Beautiful to have this footage from a great collaboration in Krakow this past June. Performance art, video art, poetry, theatre, it was a grand pleasure making the work with Tom and Weronika. For more info www.stevenjfowler.com/krakow
European Literature Night 2015 will be a unique evening of live contemporary literature in Edinburgh, with over 30 poets performing at five events, from a dozen European nations, all on one night. www.theenemiesproject.com/eln
Part of the continent-wide European Literature Night program, held in 75 cities during mid-May, and supported by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature trust, our program brings together some of the most forceful European avant-garde, literary and sound poets, to share their work, to read alongside and to collaborate with a swathe of Edinburgh’s equally brilliant poetry scene.
Four simultaneous events take place in the early evening of Thursday May 14th, around 6pm, with solo readings, before all poets and audiences will congregate at Summerhall for the epic finale of the night, with 11 pairs of poets presenting brand new Camarade collaborations, starting around 8pm.
Every event is free of charge, so join us at The Fruitmarket Gallery, The Saltire Society, The Sutton Gallery and The Forest before seeing the night in at Summerhall, with poets from France, Spain, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Sweden and of course, Scotland.
European Literature Camarade! Summerhall - 8pm doors for an 8.30pm start - Free entry. In the Demonstration room http://www.summerhall.co.uk/2015/unesco-european-literature-night-edinburgh/
Following the amazing success of the Auld Enemies project in Summerhall in 2014, we return to the Demonstration room for the grand finale of this ambitious evening. Brand new collaborative work will be presented by pairs of poets from across the continent. Featuring:
Colin Herd & Iain Morrison
Ryan Van Winkle & Calum Rodger
Graeme Smith & Andres Anwandter
nick-e melville & Anne Laure Coxam
Valgerður Þórodds & Katy Hastie
Esther Strauss & Ann Cotten
SJ Fowler & Jorg Piringer
Max Hofler & Robert Herbert McClean
Eduard Escoffet & Martin Bakero
JL Williams & Jessica Johannesson Gaitán
The Saltire Society Caesura on Sound poetry: supported by the Scottish Poetry Library
6pm - Free Entry https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/connect/events/caesura-31-spl-saltire-society Enjoy some of Europe's most dynamic and pioneering sound poets, coming together for one night to present their innovative musique concrete, from Paris, Barcelona and Vienna. Featuring Eduard Escoffet (Barcelona), Martin Bakero (Paris) Jorg Piringer (Vienna) & curated by Graeme Smith (Edinburgh) as part of the Caesura series.
The Sutton gallery on 20th century art:
6pm - Free entry http://www.thesuttongallery.com Join us for performance art from Esther Strauss (Vienna), readings from Tomasz Mielcarek (Poland), Robert Herbert McClean (Belfast), and the launch of Colin Herd & SJ Fowler's collaborative book Oberwildling: on the life of Oskar Kokoscka, published by the Austrian Cultural Forum all in the environs of one of Edinburgh's most beautiful galleries.
The Fruitmarket Gallery on Possibilities of the Object:
6pm - Free entry http://www.cityofliterature.com/event/european-literature-night-fruitmarket-gallery/ At one of Edinburgh's cultural hubs, The Fruitmarket Gallery, hear readings from Valgerður Þórodds (Reykjavik), Max Hofler (Graz), nick-e melville (Edinburgh), Jean-François Krebs (Paris/Edinburgh) and Iain Morrison (Edinburgh), all responding to the exhibition on display.
The Forest Café on Activism / Craftivism
6pm - Free entry http://www.cityofliterature.com/event/european-literature-night-the-forest-on-activism-craftivism/ At an Edinburgh staple, join Ryan Van Winkle and other Scottish poets, alongside Austrian Ann Cotten, for readings on the theme of activism. Featuring Thomas MacColl, Ed Smith, Rachel McCrum & Ryan Van Winkle (Edinburgh), Katy Hastie & Calum Rodger (Glasgow) & Ann Cotten (Berlin)
European Literature Night is supported by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Scottish Poetry Library & many others.
Poetry at Little Sparta - May 15th 2015
"Set in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work of art. Imbued with a high idea content, the garden is created from the artistic fusion of poetic and sculptural elements with those of the natural landscape which is shaped and changed to become an inherent part of the concepts realised at Little Sparta.” http://www.littlesparta.org.uk
The day following European Literature Night, we will be presenting this unique poetry event at Little Sparta. The performances will begin at 2.30pm and finish 4.30pm, taking the form of a series of short readings given as a tour of the gardens. This will be a unique mini-festival poetry celebration of one of the most extraordinary landscapes in Britain with an amazing array of contemporary European poets.
Readings & acoustic sound performances from Andres Andwandtner, Martin Bakero, Eduard Escoffet, Graeme Smith, Calum Rodger, Ryan Van Winkle, SJ Fowler, Colin Herd, Iain Morrison, Esther Strauss, Katy Hastie, Robert Herbert McClean, nick-e melville, Valgerður Þórodds & more.
Please note entrance to the garden is £10 and if you can't make your own way, you can join the poets on a pre-booked coach to the location by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The coach will meet at 1pm in Edinburgh city centre, at Waterloo place, and depart Little Sparta at 5pm. All are welcome. Thanks to the Little Sparta Trust, Calum Gardner & Graeme Smith.
I said farewell to Nell and Bee and the others who made up the official part of my trip, having chosen to stay on an extra series of days and see those I met last year and moved into a new, smaller, more ordinary hotel in Roma, a more youthful neighborhood. No one helping me now, strange to get used to cars picking you up and people shepherding you to events. I had more time to write and rest, still a bit weak. The first day 'alone' I did three readings and must have met a hundred new friends.
First we read in the Condessa, launching the beautifully produced Enemigos anthology, what began my ties with Mexico in the first place really. We had 8 poets from London and 8 from Mexico City butcher each others works with the radical translations at the heart of the collection. To see it in print was very gratifying. I saw Ari Chavez Chacon again, who helped me so much in 2013, a brilliant artist herself and a friend, and Jack Little, the Newcastle born poet who has lived here for 4 years, and who runs the Ofi press.
After a long lunch where I really got to talk with the wonderful Amanda de la Garza and Rodolfo Matas, and Ana Franco Ortuna, we headed to the Casa del Lago, an amazing and much lauded poetry venue right on the lake of the Chapultepec park, in the heart of the city. Apparently this ornate lakehouse had housed everyone from Paz onwards, and we set up as a panel to read from and talk about Enemigos. I met Gaspar Orozco here too, diplomat and poet and punk singer, not something I'd think possible in England. The audience was made up of families, a photography class and well wishers. I found it enjoyable, still full of cold, to be rather light hearted with the discussions, but reading the work of my dear friend Tom Raworth I felt quite sad he wasn't with me in the city he resided in during the 70s. We finished the day in a mescal bar, the Mexican hospitality raging as a thunderstorm wracked the city.
I spent much of the next few days simply exploring the city, walking for many hours at a time, intermittently meeting friends like Jack, Ari and Rocio Ceron, and others, and getting to know Roma and la Condessa. It's been a long time since I've had days almost alone, unbusied. All things require adjustment. I spent the last day, the day I write this on, mostly in the anthropological museum. Famed for its grandiose architecture and epic displays, I spent the better part of 5 hours wandering the halls. But again the shadow came back. It was too intense, I became almost entranced, a bit sick even. I had to read every panel almost, to satisfy myself. I didn't take a single picture. There is a richness to the rendering, the animals, the faces of death, to the dwarfed gurning humans, to the very process and intent of the artwork of the indigenous civilisations of Mexico that is like the sensation I had experienced when being unable to escape the potential of the worst suffering and fear and occlusion that this country can produce. It is something of an intoxicant, and for now, just for now, I am okay with going home to London,
What an incredible job Edgardo Dander did capturing this reading at the Laboratorio Arte Alameda in Mexico city, just over a week ago. Amanda de la Garza looks so beautiful, and is so captivating, reading her transliterations of my poems. And Nomeda's video responses to the work are breathtaking. & finallu Playing the straight man, hamming it up theatre GCSE style, was well worth it to bring out the incredible Pester skills, so funny, I could barely keep a face straight.
Holly and I then met up and walked down to Regina again to eat and sit and talk. The hours passed before we did a final circle of the Alameda and the Madero before catching our cab to the airport and flying 11 hours through the night. What can be said about the hospitality, warmth, generosity and energy of those who have gone far out of their way to host and befriend us in Mexico? One of the best trips of my life. Thanks to Ari, Ed, Rocio, Amanda, Itzel, Eliza, Adrian, Jack and many others. I hope to return, soon.
We soundchecked, looked after by the amazing staff of the cultural centre, and Ari, from Festival Expandibles, and really sat in the size of the hall, an amazing venue. Ari and I then took to the cathedral square, to get my face painted as a Calavera, to pay true homage to the fact that the performance was taking place on the day of the dead. The family doing the face painting, for 50 pesos, were cholos apparently, a gangster family. The girl who did my makeup couldn't have been more than 10 years old.
The show ended up going very well, and certainly left us on a high. There is something shared in the act of performance, and in the act of collaboration, that brings you intensely close to someone, and Holly and I having known each other for years, seen each others work for years, and spent a load of time together, but without ever having collaborated before, meant this crescendo was all the more powerful. Holly was on special form, it was all I could do to keep up with her! So much in that piece, too much to write about, hoping to get the video sometime soon. Suffice to say we covered translations, prisons, ravens, volcanoes, shanties, jaguars, and massive projected sexy pictures of me shampooing my hair amongst many other things.
The audience wasn't huge, but this seems to be in the inverse of the immense Mexican hospitality. If you phone someone on 20 minutes notice they will meet you for coffee and take you around the city or their home, but if you set a date and time, they probably won't make it. None the less many of the people in the city we met and admired did make it, which was amazing. We all went for food afterwards in the cultural centre restaurant where we had been spongeing all week with meal tickets, and then we wandered down to the beautiful Regina street where we closed out our last night in Mexico city in an appropriately buoyant, satisfied, slightly exhausted mood. The day of the dead was over too.
Holly and I made our way to the Labatorio Arte Alameda next to Alameda park where the Enemigos performance would be. A famous avant garde venue apparently, it was a remarkable space inside of a giant yellow church, a big black cube. While we waited for Mexican time to catch up with Greenwich Mean Time we went to a cafe where a man had a hat on with rabbit ears and then his fellow waiter picked up an accordian and played it with such beauty.. i was terribly heartsick for my romanian, he played romany tunes! I finally met Amanda de la Garza, who I'd written with for the Enemigos anthology, we had transliterated each other's poetry. She was remarkably friendly and charming and talented, she is a curator at the contemporary art gallery in the city and has a clearly powerful poetic presence, as well as incredible freckles, el tigre. Also there was a frog on the coffee machine in the cafe and some sort of creature next to it, see below
The Enemigos evening, the reading, were grand. Amanda, Rocio, Holly and I popped up throughout the night, to a nice intimate crowd. Amanda did a great piece with a typewriter, her poem 'dictated' as she read, and she read her transliterations after I'd read three poems from the anthology, Atacama, the one about James Harvey and the one about Newquay. We had a VJ all night collaborating too, showing videos behind us as we read, he was amazing www.vimeo.com/nomadaspace Rocio showed some of her new work, which was very beautiful and then to close, Holly and I did an improvisational piece, on an hours notice! We came up with it fast. She sat in the dark and said mean things to me while i sat in the light and said nice things to her. They dont get our humour really so it ended up being like a drama exercise! i acted so heartbroken that i made one of the sweet Mexicans weeep! haha, maybe I should be a fucking actor. It was fun though, being restrained and not being able to verbally abuse Holly as I wanted to. This picture to the left is of the audience while Amanda read one of the transliterations.
No one knows who built the pyramids or why, the aztecs just found them later on. The complex is enormous. We did the sun temple, a hard steep step climb, with groin sweats on, and then the moon temple. Holly takes lots of self pictures. There were loads of stray dogs, racing each other. I bought a Jaguar flute, that makes one of the most obnoxiously entertaining noises you can imagine, and seems to have a curse that once you buy one you have to keep fucking blowing it in the ears of strangers. Human slavery was put to epic use. The spirituality of the place was somewhat mauled by tourists, but it didnt matter, the day was gentle, calm, sunny with a sprinkle of rain god / dog.
We then were accompanied again by the lovely Ari, el pandarhia, and walked a fair swathe of the city, from the historical centre down the Alameda central and onto the reforma (a massive avenue de avenue), through the Zona Rosa (which is full of gay people and prostitutes apparently but seemed to me like a quaint, upmarket shopping district) and then into the Condesa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condesa very much famed for its trendy ways. We visited the American legion and their English language bookshop http://underthevolcanobooks.com/, which had loads of amazing writers and then doubled a mochacino in a trendy cafe. I left Holly as she was meeting a mate of a mate and walked back to the hotel in the dusk / darkness on the massive glowing streets of the city, music in my ears.
We go to meet Jack Little in the evening. Just such a fundamentally decent, warm hearted, open, hospitable soul. Amazing to spend hours with him, with a view over the city and then from a near cantina in the old town, just listening to how he found himself in Mexico City, 22 years of age, now his home, having perfect Spanish, mexican family around him, years past and how poetry became his passion in the years spent in Mexico, despite his mother being a really well known and established poet in the UK. Just an humbling experience to spend time with someone so outgoing, positive, human. Really the day is a day of two generous people who live in this city, giving something of their home over to us, allowing us new eyes to a place so big and intense it can blind you. Here's some of Jack's work on 3am http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/two-poems-jack-little/ and his remarkable Ofi press, where he published this interview we did awhile back http://theofipress.webs.com/fowlersteven.htm