Published: How I Did It - ‘The Interrupters’ my article for The Poetry School An intriguing series from the Poetry School, hosted on their Campus platform, where they ask poets to discuss the process of writing a specific poem of theirs. Some previous editions were really interesting, but more often than not made me realise how different my process can be from the norm. So this article, where I discuss my poem The Interrupters from my recent collection {Enthusiasm} published by Test Centre, is an attempt to honour the article's remit but still maintain a true reflection of my actual methodology.

"I suppose each collection I have published has been an attempt to relate a style, or form, or concept, to a subject. Not the other way round. No collecting has been done after the fact, the fact has been established and then the collecting. My process is one toward a changing ideal. I don’t denigrate those who are consistent, or whose evolution is subtle, but I personally find the notion of radical growth, or variance, to be something I aspire to. It comforts me that my work is different book to book, that I produce things that bear not a singular stamp of my authorial ‘voice’, for I find that idea unrepresentative of my experience of being. It is not a metaphor to say we contain a multiplicity. I am a different person depending on my mood, my company, my job… As such I am a different poet, I have a different voice when writing about boxing than I do when writing about prisons, or when I’m using collage technique as opposed to visual poetry. And most especially when I’m writing mostly at night, as opposed to the morning, or when I’m reading mostly one poet as opposed to another."

the end of Kakania, for now...

In uploading the videos of the 4th and magisterial final act of the Kakania project I waded through all the Kakania webpages to change the tense from future to past. Not too sad a labour as I have stated so often, especially in the light of such an amazing final act, how satisfying the project now seems, how complete.

You can read all my past tenses here

Kakania at the Austrian Cultural Forum - March 26th 2015

The end, for now. But as Kakania ended with war, perhaps our hopes should be too high. This incarnation of the time certainly ended with a beautiful, graceful, varied and dynamic evening of works in the appropriately resplendent salon-like surroundings of the Austrian Cultural Forum. A night for me personally to appreciate just how extraordinary the project has been, and how much this is owed to the generosity of the artists and the almost unheard of support, trust and enthusiasm of the Austrian Cultural Forum itself. Theodora Danek and her colleagues have been remarkable, and this was a night where I able to thank them.

The final event was not to be a culmination, it was, 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 was a natural build towards it. It was built on language works, poets, both new to Kakania and those who have acted as a sort of creative spine to the project, read - 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 were complimented with some radically different mediums, Josh Alexander with his abstract film on Paul Wittgenstein, which when screened in the dark of that room genuinely moved me, Fabian Faltin with a conceptual performance on Otto Wagner which was utterly unforgettable and witty and energetic, and finally Ben Morris, a sound art beast, on Ernst Krenek. 

The point was to create a specific energy and experience throughout the evening that rested upon 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 spoke to the next, as together they were far more about the artists through the ghost voices of their Habsburg predecessors, than the details of the individual artworks themselves. It was like all of Kakania, unique, and warm hearted and brilliant.

2 poems in the Quietus

Two Poems By: SJ Fowler 
Karl Smith , January 26th, 2014 08:24

New writing this week comes via interdisciplinary polymath artist, poet and editor SJ Fowler
SJ Fowler is a poet, artist, martial artist & vanguardist. He works in the modernist and avant garde traditions, across poetry, fiction, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance.
He has published five books, the latest, Enemies, published by Penned in the Margins, and has been commissioned by the Tate, Mercy, Penned in the Margins and the London Sinfonietta. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine and is the curator of the Enemies project.
The liver fluke cometh
though I'm dead & so very game from you
there are tugs on the seastrings running from the sea
stitched gut goggles to swim through in order you
inherit the next breathing please on in
to the next so I'm still keen as a mountain
as quick up as quiet falling off wood bars between
two quiet high points in space shuffling
rivalling the tory in the actual event, the manmade
is fielded with fat burs & begins to crank until stop
the liver fluke cometh, pack the ready bags

Though it hasn't gone very well
pity gutted in the hotel built on a wall
& though it hasn't gone very well I am afraid
if I go out my tail will freeze in pre-penicillin
wars with crows cawing in the forests
were this the past where the male version
& the not born children should elicit sympathy
sad I am to not remember that perfect line
for this poem that I had dreamed oh well
on with the end of the german basics
the lean to a spider you are afraid to become

on Enemies by Christodoulos Makris 

"On SJ Fowler's Enemies

It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that SJ Fowler has charged the poetry scene in London (and elsewhere) with a fresh vitality. Since he entered the ring of writing, editing and, particularly, event-organising some years ago, the diverse factions that poetry habitually splinters into seem to have converged that little bit. The scene(s) have brightened that little bit. It's probably for his relentless curatorial efforts that he is known best - for Steven a worthy and totally valid way to grapple with poetry. The byproduct being that he has created fertile ground for those working under the umbrella of avant-garde and literary writing to begin conversing anew.

His poetics, residing squarely in the avant-garde, are not altogether distinct from his role as event organiser. Enemies, his recently-published book from Penned In The Margins, which collects extracts from his numerous collaborations, is a comprehensive statement on his perspective on writing. Benefiting from coming to poetry on the back of what are on the surface unrelated longstanding concerns, Steven's nonlinear and outward-looking approach offers a route out of the insularity typifying much of it. It punches a hole through poetry's preciousness. His commitment to collaborative practices is also a way out: out of the poetic ego - as he writes in his introduction to Enemies, "a testament to my refusing to be alone in the creative act." It's also a "record of friendships." Steven refuses to see writing as a way of separating himself from other people, whether these people are fellow artists or readers/audience.

His numerous collaborators over the years, some featured in Enemiessome not, range from poets to visual artists to photographers, musicians, illustrators, sculptors, filmmakers... He strays not only from English (linguistic & national) territories but also from accepted literary patterns of expression in order to seek appropriate modes for a confluence of form and content - in what seems to me an attempt to get closer to something crucial. There's a healthy lack of respect for convention; at the same time there's deep respect for the avant-garde tradition. He is frighteningly prolific. The seemingly inexhaustible energy he pours into arranging events - the list seems to be lengthening year on year - to showcase the work of so many of his contemporaries and forerunners in experimental poetics, and to encourage innovation with processes of composition, is also evident in his publishing endeavours. Humility and generosity are recurring themes. The quickness of mind he displays on stage, whether in the role of producer or performer, is a vital element of his writing. Fretting about inserting the right word at the right place seems not of overriding importance or interest: if an element doesn't materialise at the primal compositional stage then there's probably no reason for it to be there at all. In this sense, his work is as close as you will get to live literature on the page - and the results are incisive, exhilarating and bursting with potentiality. The key lies at the pre-compositonal stage: already pregnant with a conceptual turn, and with a mind in perpetual take-and-give-back-in-spades mode, the act of writing becomes, in Steven's work as much as anybody else's, the content itself. This is at the core of what we get and what's inspiring in this book of collaborations, as has also been the case with previous books like Minimum Security Prison Dentistry or Fights.

Since he wrote to me a few years ago seeking to feature my work in his 'Maintenant' series for 3:AM Magazine, Steven and I have worked together several times (apart from one or two occasions, our relationship consisting of him showcasing or promoting my work...) so much so that on greeting me at the book's launch the publisher ofEnemies congratulated me on being part of it, which I'm not. "Probably better off not being associated with me," according to Steve! Nevertheless, plans are afoot for us to work together as curatorial partners and, in extension, as writers: in Yes But Are We Enemies?, part of the 2014 programme of Steven's extraordinaryEnemies Project, we will be bringing poets in/from Ireland together with poets in/from England to produce and perform new work in rolling cross-border collaboration. Format, dates, venues and participants TBC. Watch this space."