A note on : An Invisible Poetry - my solo show at The Poetry Society

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An Invisible Poetry : SJ Fowler The Poetry Society Cafe
July 1st to 27th 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX
Opening Hours 11am to 10pm everyday bar sunday.
poetrysociety.org.uk/poetry-cafe/exhibitions/future-exhibition/

A pleasure to have my third solo exhibition (I’m actually really happy with it) in London take on the walls of the Poetry Society in Covent Garden, in their Poetry Cafe. The exhibition brings together new and existing poems, drawing together my explorations in the hand-made since late 2017.

Waaaay more info www.stevenjfowler.com/invisible

“A visual poem should be visible, yet it seems it’s often not so. In this solo exhibition of new painterly poems, SJ Fowler asks questions so manifest they are almost indiscernible. What is in the shape of a letter and what images do words recall?

A note on the installation of An Invisible Poetry : June 30th 2019 On the morning of June 30th, installation day, early on a sunday after the hottest day of the year, the poets who are kindly contributing to the Poet Brut group downstairs, friends and peers, were not only gracious and kind in the setting of their show, but immensely helpful with my own. They stayed for hours helping me create it, truly. For I am terrible at installations and such things, I rush them and cannot judge spatial meaning without falling into the desire for it to be deliberately messed so viewers think it accidently. The eyes and hands of Astra, Simon, Vilde, Patrick and Imogen made what should have been a chore into a really fun experience. All of this was really underpinned by the hospitality of Michael Sims, of the Poetry Society. He really deserves great praise. He could not have done more to help and facilitate ideas and offer advice. He made me feel my work was welcome in the space, and the institution, which isn’t a small thing.

A note on : An Invisible Poetry : exhibition at Poetry Society

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….so this is pretty great. For the month of July I’ll be presenting a mix of new works made specifically for the Poetry Society Cafe space, including window poems and sculptural pieces, alongside a selection from my five poem brut books. I will also be curating a group show alongside my solo show, as the exhibition space has two floors. Both shows, but especially the group show, will firmly be a part of what I’ve tried to do with Poem Brut as a project - that is to make available ideas and methods of poetry is a way that is liberating and not judgemental to those who perhaps don’t find mess and play so appealing as I.

The Poetry Society, especially Michael Sims, have been hugely generous and supportive, and accommodating, and it bodes well that this summer month can be spent in the space, which is open six days a week, nearly 12 hours a day.

AN INVISIBLE POETRY : JULY 1ST TO JULY 27TH
a new solo show of paint and sculpture poems at The Poetry Society Cafe in Covent Garden 
https://poetrysociety.org.uk/poetry-cafe/exhibitions/future-exhibition/

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The Poetry Society Cafe : July 1st to 27th / 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX
Opening Hours 11am to 10pm everyday bar sunday. www.stevenjfowler.com/invisible

"A visual poem should be visible, yet it seems it’s often not so. In this solo exhibition of new painterly poems, SJ Fowler asks questions so manifest they are almost indiscernible. What is in the shape of a letter and what images do words recall? What is the meaning of colour in poetry, and where went the handwritten word? Where is mess, notation, scrawling and material? Why is composition strange to an art-form that is as visual as it is sonic? An Invisible Poetry presents new sculptural poems and original visual literature alongside a selection from Fowler's Poem Brut project and its accompanying series of publications from Hesterglock Press, Stranger Press, ZimZalla and Penteract Press. These are poems exploring handwriting, abstraction, illustration, pansemia, scribbling and scrawling." 

Special View Performance Event - July 8th 2019 : 7pm doors for 7.30pm start. Free entry. & // This is a split exhibition, as in the basement gallery of the Poetry Society I am curating a group show - The Poet's Brut www.poembrut.com/poetrysociety

The Poet’s Brut : A group show with Chris McCabe, Paul Hawkins, Astra Papachristodoulos, Karen Sandhu, Simon Tyrrell, Imogen Reid, Vilde Torset and Patrick Cosgrove www.poembrut.com/poetrysociety

Brand new works exhibited by seven of the UK's most exciting contemporary poets. Poem Brut project has generated over a dozen events since 2017, alongside multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences, publications and over 1000 submissions to it’s 3am magazine series. It advocates for an artistic creative writing, a visual literature, a concrete poetry - poetry that embraces colour, the handwritten, the composed, the abstract, the scribbled, the noted, the illustrated. Poem Brut affirms the possibilities of the page, the pen, and the pencil (and the crayon) for the poet in a computer age, and celebrates these ideas in the live realm alongside the two dimensional. This group show evidences a new generation of poets working in old traditions often forgotten or nudged into the realm of modern art. http://www.poembrut.com/exhibitions

A note on: Poem Brut at National Poetry Library

Fun was had in the wonder library of london. I love this library. It is a pure space. A space of generosity and discovery. I had the pleasure too to work with my friend pascal o'loughlin and the lovely jessica atkinson, librarians, in developing a special edition event. This time the event was part of my poem brut series, which asks poets often on the margins of what people think poetry is, to produce works that entirely concerned with liveness and material. Liveness in time, in language, in motion. Proper performance. Organically weird then, weird in a way that the world is weird. But also weird in such a range of ways. Saradha Soobrayen, Chrissy Williams, Patrick Cosgrove, Maja Jantar, Harry Man. They were all magic. And we had a packed out house, a nice audience of people, some of whom were suspicious, but in a way that made me trust them all the more.

My performance was a little naff, but something playing with ideas Ive had for awhile. I used a friend of mine, a chatimal, to repeat back words that I had said, to undercut the pompous tone of the recital. I read from in the stacks. I tried to asphyxiate myself. It was a good time.

A note on: Poem Brut at Writers' Centre Kingston

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One of the things about curating an event is that you are fundamentally responsible for where it takes place. So when you arrive at a venue and it's locked and dark and down an alleyway next to the Thames off Kingston's market square, and it remains so for an hour, right up until people start arriving, you are aware that it might irk those who have made the effort to come out on a thursday night. That being said, as the event was a Poem Brut performance, it did seem to some that it was a deliberate act on my part, a conceptual investigation of what a literary event is. Some thought I planned it so performances would happen in the dark, in the cold, by the river. They were thrown when I walked the entire audience across the town like a grumpy pied piper to a new venue I had rustled up on the spot. To the endless credit of the audience, it seemed to do something positive to the proceedings, bonding people, creating a peripatetic unity. The performances that followed were brilliant, five new works in the poem brut style - challenging and inventing upon the possibilities of literature made live. Ink spitting, dog translations, mannequin pinning and canvas shredding. The poem brut events I have been running have restored my excitement for curating events, which I perhaps do too often, and it was grand to bring this energy to Kingston Uni for the Writers' Centre and the students. I'll do it again for the next year of events, as I realised, as the night unfolded in a rather clinical lecture theatre, that Iris Colomb gobbing ink onto a page and then reading it was perhaps the exact antidote to the lectures that had left there trace in the room. All the videos www.writerscentrekingston.com/poembrut

A note on: Museum of Futures: Scribbling & Scrawling exhibition ends

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.

www.writerscentrekingston.com/futures lots more about the exhibition on the site, as well as the launch event here www.writerscentrekingston.com/making

A note on : Poem Brut reviewed on Tentacular Magazine

Lovely to have this write up of my poem brut project appear on Tentacular Magazine, recounting some of the issues of the series on 3am magazine https://www.tentacularmag.com/elsewhere-blog/brut

The sparkling Poem Brut

Poem Brut is a colourful and stimulating celebration of what lies at the intersection of the poetic page and the artwork.  Curated by SJ Fowler, it’s a series of events, exhibitions, and publications – but here I’ll focus on some of the 29 works (so far) represented online in 3am magazine. 

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What’s impressive is the reach of the community that Fowler has assembled and is playing an important part in creating, from Tallinn to Toronto and Trinidad.  Trinidad is the source of Andre Bagoo’s compelling ‘Scarlet Ibis’, where the placing of bright red rectangles over what we might assume to be lines of experimental text seems such a simple act, but invests the page with an animate quality, a jauntiness and inscrutability that may or may not be features of Trinidad and Tobago’s national bird. The work compels a kind of double longing, both for the text beneath, and for the identity and energy of pure colour, in what may also be a metaphor for (resistance to) the blood and erasure of a colonial past.........."

A note on: Poem Brut at Rich Mix III was a powerful night

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The third poem brut event I've held at Rich Mix continues the project's momentum, and in so doing, keeps restoring my faith in the concept which motivates these live happenings - that is, if we concern ourselves with the actual material of live performance, time / space / aliveness / physical presence etc..., what possibilities are there for the poem to become itself, and not some hackneyed, overtly controlled syphoning of experience into language? I had become, in a slight way, slightly overly familiar with the events I had been curating, it's why I instigated Poem Brut after years of The Enemies Project, and nights like this, communal, friendly, busy with people (nearly 100 in attendance again), led by particularly wide ranging and challenging work, keep my heart afloat that this is work that needs doing. The positivity from the audience and participants really meant a lot to me, really made me consider carefully what it is I've tried to build and what I should do in the future.

We had poets visiting from Trinidad, Berlin, Estonia, Austria, America and it was gratifying they all said they had never experienced an event like this before. All the performances can be viewed https://www.poembrut.com/richmix3

Poem Brut is an exploration of poetry and colour, handwriting, composition, abstraction, scribbling, and illustration, affirming the possibilities of the page, the pen, the pencil - in a computer age - generating over a dozen events, multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences and publications.  3am magazine, a partner in the project, is also running open call for new works that fit within the tradition

Published: Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire

I'm happy to announce the release of my new art book, from Hesterglock Press, released in limited-edition hardback first-print of just 40 copies, 20 of which have sold so far. The book is available to purchase here - Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire from my bigcartel page.

"A book that asks, abstractly, are letters shaped like bodies? Can words evoke faces, captured in a screen? Who, or what, is assimilating, who or what? Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire is a collection of art poems, hand wrought in black, grey, silver and white, fashioned with indian ink, paint and pen, worked with techniques that edge around writing, vying with abstraction, constantly harrying semantic meaning and legibility. 

Five years in the making, conceptually this is a book about sex, poetry and pornography and the disconnect between the former and the latter. These pages explore technology in its absence and aim to evidence the power of materiality and the body, and our hands, that are still required for touch."

"Searching AOAE online (Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire) shows a YouTube clip of Japanese cats mating. What's a word in any case if not a monster? A monster that eats words. The toner explodes on the office carpet spilling out a perfectly formed oeuvre. Serifs skywrite like migrating gannets. The rorschach accidentally tells you what to think. The printed facsimile becomes original when the world goes JavaScript. The dollar sign is a duck walking backwards into a lake. The ATM dispenses glyphs. How do we know people have faces when they take the day off work? The tank rolls over the charcoal leaving a map of Iraq or a new version of Cathay. We're back in the world of Artaud's final journal where, thank fuck (and at last) we're not being told what to think. Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire is an almighty triumph, a well-earned relief. Picasso said it took a lifetime to learn to paint like a child. Or, for that matter, like the mad." Chris McCabe

A note on: latest poetry on 3am magazine

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It's been a good time to be getting submissions for 3am's poetry section. Seems what I've been trying to do over the years has stuck a little, and so much of the work I'm getting is brilliant. So more than usual has been published, and this is in no small part down to the Poem Brut and Duos series, being the only poetry I'm accepting at the mo. As ever there's a big backlog, so much more to come soon. Since September 2017...

Published: a new essay on The Learned Pig

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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

https://www.thelearnedpig.org/on-time-and-mess/5477

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 note on: Poem Brut III at Rich Mix and smashing closed my exhibition

Another remarkable night for the Poem Brut events. There is a community forming around the notion of literary performance through these events which is warm and welcoming but is producing some challenging, though often very funny, poetry. It feels, though early in the Poem Brut project which took years to begin, that the concept of the events, like with The Enemies Project, has grand potential.

The event also saw the closing of my exhibition Hard to Read. It was a privilege to have space at the Rich Mix for a whole month, but the exhibition was a collecting of previous things rather than a showing of that which is new, so I felt I needed to close it down with something memorable. 

Poem Brut : blog #2 - Brut at Rich Mix - Nov 25th

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Poem Brut at Rich Mix : November Saturday 25th 2017 : 7pm - Free entry
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA www.richmix.org.uk/events/spoken-word/poem-brut-i

A literary event celebrating of the visual, visceral, messy, handwritten and colourful in poetry with new unique commissions from writers exploring alternate ways of making literature. Each presentation will be different from the last, with readings, performances and talks alongside pop up exhibits, interactions, video poems and more. 

Featuring new works from Harry Man, Imogen Reid, Stephen Emmerson, Hiromi Suzuki, Paul Hawkins, Chloe Spicer, Kate Wakeling, Christian Patracchini, Patrick Cosgrove and Christopher Stephenson. These works will explore the possibilities of literature and liveness, responding to the page and to the act of writing itself.

Commissions include explorations of erasure and lettering, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and poetry, video poems, gif poems, passive reading, children's languages, abstract illustration and more.

Poem Brut is an exploration of poetry and colour, handwriting, composition, abstraction, scribbling, and illustration, affirming the possibilities of the page, the pen, the pencil - in a computer age - generating over a dozen events, multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences and publications.  Our first event will be followed by an exhibition - Hard to Read - also at the Rich Mix, opening December 9th. 3am magazine, a partner in the project, is also running open call for new works that fit within the tradition. Future events:

A note on: Duos & The Poem Brut - two new open calls on 3am magazine

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/submissions/

Poetry
Note: Poetry submissions are open only for the Duos and Poem Brut series. No other submissions will be read.

  • Duos: collaborative poems written / made by two poets. There is no criteria for the poems or process. Please send a single bio and single photo for both authors.
  • Poem Brut: poems exploring handwriting, abstraction, illustration, asemic and pansemic writing, visual poetry and material process, colour, scribbling, scrawlings, crossings out, ink, forgotten notes, found text, interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, geometric poems, inarticulate poems, minimalism, collage, toilet wall writing. No works produced on a computer.

Published: Three new poem bruts in Hotel Magazine

A really brilliant magazine is Hotel, and they've once again generously published some of my new art poems or poem bruts which will form the major output of my work over the next year or so, with a series of events at Rich Mix and four new limited edition books. These three works are taken from the book New Prim. 

http://partisanhotel.co.uk/S-J-Fowler-Poem-Brut-ii

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.

Published: 3 poem-bruts on Partisan Hotel

Very happy the brilliant Partisan Hotel magazine have published a set of three of my poem-brut artpoems, all taken from my upcoming Stranger Press book 'I fear my best work behind me' due out in the summer. http://partisanhotel.co.uk/S-J-Fowler

From the magazine bio "These works are taken from his trilogy of books in the poem-brut tradition, exploring ready writing materials, the composition of handwriting and mark making and the role of illustration and legibility in determining poetic meaning. The three books are to be published in 2017 and are entitled I fear my best work behind me (Stranger Press), New prim (Hesterglock Press) and Aletta Ocean Empire (Blart Books). A sequence of Fowler’s poems will appear in Hotel #2."