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/"

Upcoming: Four events - aWwW / EVP / Globe Road / Soundings

Nov 13th: A World Without Words IV
Nov 14th: Electronic Voice Phenomena
Nov 15th: Globe Road Festival Walking Tour
Nov 18th: Soundings III

November Friday 13th - A World without Words IV at the Frontline Club: 7pm
The fourth event in the series exploring neuroscience, aphasia, the brain and language, this time at the incredible Frontline Club. With a talk by Professor Barry Smith and the screening of a series of anthropological short films from Vincent Moon. Curated by Lotje Sodderland, Thomas Duggan and I. http://www.frontlineclub.com/screening-and-discussion-a-world-without-words/

November Saturday 14th - EVP Sessions at Shoreditch Town Hall: 8pm
Electronic Voice Phenomena hits London once again, I'll be presenting a new commission in full skeleton embodiment, exploring disembodied voice and death http://shoreditchtownhall.com/theatre-performance/whats-on/event/theEVPsessions

November Sunday 15th - Globe Road walking tour for the Globe Road Festival: 11am
A Sunday morning stroll up Globe Road in the company of Gareth Evans, Elaine Mitchener and the Bohman brothers, all of whom will present brand new performance commissions related to the road itself, finishing with a reading in York Hall with Stephen Watts, Richard Scott and Jonathan Mann www.theenemiesproject.com/globeroad

November Wednesday 18th - Soundings III with Maja Jantar at St Johns on Bethnal Green: 7pm A collaboration with the incomparable Maja Jantar for a new sound poetry / avant-garde music performance as part of the Soundings project with Hubbub at Wellcome Collection responding to prompts from the Wellcome Library. St Johns on Bethnal Green, an early 19th-century church, is an amazing venue too. www.stevenjfowler.com/soundings

Upcoming: November 2015 - Events, Performances & Projects

My 'A Language Art' course runs on Monday nights throughout November with sesssions exploring the intersections of avant-garde poetry and modern art in the galleries of Tate Modern and in the Tate stores.

November Wednesday 4th - Pugilistica at Apiary Studios
A chance for me to launch my book Fights, in it's 2nd edition from Veer Books, alongside some amazing journalists, novelists, poets and art historians, all exploring the literature of boxing. www.theenemiesproject.com/pugilistica

November Thursday 5th - Mondo: global avant-garde poetry at Poetry School
A new course at the Poetry School, this time exploring avant-garde movements from Japan, Nigeria, Canada, Brazil and Syria / Iraq. Still a place or two left! Book here

November Friday 6th - Symposium: Pulling Together/Pulling Apart: Forces in Creative Collaboration, OVADA, Oxford
Thanks to artists Brook and Black, I'll have the chance to discuss collaboration at OVADA, alongside Tamarin Norwood and others http://www.ovada.org.uk/arkitektoniske-kramper/

November Saturday 7th - Nemici: an Italian Enemies project at the Rich Mix
A really ambitious Enemies project I'm curating with ten Italian artists and poets visiting London, each writing new collaborations with British poets. I'll be presenting a new work with Alessandro Burbank. Should be special www.theenemiesproject.com/nemici

November Friday 13th - A World without Words IV at the Frontline Club
The fourth event in the series curated by Lotje Sodderland, Thomas Duggan and myself, exploring neuroscience, aphasia, the brain and art, this time at the incredible Frontline Club. With a talk by Barry Smith and anthropological short films from Vincent Moon. http://www.frontlineclub.com/screening-and-discussion-a-world-without-words/

November Saturday 14th - EVP Sessions at Shoreditch Town Hall
Electronic Voice Phenomena hits London once again, I'll be presenting a new commission in full skeleton embodiment, exploring disembodied voice http://shoreditchtownhall.com/theatre-performance/whats-on/event/theEVPsessions

November Sunday 15th - Globe Road walking tour for the Globe Road Festival
Happy to be leading a Sunday morning stroll up Globe Road in the company of Gareth Evans, Elaine Mitchener and the Bohman brothers www.theenemiesproject.com/globeroad

November Wednesday 18th - Soundings III with Maja Jantar at St Johns on Bethnal Green
So excited to collaborate with the incredible Maja Jantar for a new performance as part of the Soundings project with Hubbub at Wellcome Collection responding to prompts from the Wellcome Library. St Johns on Bethnal Green is an amazing venue too. www.stevenjfowler.com/soundings

November Friday 20th - The European Camarade at Freeword Centre
A mini festival of European poetry in collaboration, so pleased to have the chance to curate this night and present a new collaboration with Endre Ruset. Some of these poets are doing the most exciting work in their nations, not to be missed www.theenemiesproject.com/europeancamarade

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The Prolific Myth: Interview with Hannah Silva

I'm really pleased to have spoken with Hannah Silva recently at the British Library, she as generous enough to invite me to have an extended ramble with her for her exciting archival project there. Hannah has been a generous friend since we met on the EVP tour last year, and genuinely one of the people, one of my peers I suppose, whom I am constantly learning from and trying to follow. It sounds limited to say that, that I might not mean it, but her exactitude, her professionalism, her openness, her remarkable understanding of technology and the width of her practice are spectacular. I actively seek to work such different worlds of poetry, from spoken word to the avant garde, as I actively seek to wield technology, as I aspire to write for the stage. She is a model I can work from, learn from, meeting her, like so many others who have proven themselves brilliant outside the page or reading form of poetry, has been significant. So to be interviewed by her is pretty funny to me, an immense pleasure.
Interview excerpt found  http://hannahsilva.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/the-prolific-myth-interview-with-sj-fowler/
"I’m glad about that but I think that it would horrify some people, that this thing exists in the world that represents you, that’s got your name on it, and people can read it and you can be ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’. That happened to me recently. Someone published an extract of one of my poems, and I was like, where did you get the title from? He said –it’s one of your poems, I said I’m pretty sure it’s not, but alright…I just don’t care about that. There’s poets who have done this, and might not be in the public’s consciousness, who I really admire. People like Pierre Joris and Tom Raworth who just pump out book after book, I’ve always believed in that. When I was interested in film, it was people like Bergman, who’d create radically brilliant, often different works, year after year. I admire that approach because they are I suppose professionals. That’s how they saw it/see it. It was a life engagement, not about dropping their rarefied thoughts on the world, but about grinding it out and if it pops out and it’s genius you can just see them smiling ‘oh alright that was genius, onto the next’ – that’s how I feel, if people say something I’ve done is rubbish, or brilliant, I don’t care. I care about writing, I love writing, it’s helped me be a better human being, it’s helped me mediate the world around me, it’s helped me sublimate really fundamentally aggressive energies in the world and I feel better for that. I’m not going to slow down or strategically launch the books so that people can take the time to actually read the work I’ve done in order to somehow mitigate the form…I think there’s a myth about being prolific, that it harms you, but I don’t think anyone will read me anyway and if they do I’ll be dead. Why not just do fifty books, and then they’ve got lots to read?
I’ve had some great conversations with people about their first collections, and I’m really interested in it, like Jack Underwood was in the faber young poets pamphlet and I don’t know what happened, something with faber, and now his next book is out, he announced on twitter it’ll be out in 2016, he announced this last year, and that to me is amazing because what that says to me is that …he’s going to get a huge reception and I hope he wins prizes, he’s a sweet man and he’s well known, he’ll do so well and he’ll be known by so many more middle class people than me!…But, the reality is that to me that says he’s going to spend the next year and a half not writing, because if he writes hundreds of poems in the next year and a half they’re just going to be in a dusty drawer…maybe not, but that’s just how it feels, that’s my instinct.
I’ve spoken to a poet who was told off by his PhD supervisor for publishing an extended chapbook because the guy was like: your first collection is the most important collection, you must go to these people and make these connections and slowly breed these relationships over five years and then launch your book when you get to around thirty. That to me just seems like an absolutely crazy backward view of what your work is......"

Saboteur awards 2014 - vote for Enemies

Very happy to discover the day after I didn't win the white review prize that Enemies had been nominated for the Sabotage review awards this year, for best collaborative work. http://sabotagereviews.com/2014/05/01/
saboteur-awards-2014-the-shortlist/ 

If you follow the link you can vote for Enemies near the bottom. Please do 

Also perhaps a vote well spent is one for Penned in the Margins for most innovative publisher, and Electronic Voice Phenomena for best spoken word show (!), and POW for best one off night? perhaps perhaps

Baroque in Hackney - EVP & Enemies wraps up 2013

http://baroqueinhackney.com/2013/12/31/the-turn-of-the-year-darkness-light-art-enemies/ a poetry reportage / blogging phenomenon, Katy Evans-Bush's Baroque in Hackney has kindly mentioned my EVP performance at the rich mix in May 2013 and my book Enemies, and it's intro, in her end of year wrap up on what happened and what happened to her. Such a pleasure to get mention in such a widely read and esteemed put together, and she is kind enough to call back to when I was lung bedraggling into a bucket on stage in london, and really giving my whole whack to scare people up. That's me below, in my true form, my bear form.

The turn of the year: darkness, light, art, enemies

Steve Fowler bear
We keep doing it
The picture at the top represents a blog post I never wrote, back in the thick of things. It’s SJ Fowler, living Dada, on stage at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green, in an experimental mixed media spoken word show called Electronic Voice Phenomena. I was meant to review the show, which was brilliant and included a variety of pieces from people like Hannah Silva, Ross Sutherland, and others, but somehow got bogged down in the bog of life and – though I spent months feeling guilty and unfinished – never did. SJ Fowler was the compere, and came on in a different sort of persona each time. As the show went on his linking acts became more and more broken down, more and more unstable, more inaccessible, until – I think just after the break – he came on in this amazing bear suit and started reading in a stentorian chant. Symbolic communication only and WOW. It was a bit terrifying from below; you can see where I was. The show ended with Mr Fowler coming on and ranting in German, on and on, building in fury – and fury is the word – until he finally melted down and gave every realistic semblance of being violently sick into a bucket on the stage.
This isn’t sounding  appealing, is it! I asked him afterwards what he’d been reciting, and he told me it was a recipe. Full of eggs. (There, that’s better.)
The show, produced by Penned in the Margins and Mercy, was brave and exhilarating. It poked around in the idea of  what lies beyond, but left the beyond firmly in the beyond. Rather than the usual ghosts and gloating hints of the paranormal, it gave us shadows and fragments of meaning and perception. (What is ‘normal’, anyway?)
SJ Fowler has a book of collaborations put with Penned in the Margins, called Enemies. By ‘enemies’, he means those personal influences and interactions that spur us to action – I think – I mean, I think he means friends. He opens with a surprising epigraph:
We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only though our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.
- Orson Welles
The introduction is a very satisfying essay in its own right, and among other things he asserts that poetry ‘lends itself to collaboration as language does to communication… in the shaping of every fragment of language there is a response taking place’.

Where does creation spring from? What was that voice? These may be my questions for 2014.
 Happy New Year! 
Here’s to 2014. Let’s do it this time.

licking up the ash of Mary Shelley: EVP Bournemouth

A reunion on the south coast for the Electronic voice phenomena tour. In a derelict theatre built by mary shelley's son for her to watch her favourite plays from her specially built god's eye portico dumb waiter while ill and invalided. As part of the Bournemouth arts festival on the very southest of coasts, in Boscombe. An amazing space to perform in, crumbling and mysterious. I was utterly profane, rewriting my whole piece to be about Shelley and Frankenstein. I heard her voice while retching, I told the audience about the new technology and possibilities of galvanism and urged them not to fear death as their favourite body part might be resurrected, I sat in a couch before them while we screened the prologue to the Bride of Frankenstein. I even finished by doing my nut as normal but with the added twist of this time licking her ash, poured from an urn I 'found upstairs', from the stage floor. So good to see the brilliant Hannah Silva, Ross Sutherland and Tom Chivers again and to explore Boscombe beach in meditation before the performance. A privilege to be able to rework my acting chops, spread the avant intensity and travel with performance. 

EVP Norwich

Strange it may be but Norwich is a poetry monsterland. The amount of good poets it has produced, through uea, and its cushy environs, of my generation, is really impressive / unnerving. A fine place for the last show (?) The town was Norfolk festivalled – quaint, yokelfest, saw morris dancing. The arts / writers centre is such a beautiful venue and lovely people throughout its tunnels, had some lovely exchanges with those people, and ate their food. Everyone on the tour seemed very balanced, calm, happy with what we’d done, still growing into those ideas, still critical, but neither nostalgic or overwrought. No worn out sentiment about the benemothian undertaking of EVP, which has been great and for me personally a success for all the challenges it posed were new, and I sucked in loads from those conflicts. Good to know..., consistently, adapting each night – learning all the time from my tour peers, the venues, the space, the techs, the producers, the work, the memorising, the acting, maybe even the audience (though still in general I believe what I always did – balls at them) Probably the end of this character too, a last dada hurrah for the retch acorah shaman bear host spine birdkiller.
To the show. This the end, may 25th, a date I have eyed some some suspicion for a few months, but it arrives First bits were a tiny bit wonky – I blame the conservative audience, gentility folk in the crowd. Norfolk arts festival. Then on in, pretty good. A good bear, my favourite of the Zamyatin story, the dragon. A nice going for it at the end came natural. Some spit up lung butter bedraggles, some fear, & I finished after hard ZIMZALLA BIM BIM BADA ZALADU ZALADIM by screaming ILL MISS YOU, ILL MISS YOU SO MUCH. A lot of warmth and respect for those involved. Started out without much ‘acted’ performed. Wrote whole 45 minute theatre piece. 2 month notice, national tour, sage, st georges hall rich mix, burgess centre …. 8 shows, 37 appearances. Went well. 

EVP Stockton

mad maxville, the place the students used to call mount doom in durham. actually an enjoyable day, a train over Yorkshire from Manchester to start, to Thornaby. Then it was explained to me what MadeinChelsea was, sonic interruption, a t=rex swipe into buildings, half the shops shut, like depression shut, tattoos on the back of a man's head in caffe nero. The Arc is a beautiful theatre, like a roman outpost for art. Wandering Stockton for hours and hours. I'd been before but why? I did many circles. Lots of charity shops. Bought a blue crocodile, a pig and a whoopie cushion. Listening to arvo part, a mistake, too many ideas for novels. The show itself was good, nerveless again, swishing, seemed to be easier now. Even the closer wasn't too hurtful and draining, but enough. A couple talked in the front row, I cane pointed them, adlibbed the most since Brighton. Premier fucking inn again, but a privilege even that. Second to last. Such fast passing, sad, learned too much.

EVP Manchester

Maybe the most involving performance, maybe. The Burgess foundation was an intense environment, inspiring for me http://www.anthonyburgess.org/ His spirit was about, I waited between sets in his library, filled with first editions, signed copies, weird books that must've been his. I sprinkled his ashes on stage. 1985. I felt quite warmed by the presence of friends in the audience, Holly Pester (who I beared, hoovered, retched and flicked), Tom Jenks, Scott Thurston - poets I respect, fun to show the stuff before them, and it was packed, and dark, and I felt stranglely nerveless beforehand, and so it did flow, lots of heavy pukkke. Exhaustion can relax, can afford funny rifts in a character. I returned the morning after, to buy some books, and I had a open, meditative afternoon waiting before, in central Manchester, confused and enlightened by its bleak newness and unfinishedness, like my performance and my piece. I worried I was a little too ebullient after, too loud and sharp in conversing etc...but our hotel was bizzarre, like the overlook, shining-esque, and that returned me to ground. 

Pictures from EVP in Liverpool

Pictures from EVP in Liverpool. The same site also published a review of the show, which was rightly glowing about Hannah Silva and Honor Favin, and included this snippet "The evening was compered by London-based poet SJ Fowler (main image), who through a series of vignettes attempted to channel a retching spiritualist's progressive decline into suicidal despair. While amusing, and Fowler has obvious talent and performance skills, it was impossible to banish images of Derek Acorah from my mind (albeit during his little documented laudanum phase), and although thematically relevant, we found it hard to understand how the piece contributed to the promised exploration." An amazing link, Acorah is the kind of underground avantgarde television personality whose authenticity I often have felt I am aping on this tour.
http://www.peterguy.merseyblogs.co.uk/2013/05/electronic-voice-phenomena-fea.html

David Kelly responds to Electric Dada for EVP in London

http://erkembode.com/2013/05/19/a-vispo-for-an-electronic-voice-bear/ 

David Kelly's response to my performance of Electric dada at the rich mix arts centre on saturday may 19th. generous generous. 

check out his blogpost, it has some pictures of me performing in the dark dark, and when performing i pecked kelly as a bear

i would later go on to stage puke and term that term as a hashtag in punishment for not being mentioned or being cold shouldered by a london audience, who eventually paid dearly for such cold shouldering with fear

EVP Bristol

Time for the city again, so important, back so soon after the enemies, and the cube is a truly exquisite space. How could this not be in the shadow of something as immense as the night before? It was different rather than lesser. A space to truly test the 'new day new work'. The greenroom was an attic bricabrac holecave of joy for me to play in, dance in, while Outfit shellacked. We all felt homely in the space. I could've felt really exhausted, body jaded, and with the material at times, unable to call down the spirit of the shaman animus monster lock bodywar, but I just smoothed that sideways. The first signs of tour cosh, tiredings, but not really. Such a joy to be around everyone on this thing, so much gentle brilliance, brightness, intelligence, creativity. Nice to be collaborating with Ross too, at claw, bear wrestle, and flesh out ideas on trains instead of reading / writing. Weird monolithic, premier innn, i name checked it live, but no one was hooked on that. Not everything can rattle like a sword inside of a stick.

EVP London

Bethnal green road back + forth twice. Another day beginning before it really began. This is the show that means the most to me. It happened, certainly, and a breaking point, where I no longer have a clue how it is. Others are positive, so it is all positive. I committed to it. I felt the (in)famous frost where I was used to some rictus chuckle from elsewhere audiences, there was less. a lesson here, but it was pressure, so familiar the ground, and the expectation. quite big actually. a night waiting on stairs, feeling tremors and then letting loose, realising niceness was needed to really spear. i did spear. people in lifts, im told, saying they wanted to run, that it made them feel ill, afraid. I fell back on what I can do, to eat up that drop. I had plenty of use for the disdain early accrued. All tied together in the end, I think, more than before, it fused, my works across the night, all the work really. We hoped it would when it should and it did, I suppose, if I can be any judge of that, which I can't. The less I know of this stuff the better, for I cannot know. When it does not die in childhood we can seal it off, return to the next. But still, some weight and I ended up with pub threats and massive eviscerating expellation of the gullet. The pints of cold coffy, lukewarm strawbshake and oliveoilberrysmoothie did not see the light of day. Other things did. Slept in my own bed.

EVP Brighton

One of the nicest walks of my life, strolling of the Laines to Kemptown with my shamanic cloak on my left shoulder. Friday evening and 100s see me, only a few notice, and they speak to me, with warmth. I love your coat, sweetie, I get in Kemptown. A car of girls, on their way out makeup, beep and then stop when I smile and ask me what it is. When I tell them, they are impressed, but seemingly not surprised. ub40 back to back on my shuffle. earth dies screaming and don't break my heart. powerful throwbacks. i listen to the full songs, more than once, which is rare with my impatience.you shoot me down in flames / You put me down a lot / But I'm giving you my heart / Go on take it / Please be careful not to break it / Just remember it's the only one I've got / It's the only one I've The expected perished at the basement, but it was a joyful experience, a stop between points in terms of my work, but the Pit in the Basement is that, and the intimacy welcomed a lot of adlibs. Apparently I've done the Brighton fringe and the Great Escape festival now. I was gentler, more responsive. I came here, Brighton, to recover after a big car crash, have family I love in the city too. A place that has been generous to me. Despite what people (cynical people, like me maybe) might think of as a veneer of falseness, it is a genuine place. I went with things for the performance, and things went with me. Had 2 grubbs vegiburgers. Holiday. The hotel was beautiful too. 

EVP Liverpool

Saint Georges Hall is a ridiculous place to look out from, into an audience. My mum tells me her dad used to take her there every saturday morning, this must have been in the mid 50s. More time in a city my family is rooted in but I never returned to until doing things with art / performance. The view from the green room is immense. A day of dressing room with Outfit, http://www.everynightidressupasyou.
com/main.php who are as intelligent, down to earth, brilliant a group of creative individuals self-coerced into a collective as I've met. I feel removed from the procedural responsibilities of such an undertaking. We consider the balcony for a thing. Still really scared for this one. Honor Gavin plays, really impressive  http://honorgavin.tumblr.com/ The whole tour lineup is a huge act of skill on the part of the producers, the acts are so radically different but wholly communicative, and they do speak across each other. The gore, a silhouette fudge, but it's fine. Colin Herd was kind enough to mail me, he saw Gateshead, was very kind about it, respect his opinion, helps to hear. Leaving Liverpool, staying at a hotel I've stayed at before. Threats in late nite tesco. I am as confused as I believe the audience were, which is a tremendous alienation achievement. I lay on the stage long after, bespattered, as they snapped pictures of me, and filtered out. The view was beautiful. See below.

EVP Gateshead

Groups of men in tight t-shirts, and I say men, those in their 40s, stared at me aggressively because I was wearing light blue trousers. The Baltic is a wonderful gallery. To play at the Sage is an achievement for me http://thesagegateshead.org/ We passed Durham on the train up, where I went to study, and haven't been back since. Three years of my life between Durham, Newcastle, Middlesborough, Stockton, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Chester-le-street. The train journey becomes the centre of what I aim to take in, the company of others, the experiential focus which allows me to put my own experience first, to appreciate the opportunity at all possible moments, to utilise the unique and challenging nature of the performance and its demands, and the company of those demands, to put the audience second, in order to benefit them. Met http://www.hetainpatel.com/ for the first time, a deeply generous and warm presence.

How to write the month spent writing my piece, the month rehearsing it, the unexpected but welcome discomfort at essentially having to confidently perform a touring acting theatre piece on a national tour to major venues with a few months notice never having done so before. How does that affect my private aesthetic experience, permanently, in the face of the inexorable contradiction between the intense engagement of performance and the dreary low of inevitable dissatisfaction? Doesn't matter. Lots of tiny changes made, shavings, prepared the Ash, the Animus, the call, the musicality and imagery. New shoes on, cut my feet to ribbons. The show went well, looking up, into the bowl. I'm told, repeatedly, the first one is the hardest. Is it? Hotels begin. The room sits in the middle of a pool, friday night in Newcastle.