Mahu: to Tom Raworth - June Tues 7th: the videos

Fjender in Copenhagen

D is soft in Denmark. Sondergaard is Sonnegoe, Kierkegaard is Kierkegoe, Knausgaard is Kenausgoe. A happy, strange week in Copenhagen to finish off the Fjender project for now. Really at the core of this offshoot of the Enemies project was the relationship between myself and Morten Sondergaard, and his hospitality, generosity and energy of ideas has made my time in Copenhagen memorable. To have the time to really communicate with someone, to refine ones ideas in the face of such openness and intelligence is a wonderful thing, the very physical actualisation of an approach I’ve tried to take to my writing, my events and all such things, where process is emphasised over product, with the hope that the positive former will take care of the latter.
vikings on exhibition at Ark books, Copenhagen

My last day in Denmark was spent visiting the Asger Jorn exhibition at the national art museum, with Peter Jaeger and Morten, two wiser, kinder poets you couldn’t hope to meet. Having just taught Jorn as part of my Poetry School class a few weeks back, as he was a fundamental part of the CoBrA group, and been entranced by his work the further my investigations went, this was a perfect combination of things. Once in awhile an exhibition does what it is supposed to do to you. Once I had spoken to Morten and Peter at great length I found an arts supply shop, bought indian ink and paper and a scratch pen and took to finally completing a project of asemic writing I had begun years before. This is the purpose of all the stupid emailing bullshit, all the admin, the fraught running between working fulltime, training, teaching, organising – to open up days, like a aperture, where I am overwhelmed with the feeling of being fortunate to be able to experience life as a choice, to have the complete freedom to have experiences beyond my own small world, in new places, with new people, who are wiser and kinder and more intelligent than I, and to be able to create reflections of that experience without limitation.


Overall it was a week split in two, dark days and light days. The day at the zoo, commiserating with the surviving giraffes and spending hours by the bears, finding Kierkegaard’s grave by accident, visiting Ark books, who were hosting our reading and exhibiting my books and runic art, and then reading in the strange literature house with Morten, Peter and Martin Glaz Serup was wonderful. I am sure it will be the beginning of much, the Fjender project, rather than an end, and over the three events and month that it has lasted I have proven to myself that this mode of organisation, creating partnerships in writing across nations and languages has the potential for brilliance I thought it did.

Rest is Noise festival - on Thomas Bernhard & the Black Mountain college

A day of two halves. The first, a bite talk, 15 minutes on Thomas Bernhard. It was a failed experiment. I overwrote the content, wanting it to be so good because of the passion I have for Bernhard, and was far too loyal to the text. I was boring. The art of lecturing is a practice I am engaged in learning. You learn more from a 'loss' I suppose. Still annoying to speak so poorly about an author I love so much, and if anyone stayed awake through my monotone the actual content had some moments of insight I hope. / I then went on to chair a panel on the Black Mountain college with Alyce Mahon from Cambridge Uni, and my old friends Tim Atkins and Peter Jaeger. It was a brilliant hour, fluid, insightful and balanced. Each speaker brought information from differing perspectives, and were all very generous with their thoughts. Peter offered real insight into John Cage and Zen, Alyce opened up the history of the school with its creative spark offset by administrative suicide, and Tim told everyone that poets killed the college. The list of alumni or teaching staff is unbelievable - Duncan, Olsen, Williams, Cage, Cunningham, Albers, Twombly, Creeley, de Kooning, Rauschenberg, Dorn. The questions were also very positive, and we ended up talking about the modern state of the education system and how restricted it is, against such a hotbed of radical innovation and collaboration as the BMC. / The rest is noise is an awesome opportunity to open up so many discussions that rarely get such a platform. Next up, Walter Abish and Jack Spicer in November

Peter Jaeger: John Cage & Buddhist Ecopoetics

Peter Jaeger has really been an inspiration for me for sometime. Not only his masterful poetics, refined, precise, conceptually superlative, but also as a person, he has an immense aura of calm and is so refined in his warmth and genuity. I saw him speak at the London Buddhist society about this book some time ago and have been awaiting its release since. Great its with such a big publisher. I managed also to have him speak at the Hardy tree this summer and just this last weekend at the Southbank centre, on Cage in some form in both instances. Just wonderful to be associated with such a poet, and I'm sure being one of his students at Roehampton must be some privilege. Go and get this book now, it's a unique and brilliant undertaking. http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/john-cage-and-buddhist-ecopoetics-9781441117526/ 

"John Cage was among the first wave of post-war American artists and intellectuals to be influenced by Zen Buddhism and it was an influence that led him to become profoundly engaged with our current ecological crisis. In John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics, Peter Jaeger asks: what did Buddhism mean to Cage? And how did his understanding of Buddhist philosophy impact on his representation of nature? Following Cage’s own creative innovations in the poem-essay form and his use of the ancient Chinese text, the I Ching to shape his music and writing, this book outlines a new critical language that reconfigures writing and silence.

Interrogating Cage’s ‘green-Zen’ in the light of contemporary psychoanalysis and cultural critique as well as his own later turn towards anarchist politics, John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics provides readers with a critically performative site for the Zen-inspired “nothing” which resides at the heart of Cage’s poetics, and which so clearly intersects with his ecological writing."

Enemies: mini-lecture poetics

There is a profound, calming and inspiring core of poets and writers active in London right now. There is no way to see the current scene as anything but expansive and exciting. The hope with this event was that the form, which was intended as non-academic, personal and informal, would showcase the people behind the poetry and allow a wider audience access to discussions which were fascinating but also gentle in their direction and scope. So it proved to be, with the audience sat on the floor around Tim Atkins, Peter, Jaeger, James Wilkes and Marcus Slease in turn. The feeling afterward was one of real community, and that was well appreciated when it really seemed, because the Voice art event was so spectacular and memorable, that there might be a quiet shadow over things.