a Cemetery Romance w/ Erich Fried

Thanks to the Czech Centre London and the friends of Kensal Green cemetery, I led a tour around that location with readings next to the famed dead. You can read about it here - www.theenemiesproject.com/cemeteryromance

I read next to the grave of Erich Fried. A very special thing for me, as I had been so warmly helped by Sheila Ramage of the Notting Hill bookshop when I first began writing and she had told me stories of Erich and all the Austrians who came to London in the postwar period.

a Cemetery Romance - March 28th at Kensal Green Cemetery

A Cemetery Romance   http://www.theenemiesproject.com/cemeteryromance

March Sat 28th : 2pm : at the Gates of Kensal Rise Cemetery : Free Entry
in partnership with the Czech Centre London http://london.czechcentres.cz/

To celebrate the visit of avant-garde Czech artist, and professional gravedigger, Miloslav Vojtíšek (otherwise known as S.d.Ch.) this special one off literary tour of the magnificent Kensal Green Cemetery, facilitated by a guide, will feature Miloslav explaining the art of exhumation while being joined by a host of British poets, who will also present their work on death and dying, including Emily Berry, Tom Jenks, Alex MacDonald, Scott Thurston & many more. We will visit the graves of JG Ballard, Harold Pinter and others, before exploring the Dissenters Chapel Catacombs.

The event is completely free to attend but please RSVP at info@czechcentre.org.uk


The group will meeting at 2pm in front of the Kensal Green Cemetery main gate, near the intersection of Harrow Road and Kilburn Lane http://www.kensalgreencemetery.com/ With thanks to the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery


The group will meeting at 2pm in front of the Kensal Green Cemetery main gate, near the intersection of Harrow Road and Kilburn Lane http://www.kensalgreencemetery.com/ With thanks to the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery

after the Fest - Camaradefest blogs & videos

Only a few weeks ago now, Camaradefest seems to resonated with the people who attended and performed, which is obviously very gratifying. Some lovely blog posts have been written detailing the day, from:

Aki Schilzhttp://akifreetheword.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/camaradefest-ii/
"...I wrote a few micropoems on Twitter throughout the day, taking bits from everyone else’s poems to compose a sort of ‘mashup’ collection/overview of the event https://akifreetheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/camaradefest.pdf"

Iain Morrisonhttp://permanentpositions.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/veni-vidi-lectiti-iains-london-visit-24-28-october-2014/ 
"We arrived at something, sounding like Steve Reich minimalism regularly interrupted by exclamatory words, via a poem by Brodsky called Elegy for John Donne. It’s an iambic pentameter poem. Most of the syllables in it we suppressed into the number 1 with a few words showing through to disrupt the typographic snow drift."

Holly Corfield Carrhttp://hollycorfieldcarr.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/bisect-dissect/
",,,and this incised extimacy with Eley Willams and Prudence Chamberlain and more things than I can try to cleverly word from more poets than I can fit in my car and drive around the Carr-Clegg coniunctio.  There was everything I could want: flip-charts, trip ups, rip-roaring laughter and pillows in swimsuits and sexy poems and power steeples and that was only the first hour.  It was wonderful and a bit messy and a lot good."

& this grand minidoc by the Czech centre marking the appearance of Zuzana Husarova & Olga Pek

Cabaret Hrabal - July 3rd at the Horse Hospital

Cabaret Hrabalhttp://london.czechcentres.cz/programme/travel-events/cabaret-hrabal/  

”The world is maddeningly beautiful. Well, it isn’t really, but that is how I see it.” Bohumil Hrabal (uncle Peppin) *** A groundbreaking evening of literary experimentation and innovation celebrating the centenary of Bohumil Hrabal, one of the greatest Czech writers of the 20th century. Inspired by Hrabal’s work, brand new commissions from some of the UK most exciting poets, artists, conceptualists, theatre makers and dramaturges explore Hrabal’s magic world. Curated by poet and curator SJ Fowler.
One of the boundless figures of late 20th century Czech literature, Bohumil Hrabal was a novelist, a drinker, a bon vivant, an avant gardist, a railway dispatcher during the Nazi occupation, a traveling salesman, a steelworker, a recycling mill worker, a stagehand… His novels, which include Too Loud a Solitude, Closely Observed Trains, and I Served the King of England, were censored under the Communist regime, yet have since been translated into nearly thirty languages. A survivor of both the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Czechoslovakia, much of Hrabal’s work juxtaposes the darkness of history to the comic, human-scale happenings of the every-day. His oeuvre is as inimitable as his novels are unforgettable.
Through a half-dozen brand new commissions from some of the most exciting UK based poets, artists, conceptualists, theatre makers and dramaturges, Hrabal will be evoked and enveloped, transposed into some of the most exciting literary experimentalists of contemporary London.
Featuring Zoe Skoulding (sound poetry), Sarah Kelly (book sculptures), Joshua Alexander (film art),Stephen Emmerson (conceptual performance), Marcus Slease (poetry), Tom Jenks (literary experiments), Eva Danickova (stage reading) and Lucinka Eisler (theatre), this is a chance to discover, or rediscover, a great European writer through new and exciting works that pay their debt to the remarkable achievements of Hrabal in the essence of their happening.
SJ Fowler is a poet, artist, curator & vanguardist. He works in the modernist and avant garde traditions, across poetry, fiction, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance. He has published six collections of poetry and been commissioned by the Tate, Reel Festivals, the Liverpool Biennial and the London Sinfonietta. He has been translated into 13 languages and performed at venues across the world, from Mexico city to Erbil, Iraq. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine and is the curator of the Enemies project. He is presenting and co-curating Cabaret Hrabal.


Josh Alexander
 is a London based artist who makes experimental film and photography. In collaboration with artist Luke Montgomery, Josh’s work has featured in various exhibitions includingJoint Ventures organised by Space In Between in 2012. He made the music video for Drowned At Seaby Fairewell. Josh is part of A616, a collaboration with Erkembode, they are currently working on a series of moving image works. In May 2014 Josh had his first solo exhibition Light on Paper at the Hardy Tree Gallery, London. For the event, Josh Alexander will be presenting a visual interpretation of 'Handbook for the Apprentice Palaverer' in the form of a moving image piece.

Eva Daníčková works in London and internationally as a dramaturg, librettist and translator of plays and prose (A. Goldflam, M. Horoščák, Z. Svěrák). Eva studied dramaturgy at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She founded Boii Theatre in 2010, translating and producing Czech plays (The Green Room at the Etcetera Theatre, Boiled Heads at Tristan Bates Theatre and others). She wrote and produced two operas for the Tête à Tête Opera Festival at Riverside Studios in 2011 (The Moonflower) and 2012 (Insein). As a dramaturg, she has worked with Parrabbola, Patrick Dineen (The Golden Boy, Unity Theatre Liverpool) and on her own projects. Eva reads and translates Czech play scripts for the National Theatre and the Royal Court International Department.
Lucinka Eisler is Joint Artistic Director of Inspector Sands and has co-created all of their shows to date. For Inspector Sands she has performed in Hysteria or If That's All There Is. Other acting work includes The Magic Flute (Complicite at ENO / DNO) and Macbeth - The Abuse of Power (Contender Charlie/ China Plate). Directing credits include Rock Pool, Portrait of the Ordinary Festival Goer and A Life in 22 Minutes (all for Inspector Sands) and A Quiet Afternoon, (Stamping Ground Theatre for Riverside Studios/ BAC). As assistant director Lucinka has worked with Rufus Norris (National Theatre; Young Vic) and Theatre O (Barbican). Lucinka is a visiting lecturer at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Lucinka will perform a theatre scetch A Boring Afternoon from The Death of Mr Baltisberger.
Stephen Emmerson's publications include: 'A never ending poem...' (Zimzalla) 'Telegraphic Transcriptions' (Dept Press / Stranger Press), 'No Ideas but in Things' (Dark Windows Press), & 'Albion' (Like This Press). Installations / exhibitions include: Albion, The Dark Would, Visual Poetics at the South Bank Centre, Pharmacopoetics, Illuminations, and Placebo at Farringdon Factory. His work for the Hrabal celebration is an participatory installation centred around the concept of placebo and language control.

Tom Jenks has published five books of poetry, co-organises The Other Room reading series and website, and administers the avant objects imprint zimZalla. Building with the texts of Bohumil Hrabal, Tom will be presenting a brand new conceptual poetry project.
Sarah Kelly is an interdisciplinary text artist and poet, working predominately with hand made paper sculpture. She has published widely and is the author of 'locklines' (KFS Press). Performances and exhibitions include The London Poetry Festival, Saison Poetry Library and MACBA. For the event Sarah will be reworking the material book 'the Death of Mr.Baltisberger' into a collected series of integrated text sculptures.
Marcus Slease was born in Portadown, N. Ireland but moved to Las Vegas at age 11. Currently, he lives in London and teaches English as a foreign language. His latest book is Rides (Blart Books, 2014). For the event, Marcus Slease will be responding to Hrabal's Closely Watched Trains and Too Loud A Solitude
Zoë Skoulding is a poet, translator, editor and critic. She has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Museum of Disappearing Sounds (Seren, 2013). She is Senior Lecturer in the School of English at Bangor University. She will be presenting a sound-based response to Hrabal's 'Diamond Eye'.

The Prague Microfest - a diary

A fascinating three days in Prague for the Microfestival. So many weird and wonderful elements to my experience – I was sent there by the remarkable generosity of the Czech Centre in London, whom I’m building an increasingly strong relationship with, and went not only to meet Czech poets and curators, and people at the festival, but to partake in the debut performance of the TRYIE collective, which I’m a third of, next to Zuzana Husarova and Olga Pekova, two powerful powerful avant garde writers out of Bratislava and Prague.
I met Zuz and Olga last year at the Ars Poetica festival and it was immediately obvious upon meeting them they were unusual. I talk so often about process over product, community over hierarchy, kindness over posture – and in that traditional festival environment, their humour, their energy, their work just really resonated with me. It has since proven a good hunch as we formed the collective and spent the last months exchanging texts and ideas before this big off. The work in the end was a really adventurous, dynamic, complex performance. It involved Zuz and Olga behind two specially made screens, reading a text of multiple languages, and using their bodies to create a ghostly imprint on the canvas of the screens while I intermittently read on stage while walking or carrying a dog. The piece was really about the balance of genders through the text, using iconography and light, and a brilliant sound accompaniment by the 4th honorary member of the collective, Lubo Panak. It was highly performative, with Zuz and Olga feeting and fingering the screen while I carried and petted and kissed the beautiful French bulldog motoracek, even using her as a reading stand, while reading new texts I’d written while in Prague, that were about the experience of the festival and preparing for the performance, and drew from Kafka as well as ideas about the relationship of our collective, indulgence, boredom, and my own personal history in Prague itself.

The festival itself is a strange thing. Shining so brightly in places, with really innovative work, and some really gracious, warm hearted people, it also suffered from a occasional lack of quality control and at times I felt outside of things. In turn, because I wasn't perhaps as quiet and mannerly as I normally am about the work that was so different than that which I gravitate too, I felt conflicted that I perhaps was being too didactic or judgmental. Genuinely, the fact that poets were reading for over 30 minutes at a time effected me profoundly. It was just an excess, drowning out any chance of finding that which I might have discovered in their work, and often massively exemplifying the faults I perceived. I am aware that most often that which I talk about, and blog about, is effusively praised. I do this deliberately, to speak only about that which I like. But there does come a time when I suppose I had no choice but to listen, when a line has to be drawn. Some of the work was very poor, and left a trace for me. Moreover literary cynicism, a culture of it, can easily slip into the discourse and curation of such an intense undertaking like a poetry festival and at times in felt like the scene surrounding the happenings was in a village. I spent some of the time wondering if it wasn’t me, that I wasn’t burnt out a little after Paris/Edinburgh/Copenhagen/Iraq/Venice in a two month space, or if I wasn’t falling into habits of being anti-social, or overly critical, or egotistical, wanting more attention. I tried to remain consistently open to communicating with people, really focusing on their work, and in places it was easy – with the students of Charles University who seemed to be the lifeblood of the festival, with friends Im getting to know better with each collision like Jorg Piringer and Heike Feidler, and with the amazing Maggie O’Sullivan, with whom I shared my last day, having coffee in a beautiful art deco café, and whose intelligence, humility and wisdom, left me feeling elevated and tiny at the same time. Yet perhaps Ive been spoiled by things like Reel Iraq and Crossing Voices, and now I expect everyone to be like Olga and Zuzana, funny, deferent, collaborative and frankly excellent as writers and artists. Much to learn, and to insist upon, for the things I organise, in experiencing things here I didn't enjoy. Feeling a wee bit alienated can only keep me on the right path for my own events.

What matters really is that I did mediate my experience of this beautiful city through people, and had the chance to meet wonderful poets and curators, explore the town a bit, even getting to the zoo, which fully lived up to its reputation, and to leave behind me a really satisfying piece of collaborative work. The performance of TRYIE was an auspicious beginning of our collective, one that I hope flares into being a few times a year for the near future at least, and Zuzana and Olga were elated, which was what I really wanted. Their performances certainly went great, they worked the concepts to great effect. I felt my own stuff wasn’t so strong, that the audience was a little frozen or discomforted by my presence, as I fondled the doggy, read at them and wandered about the basement venue, weaving it between them with the lovely French bulldog bitch staring and sniffing them out. Im too sensitive of audiences, I want to attack them on instinct when they recoil. I wasn’t free to really loose on them, because of the spirit of the beautiful little animal. Maybe that is good for me, to gain that experience as a performer, and to learn the skill of letting others express that force for me, with my cooperation. Others seemed to enjoy the whole thing, and seemed to think it was truly a collaborative act, a conversation in complex poetry and theatre performance, and successful in relating the message of our concerns about gender. You always run the risk of pretension with something like this, and we escaped that. A feminist hell, one person described it as. Happy to have found myself there http://tryie.tumblr.com/


Olga Peková - Zuzana Husárová - SJ Bearface
Very happy to announce the formation of the TŘYIE collective, an enterprise of electronic / performative / avant garde poetry across Europe, a stretch from London to Prague to Bratislava. It's an opportunity to root myself in a wholly new aesthetic, both formally, because of the expertise of Zuzana and Olga, and the brilliance of their practise, but also aesthetically - the dynamic of gender, of language, of approach in general should completely revitalise much of what I fall back upon when performing, which is endemically masculine I suppose. There should be a measure of trickiness, of wryness that comes through, and if anyone has watched the performances of Zuzana and Olga, then their ability to drag from the past the best of European avant garde history while being wholly considered in the most contemporary of ways, is the quality that is unmissable, and that I hope to leach from. Our performances this year, probably:

Prague Microfest on May 13th - London, Rich mix theatre October - Bratislava, Ars Poetics October

VLAK 4 is here and its all that we hoped for

I'm proud as punch to be an associate editor of Vlak. Louis Armand, David Vichnar, Olga Pekova and the many others involved in this heavyweight publication are doing the important work, and making Prague something it would not otherwise be because of their grind towards powerliterature. The new VLAK is breathtaking in its production value, as always, there is not a magazine like it, simply said. http://vlakmagazine2.wordpress.com/

VLAK 4 imminent - contains Camarade texts

The powerhouse publication of avant garde materials is on its way in its 4th guise. Very privileged to be on the editorial board for VLAK, the new issue is just as groundbreaking as the last 3, and the production quality of what is essentially a massive perfect bound shiny tome is always remarkable. I'm happy to say in this issue I've burrowed out a small cave of Camarade texts from the events I've been running over the last few years, with work in there from Philip Terry & Allen Fisher, Tim Atkins & Marcus Slease, Jeff Hilson & Sean Bonney and quite a few others. I've written an intro to the selection, all of which I am very proud to have commissioned as it were. VLAK also has a new website at http://www.vlakmagazine.com and forthcoming events are listed at http://vlakmagazine2.wordpress.com/events/ -- if you happen to be in the vicinity of any of these, please do go and support the enterprise.

Full list of contents here http://vlakmagazine2.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/vlak-4/ see it to believe it, as ever - Notley, Sollers, Berrigan, Kinsella, Armand, Garcia amongst.