The final two legs of the tour, in Bath and Bruton. All the blog and documentation www.stevenjfowler.com/southwest
In the end the evening was frantic, the largest number of poets and an excellent attendance, with some tech demands in between hosting and all the usual responsibility of organising an event. Camilla and I's work seemed to respond to this, and was contextualised, and perhaps amplified, with a more literary feeling for the majority of the collaborations being shared. It allowed us to play, to use the space, to make our performance a dance of sorts, but also a playfight of another sort - a physical poem alongside our text - not entirely, and deliberately, careful, not entirely graceful, but full of something close, intimacy perhaps. A really resonant experience for me, working with Camilla, extending our curatorial collaboration with such proximity and tactility, and begin a conversation with her work, one I've definitely benefited from being exposed to....
Bruton - August 7th Our final stop, the week passing, predictably, with alarming speed. We were able to stay close to the extraordinary gallery and gardens of Hauser and Wirth, everything that so many on the tour had told me it would be, enjoying local hospitality in some style. It allowed the poets who had seen through every leg of the tour to really spend some memorable time together, not only travelling in mini car flotillas, often through the dense English countryside and its receptionless roads, in the middle of the night, but around dinner tables and long after that, talking. A privilege to get to know some brilliant, warm-hearted, talented and wise human beings through the excuse of reading poetry, part of the experience that will stay with me longest I think.
The reading itself was pretty remarkable, over 150 people climbing the gentle incline of the garden in the Hauser & Wirth complex, up from the gallery itself into what seemed a giant ant pod, or upturned paper-mache tugboat. I thought it an installation on first approach, only to discover it was hollow and airy, allowing us to pack an enormous audience in the space for our 18 poets and our final event. Some brilliant work on display here, and I had the chance to read with Annabel Banks. We built our poem on abstracted meta-references, to the tour and its happenings, and then wrote it out to the other four who had been on the road, to engage multiple voices, to surround the audience, in a kind of mini-play.
A high point to bow out upon, drawing poets and audience from the surrounding area, Bristol and beyond, and to be in such a special place. We ate together then finished our last proper day of the project saying farewell at train stations or around a dinner table, talking very late into the night. A really resonant, generous, memorable week in the south west, a time that will be hard to forget, made up by people I am better off for having worked with and lived beside.