A note on : performing at Phonica in Dublin

Dublin has become one of my favourite cities in which to perform. I’ve had three brilliant experiences, in 2015, 2017 and now, for Phonica, in 2018. Every time the audience has been alive to what I’m doing, always generous and inquisitive. Phonica itself is a grand achievement by curators Christodoulos Makris and Olesya Zdorovetska, who have brought together cutting edge contemporary musicians with poets and literary performance.

I went on last for Phonica 8, spending all night up on the very highest flooring of a spiral staircase within the gorgeous Smock Alley Theatre, lying down, peeking down to the performance stage, listening, waiting. There were some great discoveries for me, Alyce Lyons and Justyn Hunia presented a wonderful filmpoetry collaboration, many years in the making, subtle in that connection between those arts. Alex Bonney presented a sound piece that was immersive and made me want to collaborate with him. And Diamanda Dramm, a remarkable performer, a violinist singing poetry amidst her playing.

I had the chance to follow them and did so with a mostly improvised piece, one of my recent Powerpoint performances, where I have nothing planned really apart from some aberrant slides that respond to the specific event / place. It went better than I could’ve hoped, I think, I don’t know, I discerned from the feedback. The performance was about self-awareness I suppose, about the conflation of self-knowledge where things can become so true they are false. It was also about performance itself, and poetry’s place in that. We all decamped after the event to an underground speakeasy bar by the river before I skulked back to my Airbnb happy.

A note on: Launching Subcritical Tests in Dublin

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.

Published: Prism in Gorse: No.5

One of the very best literary magazines in Europe, if not, without hyperbole, the world. The extraordinary Gorse, genuinely cutting new ground in 21st literature has been kind enough to take some of the very first poems from my new sequence about Edward Snowden and GCHQ, entitled Prism. So lovely to be in the journal alongside some wonderful writers and with such production quality. A thanks to Susan Tomaselli and Christodoulos Makris.

Buy the journal here http://gorse.ie/

Yes But Are We Enemies? diary #5 - Dublin : the end of our Ireland

One of the best Enemies events I've ever been a part of. Hard to describe just how intense, and how brilliant this event felt. Very much, it would seem to me, to be a culmination of a variety of circumstance. The first being the underappreciation of the strength of the Irish avant garde. Here poets of that ilk came together, from Cork to Derry, from Dublin and beyond to share a series of works so radically different in their experimentation, but all wonderful in their power and authenticity, that it became undeniable there is an amazing thing happening right now in Ireland. From audiovisual collaboration, to performance art, to found text, to multivocal readings, the event did what we initially planned this tour might do, and it gave a home, and created a platform for really diverse writers to prove us right. It was also in the Writers Centre, a beautiful place, but known perhaps for its formality, and we crammed it, filled most of the two rooms, and somehow used the ornate nature of the surroundings to intensify the intimacy of the works. We also preceded it with a Q&A, which became, in a gentle way, a discussion with a hypothesis, about collaboration and the Irish tradition. Had the following hours poetry been a damp squib, we might have appeared foolish, but seeing its fire and its clear success as an enterprise, all the more it was as though we had convinced the audience about the salience of our ideas. And finally, it was the last Irish date for us six travelling, and assorted others, and it felt like a goodbye of sorts, because it was. I had such a wonderful time reading with Billy and the others, and really felt as relaxed as I can remember feeling at such an occasion. The videos below bear this out. 

Anamaria Crowe Serrano & Alan Jude Moore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtF-GGgfZug
Michael Shanks & Cal Doyle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1C9NnKwxnU
Aodan McCardle & Ailbhe Hines https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHwymwq82uI
Sam Riviere & Ailbhe Darcy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofoUxakKZ8A
Christodoulos Makris & Patrick Coyle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPhuZ7INV-0

Yes But Are We Enemies? an Irish Enemies project

6 locales : over 30 poets : a national tour of Ireland
& brand new innovative poetic collaborations : an Irish Enemies project

I’m very happy to announce Yes But Are We Enemies? an Irish Enemies project. Beginning on September 18th in Belfast and visiting Derry, Galway, Cork, Dublin and finishing in London on September 27th, YBAWE is a multinational project about collaboration and innovation in contemporary poetry.

Six core poets, 3 Irish, 3 English, will present new collaborative works across the six date tour. At each reading they will be joined by numerous pairs of locally based poets. Every event features never before seen collaborative works.

Yes But Are We Enemies, co-curated by Christodoulos Makris, is fundamentally about the creation of new collaborative works and the integration of differing poetic communities, and has only been possible through the generosity of a series of organisational partners, first and foremost The Arts Council of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, through their Touring and Dissemination of Work scheme.

Please find below the schedule and the poet's involved, and if possible, do spread the word, and attend all and any of the events you can. ALL EVENTS ARE FREE:

Thu 18 September, 8pm: Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast
Stephen Connolly & Stephen Sexton
Manuela Moser & Padraig Regan
Sophie Collins & Robert Maclean
Caitlin Newby & Andy Eaton
Tom Saunders & Lorcan Mullen
Christodoulos Makris & Sam Riviere
Billy Ramsell & SJ Fowler
Ailbhe Darcy & Patrick Coyle

Fri 19 September, 8pm: Verbal Arts Centre, Derry
Aodán McCardle & Ailbhe Hines
James King & Ellen Factor
Christodoulos Makris & Patrick Coyle
Billy Ramsell & Sam Riviere
Ailbhe Darcy & SJ Fowler
Sophie Collins & Robert Maclean

Sun 21 September, 8pm: Galway Arts Centre, Galway
Elaine Cosgrove & Anamaría Crowe Serrano
Elaine Feeney & Kevin Higgins
Eleanor Hooker & Sarah Hesketh
Christodoulos Makris & SJ Fowler
Billy Ramsell & Patrick Coyle
Ailbhe Darcy & Sam Riviere

Tue 23 September, 8pm: Triskel Arts Cenre, Cork
Christodoulos Makris & Sam Riviere
Billy Ramsell & Patrick Coyle
Ailbhe Darcy & SJ Fowler
Sarah Hayden & Rachel Warriner
David Toms & James Cummins
Doireann Ni Ghriofa & Cal Doyle
Paul Casey & Afric McGlinchey
Sarah Hesketh & TBA

Thu 25 September, 7pm: Irish Writers' Centre, Dublin
A discussion moderated by Susan Tomaselli
Christodoulos Makris & Patrick Coyle
Billy Ramsell & SJ Fowler
Ailbhe Darcy & Sam Riviere
Rob Doyle & Dave Lordan
Michael Naghten Shanks & Cal Doyle
John Kearns & Kit Fryatt
Anamaría Crowe Serrano & Alan Jude Moore

Sat 27 September, 7pm: Rich Mix Arts Centre, London
Christodoulos Makris & SJ Fowler
Billy Ramsell & Sam Riviere
Ailbhe Darcy & Patrick Coyle
Kimberly Campanello & Kit Fryatt
Pascal O’Loughlin & Marcus Slease
Robert Kiely & Sarah Kelly
Becky Cremin & Stephen Mooney
Sophie Collins & Livia Franchini
+ Philip Terry, Sarah Hesketh & more

Yes But Are We Enemies? follows Auld Enemies, Fjender and Wrogowie as international Enemies projects in 2014, and will be followed in 2015 with a another series of similarly innovative projects outside of the UK.

www.weareenemies.com supported by Arts Council England.

Gorse magazine introduces me

http://gorse.ie/introducing-sj-fowler/ a far too generous portrait from the remarkable people at Gorse magazine, one of the publications I'm most looking forward to in 2014, coming soon, in the inaugural issue, six of my poems from a future collection {Enthusiasm}

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Editors’ note: As we head towards publication, we thought we would introduce our contributors.
SJ Fowler has been exploring the boundaries of European poetry in his Maintenant series, a project that takes its name from pugilist, poet, hoaxer and nephew of Oscar WildeArthur Cravan. It’s an astonishing project, one that has profiled the work of almost 100 contemporary poets, placing the likes of Frédéric ForteTadeusz Różewicz and George Szirtesalongside Ann CottenLuna MiguelHolly Pester and Ragnhildur Jóhanns. Says Fowler,
“For years I was completely isolated in my reading too…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.”
Steven delivered a series of lectures at the Southbank’s Rest is Noise festival late last year, released a collaborative multi-disciplinary collection Enemies, and performed ‘Electric Dada’ as part of Electronic Voice Phenomena.
‘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.’
He is one of the most exciting young poets at work today and we delighted to include poems from his new collection,{Enthusiasm}. From ‘Burn museum’
the gypsy wound
fighting man of a fighting family
bitterly pain full is a broken jaw, a bruised
it’ll make you think twice, modern Paul
it doesn’t just hurt, it’s worse
it drifts its bookish suitcase
like a river of shirt toward work