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

new Veer books website

http://www.veerbooks.com/ Delighted to see a beautiful new website for Veer books, who generously published my collection Fights in 2011 http://www.veerbooks.com/filter/veer-books/Steven-J-Fowler-fights & edited by a collective of extraordinary poets, have put together one of the most important lists in 21st century poetry, including poets from around the world. I sincerely recommend you checking them out and buying their wares.
Plus there is a sale! 

Lucas Matthysse 'murderous puncher'

I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to copy Lucas Matthysse recently - in training, alone, on the streets, in the supermarket - the way he holds his guard, crouches, the way he punches. I want a rat's tail. Some boxers have qualities which make them appealing as personalities to the public at large, and some appeal to the afficionados before they become well known - this process has always fascinated me and was a huge reason why I wrote my books Fights structured around individual boxers and their personas. It is often said it is their backstories which captivate people, but I'm not sure it's that because they are often very similar. There's just something authentic about a human being who is willing to dedicate their lives to a sport that only financially rewards 1% of it's participants, and tends to damage the health of 100% of it's participants. Headaches, dementia, blindness, speech slurring, failing cognitive abilities await. Yet they plug on, making themselves into monstrous machines, human weapons. Lucas Matthysse exemplifies these characteristics - he is quiet as a man, taciturn, even dour, but as a fighter, he is a cannibal. Relentless Argentinian madness, he's knocked out 32 of the 33 men he's beaten. And when he was robbed in decisions against home fighters, he just came back, shrugged it off, and destroyed the next men he faced. He punches as hard as any fighter I can remember, with both hands, it is awful to watch him hit people, in the most exciting of ways and he is single handedly inspiring me to revisit some of my work on boxers, rejig it, and write some more.