A note on : Two new courses for Poetry School - European Poetry Now!

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I'm delighted to be returning to teaching at the Poetry School, after nearly two years away from the fold. It is a place where I have met some of the finest poets and humans I've come across in this tiny tiny world. In the spring 2018 I am running two separate but intertwined courses. Please do book one of them and come be a part of our continent still yes.

You can see all my Poetry School experiences, including these below here www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool


European Poetry Now (& Then) – International Course

Online Course Celebrate and explore the best-kept secrets in innovative, contemporary European poetry https://poetryschool.com/courses/zur-holle-european-poetry-now-international-course/

As the UK sadly divorces itself from the EU, this course with SJ Fowler, director of London’s European Poetry Festival (April 2018), abjures further divisions by embracing (and reclaiming) contemporary European poetry. In this course you will be introduced to dozens of working poets and multifarious traditions, drawing on modern poetic history and with an emphasis on the radical, experimental and avant-garde. Exploring constraint, concrete, visual, sound, performance and language poetry, this is a chance to gain access to poetic cultures and scenes almost completely hidden from British poets and readers, and making your own new work in response.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.


European Poetry Now! – Two Day Workshop

Face-To-Face CourseA practice-focused weekend looking at what is happening right now in a golden age of poetic innovation just over the Channel https://poetryschool.com/courses/zur-holle-european-poetry-now-two-day-workshop/

This intensive two-day course with SJ Fowler, director of London’s European Poetry Festival (April 2018), explores what is happening right now in a golden age of poetic innovation just over the Channel, and how that offers British poets the chance to expand their own poetic practice. Focusing on methodology and making over two days, exploring relay-style the ten themes of the Festival, this crash-course draws on huge array of ground-breaking yet little-known European poets to blaze new paths into language, visual and live poetries. Participants will also have the opportunity to develop their own works for presentation at the European Poetry Festival.

A two-day workshop running 10:30am – 4:30pm on Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 March.

A note on : Rauschenberg at Tate Modern, reflections on a fine course

Across five monday evenings in the new year of 2017 I had the chance to lead a course at Tate Modern, after hours, in the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition itself. With a remarkable group of people, ten hours were passed amongst the extraordinary range of artworks that made up this retrospective. All told I spent almost exactly twenty four hours in that space, most often alone or in a small group. I was able to really engage, in a way that is almost impossible in normal circumstance, with the lessons Rauschenberg's lifetime of art practise and general decency had to offer me. And I did feel it was a personal connection, feeling an immense kinship with his prolific and curious mode. 

I've generated an unwieldy volume of notes on his work that I intend to turn into an article or sorts, or a reminder for myself in smoother print, but for now, just fresh from the course's conclusion, I can only reflect on the generous human experience it provided. I must helped with quite some grace by curators Luisa Ulyett and Joseph Kendra, and I will admit at times the unique format of the after-hours adult-ed type format did provide challenges, I believe myself to be too conscious of every individual detail at times, trying to do all things at once, making sure everyone involved is satisfied in all ways, when this not possible and counterintuitive.  However the experience was resonant because of those generous enough to participate, really warm, intelligent, discerning people I had the chance to spend an extended time with, a ten hour conversation. Read more - http://www.stevenjfowler.com/tatemoderncourse

2017 >

2017: Some new books / plays / courses / exhibitions / events for the first half of the year upcoming.

New Publications
 
The Guide to Being Bear Aware : a new poetry collection published by Shearsman Books. Launched at York Literature Festival on March 29th, Kingston Writing School April 5th, Arnolfini in Bristol on April 6th and in London, at Swedenborg Hall in Bloomsbury, on April 11th www.stevenjfowler.com/bearaware

I fear my best work behind me : my debut art book - art brut portraiture, abstract illustration and handwritten poems, published by Stranger Press. May 2017. www.stevenjfowler.com/ifear

Subcritical Tests with Ailbhe Darcy - A full length collaborative collection of poetry and one of the first titles, and the very first poetry book, to be published by Gorse. Summer 2017. www.stevenjfowler.com/subcriticaltests

The Words Moving : poems on cinema - Limited edition poetry collection, each poem responding to a film, from The Devils to Angel Heart, from Salo to Jurassic Park, published by Pyramid Editions. Summer 2017 www.stevenjfowler.com/wordsmoving
 
Theatre

Mayakovsky As part of Rich Mix’s programme exploring the centenary of the Russian Revolution, a new experimental play on Vladimir Mayakovsky. Performed alongside new works by playwrights Petra Freimund, Larry Lynch and others. www.stevenjfowler.com/mayakovsky
 
Courses

Inventing Rauschenberg at Tate Modern - Exploring the life and legacy of Robert Rauschenberg, with a course following his innovative and wide ranging practise connected to the exhibition ongoing. 20 Feb – 20 March - Monday evenings : 18.45–20.45, in the galleries at Tate Modern. Booking here.
 
Exhibitions

Worm Wood with Tereza Stehlikova - A collaborative exhibition at Kensal Green Cemetery Dissenter’s Chapel and Gallery running 100 days from May to September 2017. Featuring new works of video, text art and installation, the exhibition will feature an event programme, including guided walks and workshops, exploring disappearing west London. www.stevenjfowler.com/wormwood 
 
Visual Poetry at Museum of Futures : February 18th to March 5th. A group show of new visual and concrete poetry, text art and avant-garde sculpture, drawing in artists and poets from South West London for the exhibition in Surbiton. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/futures

Curatorial

North x North West Poetry Tour : Visiting six cities across January and February, this tour of collaborative 'Camarade' events will draw in dozens of poets from across the region, endemic of the resurgence of avant-garde and literary poetry in the north of England in the last decade plus. New collaborations between myself and Chris McCabe, Amy Cutler, Nathan Walker & more. Curated with Tom Jenks. Supported by Arts Council England. www.theenemiesproject.com/northwest

Fiender: Swedish Enemies - January 28th at Rich Mix: Free
20 poets present 10 brand new collaborations to celebrate the visit of some of Sweden's, and Europe's most interesting writers. A new collaboration with Aase Berg, alongside poets including Elis Burrau & Holly Corfield Carr, Kathryn Maris & Patrick Mackie, Annie Katchinska & Mark Waldron. Curated with Harry Man. Supported by Arts Council Sweden. www.theenemiesproject.com/fiender

University Camarade II - February 25th at Rich Mix: Free
The University Camarade asks pairs of creative writing students from different Universities in the UK to collaborate on short new works of poetry or text, for performance.  The second event in the series features students from Kingston University, Oxford Brookes, York St John, Kent, Essex, York and Royal Holloway www.theenemiesproject.com/unicamarade

English PEN Modern Literature Festival - April 1st at Rich Mix : Free
30 contemporary UK-based writers present new works in tribute to writers at risk around the world. The festival continues English PEN's relationship with innovative contemporary literature over an extraordinary day. The 2017 festival will feature Denise Riley, Hannah Silva, Sandeep Parmar, Vahni Capildeo, Luke Kennard, Nathan Jones, Tony White, Matthew Welton, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, Sasha Dugdale & many others. www.theenemiesproject.com/englishpen

Thanks for reading and happy new year, Steven.

A note on: a new course at Tate Modern - Inventing Rauschenberg

INVENTING RAUSCHENBERG: THE ARTIST AS ENGINEER 20 FEBRUARY – 20 MARCH 2017 BOOK TICKETS

Over five weeks explore the pioneering art of Robert Rauschenberg with the like-minded artist and poet SJ Fowler - Through talks, discussions and practical writing exercises, participants will follow Robert Rauschenberg’s innovations fundamental to twentieth-century art, while surrounded by his work. Inspired equally by poetry, fiction, theatre, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance, Fowler will also draw from the people and places that inspired Rauschenberg’s remarkable and multidisciplinary practice. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/course/robert-rauschenberg/inventing-rauschenberg-artist-engineer

Discover Rauschenberg’s use of material, his ground-breaking combines, his engagement with popular and global culture beyond the US, his exploration of collaboration at the Black Mountain College, his work in performance, and his telling use of technology. This course is a chance to trace this pioneering artist’s life and continued reinvention, and to explore in their own work the lessons we can draw from his extraordinary legacy.

A note on: Poetry School Camarade - July 16th & 17th 2016

A wonderful opportunity for me to work with the Poetry School again coming up this July (all the details on my other courses here) but this time in a unique format, one that suits how I like to share ideas, and specifically, in this case, what I've learnt about collaboration through the 100 or so collaborations I've done and over 200 collaborative events I've curated.

It's a weekend course, kindly hosted by Rich Mix near Brick Lane, which will finish with a Camarade reading featuring those on the course, in pairs, and other poets connected to the Poetry School (which is a grand list). It means not only do I get to contextualise the theory behind collaborations, and to explore its history in poetry, and the methodologies consequent from these two things, but I get to do so immersively, and with a definite, practical goal - the reading.

I think it'll produce some wonderful works and I hope, for those who participate, be a real locus for a whole new world of writing poetry across mediums and with other fellow poets.

Book here: http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/face-to-face/the-poetry-school-camarade.php

More details www.theenemiesproject.com/poetryschool

Saturday’s July 16th 2016 workshop

1pm – Introduction to the possible methods of collaboration in poetry and text.
2.30pm – Facilitated group writing exercises and practise performances.
3.30pm – Facilitated breakout sessions for collaborations in pairs.
5pm – Group discussion on the process, final pairs confirmed and feedback.

Featuring a discussion of the philosophies behind collaborative writing, the diffusion of the poet’s identity in collaboration and the consequences of that for solo writing. Extended explorations of the notion of the reading versus the performance, group writing, conceptual writing, constraint writing, improvisation and more literary methods like line-to-line and stanza-to-stanza. Features both talks, discussions and exercises.

Sunday’s July 17th workshop

1pm – The history of collaboration in poetry featuring source materials provided to the participants, covering a selection of salient examples from 20th century poetry, including movements like the Surrealists, CoBrA, The Beats and assorted examples from the likes of Ian Hamilton Finlay and John Furnival, Ron King and Roy Fisher, Anne Waldman and Joe Brainard.

2.30pm – An analysis of a host of collaborative performances from The Enemies Project video archive with footage screening and discussion.

4pm – Facilitated rehearsal of group collaborations and final paired works, with feedback.

A note on: A Language Art - teaching at Tate Modern

An amazing experience, to continue my work with Tate Modern after a Talking Performance, to teach a six week course, each lesson in a different gallery, surrounded by the works being referred to. I had the privilege to share ideas, concepts, history and methodologies that cross both avant-garde writing and modern art, from Concrete poetry to Asemic writing, from Sound poetry to Collectives, from the Painted word to Poster art, to show how interlinked they are, how fundamental to both arts (even if one has embraced the theoretical, emotional, social and political developments of the latter 20th and early 21st century, and the other hasn't). The course was global and allowed me to explore further than ever before the profound reasons behind most of the innovation so definitional to the work I am most excited by. We even had a session in the Tate stores and I was able to bring out original artworks / poems by Henri Michaux, Christian Dotremont, Karel Appel, Cy Twombly, RB Kitaj, Jenny Holzer, Tom Phillips, Ian Hamilton Finlay and others who have influenced me so much. The course was attended by particularly generous and sophisticated artists, poets, book makers and people in advanced study, so it was a engaged, full of new works and ideas and really generously supported by an brilliant curatorial staff at Tate Modern, led by Joseph Kendra. Really a pleasure to do, I gained much from the weeks and a privilege to share those hours in Tate Modern with fellow artists. www.stevenjfowler.com/alanguageart

Upcoming: November 2015 - Events, Performances & Projects

My 'A Language Art' course runs on Monday nights throughout November with sesssions exploring the intersections of avant-garde poetry and modern art in the galleries of Tate Modern and in the Tate stores.

November Wednesday 4th - Pugilistica at Apiary Studios
A chance for me to launch my book Fights, in it's 2nd edition from Veer Books, alongside some amazing journalists, novelists, poets and art historians, all exploring the literature of boxing. www.theenemiesproject.com/pugilistica

November Thursday 5th - Mondo: global avant-garde poetry at Poetry School
A new course at the Poetry School, this time exploring avant-garde movements from Japan, Nigeria, Canada, Brazil and Syria / Iraq. Still a place or two left! Book here

November Friday 6th - Symposium: Pulling Together/Pulling Apart: Forces in Creative Collaboration, OVADA, Oxford
Thanks to artists Brook and Black, I'll have the chance to discuss collaboration at OVADA, alongside Tamarin Norwood and others http://www.ovada.org.uk/arkitektoniske-kramper/

November Saturday 7th - Nemici: an Italian Enemies project at the Rich Mix
A really ambitious Enemies project I'm curating with ten Italian artists and poets visiting London, each writing new collaborations with British poets. I'll be presenting a new work with Alessandro Burbank. Should be special www.theenemiesproject.com/nemici

November Friday 13th - A World without Words IV at the Frontline Club
The fourth event in the series curated by Lotje Sodderland, Thomas Duggan and myself, exploring neuroscience, aphasia, the brain and art, this time at the incredible Frontline Club. With a talk by Barry Smith and anthropological short films from Vincent Moon. http://www.frontlineclub.com/screening-and-discussion-a-world-without-words/

November Saturday 14th - EVP Sessions at Shoreditch Town Hall
Electronic Voice Phenomena hits London once again, I'll be presenting a new commission in full skeleton embodiment, exploring disembodied voice http://shoreditchtownhall.com/theatre-performance/whats-on/event/theEVPsessions

November Sunday 15th - Globe Road walking tour for the Globe Road Festival
Happy to be leading a Sunday morning stroll up Globe Road in the company of Gareth Evans, Elaine Mitchener and the Bohman brothers www.theenemiesproject.com/globeroad

November Wednesday 18th - Soundings III with Maja Jantar at St Johns on Bethnal Green
So excited to collaborate with the incredible Maja Jantar for a new performance as part of the Soundings project with Hubbub at Wellcome Collection responding to prompts from the Wellcome Library. St Johns on Bethnal Green is an amazing venue too. www.stevenjfowler.com/soundings

November Friday 20th - The European Camarade at Freeword Centre
A mini festival of European poetry in collaboration, so pleased to have the chance to curate this night and present a new collaboration with Endre Ruset. Some of these poets are doing the most exciting work in their nations, not to be missed www.theenemiesproject.com/europeancamarade

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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.

The Poetry School: Maintenant - an international course & new website

I'm happy to say that in January 2015 I shall be once again teaching my Maintenant course for the Poetry School, this time as an International course. This means, as an interactive online course, it can be taken by anyone in the world and, I would hope, many from Europe as well as beyond. 

The course explores post-war & contemporary European avant-garde poetry, aiming to elucidate traditions that might be occluded in the UK, and explore how their innovations in writing can compliment people's poetry in the now. The onus is on how these great moments in modern poetry can enrich writing practise, rather than dense historical analysis. It’s a rare chance to excavate avant garde work in such a setting, please sign up below if interested.

http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/online/maintenant---an-international-poetry-course.php 

The course begins Monday 26th, in January 2015 and follows a bi-weekly format, with five movements covered over ten weeks, with poems and texts submitted by the participants every two weeks. The course is mediated through the Poetry School’s innovative social media platform Campus, allowing a remarkable accessibility to an assignment driven course, a credit to the innovative pedagogical approach of the school.

Week One:  – Oulipo

Georges Perec, Jacques Roubeau, Raymond Queneau up to Frederic Forte and British Oulippeans like Philip Terry. The constraints that emancipate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo

Week Two:  – Austrian postwar modernism

Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek. How to deal with the legacy of Fascism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Handke

Week Three:  - Concrete poetry

Hansjörg Mayer, Bob Cobbing, The Vienna Group, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Marton Koppany up to Anatol Knotek. The visuality of the poem as its meaning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_poetry

Week Four:  - CoBrA

Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont, Pierre Alechinsky. Dutch, Danish, Belgian & beyond, poetry as art revolt & primitivism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBRA_(avant-garde_movement)

Week Five:  - British Poetry Revival

Tom Raworth, Bill Griffiths, Maggie O’Sullivan & many many more. Those every British poet should know, our immense late 20th century Vanguard heritage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_poetry_revival -

I've also a new website www.stevenjfowler.com which can be navigated through a menu as well project pages, one of which is www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool which contains information on Maintenant: International as well as the first Maintenant course and the Vanguard course.

& here is the interview series that inspired the course http://www.stevenjfowler.com/maintenant all 97 editions so far.

Thanks for reading & happy festivus.

teaching Maintenant for the Poetry School in 2015 as an International course

I'm really delighted to say that in January 2015 I shall be once again teaching my Maintenant course for the Poetry School. This is exciting on two fronts:

The first is that this course, the first time round, was undoubtedly my most positive experience teaching, ever. I got very lucky with the group of people who came to share their thoughts, but also years of research, really from the start of my writing as a whole, as well as from the 98 issue deep interview series I ran here www.maintenant.co.uk, into contemporary European poetry came to bear. I knew more than I had thought I knew, and had a passion for much that I had forgotten. This in the ideas behind the movements more than anything - in teaching the course I came to realise so many of these brave, wondrous engagements with experimental literature on the continent since WWII had genuine and fully realised political, ideological and philosophical ideas driving them, and these were good ideas. Not at all pretentious or removed, so many of these movements were about responding to the horrors of the middle 20th century and could be gleaned for the unique problems, and opportunities of our time. So I realised more than I had that the European avant garde was wholly relevant to me, that I shared, often, its concerns, and so took much away in realisation of how and why my writing had become what it has. I think the 16 people who came every two weeks to speak with me at the Poetry school thought so too. So we engaged deeply with the potential of technology and writing, of political and social engagement, of collaboration and community. Their amazing energy and their desire to make these historical groups and movements new and real to them was palpable, and amongst other things, at one of my events celebrating Danish poetry, they did this:

The second reason in that this second go of Maintenant is an International course. This means it can be taken by anyone in the world and, I would hope, many from Europe as well as beyond. It's very exciting to be able to relate my ideas and my thoughts about these 5 great movements with people who have a wholly other perspective than my own. This accessibility is such an exciting prospect, and a credit to the innovative pedagogical approach of the poetry school and will undoubtedly produce a really interesting experience for me, as much as, I hope, those who take up the course. Moreover it means the course is assignment driven, i.e. writing driven, and this was always the hope, that the course would be a platform for others to create their own work, their own movements, or at least radical and personal ideas for themselves and their writing. Here is the syllabus:

Week One:  – Oulipo
Georges Perec, Jacques Roubeau, Raymond Queneau up to Frederic Forte and British Oulippeans like Philip Terry. The constraints that emancipate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo

Week Two:  – Austrian postwar modernism
Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek. How to deal with the legacy of Fascism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Handke

Week Three:  - Concrete poetry
Hansjörg Mayer, Bob Cobbing, The Vienna Group, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Marton Koppany up to Anatol Knotek. The visuality of the poem as its meaning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_poetry

Week Four:  - CoBrA
Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont, Pierre Alechinsky. Dutch, Danish, Belgian & beyond, poetry as art revolt & primitivism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBRA_(avant-garde_movement)

Week Five:  - British Poetry Revival
Tom Raworth, Bill Griffiths, Maggie O’Sullivan & many many more. Those every British poet should know, our immense late 20th century Vanguard heritage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_poetry_revival

You can also read an indepth interview with me about this course and other stuff here:
http://campus.poetryschool.com/maintenant-interview-s-j-fowler/

Transreading Central Europe by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese for the Poetry School

http://campus.poetryschool.com/transreading-central-europe/ This is a new course from the Poetry School that I am really excited to see happening. Transreading Central Europe by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese is really a perfect companion to my Maintenant course that ran earlier this year, and Elżbieta is the perfect person to share such an interesting and expansive idea through the genuinely open learning environment and considered support structure that the Poetry School offers. A few comments from Elżbieta on the course...

"I choose to accept the opinion expressed so aptly by Octavio Paz: ‘Each original poem is the translation of the unknown or absent text.’ I choose to ignore the largely misquoted Robert Frost statement that poetry is what’s lost in translation. I’m interested in Marilyn Hacker’s description of creative rewriting as ‘a battle between the literal and the pleasing,’ though I consider it in less belligerent terms. I opt for Derek Mahon’s approach as explained in his preface to Echo’s Grove: ‘the best plan may be to approximate with zest, to refuse pedantry and intimidation.’ I choose to repeat, after Clive Scott, a translator of Rimbaud and Baudelaire, that any translation is ‘an autobiography of the reading self.’
            Therefore, in our course, without pedantry and intimidation, I hope, though with imaginative acumen, we will read together: not Szymborskas, but other poets who merit similar recognition. We could have easily focused exclusively on Poland; however, I thought it might be revealing to look at Central Europe. Can we spot affinities between these poets and poems? Can we recognize common preoccupations? Can we pinpoint difference and idiosyncrasies? Sometimes after readings I’m told that Polish poetry has specific qualities not usually found in English-language poems..."

Course description in the Poetry School programme
‘Translating is reading, reading of the best, the most essential kind’, wrote William H. Gass introducing the concept of ‘transreading’. Would you like to read beyond Herbert, Holub, Popa, Šalamun or Szymborska, writing your own translations and independent poems? In this course you will respond to  recent work by Central European poets, strengthening your knowledge of other literatures and invigorating your own  poetry. You don’t need to speak Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian or Slovenian – all you need is curiosity and a love of anything trans: transmigration, transgression, transfiguration. Every fortnight you will experiment with one ‘rewriting strategy’ (homophonic translation, erasure, annotation, recontextualization) and transform the texts you’ve read into your own versions. Your fifth and final poem will be a ‘straight’ translation from a Polish crib, which will evolve into a collaborative work composed by the whole group. http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/online/transreading-central-europe---an-international-course.php

Vanguard: a course for the Poetry School

I’m really pleased to announce a new course I’ll be teaching for the Poetry School during their upcoming Autumn term - Vanguard http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/face-to-face/vanguard.php The course will be held on Thursday evenings at the Poetry School, in Lambeth, London. Here’s the info:
 
“Explore the expansive modern tradition of British experimental poetry, as SJ Fowler presents a necessarily idiosyncratic insight into the vibrant innovative poetries which have sought originality in the UK over the last 50 years.
 
Five bi-weekly sessions will explore the distinctive qualities of the British avant garde and chart a course through an enormous field of writing. Not formed by generation, region or faction, Vanguard explores characteristics that are possessed by, but in no way encompass, the work of many great British poets. These are qualities, and poets, chosen through the acknowledged limits of Steven's knowledge and interests, & representative of that alone.
Week 1 : October 23rd : Rapidity
Exploring immediacy, alertness; quickness; celerity, concision. Scalpel cuts at smugness / pomposity, seeking the fragmentary whole.
Drawing from the work of Tom Raworth, Maggie O'Sullivan, Denise Riley, Barry MacSweeney, Andy Spragg, Frances Kruk & others
Week 2 : November 6th : Proximity
Nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation. Imbued with situation / location / historicity.
Drawing from the work of Iain Sinclair, Bill Griffiths, Geraldine Monk, Lee Harwood, Carol Watts, Roy Fisher & others
Week 3 : November 20th : Sonority
Excavations in sound, the condition of being resonant, multi & non lingual / vocal. Performativities. Technologies.
Drawing from the work of Caroline Bergvall, Bob Cobbing, Phil Minton, Hannah Silva, James Wilkes, Zoe Skoulding & others.
Week 4 : December 4th : JocosityUmour. Disjunction, juxtaposition, reappropriation - deftness, humour as disturbance, sublimation. Humour as a liferaft.
Drawing from the work of Tim Atkins, Holly Pester, Jeff Hilson, Philip Terry, Robert Sheppard, Tom Jenks & others.
Week 5 : December 18th : Destability
Undermining the oppressive in language / politics, situating complicity, interrogation / rejection of subjectivity. Externality and the refraction of worlds of language as a mode.
Drawing from the work of Veronica Forrest-Thomson, JH Prynne, Allen Fisher, Sean Bonney, Emily Critchley, Keston Sutherland & others.
During the course the onus will be on how these qualities in modern British poetry can enrich writing practise, rather than dense historical analysis, and how experimentation emerges from necessary innovations that are required for a poet to be truly contemporary in a rapidly changing society. Vanguard is a chance for students to diversify from singular, retrograde modes of writing and provides an all too rare insight into a world of poetry that is a profound part of our literary culture and heritage.”
 
I will organise a post-course reading for students on this course, and they will have the opportunity to attend a series of experimental poetry events during its duration, including Camaradefest II, to be held at the Rich Mix Arts Centre on Saturday October 25th, which will feature 100 poets in 50 pairs presenting 50 brand new collaborative works in one day.
 
Vanguard follows on from my Maintenant course http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/face-to-face/maintenant.php which explored post-war European avant garde poetry, which I’m happy to say was a grand success, due almost entirely to extraordinary group of students, who can be seen reading original work they collaborated to write during the course here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07uFwjvBHNg
 
As part of next year’s Poetry School Spring term I’m delighted that Maintenant will happen again, in its entirety, but as an interactive program of teaching this time, so anyone can join in, even if they live outside of London. You can read more about that course by clicking the link above and reading this interview, with Sarah Dawson http://campus.poetryschool.com/maintenant-interview-s-j-fowler/ More news on that next year.
 

An interview with the Poetry school for my upcoming course Maintenant

http://campus.poetryschool.com/maintenant-interview-s-j-fowler/ Text below taken from the beautiful Campus layout the Poetry School has set up, very generous interview on their part...
Has any other poet thrown himself into curating and collaboratively creating contemporary poetry with the same enthusiasm as S J Fowler?
Publishing five collections in three years is an achievement in itself, but there’s also something admirable about the way he draws other artists and poets into his creative orbit, whether that be by collaborating with them as part of his Enemies project, (which culminated in the Enemies book, published by Penned in the Margins), publishing them in 3:AM Magazine, or interviewing them for his Maintentant series, now almost at a hundred articles. Students on his spring term course, also called Maintenant!, will become part of his collaborative circle, writing poems inspired by key 20thcentury experimental poetry movements and performing them at an end of term reading. We asked Steven for advice on exploring experimental poetry and collaborating fruitfully…
Your course will be covering Oulipo, Austrian postwar modernism, concrete poetry, CoBrA and the British Poetry Revival. Can you explain how you came to be interested in these movements?
S J: I think because I came to poetry quite recently, only four years ago really, and very much fell into it, my reading habits, my influences, are not really formulated along formal lines. I wasn’t handed classical poetry as a child, didn’t listen to whatever was taught at school, didn’t grow up valuing a certain tradition or style or form, I have just read continuously, whatever I could where I could. For years I was completely isolated in my reading too, being led into it by philosophy, which I studied, and as such I was in a bubble, didn’t have the chance to develop any sense of prejudice against poetry in translation, or avant garde work, as somehow otherly. That’s perhaps why I read this kind of work alongside poetry that might be better known in this country in equal measure.
Moreover, each movement that I’m going to be covering in the course has its own special place in my own development as a poet. The Oulipo showed me how structural freedom can actually be more restricting than formal structures and concepts, because that freedom is mediated by very specific influences and tropes. Austrian postwar modernism is the example par excellence of avant garde writers writing for a purpose, and not as a self-indulgent stance against something, and that is to expose the ever present instincts of fascism in a nation that had tried to plaster over in immediate history and responsibility. Concrete poetry showed me that language is not mediated only by its content, but by its appearance, by the material it appears on – it has multiple dimensions, it is art as well as language. CoBrA really exemplifies the very best of what post-war European poetry aims to achieve – collectivity, collaboration, dynamic experimentation. And the British Poetry Revival, well this was a seismic discovery for me. An entire legion of incredible writers, writing about my country, writing works of genius, completely hidden from the mainstream reader.
In the course description it says that the techniques used by the poets you’ll be covering can, ‘compliment, rather than antagonise, more formal writing practice’. Could you expand on what you mean by that?
S J: I think there’s a territorial, self-defeating dualism that seems to permeate through people’s perception of the experimental, that it requires a philosophical or political praxis to be part of their writing. That it is against something, more than it is for something. This isn’t true, fundamentally. Experimentation is about finding the authentic way to express a very certain content. And that’s why a lot of formal poems fail in my opinion, because they are using the wrong form, because it is familiar or it is all the writer knows, to express their content. I hope to just humbly, gently, suggest that these movements show us new worlds of form and method toward content we might want to access and express.
You’re responsible for the Enemies collaboration project – will you be encouraging poets to collaborate on this course?
S J: Absolutely. It is wholly beneficial for any poet to engage in collaboration in my opinion, it allows one to step beyond one’s comfort zone, it forces the poet to be generous and generative and it mediates sociality beautifully, through the creative act. Plus you can blame failures on the other person! Best not to say this out loud of course. I hope the class will be defined by an atmosphere of communication, exchange and that the collaborations will be utterly organic, the genus being in the shared new ideas and discoveries which happen for everyone in the room.
In the Enemies book, was it a purposeful decision not to demark whose contribution is whose in many of the projects? What effect do you think this has?
S J: It was, and in the most instinctual way, this was primarily to commit to the work as a wholly new thing, a child of two poets, and not the spliced remnants of two individuals. So much of the poetry in Enemies, I really can’t remember whose line is whose. This is the most beautiful rediscovery, to have given so much to the style and brilliance of another writer that you and they are entwined in the work toward the same goal. I hope the effect of this is for readers to be taken by the content and not the authorial presence, which is often an obscuring force, a context we can rarely remove.
Why do you think collaborations succeed or fail? Do you have any tips for successful collaborating?
S J: It’s all about generosity as a mode, about perspective, and I think it goes right to the roots of one’s view on aesthetics, on poetry and its purpose, and one’s view of communication. If you see poetry as a reflection of your external experiences, internalised through the unique nexus of your millions of experiences and emotions and knowledge, then the act of collaboration is replacing the stimulus of your life with the specified stimulus of another human being, and their unique way of refracting the world. It becomes very easy to allow this to move you. If you see poetry as the effect of a muse like inspiration on your defined subjective soul or being, then you’ll probably want to protect that ‘inspiration’, and you won’t be so free to share, sacrifice and risk. Collaboration is all about generosity, it is an act of giving, a process of sacrifice.
When you collaborate with an artist, is it always a case of the images already existing and you responding to them, or have you worked in other ways?
S J: Every collaboration has been completely different. I’ve perhaps undertaken about 70 different collaborations to date, across every medium I could, and each time I try to get the collaborator to build the process with me, and to let them begin. I worry I can be a demonstrative person at times, overbearing, so I try to impose a deference upon myself when collaborating, and so far, it seems to be a good instinct. With visual images, photography and art as the like, often it does become tennis, but as often as not, it is my poems which generate their art, as well as their images generating my poetry.
I’ve always struggled to write poems that respond to visual images, do you have any advice for poets who want to respond to visual art in an original way?
S J: Being fidelitous to the grammar of visual images can’t be literal. One has to be familiar with the process of the artist or photographer, even if in the most material or shallow manner, and then, most importantly, what their intention is. Often the physical result does not achieve the intention for you, or for other viewers of the work. But if one then approaches that intention from your own poetic, your own abstract understanding, then a natural kinship will develop. I think so anyway. Museum of Debt, which is in Enemies, features portraits of museum workers by Alexander Kell, and Alex and I had both worked at that Museum, we didn’t even need to talk, we both created at the same time, with no dialogue, and the images and the poetry is imminently fused. It is about boredom, about the quiet desperation of a job that leads nowhere. The subject spoke, our intention was entwined.
Tell me more about the event that your students will have the opportunity to read at…
S J: It’s a very exciting programme. Three of the most innovative poets in Europe, Cia Rinne, Morten Sondergaard and Martin Glaz Serup will be visiting London for a week, for events with Rich Mix arts centre, in Brick Lane, and for an exhibition at the Hardy Tree gallery in Kings cross. The Danish agency for culture are supporting the venture, called Fjender, part of my Enemies project. They will be collaborating with myself and two other British based poets, and thanks to the Arts Council here I will be visiting Copenhagen to read our collaborations in Denmark too. The students will get to read on the big night in London, share some of their work with those poets and the public, if they want to.
Can you think of any good anthologies our students could buy to familiarise themselves with some of the poets you’ll cover? Or any good sources of information online, (aside from your wonderful Maintenant series of interviews)?
S J: Certainly, I can never speak highly enough of the Poets for the Millenium anthologies, by Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris. Get the first two volumes. Mind blowing, the scope and the width of the poets and the superlative editorship, this is what anthologies should be. Online, check out www.lyrikline.org. Quite formal poets, but a great resource for translated work across languages. Also Ubuweb, if you haven’t been on there, well that’s a good ten years of material for all of us.
If you think you could do with catching some of Steven’s contagious enthusiasm, you can book your place on Maintenant! online, or call 0207 582 1679.

Maintenant! a course for the Poetry School

I'm delighted to announce that in 2014 I will be teaching a course for the Poetry School http://www.poetryschool.com called Maintenant! exploring post-war & contemporary European avant-garde poetry.

It's a bi-weekly course, five lessons over ten weeks, aiming to elucidate traditions that might be occluded in the UK, and explore how their innovations in writing can compliment people's poetry in the now. The onus is on how these great moments in modern poetry can enrich writing practise, rather than dense historical analysis. It’s a rare chance to excavate avant garde work in such a setting, please sign up below if interested & in London.

The course will take place at the Poetry School London office, 79-83 Lambeth Walk. 2 hour lessons – 6.45pm to 8.45pm

Week One: January tuesday 28th – Oulipo
Georges Perec, Jacques Roubeau, Raymond Queneau up to Frederic Forte and British Oulippeans like Philip Terry. The constraints that emancipate.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo

Week Two: February tuesday 11th – Austrian postwar modernism
Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek. How to deal with the legacy of Fascism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Handke

Week Three: February tuesday 25th - Concrete poetry
Hansjörg Mayer, Bob Cobbing, The Vienna Group, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Marton Koppany up to Anatol Knotek. The visuality of the poem as its meaninghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_poetry

Week Four: tuesday March 11th - CoBrA
Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont, Pierre Alechinsky. Dutch, Danish, Belgian & beyond, poetry as art revolt & primitivism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBRA_(avant-garde_movement)

Week Five: March tuesday 25th - British Poetry Revival
Tom Raworth, Bill Griffiths, Maggie O’Sullivan & many many more. Those every British poet should know, our immense late 20th century Vanguard heritage.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_poetry_revival

& near the end of the course, on March 15th 2014, at the Rich Mix arts centre, the students will get a chance to read some of the work they've produced during Enemies: Fjender, which explores contemporary Danish avant garde poetry in collaboration, with Cia Rinne, Martin Glaz Serup and Morten Sondergaard, who will also be exhibiting his remarkable Wordpharmacy http://www.wordpharmacy.com

You can download the entire Poetry School London programme here: http://www.poetryschool.com/resources/ps-brochurespring14-printerfriendly-3.pdf

& here is the interview series that inspired the course http://www.maintenant.co.uk/ all 97 editions so far.