I am aware it’s easy to project one’s hopefulness onto places other than where you live, and in the context of launching books and doing events, its true in London I tend to rack them up, so perhaps numbing the experience for myself. But what a beautiful reception in Dublin for the launch of Subcritical Tests. Maybe it was the presence of Gorse as a really brilliant journal birthed by the city and its literary history somehow, or Ailbhe Darcy returning to her city. Maybe it was Poetry Ireland behind it, hosting it in the most grand of buildings. But we had a good hundred people, many students from American university summer schools, around the Dublin literary faces behind and supporting Gorse. And people listened close. We did a reading, just a reading, something I do resist nowadays, feelings its limitations like nails on a chalkboard a lot of the time, feeling oversaturated with the mode, and feeling few are honest about what it can do, and what it can’t do. But here, it was perfect. Ailbhe and I were succinct, in our last moment of a long, three year writing journey, a friendship in a book, reaching a peak of some sort. And as Christodoulos said in his intro – it is a difficult book, a gorgeous thing thanks to Gorse and Niall McCormack’s illustrations, but the content is dense and modern as well as lyrical. It’s not a book to whizz through certainly, not in its making or tone or subject. And then on top of that its collaborative, which seems to distance people for some reason. This was an evening really about friendships, and a community, in a place where it seems to me poetry is taken seriously, perhaps that isn't where I belong- a place I should just visit. All told, it was a really memorable evening, a fitting end to a three year writing and collaborating journey.
a new collaborative poetry collection by Ailbhe Darcy & I, the first book by Gorse
I'm happy to announce my latest collaborative book, written with Ailbhe Darcy, will be published as the very first Gorse edition - Subcritical Tests. Available here to buy, do go here and click links and purchase it, why not? It's a difficult book but a rewarding one, certainly the parts Ailbhe wrote, which are mashed up with mine now completely, to the point where I genuinely don't know who wrote what, which is perhaps as it should be with a collaboration? gorse.ie/book/subcritical-tests/
London launch of Subcritical Tests
Monday 10th July 2017, 6.30-10.30pm, Sun & 13 Cantons, Soho
with readings from Niven Govinden, Susana Medina, Colm O’Shea followed by the launch by Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler. [RSVP]
Dublin launch of Subcritical Tests
Wednesday 12th July, 7pm-8.30pm, Poetry Ireland, 11 Parnell Sq East
with Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler, introduced by gorse poetry editor Christodoulos Makris. [RSVP]
About the book
"The nearness of nuclear holocaust, always just one clumsy accident away, forms an entry point into this record of a friendship. The poems in Subcritical Tests stubbornly make connections, ever conscious of the impending threat of annihilation. Oblique, modern, lyrical, humorous, these poems represent the range of Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler‘s individual practices, modulated and melded through the collaborative process." www.stevenjfowler.com/subcriticaltests
Gorse have established themselves as one of the finest literary journals in Europe, if not the world, and so to have this book open their venture into publishing standalone books is an immense privilege. The book is beautifully illustrated and cover designed by Niall McCormack.
Wonderful that the hugely respected literary journal, Gorse, has announced it will begin publishing outside of its magazine format in the near future, beginning a press, and even more wonderful, that one of its first few titles, and its first poetry book, will be my collaborative collection, Subcritical tests, written with Ailbhe Darcy. The announcement was made here with an interview by Tristan Foster http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/interview-with-gorse/
Gorse is a perfect place for our book, the situation could not be more fitting and pleasing, can't help but give Ailbhe and I, wading through the poetry sandpit, renewed energy and optimism. Susan Tomaselli, who founded Gorse, is someone who has helped me from within months of my starting writing, and with Gorse, the respect her erudition and activity has always commanded has been quite properly expanded, which is so gratifying to witness.
Gorse’s poetry editor, Christodoulos Makris, is one of the finest poets, innovators and organisers in Europe. His work has been an influence on my own, and to have the chance to work with him directly as an editor is exciting. These relationships should never be underestimated. And Ailbhe, such a remarkable poet. We met on the Yes But Are We Enemies? tour of 2014, beginning writing then about what we felt was pressing, for various reasons - a potential nuclear holocaust, and for well over a year beyond that brilliant few weeks we had been bonded by writing more and more poems on the same theme together, always in correspondence. We discovered how ubiquitous nuclear testing has become since WWII, how truly close the world has come to nuclear destruction, often from snaffus and clumsiness as much as aggression, and how poetic is the process of naming each one of these bombs. The perfect source material to mulch through. And Ailbhe's mulching, so different than mine, maybe not even a word eater as I am, she's an actual poet - so persuasive in her always exacting, intricate graceful work, that she's pulled me, in this book at least, into being more careful, more fixated, and perhaps, by osmosis, I have done the opposite to her, dragging her into the radioactive mud.
More on this soon, an exciting announcement and in the meantime visit, and buy, Gorse http://gorse.ie/.
I'm really very privileged to have had poetry in the first three issues of Gorse, one of the most beautifully and professional, and groundbreaking, literary journals of the 21st century in Europe, edited so scrupulously by Susan Tomaselli. http://gorse.ie/
This time it is a collaboration in the magazine, with Ailbhe Darcy. We began writing for the Yes But Are We Enemies tour last September 2014, and our Subcritical Tests have become something special to me, in that they are the most concentrated example of a collaboration in poetry living and breathing through a profound friendship. Meeting Ailbhe and having the great fortune to now call her a friend was the boon of that project and through our writing together I feel we will long be close. So grand the result of all this is in a place that is its equal.