EPF2018 #8: Versopolis at London Bookfair for European Poetry Festival

Entering the belly of the beast I had the pleasure to put together an event for Versopolis, a huge EU funded cross continental poetry platform, as one of the editors of their European Review of Books, Poetry and Culture. At the back of the massive Kensington Olympia, in the subsidy section, the poetry pavilion corner, I introduced Versopolis poets Marius Burokas, Hannah Lowe, Ausra Kaziliunaite and Sasha Dugdale – all writers I’ve worked with before. All poets I admire. A slightly dodgy sound scenario was overcome with notable readings, which forced close attention, and we finished the event with a quick discussion, which was quite insightful and starkly honest. Versopolis also produced a great little publication for the event. Anja Kovac was a great producer to work with too, the whole thing was smooth and it was fortunate to be able to bring the festival inside the bookfair.  www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/versopolis

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A note on: Lightwave: New Performance in Lithuanian Literature

Wednesday March 15th / 6:30pm doors for 7pm start / Free Word Centre
60 Farringdon Road. EC1R 3GA : Free Entry but online booking requested here

A unique event celebrating Lithuanian’s new generation of literary artists, featuring brand new readings and performances by Gabrielė Labanauskaitė-Diena, Žygimantas Kudirka and SJ Fowler, a British poet connected to their innovative, collaborative practise.

Both Labanauskaite and Kudirka have carved out reputations across Europe for remarkable writing and live performances to match. This is a rare chance in London to witness poets who are breaking ground in the new European scene.

From Lithuania’s powerful lyrical and formal tradition has grown a culture of experimentation and in this event curated for the London Book Fair, the Lithuanian Culture Institute brings to light the best of Lithuania’s new generation of poets and performers.

Speakers Žygimantas Kudirka is a writer, artist and performer of interactive poetry, artificial languages and electronic music. Kudirka’s first poetry collection, XXI a. Kudirka (The Twenty-first Century Kudirka), is made up of interactive verses, literary remixes, internet poetry, and texts of unusual graphic forms and content. He is also a performer of avant-garde rap and one of the pioneers of poetry slam in Lithuania, representing the country in European slam poetry championships. His works have been translated in different languages and part of them can be found online herehere or here. / Gabrielė Labanauskaitė-Diena is a text producer. She combines poetry, drama, essay and other texts with interdisciplinary arts, enjoying her roles as writer, performer and organizer. Gabrielė also appears in classical forms – as a playwright in theatre, lecturer at Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy, human being in everyday life. Find out more here and here.

eating a book for Enemigos: performing with the video Amanda de la Garza

A series of adaptations were required to complete this collaboration, one taking place on the first night of the London Bookfair, for an event I was hosting & curating, with Amanda de la Garza. In the end, the evening was genuinely beautiful, easy to put together, and the performance between a video Amanda & I was really resonant (to me, I wouldn't presume further than that.)

The British Council have been a great partner on this event, providing lots of support and the presence of the brilliant Carmen Buellosa, and I had some time at the bohemyth bookfair in the day before the evening, where I reconnected with lots of friends I met on my two visits to perform in Mexico. It was during that afternoon, strolling in the Olympia, that I received Amanda's video, and then, with crippling audio problems, at great speed, I rushed home and we hashed out a deliberately unsynched audio reading track which had pauses for me to read in, around her words, and then I came up with some actions, reflecting her own performance in the video, when the audience could see her extraordinary visage, looming large. I bit pages from the Enemigos anthology and crawled on the stage. The final result was gentle, unsettled and singular, I think. I was very pleased.

The evening gave life once again into what has been one of the most exciting Enemies projects, and to see Rocio Ceron, Holly Pester, Adriana Enciso, Fabian Peake, Nell Leyshon, all shine so cohesively, with such clear relationships emanating from the collaborations was satisfying. I can vaguely relax for the rest of the bookfair now, cold selling my cupcakes to the massive trade delegations who also feed on books.

You can see all the Enemigos videos here : www.theenemiesproject.com/enemigos

Enemigos - April 14th at the rich mix for the London Book Fair

Enemigos at the London Bookfair - April Tuesday 14th 2015 at the Rich Mix Arts Centre
ww.theenemiesproject.com/enemigos / @enemiesproject

Held in the Main Space - Free Entry - 7.30pm doors for an 8pm start.
http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/enemigos-poetry-from-london-to-mexico-city/

Join a host of Mexican poets and writers on the first night of the London Bookfair as they collaborate and exchange with their British counterparts in an original evening of literature, read and discussed as part of the Enemies project. Each of the four pairs of writers will present a unique collaboration, varying from art performance, translation, dialogue and discussion. It will be an evening of poetry and literature that is as original in content as it is in form.

Carmen Buellosa & Nell Leyshon
Rocio Ceron & Holly Pester
Fabian Peake & Adriana Diaz Enciso
SJ Fowler & Amanda de la Garza

Enemigos 2015 will also serve as the launch of the Enemigos anthology in the UK. This beautiful anthology of radical translation features new work from 16 poets who have worked in pairs to translate each other's work in aberrant and inventive ways. Available outside of Mexico for the first time, the anthology contains new work from:

Tom Raworth & Rodolfo Mata / Carol Watts & Enzia Verducchi / David Berridge & Alberto Blanco / Tim Atkins & Gaspar Orozco / Jeff Hilson & Pura Lopez Colome / Tom Chivers & Ana Franco / SJ Fowler & Amanda de la Garza / Holly Pester &  Rocio Ceron

Thanks to the British Council, Conaculta and the London Bookfair. More information on the 2015 Mexico market focus can be found here :http://literature.britishcouncil.org/projects/2015/the-london-book-fair-2015

Coming up for the Enemies project in 2015:
Feinde: Austrian Enemies – May 1st to 14th
a World without Words – May 6th
Unesco European Literature Night Edinburgh – May 14th
Gelynion: Enemies Cymru – May 19th to 29th
Mahu: an exhibition – June 6th to 27th
Enemies: a Berlin camarade – June 23rd

London Art Book Fair - reading for Akerman Daly

Poetry reading at London Art Book Fair


Sunday 28 September, 3pm - 4pm, Gallery 8
Free, no booking required.
 
Akerman Daly presents performative readings by a selection of artists from the poetry of Fabian Peake. Peake and guest artists Phyllida BarlowFiona BannerClover Peake, Steven J. Fowler, Jess Flood-Paddock, Maria Zahle, Giovanna Coppola will read from his new collection Loose Monk.

Akerman Daly will be at the London Art Book Fair 26–28 September 2014. Preview 25 September 6–9pm. 
http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/shop/product/category_id/218/product_id/2091

Reel Iraq: Kurdistan diary #3

The day began translating with Maryam Alatar, a female poet from Baghdad, and one whose work I have been intrigued by since I heard of its ferocity. Maryam's poetry is pared down in execution but takes the patriarchy of Iraqi society head on. A quiet assurance in her manner is reflected with poems which can easily be described as outwardly aggressive toward oppression, abuse and misogyny. I had a great experience working with her, helped ably by the spritely Dina Mousawi, whose down to earth Bradford Iraqi charm rather offset the subject matter in a way that allowed me a certain permissive objectivity, one I needed to actually translate the work into English and make it my own.

Back from lunch and the grime gym (the owner of the complex, once a resident of Derby, and a former kickboxer, sorted me out with a bag and some good kit), I returned to my room to find it being cleaned. I got talking to a man from Nepal, who has come to Iraq for work. I made him some tea, and we talked for as long as he was allowed to before moving on to the next cabin. Him and his wife moved here a few years ago, and though the money isn't good he characterised the place as good because the worst it got was disdain, and not violence. He said they needed to move on at some point, the money they were earning in Shaqlawa was not enough to feed them and support their family back in Nepal. He spoke perfect English, told me he had a uncle who was a Gurkha and was incredibly mannerly and well spoken. His dignity in the face of treatment that he tried to downplay, but was obviously difficult, bordering on brutal to bare made me feel stupid in the way one does when realising the futility of any notion of fairness on the earth. I am being paid to be in Shaqlawa, being flown here, fed, given time to talk about, translate and write poetry. I believe it can only be good at times to find this absurd. He said we could chat tomorrow before we leave.

I then spent some time in the afternoon working on my translations of Ali, Maryam and Zhawen. My intention was to begin as loyal as possible to the original text, and then veer carefully, when it was required. It didn't turn out like that. The context felt freer, and so I was free. I introduced new ideas even, at points. The poems became mine. I wanted this for my own work, but for theirs...I hope they're okay with that in the end! Those of them who speak English anyway. 
The whole crew then climbed a mountain. I never caught its name, but in the Safeen range, and we were driven there en masse in a minivan that shouldn't have been able to climb as it did. At the foot a group of typically slick Iraqi dudes were just hanging, all shiny jeans and tight shirt and gelled hair, and we began to climb they joined us. The party started to stretch out, each taking the climb at their own pace. The climb was well staired, with views into the valley of Shaqlawa behind us. I was driving forward with Hoshang and Dina and Ryan, and the metal stairway at the summit of the climb came into view as the steps stopped and a dirt path took its place. The point of this pathway was apparently to reach a fertility stone. By sliding down this stone, face first, women apparently increase their chances of having a child. Sounded counterintuitive to me. I skipped ahead and reached the top first. Climbing the metal rigging I made my way to the dead end, the stone, to find a single man, sitting high above, in full body camo attire. He just looked upon me as the climbing beginner I was. Heading back down I came first to all the cool Iraqi guys we met. The first thing they said was 'picture'. Again I offered my white face up as some sort of pleasure for others, happy to do so for such friendly people. Eventually the whole group was at the shrine, with most doing the slide and we milled, Hoshang even mountain goating further up the increasingly sheer mountain. We then spotted the camo man, on an adjacent peak, frighteningly high and clearly requiring some ropeless vertical climbs. Rather him than me.

Passing us on the way down was a whole group of men with shisha pipes and wood, ready to barbecue at the top. At the bottom itself all the Iraqi dudes started dancing, choubi music blaring from their car stereo, doors open. Arm over arm, they sucked in most of our party before the cab came to take us back.