A note on: The first Respites - a claimant's day off: February 29th 2016

Respites is a carefully curated series of day-long gatherings, exploring ideas and activities about rest, pleasure, contentedness, critical thinking and creativity. It is aimed at being a generative and respectful series of engagements with people who need and deserve more respite than they receive.  Each Respite sees a group of specially selected people share their expertise in workshops and breakout sessions, covering everything from meditation to martial arts, from poetry to music, aiming to create a cohesive and generous experience for those who attend. Respites was curated by Ayesha Nathoo, Lynne Friedli and myself, and was supported by, and part of, the Hubbub group, in residence at Wellcome Collection. www.theenemiesproject.com/respites

The first Respites brought together people claiming benefits for a day of exploration, creativity and solidarity at the Hub at Wellcome Collection, where myself, Ayesha Nathoo and Lynne Friedli met, all being residents and where Respites, as a concept, was conceived. We spent many months developing the project, really trying to maintain the open, pragmatic and inviting aesthetic we had agreed upon from the first, and the extraordinary expertise and intelligence of both Lynne and Ayesha made me absolutely confident that the day itself would be a success. 

The day itself was structured with a series of workshops which those attending could drop into at their leisure. A careful balance was given to the contents of each, and how they sat around each other, taking the group from relaxation techniques to martial arts, which I had the pleasure to lead, into poetry, theatre and finishing with meditation. There was a sure sense of community from everyone involved, most having never met each other before, and a firm sense that the indirect aims of the project, to support without generalising everyone with their circumstance, to provoke and engage, without ever being heavy handed, created an environment of kindness and generosity. 

In due time attendees expressed their insights and frustrations at the situation they experienced but this was part of the day and it's achievements. Rather this was expressed when it was good for them and everyone else to do so, and otherwise, we were just all people, getting to know each other, sharing a beautiful lunch, talking a whole day through with physical and intellectual ideas and pursuits. It was really a lovely, intimate, careful experience for me, one I savoured and felt very pleased to be a part of, to have begun new connections with people and to learnt much in a short space of time.

A note on: The EVP Sessions & The Black Dinner performance - November 14th 2015

The original EVP tour was a major turning point in my work with performance, being able to tour the UK with really wonderful artists like Hannah Silva and Ross Sutherland, and with the support of Nathan Jones and Tom Chivers (www.stevenjfowler.com/evp) When the opportunity to do a one off commission for the same project, at Shoreditch Town Hall, I had a clear thought to what I might do, melding both my original work for the project with a tradition I've had for three years now, being painted as a skeleton on or around the Mexican Day of the Dead. I first did so in Mexico City and try to do so every year in homage to my friends in Mexico, and because much of my work is about the symbology of death.

For this performance I was really lucky to have the amazingly generous artist and make up artist Amalie Russell paint my face professionally. I had then spent a few days covering a whole banquet of food in black paint and lacquer, and my performance, a fluxus meal of sorts, was to set the table and invite diners to join me. I waited outside the fire exit of the venue on a typically vapid Shoreditch saturday night and felt it appropriate to wait in the rain. The performance was accompanied by a track made in collaboration with the remarkable musician Alexander Kell, who did an incredible job mixing my reading of Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo, one of the authors I had discovered in Mexico.

"Electronic Voice Phenomena returns with a series of electrifying live sessions featuring the very best in hauntology, spoken word, glitch noise and performance. The EVP Sessions takes its inspiration from Konstantin Raudive’s notorious Breakthrough experiments of the 1970s, in which he divined voices-from-beyond in electronic noise. Enter the labyrinthine basement of Shoreditch Town Hall and experience a “mind-boggling”, “perplexingly good” avant-garde cabaret of human, ghostly and machine voices. http://www.electronicvoicephenomena.net/index.php/shoreditch-town-hall-london/"

Published: How I Did It - ‘The Interrupters’ my article for The Poetry School

http://campus.poetryschool.com/how-i-did-it-the-interrupters/ An intriguing series from the Poetry School, hosted on their Campus platform, where they ask poets to discuss the process of writing a specific poem of theirs. Some previous editions were really interesting, but more often than not made me realise how different my process can be from the norm. So this article, where I discuss my poem The Interrupters from my recent collection {Enthusiasm} published by Test Centre, is an attempt to honour the article's remit but still maintain a true reflection of my actual methodology.

"I suppose each collection I have published has been an attempt to relate a style, or form, or concept, to a subject. Not the other way round. No collecting has been done after the fact, the fact has been established and then the collecting. My process is one toward a changing ideal. I don’t denigrate those who are consistent, or whose evolution is subtle, but I personally find the notion of radical growth, or variance, to be something I aspire to. It comforts me that my work is different book to book, that I produce things that bear not a singular stamp of my authorial ‘voice’, for I find that idea unrepresentative of my experience of being. It is not a metaphor to say we contain a multiplicity. I am a different person depending on my mood, my company, my job… As such I am a different poet, I have a different voice when writing about boxing than I do when writing about prisons, or when I’m using collage technique as opposed to visual poetry. And most especially when I’m writing mostly at night, as opposed to the morning, or when I’m reading mostly one poet as opposed to another."

Day of the Deaded - the videos

The day of the deaded reading took place at the rich mix and was really an attempt to mark that date as special, considering how the Enemigos project took me to Mexico city last year and to offer a small addition to the rich mix's weekend of interesting events. It was a difficult reading to curate with the mass of events recently, Camaradefest not least amongst them, but the seven performances were generously given, very intense and very much representative of a British understanding of death, perhaps against the Mexican. I was a little out of energy but managed, thanks to the extraordinary Amalie Russell, artist and Hardy Tree curator, to represent the Mexico skeleton to full effect. 
Tom Chivers
Mercedes Azpilicueta & Ohad Ben Shimon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kklJhkLWCCg

Camaradefest II - the videos

Camaradefest, in its second incarnation, was extraordinary. A collective generosity permeated throughout the day, made it feel fresh and easy and I'm very much glad we did it. 100 poets, hundreds upon hundreds watching throughout the day. It was busy and full of exchange and the poetry was fantastic.  Still processing, more on this later. Here's the videos, yours to enjoy.
Ross Sutherland & Thomas Bunstead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSfp_P2wB5w
John Clegg & Holly Corfield Carr https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuL3kMUCI6M
Sarah Dawson & Robin Boothroyd https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58JLMgIxRO4
Jonah Wilberg & Lucy Furlong https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rHChB8cTJY
Vera Chok & Sophie Herxheimer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdJYSwlciNg
Paul Hawkins & Mali Clements https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM3AlEVbqis
Angus Sinclair & Laura Elliott https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCbVgf0Pcfw
George Szirtes & Carol Watts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlIBnKsGFUo
Mike Saunders & Emilia Weber https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3XPPcYSQ4A
Tamar Yoseloff & Claire Crowther https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENbSrOlgBxk
Andy Spragg & Emma Hammond https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkwJ7CbBuuU
Alan Halsey & Geraldine Monk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydgyFD5sv0s
Tim Allen & Richard Barrett https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v825a2R7yIQ
Prudence Chamberlain & Eley Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNRA4TDSEvM
Hannah Silva & Andra Simons https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIKR-YM1SkU
James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSCVJBizFTg
Vicky Sparrow & Dave Spittle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vOqM7Sdeiw
Agnes Lehoczky & Astrid Alben https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi46d4s6vD0
Francine Elena & Emily Hasler https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aT0Y68Do3BI
Ollie Evans & Becky Varley Winter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df-6ErFrzXw
Rebecca Tamas & Martin Jackson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9e6ZPVujMM
Sarah Kelly & Seekers of Lice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHazjqVrKSQ
Jow Lindsay & Anne Laure Coxam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_KgpEhXFWc
James Wilkes & Ariadne Radi Cor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glPqBljn4iM
Sophie Collins & Livia Franchini https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haBN_nHCqKU
Nikolai Duffy & Rhys Trimble https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrltmSLikyk
Ryan Van Winkle & Ghazal Mosadeq https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4UYVkYypUw
Calum Rodger & Anthony Autumn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k9t_pUykBg
Cristine Brache & Holly Childs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9QLUlMq5CQ
Lila Matsumoto & Samantha Walton https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UX5mQzy020o
James Davies & Philip Terry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z67_iVlMSmA
Nathan Jones & Christodoulos Makris https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtIFvHzvCQs
Zuzana Husarova & Olga Pek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC1CEhq9oGA
David Berridge & Stephen Emmerson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxKhFGoIWQw
Alison Gibb & Kimberley Campanello https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcUWdWHaQBE
Sean Bonney & nick-e melville https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gBRH1iQ8ds
Sam Riviere & Crispin Best https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZfKMgNFdJg
Holly Pester & Emma Bennett Camaradefest II - Holly Pester & Emma Bennett

Enemigos - Day of the Deaded - London Bookfair

Day of the Deaded
Rich Mix Arts Centre : Friday October 31st : 8pm : Venue 2
Come & spend your Day of the Dead, October Friday 31st, with the Enemies project at the Rich Mix Arts Centre, for a night of Día de Muertos in London. Featuring original performances and poetry from Mark Waldron, Tom Chivers, David Berridge, Ohad Ben Simon, Mercedes Azpilicueta, Mary Paterson & more, this unique evening is part of Enemigos: the enemies project Mexico and a rare chance to gather your friends to remember the dead in the most imaginative of ways. http://weareenemies.com/dayofthedeaded.html
The second phase of Enemigos: the Enemies project in Mexico recently took place at Hay Xalapa, the Cervantino festival in Guanajuato and Mexico City. An extraordinary series of events in Mexico held over a few weeks, it was topped by the release of the long awaited Enemigos anthology.
My reading from the Hay festival in Mexico is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NLrM5SygAM and my six blogs from the intense and eventful fortnight are here:
The Enemigos anthology is a groundbreaking anthology of cross-national, cross-lingual radical translation, where 8 poets from Mexico City exchanged texts, and deliberately experimental translations, with 8 poets from London and vice versa. The result is a unique anthology of collaborative poetry that explores the outer realms of translation and has connected two communities of poets across continents. It features the work of Tom Raworth & Roldolfo Mata, Carol Watts & Enzia Verduchi, Rocio Ceron & Holly Pester, David Berridge & Alberto Blanco, Tom Chivers & Ana Franco Ortuno, Gaspar Orozco & Tim Atkins, Jeff Hilson & Pura Lopez Colome, and myself & Amanda de la Garza. It is published by EBL Cielo Abierto, and will be available in the UK April 2015. https://es-es.facebook.com/EblCieloAbierto
Enemigos will continue on into 2015, beginning with a major event to mark the first night of the London Bookfair, where Mexico is the nation of honour. On April 14th, at the Rich Mix Arts Centre, a series of visiting Mexican writers and poets will present work with British counterparts, and the Enemigos anthology will see its UK launch. www.weareenemies.com

Camaradefest : October 25th : the full lineup

100 poets. 50 pairs. one day.
october saturday 25th
the rich mix arts centre : main space
12 noon til late : free entry
Starting at 12 noon and running all day, Camaradefest will present 50 brand new collaborative works involving 100 poets working in pairs. A unique one day festival of collaborative poetry. There will a book table to browse and chat with the poets, & lengthy intermissions between each of the five sessions in which to do so. Please come, stay the day and find below the remarkable lineup of poets, writers and textual artists. Everything is free to attend, bring friends, spread the word.http://weareenemies.com/camaradefestii.html
John Clegg & Holly Corfield Carr
Nick Murray & Aki Schilz
Sarah Dawson & Robin Boothroyd
Jonah Wilberg & Lucy Furlong
Vera Chok & Sophie Herxheimer
Jon Stone & Harry Wooler
Paul Hawkins & TBA
Cali Dux & Simon Pomery
Angus Sinclair & Laura Elliott
Ross Sutherland & TBA
George Szirtes & Carol Watts
Gareth Rees & Gary Budden
Robert Kiely & Doug Jones
Mike Saunders & Emilia Weber
Tamar Yoseloff & Claire Crowther
Andy Spragg & Emma Hammond
Alan Halsey & Geraldine Monk
Nia Davies & Sarah Howe
Tim Allen & Richard Barrett
Prudence Chamberlain & Eley Williams
Hannah Silva & Andra Symons
Harry Man & Kirsten Irving
Vicky Sparrow & Dave Spittle
Agnes Lehoczky & Astrid Alben
Isobel Dixon & Claire Trevien
Edmund Hardy & Amy Cutler
Ollie Evans & Becky Varley Winter
Rebecca Tamas & Martin Jackson
Sarah Kelly & TBA
Jow Lindsay & Anne Laure Coxam
Colin Herd & Iain Morrison
Marcus Slease & JT Welsch
James Wilkes & Ariadne Radi Cor
Billy Ramsell & TBA
Sophie Collins & Livia Franchini
Nikolai Duffy & Rhys Trimble
Ryan Van Winkle & TBA
Calum Rodger & Anthony Autumn
Cristine Brache & Holly Childs
Lila Matsumoto & Samantha Walton
James Davies & Philip Terry
Nathan Jones & Christodoulos Makris
Zuzana Husarova & Olga Pek
Alison Gibb & Kimberley Campanello
Sean Bonney & nick-e melville
Luke Allan & Graeme Smith
Sam Riviere & Crispin Best
James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar
Tim Atkins & Jeff Hilson
Holly Pester & Emma Bennett

International Translation Day - September 26th at the British Library

International Translation Day 2014

The British Library
Friday 26 September, 9am-5.30pm
£35 (£28 over 60s) & £25 (concessions)

Book tickets
View full programme
Ngugi wa Thiong'o talks to Amanda Hopkinson at ITD 2013

"English PEN invites everyone who is interested in the art and business of literary translation to join us at this year’s International Translation Day." 
I'm leading a session with Ricarda Vidal from Translation Games and chatting about Enemies! join us at the british library http://translationgames.net/?page_id=192

Kiddy Kamarade

all hail the extraordinary Sophie Mayer who pulled off this genuinely wonderful and original undertaking
Welcome to Kiddy Kamarade! The Archive of the Now and Rich Mix invite you to join our carousel of poets, providing ideas and inspiration for making word-art together with your children. Try out our imaginative techniques — and have a chance to show off what you create!
Station 1: Sarah Crewe and Chris McCabe – Poem Post Office
page2Sarah and Chris had a stack of postcards with mystery recipients (including Roald Dahl, Mr. Tumble and the Pope) written on one side – it was up to you to send them a message that might describe them before you knew who they were! The message you wrote was a description of something you could see in Venue 2, the long, sunny upstairs bar where the event was taking place.
I was describing the event itself – but there was a magical, funny collision with the recipient who was revealed to be:
I like to think She enjoyed it. Especially the glitter… of which more at Station 3: Poetry Potions!
SONY DSCBut first, Station 2: Tim Atkins – Wonderful Day Haiku Station
Tim posted this haiku by Shiki Masaoka (in English and Japanese!) and invited us to imagine our wonderful day in brilliant colour! the delicious array of food treats available around the venue (including bagels) was a popular theme – as was the event itself…

Reel Iraq: Kurdistan diary #7

Up for reading, the reading, the grand reading. Travelled half way around the world. Not that this is the work really, not that anyone really believes that, but it is like fighting, in its model, that all the funds, all the time, builds for one payoff and you get a little belly rumble at that pressure, that it is to erupt in one moment, and one has to keep nerve. Well I didn't, Dan and Ryan did, and did so beautiful. It was great. The event was very well attended, the room packed out, the work we delivered was really strong, a lovely moment for the Reel people to be very proud of themselves I think. Zhawen and I read one poem, and the relevant translations. I gave a little waffle about the people of Iraq Id met being more important than the poetry, and being ashamed of the privilege I enjoy, all the stuff writing this blog has made me confront. You can see for yourself below of course, in the vid. I also slipped in a few inside jokes, a few kippers in there. The Q and A was great, unvideod, went full wild west, with long didactic speeches in place of questions and some genuine feeling against the freedom of our translations, or what we all know to be transliterations from the off. I had fun answering one and then rocking back and letting the communication communicate. Good vibes afterward, high energy and engagement. The Reel project is amazingly well conceived and run, and this is the result, an event that would be powerful in any festival, in any context in the world.
Finally I had a chance to go back into Erbil and explore the city properly, and buy some weird trinkets. I returned to the bazaar, found some pretty nifty glowing sponge elephants and some camo tshirts, and lots of dried plum sugar sheets, before making my way out into one of the really beautiful parks of the city. If some of Erbil's regeneration is Dubai-esque, to its detriment, its parks are really wonderfully rendered. Music blaring from public speaker systems, immaculate gardens, sculptures. It looked like archival footage from the 70s in the middle east, families on display, picniccing, hobknobbing.
Ryan & the former writer's union president during the Ba'ath parties evil rule
I returned to the Charmander hotel, had a final brutal sweatlodge gym session and then got one of the creepiest thai massages in the world, before dragging the others from the seemingly endless procession of rigmarole at the closing event out into the city for the last time. Started to feel a bit exhausted at this point, and the night became a blur, eating out and visiting the tea house beneath the citadel. The next twenty four hours were and are a blur. Saying goodbye, knowing that in the moment of its happening this week will seem like a concentrated hallucination, that I drifted upon its regiment, its intensity, its privilege, and never had the time to properly reflect upon it, and all the better for that, for it isnt the norm. And yet still, knowing Ill never be back here most likely, that this has happened at the best time it couldve in my life, young enough to enjoy it fully, and be free to enjoy things in their moment and limitation and place in a way i never could when i was younger, and yet old enough to appreciate it too, that all of it is made by its transitory nature. Nothing in Iraq was overdone. Sad to say goodbye to all, but especially heartfelt was my goodbye to Hoshang. The man is all power to this place and its people. I walked Vicki back to the hotel at midnight, slept for an hour, and then spent the next day, sleepless, that dried fruit brain sick feeling crammed into tiny bucket seats on Turkish airlines, trying not to vetch myself, before haunting the gatwick express, actually feeling ok in London, aside from the overbearing psychological wave of unhappiness that always hits me when I return to the city from elsewhere and haven't adjusted to the currency of banal depression. Hammersmith v Erbil. Then I got norovirus and have lost the last two days to fever, and worse. All the better, Iraq feels a different life away, as it was.
here is our party in Erbil (as inflatable donkeys)

Mexico City diario de poesia #6

The day of our final performance, our main event, an hour or so split between Holly and I, a showcase really, in the Centro Cultural de Espana en Mexico, where we had eaten and hung out all week, in their main hall. The show had been loosely titled and advertised as something like night and death, and poetry. Not sure we could quite live up to that. Having not really formulated the content before the day of the performance, it was a day of construction and rehearsal. Absolutely a joy for me, to have the pleasant nerves to keep me sharp but to be working with someone as experienced, subtle and talented as Holly, after a good week of spending nearly all day together, we had immense reservoirs of material. Also we were genuinely trying to shape something new to both of us, that crossed the width of our practices in an original way. We created a programme that featured readings, performances, written collaboration, sound poetry and improvisation all stitched together with segways in antagonistic play between us - interruptions, interventions and quite physical stage play.

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.

Mexico City diario de poesia #5

Days are running out. I actually walked into the restaurant used to people speaking Spanish, or used to me not understanding what anyone's saying. A quieter day, but perhaps the most profound of what has been an immensely human, social trip. Some time to actually explore the city, to realise how enormous it truly is. I walked from the historical centre, down the entire length of the Reforma down to the Chapultepec park, which is a huge complex of forests, avenues, museums and most importantly a zoo. In the last month or so alone I've been to Edinburgh, Bratislava and now Mexico city zoo. An institution which reveals the character of the people of the city. It was day of the dead, the family day, so it was packed with kiddles, but the whole feeling was very respectful towards the creatures. I saw brown, black, ice and Panda bears! and Axlotls. A charmed two hours.
I then walked a ring around Chapultepec, found the avenue of poets, which features busts and memorials to Mexico's famous poets and was adorned with skeleton paraphernalia for the weekend. I cut out of the park and spent a few hours walking south, exploring la Roma and the Condessa. I walked all the way back to the hotel from there, coming back via the Madero pedestrian road and seeing the teeming thousands of families and fancy dressed revellers. The atmosphere was very warm and some of the costumes are truly amazing, and funny. Parents seem to be practising a mild form of child abuse by dressing their young, many babies wrapped in bandages as mummies.
In the evening Amanda de la Garza was amazingly generous to pick us both from the hotel and drive us an hour outside the city to a small town in the mountains to visit a famous cemetary and witness an authentic day of the dead celebration. It was a humbling and moving experience. Winding through the steep cobbled roads of the town we followed an almost hidden path to the cemetary, a place we would have never found in a thousands years without Amanda. The walk to the gates were lined with brightly lit food stalls and joke shops. Hundreds of people were dressed for the occasion, but inside the cemetary, lit by hundreds of candles, with live musicians playing, with families sat around the graves of their loved ones, eating, talking, joking, it felt we had entered something entirely new and yet wholly welcoming. The atmosphere was like the music, upbeat in rhythm, profoundly sad in content. Many sat alone on graves, other families sat around dioramas and flowers and food on the graves. To witness an old couple look on to the grave of their child, covered in toys, left us silent. It's an experience I will remember forever.
On our return we ventured into the carnage of the Madero to see the thousands and thousands who poured into the city centre to celebrate. Some of the costumes were violently gory, others funny, but it was so packed you could barely move. I felt completely relaxed, there was no violence in the air though people had been drinking all day and we let the mass tide of humans carry us on.

Mexico City diario de poesia #3

Teotihuacan. The bus driver drove Mexican speeds and having been in a car crash, I began the day with fear lacing my joy. We saw the slums that line the hillsides of the north east of Mexico city, where people claimed land like a goldrush and now own it after squatting. The pyramids are an hour outside of the city. We were paraded first to a weird shop where they showed us native dogs which were black and hairless, then the multiple uses of the many cactus', like alcohol and paper. The smell was of a leaking septic tank. The handmade aztec and mayan object recreations were proper takk. The mangey dogs loved Holly.
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.

Back in Mexico city, after another frightening journey courtesy of pothole jumps, we headed out, explored and came across the most amazing display being erected and formed in the cathedral square for the imminent day of the dead celebrations. Huge statues of skeletal horses backed by an enormous marquee where hundreds of people had come out to build dioramas, sculptures, flower arrangements and stalls. The festival actually means something, to remember one's dead, but its humour, its artistic expression, at its very root, clearly and palpably brings people out and together in the act of making. It was amazing to witness what we have no equivalent to in England. Balls to baby jesus birthing / dying as a holiday next to giant skeletons and sugar skulls and free and open art making.


One of the best things I've put on, without a doubt, it was a grand success. Primarily because, all day long, from 2pm until 10.30pm, the atmosphere was uniformly friendly, warm and cohesive - people felt welcomed in sharing their work, they were able to meet others without artificiality and their was a sense of things being offered, rather than performed. Without trying to curate anything, never putting a word in about content, and without trying to force any aesthetic or spirit, the feeling of welcome and cohesion was present from the off and undoubtedly met with the 37 brilliant pieces of collaborative poetry, that were accentuated because of the generosity of attendees. I feel like I did achieve something with this event, and what that is is fleeting and impermeable, but all the more resonant and real because of that transience. I showed how much good work there is out there in the UK and beyond (Afghanistan, Serbia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Czech Republic etc... all had presence), and how many good poets who are good people, who will work together, will step outside of their comfort zones through the auspices of collaboration. Of the 74 poets, so so many were remarkable, too many to explicate, but watching Holly Pester and Emma Bennett, Ryan Van Winkle and Billy Letford, Sam Riviere and Joe Dunthorne, James Davies and Philip Terry it was clear the few hundreds in attendance felt as I did, that we were witnessing something special, with all the power of a movement and a time, without any of the didactic limitation and definition. More to come on this, videos of everything, when I return from Mexico.

International Translation Day at the British Library

I would honoured to speak at this one day conference / summit / get together of translators and industry professional at the British library on technology, futurology and poetry. It was an embarrassment of riches in terms of the speakers, I actually looked like the child of most of the distinguised peoples in the programme, and I inhabited one of the afternoon breakout seminars with Maya Gabrielle, who is a serious digital programme industry leader, working with the National Theatre and others. She spoke really directly and powerfully about waste and direction in using social media and allowed me to be the good cop really, as I waffled on with my thoughts on the potentiality of the ether for writers, and how the internet is not a tool but a mode, and that its growth is inevitable, its use free and its engagements exponential. It went well, I was able to ramble without notes, feeling quite empassioned, and the people in the full room were knowledgable and positive about my positivity. Robert Sharp mediated us well too. All immensely clever people involved, and great to see friends like Dan Gorman, Sarah Hesketh, Alexandra Buchler amongst new connections I will no doubt benefit from meeting. Also to speak at the British Library is a proud first.