway’s remarkable and challening 1993 film. More details to come soon.

A note on: The sex lost in Porn - an article on Versopolis

The theme of August on the European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture is sex and pornography. http://www.versopolis.com/column/656/the-sex-that-s-lost-in-porn

I have the same attitude toward a plot of the usual type as a dentist to teeth.
I built the book on a dispute between people of two cultures; the events mentioned in the text serve only as material for the metaphors.~
This is a common device in erotic things, where real norms are repudiated and metaphoric norms affirmed.                       Viktor Shklovsky, Zoo

It is impossible to track the increased frequency of masturbation through human history into the 21st century. But it is likely that it is at its most frequent in human history. It has to be. Even the most self-loving ancestor of ours, be they 100,000 or 10,000, or 200 years in the past, could not have possibly imagined the kind of sexual stimulation that immediate and unlimited access to pornography provides the average person. There are, of course, more humans than ever before, the world population has doubled since 1970, and in western societies, more people are without a partner than ever before, in context. These are grounds on which we must think of pornography and its ubiquitous but resolutely underground presence.

....

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Pornography wants waste. It may be just watched. It may be something other to those who make it. It may tax the senses of those who use into ineffectiveness. It may permeate mainstream ideas and culture, though far less than people say. It may be a force for whatever moralising or shifting nihilism that breezes through too much theoretical consideration. But what it is, in all it’s remove, vivacity, anger, necessity, absurdity, sorrow and energy is a mirror. Perhaps literally, a computer screen reflecting the figure of human, spread legged or hunched over, trying not to see themselves and their own desire, placing it elsewhere, in pieces, in the past, into the excess of other bodies. Pornography need not insist upon itself then, it is the fantastical growth from the part of ourselves we are as ready to deny now as in anytime during our western past. It is an answer, not a question.

A note on: new articles commissioned for Versopolis

The European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture is an online literary journal, funded by the European Union, aiming to create an anglophone publication platform with a focus on continental Europe and world beyond. www.versopolis.com

A sample of the articles I've commissioned recently.

A note on: Wrestliana event at Burley Fisher Books

I had a lovely evening in discussion with Toby Litt to marks the release of his Wrestliana book, pulled in gently as the resident writer who knows about wrestling. We chatted about lineage, melancholy, regionalism alongside the wrestling in front of an intimate audience at Burley Fisher which is a really beautiful bookshop with a deserved following on Kingsland Road. Nice to be asked to do these kind of events, talking wrestling and boxing, as they are resolutely hobbies for me now, but the first things I truly loved to do, so will always be part of me, and seem even more important and attractive now I spend most of my time doing writing things.

Worth getting a copy of Toby's book here, it's really ambitious and energetic. https://www.galleybeggar.co.uk/shop-1/wrestliana

Published : my essay The Online Empire : on sex and poetry on Versopolis

Nice to have this essay on sex and poetry published, forever locked onto the internet, readable in perpetuity, appropriately, by Versopolis, and the european review of poetry books and culture. It was written for my book Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire, which is tangentially about pornography and will feature in an upcoming volume of my selected essays too. 

http://www.versopolis.com/long-read/604/the-online-empire-on-sex-and-poetry


"The whole business of eroticism is to destroy the self-contained character of the participators as they are in their normal lives.            Georges Bataille

You can never discover for yourself what you’ve been given. Bodies and knowledge, both. The primary purpose of this book is to worry about the division between the experienced and the perceived, and what is lost between that ever expanding gap.

Bataille suggests that you try to imagine yourself changing from the state you are in, to one in which your whole self is completely doubled. He means this to be a disturbance. He reminds us, you would not survive this process since the doubles you have turned into are essentially different from you. Each of these doubles is necessarily distinct from you as you are now, as while you’ve split into two new versions of yourself, you cannot be the same, twice over. A kind of procreation is what he is suggesting and the metaphor is about writing, I think. To mark the pages then release them is to indulge oneself, fundamentally, in a productive onanism. Cells dividing, with some of that division escaping you. No wonder it feels sad, a let down, to release things into the world......"

A note on: first commissions up on The European Review

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So far executive editing The European of Poetry, Books and Culture is pleasant pleasant, working with some really remarkable writers to shape new pieces. Online already are articles by the authors below, all of whom have produced really striking pieces, with dozens in the pipeline.

Published: European Institute of Imaginary Authors by Robert Sheppard

Robert Sheppard's brilliantly inventive new book has just been released and I'm delighted to have been included Twitters for a Lark: The Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Author is published by Shearsman Books at £9.99 and in available here: http://www.shearsman.com/ws- shop/product/6460-robert-sheppard-ed---twitters-for-a- lark

This is from Chris McCabe - Working in collaboration with a team of real writers, Robert Sheppard has created a lively and entertaining anthology of fictional European poets. There is no resultant ‘Europoem’, but a variety of styles that reflects the collaborative nature of the poems’ production, the richness of a continent. The works range from the comedic to the political, from the imaginatively sincere to the faux-autobiographical, from traditional lyricism to the experimental. Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own. Although devised before the neologism ‘Brexit’ was spat across the bitter political divide, this sample of 28 poets of the EUOIA (European Union of Imaginary Authors) takes on new meanings in our contemporary world that is far from fictive, ‘fake news’ or not.

The collaborators are: Joanne Ashcroft, Alan Baker, James Byrne, Alys Conran, Kelvin Corcoran, Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Patricia Farrell,Allen Fisher, S. J. Fowler, Robert Hampson, Jeff Hilson, Tom Jenks, Frances Kruk, Rupert Loydell, Steve McCaffery, Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Sandeep Parmar, Simon Perril, Jèssica Pujol i Duran, Zoë Skoulding, Damir Šodan, Philip Terry, Scott Thurston. 

Twitters for a Lark heralds a new movement: the European Poetry Revival. It is a book that arrives like a new channel forged by collaborative poets, with all past ideals of state rolled up in an old five pound note. This illuminated sect of future Rimbauds lightens the island’s burden, the lights on their vessels burning like the tips of duty free cigarettes. Chris McCabe

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

A note on: celebrating Shearsman Books at National Poetry Library

A grand evening at National Poetry Library celebrating Shearsman Books and their 35 years in publishing, constantly and carefully putting out books of brilliant modernist poetry from around the world. The library was full and I had the pleasure of reading alongside multiple Shearsman authors, including Peter Riley, who has been writing for over 50 years and someone whom I've been reading with great admiration for many years.

A note on : National Poetry Library Special Edition - Shearsman Books

I'm excited to return to the national poetry library reading from my new book in an event celebrating Shearsman Books and the work of Tony Frazer.

DATES & TIMES 5 Jul 2017 : 8:00 pm
WHERE National Poetry Library, Level 5, Blue side, Royal Festival Hall
https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/123048-celebrating-shearsman-books-2017

Hear authors from across the generations that Shearsman Books represents, as they read and discuss their work. Speakers include SJ Fowler, Elisabeth Bletsoe, Siriol Troup and Peter Riley, in discussion with Shearsman editor Tony Frazer.

Shearsman Books have been a driving force in British modernist poetry for 35 years. Their global list has championed the work of some of Britain’s most important, and often overlooked, modern poets. With a reputation for exploration and considered experiment, Shearsman has provided a prolific and invaluable contribution to our understanding of what poetry might be.

 

A note on: Launching my new book at Arnolfini in Bristol

Another grand launch, the third of four, at the world renowned gallery Arnolfini in Bristol. I read alongside friends and peers Holly Corfield Carr, Paul Hawkins, Matti Spence and John Hall, who is a great influence on my work, and Phil Owen, who is a curator as well as a writer, and was immensely hospitable to us. Shearsman Books and Tony Frazer, the editor, were on site too, being local, and it was a inviting, intellectually agile, open evening with some really fine readings. The weather in Bristol was beautiful, people sat along the dock before the Arnolfini and I had time during the day to really take it in, enjoy my book as an excuse to see friends, leave London and spend time busied with good things

A note on: Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire, a book of marks

Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire : a book I am working a lot on at the moment, in the studio, with inks and experiments, for publication later in 2017 with Blart Books. AOAE will be one of the triology of poembrut books I release this year, and centred on the pansemic tradition, mark marking, material, sexuality, amoeba's and ... I'm writing essays for each of these three books too, to go in the back, not to explain but to discuss and am revisiting much Michaux and Bataille for AOAE.

The Guide to Being Bear Aware : my new new book

I'm happy to announce my latest poetry collection will be published with Shearsman Books. The Guide to Being Bear Aware.

More info on the book www.stevenjfowler.com/bearaware and at the Shearsman site.

The book will be launched in London on April Tuesday 11th, 7.30pm, at Swedenborg House in Bloomsbury, with further launches in York, Bristol and Kingston.

"... advice for living in a world gone awry. Wry, violent, contemplative, political, intimate and raucous by turns, these are poems that laze on your lap only to get their claws in. Morphing into unfamiliar shapes beneath the watching eye, these refreshing, quizzical, well-traveled poems forge a world entirely their own”   Sarah Howe

You can read a poem from the book published by Poetry Magazine online here: The Robin Hood Estate : Poetry Magazine October 2016 

"In SJ Fowler’s work, which surprises & delights by turns, I’m fascinated throughout by the fast moves he makes, quick on the draw & changing rapidly from image to image, meme after meme as it were. His is in that sense a markedly original enterprise, but one which carries with it another thrust – toward sharing, even collaboration – that has been central to much of his earlier work.  Here every poem starts off with the words of some other poet (present or past, close or distant) before his own voice enters & takes over, with those other voices, spirits, hovering around.  It is all new as I read him, all special, and I’m drawn to follow him now wherever he takes us."                             Jerome Rothenberg

About the publisher: Shearsman Books, who for nearly three decades have been a home to some of the most extraordinary high modern and literary poets the UK has produced since WWII, have published many poets profoundly influential on myself, from Cesar Vallejo to Fernando Pessoa in English, as well many peers whose work has given me much, from Vahni Capildeo to John Hall.www.shearsman.com

Published: Oxford Brookes Poem of Week : Snow Bunting bay bay

Well nice of Oxford Brookes poetry centre at the University to publish my poem Snow Bunting as their weekly poem. The poem was commissioned for the amazing Birdbook 4 anthology from Sidekick Books, who are equally brilliant publishers. http://www.brookes.ac.uk/poetry-centre/weekly-poem/weekly-poem-for-21-february-2017/ I put a good bio on this one

SJ Fowler is a poet and artist. He has published five collections of poetry and been commissioned by Tate Modern, BBC Radio 3, The British Council, Tate Britain and Wellcome Collection. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine, Lecturer at Kingston University, teaches at Tate Modern and is the curator of the Enemies project. He is a high functioning vegan bear, befriends birds and will protect their eggs with electric technologies. Currently he is writing an autobiography of the famous Hyde Park Mud Crow. Find out more about his work on his website.

Notes from Sidekick Books: With this poem we continue our selection of poems from Sidekick Books’ four volumes of Birdbooks. In 2009, with two micro-compendiums under their belt, Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone, the editors at Sidekick, discussed the idea of a book of bird poetry – but one in which less well known species were on equal terms with the popular ones. There are dozens of poems about herons, eagles, ravens and nightingales, not so many about the whimbrel, the ruff, the widgeon or the hobby. Paper-cut artist Lois Cordelia was recruited to give the series its distinctive covers, and over 150 artists and illustrators were commissioned over six years to complete the series. The first volume is now in its second printing. Find out more about the Birdbook series on theSidekick website.

A note on: Visual Art South West - New collection launch in Bristol

http://www.vasw.org.uk/events/the-guide-to-being-bear-aware-a-poetry-collection-by-sj-fowler.php

Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA / 0117 917 2300 boxoffice@arnolfini.org.uk
http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/the-guide-to-being-bear-aware-a-poetry-collection-by-sj-fowler

Thursday 06 April 2017 19:00 - 20:00 Opening Hours: 11:00 - 18:00 Booking recommended
The launch of SJ Fowler’s latest poetry collection The Guide to Being Bear Aware from Bristol-based Shearsman Books, featuring performances and readings from Fowler and guest readers John Hall, Holly Corfield Carr, Paul Hawkins, Phil Owen & more to be announced.

"The Guide to Being Bear Aware offers advice for living in a world gone awry. Wry, violent, contemplative, political, intimate and raucous by turns, these are poems that laze on your lap only to get their claws in... Morphing into unfamiliar shapes beneath the watching eye, these refreshing, quizzical, well-traveled poems forge a world entirely their own: they won’t let you go of you easily.” Sarah Howe http://www.stevenjfowler.com/bearaware

 

A note on: top 10 for 2016 on 3am magazine

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/top-reads-2016-steven-j-fowler/

Vladimir Mayakovsky, Volodya: Selected Works, edited by Rosy Patience Carrick (Enitharmon Press)
I’ve been reading Mayakovsky my whole poetry life, which isn’t that long, but he’s always been important to me, but this volume, well I suppose it did what it was supposed to do – crystallise, refocus, intensify appreciation. It blew me away. I read it cover to cover, twice over, and dipped further. I bought copies for friends who don’t read poetry. It’s artfully edited, beautifully produced, and just the man’s energy, his range, his deep innovation, it sings from the pages. Huge credit to Enitharmon, always a great list – just look to David Gascoyne, Lee Harwood, UA Fanthorpe etc.. – the last few years have been especially exciting times from the Bloomsbury based press.

Vahni Capildeo, Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet)
The significance of Vahni Capildeo’s book doing so amazingly well with prizes and critics is that it is deeply, resonantly complex, intellectual and innovative. It is multifaceted and challenging, insightful but never cloy. This is the modern poetry I have been moaning has not been receiving its due for years. It is a brilliant book, like her last book from Shearsman Books, and the one before that from Eggbox. Suddenly it caught alight in people. I will now shut up about prizes overlooking the actually contemporary / modern / avant-garde. For a few months. Credit to Carcanet too.

Stephen Emmerson, Family Portraits (If P Then Q)
Emmerson is criminally underrated, he should be seen as a major, pioneering figure of the British avant garde and his work from publisher If P Then Q furthers that reputation. It’s a gesture in a book, an austere refusal of the indulgent lyric.

Harry Man, Finders Keepers (Sidekick Books)
A true collaboration with the artist Sophie (which places it close to my heart from the off), this is poetry that is actually mindful of its engagement with ecological themes. As ever with Harry Man the poems are hard to pin down into one literary tradition, he is an original, never obtuse but neither overtly complex. It’s a beautiful book and a real achievement as a project.

Diane Williams, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (CB Editions)
Charles Boyle Editions are a list I follow just on previous form (look to David Markson, JO Morgan, Will Eaves, Francis Ponge etc..) and I have to admit I hadn’t come across Diane Williams before I picked this up. Now I am in deep, her work is everything I look for, and this book really impacted my writing, it’s fiction but it’s poetry too, as I’d deem it – full of expert twists on banal detail, mishearing, disjunction and play. Sophisticated and really funny.

Jen Calleja, Serious Justice (Test Centre)
A great debut, another great book from Test Centre. Her poetry is a intricate, subtle, conversational fusion of Calleja’s expertise, without being reductive, which is punk music and the European high literary tradition. It’s original, vital, memorable, get it.

Tom Jenks, Sublunar (Oystercatcher Press)
Oystercatcher is one of those British presses poets know, and follow, their backlist is a resource and Sublunar from Tom Jenks is a 2016 highlight for me. Jenks is the most exciting conceptual poet I know, but his range is like his prolificism, to be admired. Still the rarified nonsense of publishing once every 7 years lingers around British poetry, just so romantic dinosaurs can insist on their genius as though their poems were faberge eggs made better by their scarcity. Jenks is doing the work to unpick this, publishing brilliantly and frequently. Get everything he’s done.

Luke Kennard, Cain (Penned in the Margins)
A wonderful book, beautiful to behold, dark in its way, witty too, of course, as Kennard’s work has long been lauded – he’s been a feature on the British poetry scene for a decade, massively to his credit traversing many different spaces and practises. This book is really so striking – conceptually clever, and gorgeously designed, as usual, from Penned in the Margins. It won a prize for design in fact. It should win for that which lies within the covers too.

Gabriele Tinti, Last Words (Skira)
Tinti’s book is a service – the project, to record and repatriate suicide notes, and one best received by poetry readers looking for insight often where it resides least, in the thoughts of those who think themselves professionally insightful. Tinti removes the barrier, it’s a difficult read because things are difficult.

Mark Waldron, Meanwhile, Trees (Bloodaxe Books)
Waldron is not underrated, as he’s properly well known, but I have this suspicion he is misunderstood, portrayed as casually, observationally misanthropic almost as though that’s token in a dayglow world of poetry about bees and mushrooms, written while the world burns. His work is intimidatingly poised, beautifully crafted, engaging, thoughtful, wears its intelligence in its technique, lightly and completely absorbing. A highlight from Bloodaxe this year.

A note on: Interview at Poetry Spotlight

Lovely to be featured on Poetry Spotlight's Meet the Poet interview series, chatting about some books out next year and other things. http://poetryspotlight.com/sj-fowler/ There is also a new poem published in the feature from my new book The Guide to Being Bear Aware


Hi Steven. Thanks for taking the time to chat. Congratulations on the publication of your latest collection {Enthusiasm} last year. Can you tell us a bit more about the book and how you feel it compares to The Rottweiler’s Guide to the Dog Owner?

Hello, thanks to you for asking. I’ll have to equivocate a fair bit, but generally speaking {Enthusiasm} is in one way quite a formalist book, in that it’s trying to emphasise how much the meaning in poetry is a meeting of subject and object.

The reader has an enormous role to play in the meaning of a poem through their endless, idiosyncratic individual experience of language and its impossibly intricate potential in their minds and memories. I really wanted people to feel like they had to engage with their own subjective reading of each poem more forcefully, as the poems are pretty consistently, structurally and semantically, frenetic.

In another way, thematically, the book is about death, hence the beautiful cover that the publisher Test Centre sourced for it from the Wellcome archives. It’s different from The Rottweiler’s Guide…, not only because every book I publish is different from the last, which seems intuitive to me, but also because The Rottweiler’s Guide… was more about love.

You’re a poet who seems to thrive on working with others, as evidenced by your recent KFS publications House of Mouse and 1000 Proverbs. I’m curious if there were any differences in your working approach to these collaborations with Prudence Chamberlain and Tom Jenks, and do you feel that mixing up your process is vital to your poetry writing?

I do thrive upon working with others. I find it generative as a poet, but also it’s a form of immediate pedagogy, and I think because I suspect myself to be principally anti-social and misanthropic, it’s a way of continually leaving my comfort zone in order to continue growing as a human being.

The processes with Prue and Tom were different, as I would say every one of my collaborations has been, in that people inevitably vary in the ways they like to work, even in the speed of their replies to emails for example.

Tom and I fired off quick responses to each other, the nature of the work being one line pseudo-proverbs, while Prue and I wrote over a longer time, exchanging large chunks, meeting, editing and working on the material until it became one text where both of us had lost our initial input to the other. It is about circumstance as well as preference, often. Both are brilliant poets and I learned so much from having the chance to write with them.

I feel like my process evolving is something I aspire to, yes. I would like it to always be so. It has a negative effect in practical terms, as many people who might read or discover your work will not be able to put their finger on what it is you’re doing as you lack one clear, consumable aesthetic or motivation. But that can be a benefit in many ways too, depending on what you’re after.

Perhaps the best example of your collaborative spirit is your involvement with The Enemies Project, which has quickly grown into an international phenomenon. What for you have been the most memorable moments of the project and how do you hope it will develop in the future?

That’s generous, thanks. It has been a pleasure to curate. The project has allowed me to discover, collaborate and learn from poets and artists I would never have met otherwise. It has also allowed me to promote many whose work has been considered too ‘difficult’ to be supported, which I’m proud of, and with the big Camarade events, where the atmosphere is so friendly and the work so intense, and the tours, where I’ve shared vans and trains with cohorts of writers all over the world, I feel like I’ve proven that groundbreaking literary and avant-garde work can be generated without snobbery, hierarchy and pomposity.

In terms of the future, I never want the project to have utopian goals – one can only end up disappointed – so I’m going event to event, making sure I still enjoy it, often responding to the ideas of my co-curators. Next year we’ll have another six or seven international projects, European Poetry Night, the English PEN Modern Literature Festival, a cinema and poetry programme, stuff like that.

You also work in an editorial capacity for 3:AM magazine. Do you think the proliferation of online poetry magazines and digital platforms for contemporary poetry in recent years signals a sea change in how readers consume poetry, and what would your response be to crticics who argue that online content like this is ephemeral?

I think critics who might suggest that would be of a certain generation that don’t spend most of their leisure time online, as almost everyone in the western world, under the age of forty, tends to do. I think this isn’t really an issue of online magazines, but of the internet itself.

Profoundly undersold in the literary world, it isn’t an alternative to the book, a ‘platform’ or whatever people say – it is a fundamental revolution in human culture, a global, unregulated communications mainframe, a nervous system for civilisation. The internet also happens to be made up of language, the same material as poetry.

I think it has changed poetry for the better. People already forget how much power some once had, just a few decades ago, by controlling what could be read and defining in that process what was supposedly, objectively, good. Ultimately it’s not a question of how readers consume poetry but how poetry adapts to being, like almost everything else, swept up in the technological revolution.

I understand you have a new artpoem book coming out next year with Stranger Press too entitled I fear my best work behind me featuring illustrations, logograms, and asemic writing. Do you subscribe to the notion that breaking down semantics in this way is an exercise in examining and questioning what exactly constitutes a poem?

I do, and I’m excited about it. Stranger Press is a really good press to work with, Christopher Stephenson does a grand job. I fear my best work behind me is primarily illustrated artworks, brutalist, child-like, comical paintings or abstracts, each with their own handwritten poem built into the work.

Just the fact that the poems are handwritten, often in coloured ink, might, in some people’s minds, make them visual art, rather than poetry. A lot of my work in this area is about my own curiosity. I can’t resist the idea that if I do something as banal as handwrite a poem, rather than print it, in a book, its meaning will change to readers exponentially and be considered experimental.

Context is absolutely equal to content, and yet the common understanding or perception of poetry at the moment, in the UK at least, is entirely focused on the content. Generally we have the same book, paper, font, letter size, language etc. But on that page the white space has meaning, the place of the abstract marking we’ve ascribed meaning to, has import. The logical conclusion of this basic realisation, which permeates all other arts (think film-editing, material and composition in painting etc) is that the poet has the potential to interrogate the context of their language.

So the book explores how image affects language, how they are interconnected, dead space, handwriting and its own aesthetic meaning, and so on. This is old stuff, I know that. I’m deeply interested in poets like Henri Michaux or the CoBrA group, and I’m aware they covered this fifty years ago or more. But it’s exciting to me and hopefully the book has more of a sense of humour than my answer.

Finally, can you tell us a little about the poem you’ve submitted to Poetry Spotlight?

This is from an upcoming collection called The Guide to Being Bear Aware, due out in 2017 with Shearsman Books. I’ve spent the last year or two really rereading poets for the first time, as I only started to read poetry in 2009. I had never looked at it before then. So I’m looping back and rediscovering the world poetry that actually brought me into the field in the first place – poets like MayakovskyEseninHerbertRozewiczCesaireEkelofSeferisSachs

It’s meant my writing has taken on a more conversational tone, maybe a softer tone, accidentally, perhaps ironising the first person, rather than avoiding it as I have done in the past. It’s also a book that’s trying to reflect on the Anthropocene – our relationship to language, consciousness and animals.

Published: two works from Aletta Ocean Empire in The New Post Literate

Michael Jacobsen is doing a grand job at his e-journal The New Post Literate in collecting and documenting contemporary explorations of the asemic poetry and abstract writing which is a big interest and concern of mine in practise and especially in my teaching nowadays.

This will culminate in a new book next year with Blart Books, ( http://blartmagazine.jimdo.com/blart-books/ ) entitled Aletta Ocean Empire. It will bring together a series of hand rendered ink and handwritten abstracts and illustrated texts. Two of the early works have now been published.

http://thenewpostliterate.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/3-excerpts-from-forthcoming-book-aletta.html

A note on: The Long White Thread - poems for John Berger

Delighted to have a new poem, dedicated to the man himself, in this new anthology released for John Berger's 90th birthday by Smokestack Books. http://smokestack-books.co.uk/book.php?book=124

"Novelist, draughtsman, film-maker, essayist and critic – John Berger is one of the major European intellectuals of our time. Since the 1950s he has been challenging the way we see the world and how we think about it in books like Ways of Seeing, Permanent Red, To the Wedding, A Painter of Our Time, Pig Earth, Once in Europa, Lilac and Flag, A Seventh Man, Pages of the Wound and From A to X. In 1972 he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Booker Prize for his novel G. In 2009 he was awarded the Golden PEN award by London PEN for a lifetime’s contribution to literature. His Collected Poems was published in 2014. The Long White Thread of Words is a celebration of John Berger’s ninetieth birthday by poets from all over the world. Edited by Amarjit Chandan, Gareth Evans and Yasmin Gunarat nam, it features poets from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cuba, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Macedonia, Nigeria, Palestine, Spain, Turkey, the USA and the UK"

The bear stands upon its hind legs - SJ Fowler

Metaphor is needed. Metaphor is temporary. It does not replace theory.
            John Berger A Seventh Man

Doubt is the product of a book.

At this point in the film, not believing he’d done it, the interviewer asks the executive whether the project will harm people? Everything in the wrong dose will harm people is the reply....

Published: Birdbook: Saltwater and Shore anthology from Sidekick Books

I'm very pleased to have two poems (on the razorbill and the snow bunting) in the latest Birdbook from Sidekick Books, entitled Saltwater and Shore, edited by Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone (£12.00 + postage, September 2016, 140pp) 
http://www.sidekickbooks.com/birdbookiv.php

Saltwater and Shore is the final volume of Sidekick’s wildly ambitious Birdbook series – a collaborative alternative ornothopedia where every species gets equal billing. This time we find ourselves flung beyond the limits of the island, before being gathered in again at its outcrops, outposts, briny mouths and sandy fringes, where well-established stars like the puffin jostle with the lesser-known knot, scaup and razorbill, the whimbrel, spoonbill and turnstone. It’s a bustling, polyphonic cliffside colony of a book, a multitude of individual voices and dynamic images poised to spill into the air and take flight in the willing imagination.

Featuring poems by friends including Annabel Banks, Vahni Capildeo, Holly Corfield Carr, Rishi Dastadar, Sasha Dugdale, Harry Giles, Kirsten Irving, Jon Stone, David Tait, Kate Wakeling