A note on : Munich with the British Council

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A few days in Munich thanks to the hospitality of Elke Ritt and the British Council in Germany, this was a chance to develop a project that I hope will become a significant moment in contemporary British innovative poetry in Europe. Proposed by myself and Chris McCabe, it centres around an exhibition of English Concrete poetry in Munich, that will trace the visual poetry revolution of the 50s through to those making the work on the island now, whom are not greatly well known beyond the UK. It will connect to German vispo too, but vitally, it will show the range of poetic practise that has emanated from visual innovation. From performance, to conceptual work, from kinetic poetry to installation. These few days were spent discussing the idea, touring the beautiful city and meeting some brilliant folk. Discovering the Lyrik Kabinett was a revelation, a library gallery event space, with a really progressive understanding of poetry and art together, and visiting the grand Literaturhaus once again reminded me of what we’re missing, not having these institutions, in the UK. Once again, I’m lucky to be working with the British Council and after this beginning, hopefully this ambitious idea comes to fruition next year. 

A note on: Curating the Museum of Futures Visual Poetry Exhibition

I conceived of this exhibition for multiple reasons. The first, I wanted to invest in the place. I've been teaching at Kingston University for a few years and wanted to create a platform in the area, outside of London (just) where those living or studying local felt that not everything was east of them, in the city, that there was some focus on the place as other than a place to visit, but to reside, creatively. Second because I wanted students and faculty from across departments to connect, from across ages and years and practises, and I wanted this to happen in the context of the many brilliant poets and artists who were also not associated with the Uni. Too often we're all in our own boxes, in all things, but especially in the pace of teaching or studying. Thirdly, I had hoped new friendships and collaborative relationships would begin and by placing students work next to those who are ostensibly professionals, that many students would take inspiration from that, would get permission to experiment, to follow their own noses, and that it would as a project show them they could go into spaces beyond the university. This is often a problem too, that students feel too safe at university creatively, and this comes to bear painfully when they graduate. Fourthly I had built some fantastic connections with a specific group of students, both undergraduate and postgraduate whom I felt deserved the opportunity to do something special, or unique certainly, and I knew I could rely on them to help me, to make it a collective enterprise. This proved true. And finally, I wanted the actual aesthetic content of the exhibition to be innovative, to explore the potential of text beyond the book, or the visual to be read as a text. In the end we had 40 works of a really striking standard, the exhibition looks genuinely engaging, original and beautiful.

Museum of Futures themselves, Simon Tyrell and Robin Hutchinson, introduced to me by the brilliant Lucy Furlong, were amazingly supportive, doing great work. Myself and the student co-curators, especially Molly Bergin, Olga Kolesnikova and Matt Navey, had a laugh putting it all together on a windy Wednesday in Surbiton. There is real camaraderie to be found in this kind of project. And the opening night was amazing, gratifying. The room was so full someone feinted. Packed to the gills we listened to a host of new collaborative readings I had commissioned for the night and I got to make new friends as well as seeing some of my favourite people, old friends and talents like Thomas Duggan, Alexander Kell and Camilla Nelson. The readings were great and the sense of community, of purpose and excitement was palpable. A special project all told.

All the reading videos and pictures are, or will be, here www.theenemiesproject.com/futures

Upcoming: a language art - a course at Tate Modern

A Language Art: a course at Tate Modern

Avant-garde Poetry & Modern Art, in the galleries

Mondays, 26 October – 30 November 2015, 18.45–20.45,
session on Monday 9th November at Tate Britain
£150, concessions available

Book online using this link: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/courses-and-workshops/language-art-avant-garde-poetry-and-modern-art

I'm delighted to be leading a course for Tate Modern this winter, where over six weeks, we will explore the intersections between the post-war traditions of modern art and avant-garde poetry.

Discovering poets and artists from the Tate collection who make use of language, sound, space, printing and writing, this course reveals how these practises are fundamental to both arts. A detailed course breakdown is available here: http://www.stevenjfowler.com/alanguageart/

Sessions are based within the galleries of Tate Modern in the presence of works by Gerhard Richter, Li Yuan-Chia and RB Kitaj amongst others, which bring to light some of the great moments in modern art and poetry that have enriched the traditions of both writing and art-making. Each week participants are also introduced to contemporary examples of work inspired by those held in the Tate Collection, as well as encouraged to create and share their own avant-garde poetry and text art in the extraordinary environment of the museum. One session is held at Tate Britain and includes the chance to explore Tate’s Prints and Drawings Rooms.

This course is for people interested in developing their own skills and understanding of experimental poetry and modern and contemporary art practises, and the onus of the course is on how these great moments in modern art and poetry can enrich writing and art-making practise, rather than dense historical analysis. It’s a rare chance to excavate avant- garde poetry in such a setting, and each week participants will have the chance to create new works in the extraordinary environment of the Tate Modern’s galleries.

my poem in the New Concrete anthology

The most beautiful anthology I've been a part of, my poem is rendered wonderfully in this major achievement, summing up the best of 21st century concrete poetry. You can buy the book here http://shop.southbankcentre.co.uk/the-new-concrete-visual-poetry-in-the-21st-century.html & it'll be launched here http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/events/new-concrete/

The New Concrete anthology: launch at the Whitechapel Gallery - July 25th

This is the most significant anthology of concrete poetry of my generation. I'm delighted to be included, and alongside many friends / peers - Antonio Claudio Carvalho,  Marco Giovenale, Tom Jenks, Sarah Kelly, John Kinsella, Anatol Knotek, Márton Koppány, nick-e melville, and Jörg Piringer  & legends like Vito Acconci, Augusto de Campos, Henri Chopin, Bob Cobbing, Ian Hamilton Finlay https://thenewconcrete.wordpress.com/about

"The New Concrete is a major new anthology of visual poetry edited by Victoria Bean and Chris McCabe and published by Hayward Publishing (July 2015). The book represents visual poetry published from 2000 to the present day and suggests ways in which the original concrete movement of the 1950s and ’60s has been built upon, developed and redefined by subsequent generations of poets and artists." You can buy it here http://shop.southbankcentre.co.uk/the-new-concrete-visual-poetry-in-the-21st-century.html

The anthology will be launched in a full whack 5 hours programme at the whitechapel gallery on July 25th http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/events/new-concrete/ I'll be performing "Join us for an afternoon of film and live performance showcasing some of the most exciting work in this field. The event brings together some of the most celebrated poets and artists working at the intersection of visual art and poetry."

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

This two week exhibition, which focuses the Feinde: Austrian Enemies project (which has four events in 2 cities over two weeks) right in the heart of London, in the Kings Cross based Hardy Tree Gallery is a wonderful opportunity for me to bring together over a dozen new visual poetry artworks in exhibition, all from contemporary artists, with a decided nod to the legacy of the British and Austrian postwar Concrete poetry pioneers. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/feinde

http://hardytreegallery.com 119 Pancras Road. London, UK. NW1 1UN : 
Gallery Hours - Thursday to Sunday Midday to 6pm.


Poets like Bob Cobbing, Edwin Morgan, HC Artmann, Friedrich Achleitner, Konrad Bayer & Gerhard Rühm have had an indelible influence on contemporary visual poets who are able to interrogate visuality, materiality and the very appearance of their language. I have taught their works at the Poetry school and Kingston University, and this exhibition is a way for me to bring together some of the work that evidences the necessity of this movement and how it can compliment everybody's work. This is a huge part of the exhibition, that the poets involved are not just Concrete poets, they work across poetic methodologies. We owe this flexibility disproportionately to the poets working in Austria and the UK from that period.

The exhibition will feature works by Anatol Knotek, Victoria Bean, Peter Jaeger, Fabian Macpherson, Tim Atkins, Jeff Hilson, Nat Raha, Sophie Collins, Esther Strauss, Robert Herbert McClean, Ann Cotten, Prudence Chamberlain, Simon Barraclough, Max Hoefler and many others.

The opening hours will be Thursday to Sunday midday to 6pm, and we have a special view reading on Sunday May 10th, beginning at 7pm, free entry, with many of the exhibitors and readings from Emma Hammond, Cristine Brache & Ollie Evans.

Thanks to the Austrian Cultural Forum in London
www.acflondon.org

Chris McCabe blogs on POW series 4 & my Vikings

a well needed and thorough review of the final part of Antonio Claudio Carvalho's masterful series.

p.o.w. complete series
The penultimate p.o.w. takes us directly into the heart of visual language and does so through a challenging emotive language.vikings by s.j. fowler is an anachronistic Anglo-Saxon poem spelt out through runic images. Fowler uses his biographical note to tell us that "he is of viking heritage, and his middle name is Bjorn, which means bear". The poems drives through an end-of-the-world landscape describing a violent love encounter with a woman called Erika. The poet captures the savagery of the viking death desire, as if language is the container in which all the offshoots of their hand-to-mouth struggles was captured in. This landscape of movement, uncertainty, lust and danger is propelled forwards through the compounded, a-syntactic language and the shifts in font type and size. The poem, it could be argued, represents a fierce and honest struggle with the self, although it concludes quite beautifully : "I shine only for you, dove / it's / time to introduce / my distant pres- / ent past into / the pres- / ent".

Vikings are here! POW published my poetry poster art

One of the publications I am most proud of, without a doubt. Finally Ive managed to produce something, outside of collaboration, which is as satisfying visually as it is textually, to me at least. These are six poems rendered in the shape of the first six magical letters of the Elder runic alphabet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_Futhark The Futhark, left behind by the norsemen as a incantational representation of something I am bonded to, as an urge, but am happy to misunderstand and rerender as a plate for my own warping language. This is but the first of many interactions my poetry will have with Vikings in the next few years, a subject in my blood, and the first poetry I was exposed to by my dad, the Sagas. 

"The invention of the script has been ascribed to a single person[9] or a group of people who had come into contact with Roman culture, maybe as mercenaries in the Roman army, or as merchants. The script was clearly designed for epigraphic purposes, but opinions differ in stressing either magical, practical or simply playful (graffiti) aspects. Bæksted 1952, p. 134 concludes that in its earliest stage, the runic script was an "artificial, playful, not really needed imitation of the Roman script", much like the Germanic bracteates were directly influenced by Roman currency, a view that is accepted by Odenstedt 1990, p. 171 in the light of the very primitive nature of the earliest (2nd to 4th century) inscription corpus."

All the better that this work should be with Antonio Claudio Carvalho's remarkable POW series. These are poetry poster artworks, far too underappreciated, emanating out of Brazil via Edinburgh, and taking in 26 authors in their finality, now, with my Vikings being the 25th, and Hansjorg Mayer the 26th! Incredible, and with Chris McCabe, Peter Finch, Augusto de Campos and so many great others coming before, I am privileged to be in such company. I owe Antonio such a debt for the commission, it really challenged me to grow as a poet who is also an artist in aspiration. Thanks too to Anatol Knotek, ever aiding in my technical ambitions. 
So exciting these posters will be launched and available soon, and part of the upcoming Translation Games project, with the special edition poetry library event on march 5th. Check out Ricarda Vidal's great post on the series, with more examples, here http://ricardavidal.com/test/translation-games/pow/

Enemies: POW

Our second to last reading of the fortnight was the quietest but undoubtedly retained the intimacy and warmth and community empowerment that has been so indicative of the whole endeavour. The project it celebrated, Antonio Claudio Carvalho's deeply underappreciated Poetry / Oppose / War series is so remarkably beautiful it needs to be seen to be believed. It consists of three, six poster series that harks back to Hansjorg Mayer's Futura series, and evokes the great heyday of the Concrete poetry movement. The posters are of an exceptionally high production and print quality that each becomes an art object in itself, and when faced with all 18 you can't help but marvel at the achievement.