A note on: Poem Brut at Rich Mix III was a powerful night

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The third poem brut event I've held at Rich Mix continues the project's momentum, and in so doing, keeps restoring my faith in the concept which motivates these live happenings - that is, if we concern ourselves with the actual material of live performance, time / space / aliveness / physical presence etc..., what possibilities are there for the poem to become itself, and not some hackneyed, overtly controlled syphoning of experience into language? I had become, in a slight way, slightly overly familiar with the events I had been curating, it's why I instigated Poem Brut after years of The Enemies Project, and nights like this, communal, friendly, busy with people (nearly 100 in attendance again), led by particularly wide ranging and challenging work, keep my heart afloat that this is work that needs doing. The positivity from the audience and participants really meant a lot to me, really made me consider carefully what it is I've tried to build and what I should do in the future.

We had poets visiting from Trinidad, Berlin, Estonia, Austria, America and it was gratifying they all said they had never experienced an event like this before. All the performances can be viewed https://www.poembrut.com/richmix3

Poem Brut is an exploration of poetry and colour, handwriting, composition, abstraction, scribbling, and illustration, affirming the possibilities of the page, the pen, the pencil - in a computer age - generating over a dozen events, multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences and publications.  3am magazine, a partner in the project, is also running open call for new works that fit within the tradition

A note on: The South Korean Enemies project was very cool

Such a great group of people to work with Seryu Oh, Chaikwan Lee and all the folk from the WOW festival who will host myself, Hannah Silva and Luke Kennard in September following this duo of events in London at the start of June. Check it out proper here http://www.theenemiesproject.com/southkorea

Friday night was a panel talk in the very jazzy Korean Cultural Centre in central London. It was crazy at times, 2 hours or more of winding chat, swearing, funny questions, in a hot basement without a break, but the discovery of the poets from South Korean in the project - Kiwan Sung, Minjung Kim and Hwang Yuwon - was fantastic, so talented and sooo funny all three of them. Such a great vibe immediately upon our meeting, a great laugh, and Kiwan and I worked out our collaboration that night.

Saturday night was the big event at Rich with loads of pairs. Kiwan recorded my heartbeat live, then his own, merged them with a live coding programme the audience could see before I sounded out the consonants our our alphabet and he did the vowels, while I held the camera. Was peachy. All the pairs were great in fact and we went out afterwards to solidify our new poet friendship over tapas. What more can one ask for?

A note on : National Poetry Library Special Edition - Shearsman Books

I'm excited to return to the national poetry library reading from my new book in an event celebrating Shearsman Books and the work of Tony Frazer.

DATES & TIMES 5 Jul 2017 : 8:00 pm
WHERE National Poetry Library, Level 5, Blue side, Royal Festival Hall
https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/123048-celebrating-shearsman-books-2017

Hear authors from across the generations that Shearsman Books represents, as they read and discuss their work. Speakers include SJ Fowler, Elisabeth Bletsoe, Siriol Troup and Peter Riley, in discussion with Shearsman editor Tony Frazer.

Shearsman Books have been a driving force in British modernist poetry for 35 years. Their global list has championed the work of some of Britain’s most important, and often overlooked, modern poets. With a reputation for exploration and considered experiment, Shearsman has provided a prolific and invaluable contribution to our understanding of what poetry might be.

 

A note on: The University Camarade II

The University Camarade II : February Saturday 25th 2017 - 7.30pm - Free Entrance
Venue 2 : Rich Mix Arts Centre (35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA)
www.theenemiesproject.com/unicamarade

The second University Camarade presents pairs of creative writing students from seven different Universities in the UK to collaborate on short new works of poetry or text, for performance. The only participants are students, and writing with poets they've never met before, who study within a different institution, this initiative allows them to expand their practise, knowledge and networks, and takes a stand against purported factionalism or department competition. The innovative collaborative methodology also allows them to include experimentation early in their writing careers, and perform to a large audience.

Students have been drawn from the Creative Writing departments of Kingston University, Oxford Brookes, York St John, Kent, Essex, York and Royal Holloway and the project has been curated by SJ Fowler with Kim Campanello, JT Welsch, Dorothy Lehane, Robert Hampson, Prudence Chamberlain, Philip Terry and Niall Munro.

A note on: the final States of Mind event at Wellcome Collection

A real high point for me as a curator, and a major step forward in this area of interest. A really wonderful night, brilliant talks from Srivas Chennu, Lotje Sodderland, Sam Winston and Barry Smith, so full of insight and so remarkably balanced together. I had such a resonant and engaged experience working with Wellcome on these events, do visit www.stevenjfowler.com/statesofmind for more.

A note on: States of Mind events I & II at Wellcome Collection: July 7th & 14th

A highpoint to speak and curate at Wellcome Collection for these three events as part of their States of Mind: Tracing the edge of consciousness exhibition. I've had the chance to bring together some of the finest neuroscientists, psychologists, artists, speakers and thinkers working today, and curate these evenings as complimentary in their differences, letting new questions be asked through the presentations, rather than trying to tie together complex threads on a very complex issue - consciousness itself.

The first event focused on poetry and consciousness, language really, and the second on sound and consciousness. Both were a pleasure to put together and amazing to witness. Daniel Margulies, Noah Hutton, Jen Calleja, Maja Jantar, Nick Ryan, Vincent Moon and John Gruzelier have all spoken wonderfully, insightfully and the sold out audiences have seemed engaged and pleasantly surprised by the variance of expertise.

I also had the chance to speak at the first event, talking about poetry and consciousness, which has been a concern of mine for sometime, in the sense that I studied philosophy with an emphasis on phenomenology towards the end and am always trying to probe at the why underneath my practise and the genre in general, especially through recent teaching experiences. Unfortunately during this talk I had to wear a headset and look like a member of a 90s boyband, but you can't have it all. I looked how I felt. 

A note on: States of Mind - 3 events in July for Wellcome Collection

States of Mind: Tracing the edges of consciousness
3 events in July 2016 at Wellcome Collection

Great to be speaking at and curating three events for Wellcome Collection's exhibition on consciousness, States of Mind. These events will bring together expertise from a wide array of fields, from neuroscience to performance art, from philosophy to filmmaking, in order to explore the notion of consciousness through the concepts of language, sound and narrative. www.stevenjfowler.com/statesofmind

Through informal academic talks alongside newly commissioned artworks, the variance of speakers, with their uniformly exciting and innovative approaches to the notion of consciousness, will ensure three remarkable events, free to attend, this July, in London.

https://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/states-mind-tracing-edges-consciousness Tickets available from late June.

The Poetry of Consciousness

Thursday 7 July, 19.00-20.30

FREE | TICKETED at Wellcome Collection

From the perspective of the neuroscientist, the poet, the translator - a discussion of the role of language in constituting our consciousness, presenting talks and newly commissioned works for performance on the night.

Featuring: Daniel Margulies, SJ Fowler, Noah Hutton & Jen Calleja.

The Sound of Consciousness

Thursday 14 July, 19.00-20.30

FREE | TICKETED at Wellcome Collection

This event asks what role sound takes in shaping our experience and understanding of consciousness and offers artist’s reflections on the pivotal role sound has in the firmament of our daily lives, drawing from the worlds of neuroscience, anthropology, film, composition and sound poetry.

Featuring: John Gruzelier, Nick Ryan, Vincent Moon & Maja Jantar.

The Narrative of Consciousness

Thursday 21 July, 19.00-20.30

FREE | TICKETED at Wellcome Collection

Within and without language, how does the notion of narrative define our experience of the world through consciousness? An event featuring some of the most dynamic contemporary artists, neuroscientists and writers, exploring how narrative interacts with consciousness and what happens when this begins to break down, whether through trauma or conditions like aphasia.

Featuring: Lotje Sodderland, Srivas Chennu, Sam Winston and Barry Smith.

A note on: Kakania in London comes to an end with a 6th event & symposium

A lovely long day at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Knightsbridge wrapping up a brilliant 18 months with the Kakania project in London, before it goes to Berlin later this year. The amazing Theodora Danek helped me develop the project into something special, and the support of all the staff at the ACF has been really outstanding, Elisabeth Kogler and Zhuo Wang especially.

We had three hours of talks and screenings in the afternoon followed by six new commissions in the evening, including my first creative entry into the Kakania output which has included over 60 new works from artists and two books, over six events so far. All the videos are here www.theenemiesproject.com/kakania-events and my page has been updated too www.stevenjfowler.com/kakania

A note on: Camarade 61 at Apiary Studios - January 16th 2016

The 61st time I have paired poets in a great grouping to share new collaborations. This time it was to continue to energy of last year’s teaching, with people I’d met from my courses at Kingston University, Tate Modern and the Poetry School, along with some other new faces who have crossed my path, participating. We were housed in the bar adjacent to Apiary Studios, a new space, and it proved a energetic, encouraging and memorable night. Lots of very young poets, either in age or in writing experience, and it’s inevitably gratifying to see the curatorial model working so well to help good people develop and experiment. Some wonderful works on the night and a pleasure for me to once again collaborate with Prudence Chamberlain.

All the videos are here, with some pair picture portraits too. www.theenemiesproject.com/camarade

A note on: Magma Poetry's National Conversation Event: Peel & Portion - Jan 15th 2016

A real pleasure to spend an evening the company of the Magma magazine audience, for an event exploring drafting, its process and concepts, curated by John Canfield and hosted by Patrick Davidson Roberts. I always enjoy speaking to people who aren’t perhaps familiar with my work, or even the philosophies that underpin, who see modernism or the avant-garde as something alien (though I don’t want to assume too much). It was an evening where the insights given by Rebecca Perry and Kathryn Maris, both of whom spoke wonderfully, complimented my more discursive, fundamental questions and ideas. And the audience really seemed to engage with this, the collective impetus of the event, and the notion that I want to question certain assumed ideas about what drafting means, from the creative impulse, to the notion of a language idea, to refining, to what might be called a finished piece. And that these questions aren’t necessarily antagonistic to more confirmed notions, that seem to proffer control of language in poetry. I was really touched to have quite a few people stop me after speaking and share their thoughts and enthusiasm and was very grateful to John and the team at Magma for having me involved in a really positive event in the lovely environs of the Teahouse Theatre in Vauxhall.

A note on: The Norwich Camarade at Writers Centre Norwich - Dec 10th 2015

I couldn't have had a better time visiting Writer's Centre Norwich to organise and curate a Camarade featuring poets living in the area. Jonathan Morley and Philip Langeskov of UEA helped put it all together and it was grand to discover lots of young new poets from the creative writing program there, alongside some very well known poets associated with the city, and those leaning towards the more experimental who often aren't. It was a perfect mix, to show that difference in mode compliments, and that we are all speaking the same language with different accents. 

We ended up drawing in 130 people to watch, on a cold, raining thursday night in Norwich and everyone seem very happy. An utterly stressless and joyful evening for me, another very pleasing experience travelling with Camarade. All the ten performances from twenty poets available here www.theenemiesproject.com/norwichcamarade

A note on: Launching Fights 2nd edition for Pugilistica at Apiary Studios

There are occasional nights when the feeling one might be seeking in writing and reading and organising comes together into one satisfying whole. This is one of the most distinct experiences of satisfaction I've had in sometime, in no small part because I was surrounded by many of my most generous friends but also because some of the most extraordinary boxing writers contributed and seemed genuinely enthused by the mixing of modes and forms towards the same goal - that is the celebration of the sport of boxing, in all its paradoxes and contradictions.

Veer books did a great job with the 2nd edition of Fights, it's a far better book, slimmer and more powerful. Every speaker (you can see all their readings by following the link below) presented fantastic work, from fiction to journalism, poetry to art history. Everyone enjoyed the others contributions, in the contrast, in the varied specialisms, so the strength of each art came to the fore. I'm sure this won't be the last event celebrating boxing that we'll do. All the videos are here www.theenemiesproject.com/pugilistica

And the new book is available here http://www.veerbooks.com/filter/veer-books/SJ-Fowler-fights-2nd-edition and my new webpage dedicated to it: www.stevenjfowlers.com/fights

FIGHTS: a book of boxing poetry

Fights, published by Veer Books, is a book of modernist and experimental poems, broken into cycles, each celebrating / reflecting on the life of a 20th century boxer, from Jack Dempsey to Antonio Margarito, from Yuriorkis Gamboa to Edwin Valero. 

Originally published in 2011, a new 2nd edition, extensively revised and featuring an introductory essay, remarking on the changing nature of the sport of boxing, in light of studios into brain injury in the sport and on the changing fate of the boxers featured within, was published nearly five years from original publication, in October 2015.

Each cycle within Fights uses a methodology that somehow represents the character of the boxer in question. The book employs a significant use of concrete poetry, collage, sound poetry, typographical experimentation and found text.

Fights was launched at Birkbeck college, University of London, in 2011, alongside new readings and talks from Kasia Boddy, Lynda Nead, Patrick Coyle and Tim Atkins. In it's second edition, Fights was launched at Apiary Studios in November 2015 alongside new readings and talks from Don McRae, Sarah Victoria Turner, Oliver Goldstein, Anna Whitwham and others.

  • New functions for the jaw. Poetic histories from all possible angles, and then some. Its about time boxing - the basis of all sport - was understood from the viewpoint of the poetic mind. Slam it into your mouth and read it out LOUD. Sean Bonney
     
  • ‘... a new beginning and one that is so much the swiftest, the widest, balanced. One hesitates to use the word pure, but’ A dazzling, visceral, proficient, kinetic work. Fights runs its combinations in formal excitement and trenchgut force.                                                                                           Maggie O’Sullivan

considering Kakania before the IV at the Austrian Cultural Forum

http://www.acflondon.org/literature-and-books/kakania-iv/ Book your place
March 26th Thursday 7pm!

Kakania has been one of the most satisfying curatorial experiences of my career, perhaps the most satisfying. It's not just that the concept was so lovingly taken up by all the artists I approached, and that there was such a groundswell of positive responses from the extensive audiences and readers and creative folk involved, but because it began ambitious, almost intimidatingly so, and yet is coming to a close feeling intimate, careful and thoroughly realised. It's hard to marry one's ambition to reality in these kind of art projects, but four events in, two books, 40 artists each with a new commission and it feels I've barely broke a sweat. Without being cloy, the genuinely amazing support of the Austrian Cultural Forum is a huge part of this.

The final event is not a culmination, it is, as each event has been, it's own entity, curated with it's own rhythm and feel, relative to the venue and artists. Yet, there is a natural build towards it. It is built on language works, poets, both new to Kakania and those who have acted as a sort of creative spine to the project, will be reading - Stephen Emmerson so beautifully engaging with Rilke (his son is called Rainer), Colin Herd so brilliantly evoking Kokoschka, George Szirtes born to write about Schnitzler. These poets are complimented with some radically different mediums, Josh Alexander with his abstract film on Paul Wittgenstein, Fabian Faltin with a conceptual performance on Otto Wagner and Ben Morris, a sound art beast, on Ernst Krenek. 

The point is to create a specific energy and experience throughout the evening that rests on complimentary and responsive artforms, artworks and artists. And more than that to show how powerful the connection is in 21st century London to the iconoclasts of early 20th century Vienna. Each work will speak to the next, as together they are far more about the artists through the ghost voices of their Habsburg predecessors, than the details of the individual artworks themselves. It'll be unique, come along

Liverpool Camarade - the videos

I had a truly beautiful experience in Liverpool, giving a seminar at Edge Hill University, where I was hosted and treated to extraordinary hospitality by James Byrne, enjoying the open, interesting campus before meeting 50 or 60 deeply discerning undergraduates and staff, before a Camarade took place in Liverpool centre on the same night.

The event was wonderful, so much so because James had taken the curatorial weight and allowed me to be free to launch my collaborative book with Tom Jenks, 1000 Proverbs, and to discover so many who were new to me. Great to meet Michael Egan, Patricia Farrell, Luke Thurogood and co. It was an extraordinary evening of poetry, full of energy and warmth. 

Steve Van Hagen & Michael Egan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAZrHb573Mg
Andrew Oldham & Lindsey Holland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pscQB_8JNY
Elio Lomas & Luke Thurogood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9WEvvu0dE8
Scott Thurston & Steve Boyland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5V6ImYwqqU
Robert Sheppard & the European Union of Imaginary Authors Liverpool Camarade - Robert Sheppard & the European Union of Imaginary Authors
James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD6MnII1fAc
Joanne Ashcroft & Patricia Farrell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yIQx3zSHpE
Tom Jenks & I https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3eF4bV8Mrw

Kakania at the Horse Hospital - February 19th

Another extraordinary lineup of contemporary artists presenting new works responding to figures of Habsburg Vienna one century ago marks our third Kakania event, this time taking place at the iconic Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury, London. A host of artists I am very proud to present, coming from Vienna, Paris, Zagreb & elsewhere just for Kakania. Doors 7pm, for a 7.30 start.
 
Caroline Bergvall on Gustav Klimt
Martin Bakero on Arnold Schoenberg
Colin Herd on Oskar Kokoschka
Marcus Slease on Max Kurzweil
Damir Sodan on Gustav Mahler
Joerg Zemmler on Karl Kraus
Stephen Emmerson on Rainer Maria Rilke

 
Tickets, at £8, on the door, with info available here: http://www.thehorsehospital.com/now/kakania-iii/

More news soon on the launches of the Kakania anthology and Oberwilding: on the life of Oskar Kokoschka, both original publications made for the project, now in print and presented for the first time at the Freud Museum. As well as our last event on March 26th at the Austrian Cultural Forum, who must be thanked for their generous support of this project. www.kakania.co.uk / www.acflondon.org
 
I would also like to draw your attention to the awful news that the Horse Hospital, an endlessly innovative and generous home for avant garde artwork in London, for 20 years now, is in the process of being sold off. There is a campaign against this http://www.thehorsehospital.com/horse-hospital-to-be-sold/ Please support the HH in anyway you can.

Liverpool Camarade - February 18th 2015

I’m happy to announce that on February 18th the Enemies project will travel to Liverpool for a special Camarade event featuring 16 poets. Some of the northwest’s most exciting vanguardists will present brand new collaborations in pairs, written for the night. The event is being co-curated by the Wolf magazine.

Details below, entrance is free but please book using this link:
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/liverpool-camarade-tickets-15406896442

 

 

7.30pm, Wednesday 18th February
Upstairs at the Fly in the Loaf. 13 Hardman Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 9AS

Tom Jenks & SJ Fowler
Robert Sheppard & The European Union of Imaginary Authors
Scott Thurston & Steve Boyland
James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar
Patricia Farrell & Joanne Ashcroft
Steve Van Hagen & Michael Egan
Lindsey Holland & Andrew Oldham
Elio Lomas & Luke Thurogood

Please come along to support another Enemies project foray outside of London.

Modes of Aberrant Research - next week at the Whitechapel Gallery

Very excited to be part of this event with brilliant artists, and I'll be reading my experimental story MueuM for the first time in public after it was White Review prize nominated this year.
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Performances coming up this August at the Whitechapel Gallery

Performance: Modes of Aberrant Research

Thursday 7 August, 7pm 

An evening of deviant anecdotes, radical storytelling and narrative segues through archives, collections and institutions. Through experimental fiction, multi-media performance and voice-driven texts, five artists and writers, including SJ Fowler, Patrick Coyle, Holly Pester and Kreider + O’Leary,  examine the subject’s status as agitator, witness and unwitting member of memory institutes.  

£8.50 full price (£4.25 members price).

Book now

Petrarch: a celebration of Tim Atkins, the videos

A magical evening, one of the best Ive been a part of, ever. It could not have been more joyous, funny, brilliant. It felt like a family, let alone a real community. All because of the human being Tim is, the way he has taught a generation of poets and peers to cut through the misanthropy to the warmth that permeates through his poetry and his persona. So proud to have been part of this evening, all 19 poets read so wonderfully, all worth watching. 

Reel Festivals in Iraq & Syria Speaks

Reel Festivals is a remarkable organisation that promotes events and programs of literature in areas of conflict to celebrate diversity, build solidarity and create dialogue with audiences internationally. They organise these events to explore alternative stories through direct interaction and shared experiences and last month, I had the extraordinary privilege to be a beneficiary of this work, as part of the Reel Iraq project in Erbil, Kurdistan. I was among four British poets who worked together with a group of contemporary Iraqi and Kurdish poets on translations and collaborations before reading at the Niniti Literature Festival, thanks to the British Council.
 
Next month, thanks to Reel Arts, leading Syrian artists will tour Britain throughout June to launch Syria Speaks, an anthology of art and culture from the Syrian frontline. The line-up will include award-winning Damascus-based novelist Khaled Khalifa, video artist Khalil Younes, writer and film maker Zaher Omareen, and authors Malu Halasa and Robin Yassin-Kassab. The tour begins with an event at the Rich Mix Arts Centre on June 11th, in the main space, from 7.30pm. http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/syria-speaks-art-and-culture-from-the-frontline/
 
The book and tour, organised by Reel Festivals, aims to demonstrate how Syria’s artists are leading the country’s resistance against tyranny. Syria Speaks is the first book to provide a window on Syrian creativity since the uprising, showcasing the work of over 50 artists and writers.http://www.saqibooks.co.uk/2014/04/syrian-writers-artists-tour/
 
In the interim, while in Iraq I had the chance to write some blogs about the trip, which can be found here: http://blutkitt.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/reel-iraq-kurdistan-diary-1.html
 
& a suite of poems I wrote for the project have been published online by Reel Arts here http://www.reelfestivals.org/the-arbil-suite-a-history-of-erbil/ “The Arbil Suite is a poetic history of a city that rightfully claims itself to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on earth…”
 
& here are videos from the Niniti Literature festival: 
Ryan Van Winkle & Dan Gorman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SrNw5Q3WKI
Kei Miller & Ahmad Abdel Hussein https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15yI3trw7ks
 
& there’s photos online here & here, as well as a great interview with Nia Davies who also attended, and more blogs from Ryan Van Winkle and others on the Reel Festivals site.
 
Please attend the event on June 11th if you’re free, and follow and support the remarkable work of this extraordinary organisation. http://www.reelfestivals.org/