A note on : The end of the Other Room

The Other Room has come to an end. Ten years of remarkable events that have led the way in a resurgence of decidedly contemporary forward thinking poetry in the North West have wrapped themselves up as of April 2018. The trio of curators, all markedly influential poets, publishers and educators themselves – Scott Thurston, James Davies, Tom Jenks – have worked together in putting on dozens of poets in dozens of events, publishing 10 anthologies and posting hundreds of updates online for events and publications across the UK. They have done the kind of work that acts as an invisible inspiration to generations that come up behind them, that create concrete connections between writers and happenings that influence the future of poetry in the UK, especially outside of London, and I for one have often made it known their very specific way of working events has been a massive influence upon me. https://otherroom.org/

I would say my experience reading at The Other Room in 2011 was the singular influence on the nascent Enemies Project then and has concentrated my focus ever since. What I discovered was that there isn’t a contradiction between a warm, welcoming, hospitable, funny, unpretentious atmosphere and poetry that is challenging, complex, oblique, idiosyncratic and strange. In fact, these two things are complimentary. This discovery made me realise the often experienced distance, coolness and hierarchy of many readings was a deliberate imposition fashioned in order to create for themselves a sense of exclusivity. The Other Room showed this to me, this vital realisation and in so doing eliminated any instinct I might’ve had for utopian projects in poetry, allowing me to focus on each night at a time, to be present with the poets on those nights, enjoy their company, listen concentratedly to their work and then have a laugh whenever possible. This is very likely the reason my events are still going, 8 years after they began. 

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The Other Room also showed me that the superstition some poets have as a legacy from the last century, that organising too successfully blots out appreciation of your own poetry, a spectre of conflicting interests somewhere in the poetry ether (being a poet and editor is fine though apparently, and anthologising, and teaching) is also a myth. Scott, James and Tom are some of the most interesting poets writing in the UK, each with their own markedly original oeuvre and intellectual concerns, rendered in a multitude of forms and spaces, each with their own influence over many of their peers. Scott was one of the very first poets I met, and I listened to him carefully then, as I do now - his work offered me great possibility. James has done as much as anyone to make conceptual poetry in the UK its own separate exploration with its own decidedly British concerns, separate from the humourless aggrandisement that can be indicative of people’s understanding of that area of poetry. And Tom’s prolific invention, insight and deep erudition worn lightly has been a huge influence on my use of satire, humour and the balance between lyricism and found language. Tom, like Scott and James too, is such a clear thinker about poetry, has such a mind for the art, but carries this knowledge with great humility, always in a mode of learning, always open to new ideas.

The end of The Other Room is a loss for the UK poetry scene. I had always hoped similarly organic homes for interesting poetry would pop up in cities across the country, that it would procreate into more rooms of otherness, so that we could build a circuit that would be exponential, that would serve as a link for new poets coming through everywhere, doing what they have done for a decade, leading a way, lighting a path, providing a space. Yet, after this time, after such selfless labour, one can’t help but understand why it should end, so neatly, so that it doesn’t just dissolve as often the best things in poetry do, into something lesser, to disappear unnoticed. For my part, I’m grateful to them, they’ve run something powerful for longer than I’ve been involved in writing at all, and I hope as the next years pass The Other Room is remembered as a real moment in 21st British poetry.
 

A note on: new paintings 'Cemetery Portraits' for exhibition

As part of my upcoming collaborative exhibition Worm Wood at Kensal Green Cemetery I'm exhibited a series of new paintings. The series are ostensibly portraits made under the constraint that I can only paint them on site in the Dissenter's Chapel with materials found in the chapel, the catacombs, cemetery stores and in the cemetery grounds. So far they are also of those buried in the cemetery. My upcoming The Poem Brut project has led me to spend lots of time with the work of painter-poets like Asger Jorn, Francois Aubrun and others and they are clearly an influence in these works. 

A note on: New poets published on 3am magazine this summer

The submissions for 3am magazine have opened once again, from September 1st until January 1st, and the work coming has been the best I've ever seen in my five plus years in the magazine. Completely anecdotal, probably representative of nothing in the wider scope of literary trends, but finally a huge portion of the work, maybe 25% is innovative, interesting, original and a pleasure to read. I've decided to go with this and take more poets on than before, really try and build the magazine's poetry into something dynamic and energetic over the summer and in the coming months too. http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/index/poetry/

Some exciting work published recently:

Maren Nygard http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/marennygard/
Jerome Rothenberg http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/jeromerothenberg/
Paul Leyden http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/paulleyden/
Sarah James http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/sarahjames/
Freya Harwood Bond http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/freyaharwoodbond/
Charlie Baylis http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/charliebaylis/
Pam Brown http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/pambrown/
Kathryn Maris http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/kathrynmaris/
Erik Kennedy http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/erikkennedy/
Alex Houen http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/letter-to-a-neighbour-other-poems/
Mischa Foster Poole http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/unboxing-teardown-other-poems/

Plenty more to come and here's every poet I’ve published as poetry editor http://www.stevenjfowler.com/3ammagazine

A note on: The Enemies project: Croatia - Zagreb, Grožnjan & the Wood Poets

The purpose of the Enemies project is to not only create the collaborations and the readings which accompany them across countries and generations and so on, but to also always acknowledge the context of how these things actually happen. That is they are created by people, and they really only work when generously founded. And this generosity tends to come from, or lead to, friendships. This is why I continue to do the Enemies project at such a pace, because, fundamentally, it is a way for me to know people from around the world, far beyond my own country, and for those people to become friends. This project in Croatia was so resonant because it was so personable, the character of the travel and the readings resembled the character of those Croatian poets who are so generous and open and enthusiastic – Tomica Bajsic, Damir Sodan and Maja Klaric. The Enemies project Croatia began, in friendship, in 2012, and since we have exchanged events and ideas, culminating in readings in London in July 2014, followed by this mini-tour of Croatia in August 2014. I was joined by Sandeep Parmar and James Byrne in Croatia, greater friends for it, and together, we were completely indebted to the Croats for an extraordinary week in Zagreb and Istria..

Day One: An eye bleed flight into Zagreb to discover a heatwave in the normally hot Croatian August, passing 35 degrees. Some time to explore the city again. A brutal run in the heat to Maksimovic park. Damir arrived and we all met together for the first time, James, Sandeep, Tomica, Damir and I, and we visited a gallery in Zagreb, run by an artist collective, in order to begin a discussion about collaborating with three young Croatian artists towards the publication of an innovative book that might lie somewhere between abstract art and poetry. Certainly a way for the collaborations between this brilliant generation of Croatian poets and those of us based in the UK to continue on in years to come. An evening in Zagreb, as ever, warm spirited and funny, the hospitality of Tomica, his family, Damir and the Croatian poets that keeps me coming back to this city.

Day Two: A massive bus ride, Zagreb to Rijeka on the coast with a quick stop over, and then on windier roads to Buje. 36 degrees outside. The time flew by when we were all in conversation. Then a minibus to Groznjan itself. An incredible place, mesmerising. High atop the seemingly endless forests of Istria. A walled town, tiny really, but a 1000 years old, and recently famous for its music, classical piano and drums can be heard from upstairs windows as you walk the cobbled sloping streets, yet it's quiet even in August, in the peak tourist month, as its hard to find, or reach, it seems. We have a few hours to relax and then again we are travelling, to the excuse we have to come here, to the Wood Poets reading, organised by Maja Klaric and her partner, the Forest Festival of Groznjan. We park up and follow candles through a small wood into a clearing where perhaps a hundred people congregate around a bonfire, with small torches littered around the landscape. It is lovingly put together, and immediately friendly. We meet poets from Hungary and Italy, and lots of local writers. There is music from Italy, percussion on something that looks like a barbecue. Readings follow that. I read some poems from my book {Enthusiasm}, maybe a bit harsh for the hippy vibe, but people are nice about them. James, Sandeep, Damir, Tomica read beautifully, the bonfire gets primed after each reading so it shoots up a flame when you’re done. After an hour goes by and no one else will read in English I retreat to the edge of the gathering, lie down in a field and listen to Italian and Croatian voices way past midnight, seeing the stars clearly in the sky for the first time in a year at least. The music follows, we don’t get back to Groznjan until 2am or so.

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Day Three: Morning in Groznjan, people are remarkably friendly, I go into a restaurant below where Im staying and they give me free coffee and food just because we talked while I ate, waving me away. There’s a reading in the centre of the town, all of the performers from the Wood poets the night before coming to join us underneath the Fonticus Gallery. There’s more music, some slightly strange audience participation, which I escape, and then a chance to read again and listen further. Great to hear Marco Fazzini read, he seems to have had and extraordinary life in writing. At the start of the poetry Tomica, Damir, Maja, James, Sandeep and I read our six way poem. Each of us provided a single line, then added a line to each other’s, making six poems written by six poets. Each of us then read one single six line poem. 

Dinner on the town, long afternoon conversation with James, Sandeep, Marco and the vast table of local poets and friends. Late afternoon I disappear into the hills outside the town for a few hours, first walking and exploring, then with a route, a chance to do some hill running. It’s not so hot so not so arduous as in Zagreb, but the chance to have the heightened experience of exercising surrounded by the immense panorama of these hills, olive trees lining them, a view unto the horizon, is exhilarating. We spend a long evening with pizza talking, to each other and the poets we've been lucky enough to meet in Istria. We return the next day, a bus ride down out of the hills, back to Zagreb and then London. An amazing, all too brief window into a truly beautiful place all excused by the chance of us all happening to write poetry, and more decisively, being open and enthusiastic to the friendships that can arise in that shared practise.

More on www.stevenjfowler.com/croatia

proud to present Feinde: an Austrian Enemies project

I’m proud to present one of the most ambitious international Enemies projects yet, Feinde. Over four events in two cities and a two week exhibition in the heart of London, we will present the best of the brilliantly innovative contemporary Austrian poetry scene through new collaborations with their British counterparts. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/feinde 

The four remarkable Austrian poets coming to the UK - Ann Cotten, Jörg Piringer, Max Höfler & Esther Strauss - are a powerful representation of one of Europe’s great avant-garde traditions, from linguistic innovation to sound poetry, from concrete poetry to conceptualism & performance. Feinde is generously supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum. 

Feinde at the Rich Mix Arts Centre: Main Space - May Friday 8th: 7.30pm
35 - 47 Bethnal Green Road : E1 6LA - Free entry http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/feinde--the-enemies-project-austria/ 

The premiere performance event of the Feinde project. Taking place in the main space of the Rich Mix Arts Centre, this event will showcase eight brand new collaborations from the best of 21st European avant-garde poetics, including the collaborations between the four visiting Austrian poets & their core collaborative counterparts, & other brilliant London based artists & poets. It will be a unique night of performance and poetry. Featuring:

Jörg Piringer & I
Ann Cotten & Prudence Chamberlain
James Wilkes & Esther Strauss
Max Höfler & Robert Herbert McClean
Tim Atkins & Jeff Hilson
Philip Terry & James Davies
Erica Scourti & Mira Mattar

Jonathan Bohman & Adam Bohman 

The Feinde exhibition: a new concrete poetry 
May 1st to 14th 2015 at the Hardy Tree Gallery, Kings Cross, London
119 Pancras Road. London, UK. NW1 1UN www.theenemiesproject.com/feindeexhibition

This two week exhibition celebrates the visual poetry of the Feinde: Austrian Enemies project, with over 20 artists exhibiting poetry that explores the conceptual, the concrete and the material.

Calling back to the great tradition of postwar British and Austrian concrete poetry, so defining of that medium, this exhibition of 21st century poets brings together over 30 artworks from concrete poetry pioneers like Viennese-based Anatol Knotek and London’s Victoria Bean.

The exhibitions includes works from: Anatol Knotek, Victoria Bean, Jen Calleja, Simon Barraclough, Ben Borek, Sophie Collins, Tim Atkins, Ollie Evans, Adam Bohman, Jeff Hilson, Fabian Macpherson, Peter Jaeger, mjb, Jörg Piringer, Prudence Chamberlain & Ann Cotten, Esther Strauss, Robert Herbert McClean & Max Hofler. 

Special view / Poetry reading: May Sunday 10th  7pm - 9.30pm Free entry 
There will be a special view of the exhibition, with readings from British based poets and artists, and those visiting from Austria, including Cristine Brache, Emma Hammond, Simon Pomery, Ollie Evans, Prudence Chamberlain, mjb, Jörg Piringer, Ann Cotten, Esther Strauss & Robert Herbert McClean. 

May Tuesday 12th - Feinde at the Austrian Cultural Forum: 7pm 
Free Entry http://www.acflondon.org/literature-and-books/enemies-feinde

The final performance in London for the Feinde project will take place in the beautiful environs of the Austrian Cultural Forum itself, just off Hyde Park. This evening will allow the visiting poets to present their work with solo readings and performances alongside another host of London based poets. 

Featuring Rebecca Perry, Eley Williams, Jen Calleja, Jörg Piringer, Max Höfler, Ann Cotten, Esther Strauss, James Wilkes, Robert Herbert McClean & Prudence Chamberlain.

Feinde at Unesco European Literature Night Edinburgh - May 14th 

The European Literature Night 2014 is being co-curated by the Enemies project and acting as the grand finale of the Feinde project, the four Austrian visiting poets will travel to Edinburgh to present their solo works and brand new collaborations at the evenings closing show at Summerhall. More details on the specific times and location of the ELN program can be found here: www.theenemiesproject.com/eln

Some of the poets involved in Feinde will also read at Ian Hamilton Finlay's famous Little Sparta poetry garden on May 15th. www.theenemiesproject.com/littlesparta More information on European Literature Night and Little Sparta coming soon.

performing with Townley & Bradby & co at The Minories, Colchester - April 11th 2015

Wonderful to be involved in a staged reading of a family dinner time refracted through an avant garde music score, for the closing date of the Townley and Bradby exhibition at The Minories in Colchester on April 11th. I'll be alongside great artists I've never worked with before too, Vicki Weitz, Rebecca Hall, Isabella Martin and Jamie Wilkes (who I have worked with a lot, and who is responsible for me getting to meet such brilliant artists).

We rehearsed together recently (pic above, check out my green socks), and it was a wonderful experience, a really cohesive, warm spirited and generous exploration of sound, voice and collaboration, all the mode of the artists trying to mediate expression through their direct experience, that is family life and the ebullience of kiddies around the dinner table. It should be great, please come along on April 11th at 2pm http://www.colchester.ac.uk/art/minories/exhibitions/townley-and-bradby-everything-all-once-all-time & you can read more about Townley & Bradby here http://www.axisweb.org/p/townleyandbradby/

Liverpool Camarade - the videos

I had a truly beautiful experience in Liverpool, giving a seminar at Edge Hill University, where I was hosted and treated to extraordinary hospitality by James Byrne, enjoying the open, interesting campus before meeting 50 or 60 deeply discerning undergraduates and staff, before a Camarade took place in Liverpool centre on the same night.

The event was wonderful, so much so because James had taken the curatorial weight and allowed me to be free to launch my collaborative book with Tom Jenks, 1000 Proverbs, and to discover so many who were new to me. Great to meet Michael Egan, Patricia Farrell, Luke Thurogood and co. It was an extraordinary evening of poetry, full of energy and warmth. 

Steve Van Hagen & Michael Egan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAZrHb573Mg
Andrew Oldham & Lindsey Holland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pscQB_8JNY
Elio Lomas & Luke Thurogood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9WEvvu0dE8
Scott Thurston & Steve Boyland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5V6ImYwqqU
Robert Sheppard & the European Union of Imaginary Authors Liverpool Camarade - Robert Sheppard & the European Union of Imaginary Authors
James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD6MnII1fAc
Joanne Ashcroft & Patricia Farrell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yIQx3zSHpE
Tom Jenks & I https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3eF4bV8Mrw

All we need is rest - Nov 18th for the Hubbub at the Wellcome centre

http://www.wellcomecollection.org/events/all-we-need-rest Very happy to be part of the Being Human festival in my very first event related to the Hub residency at the Wellcome trust, where I will be hovering around for the next two years and in intense residence from January through to April. This event will be a drop in session from 12 noon to 2pm at the wellcome trust Hub space itself, near Euston. I'll be there with Patrick Coyle and James Wilkes doing some martial arts demos and performances.

"What does 'rest' mean to you? When, where and how do you rest? Rest can seem hard to find, whether in relation to our exhausted bodies, our racing minds or the hectic city of London. Should we slow down, or should we embrace intense activity? What effects do each of these states have on the health of our bodies and minds? How have people at other times and in other places thought about and practised rest?
Join Hubbub, an interdisciplinary research team, at the start of their two-year investigation into rest and its opposites. The new Hub space at Wellcome Collection will be specially opened to the public for a free, drop-in lunchtime session. Try out interactive demonstrations in poetry, neuroscience and the history of medicine, and hear mini-talks on state-of-the-art research into rest. Find out more about the experiments in the arts, humanities and sciences that Hubbub will be running over the next two years and how you might get involved.
The Hub is a pioneering location for creative work that explores what happens when medicine and health intersect with the arts, humanities and social sciences. Its first residents are Hubbub, an interdisciplinary team investigating the dynamics of rest and its opposites, as they operate in mental health, neuroscience, the arts and the everyday."

Issue #3 of Anglaise Actuelle on Recours au Poeme = James Byrne

http://www.recoursaupoeme.fr/essais/un-regard-sur-la-po%C3%A9sie-anglaise-actuelle-3/marilyne-bertoncini Delighted to see the third of this translation series I edit up online with Recours au Poeme. This time the brilliant James Byrne.

L'Un/L'Autre
L'un soupire profondément au téléphone
L'autre verse les sables mouvants de l'assassin
L'un quitte la garnison seul comme une balle
L'autre emplit les tubes blancs de kérosène
L'un est observé de la vitre en frontière
Un autre défend de la noirceur des arbres
L'un trinque avec l'ennemi
Un autre imagine la mort sur une route migratoire
L'un s'acharne sur celui qui est  assis au piano
Un autre s'abrite à l'ombre d'un figuier
- See more at: http://www.recoursaupoeme.fr/essais/un-regard-sur-la-po%C3%A9sie-anglaise-actuelle-3/marilyne-bertoncini#sthash.ZF6LJp7T.dpuf

my summer reading on 3am magazine

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/summer-reading-steven-j-fowler/ 

summer reading: steven j. fowler

By Steven J. Fowler, Poetry Editor
@stevenjfowler
Poetry:
Stephen Emmerson’s Comfortable Knives
Colin Herd’s Glovebox
Tim Allen’s Tattered by Magnets
James Davies’s Two Fat Boys
Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water
Tom Jenks’s On Liberty, Repressed and Crabtree
Anna McKerrow’s Regressive Poetics
Tom Chivers’s Flood Drain
Chris McCabe’s in the catacombs 

Essays 
Tom Chivers & Martin Kratz’s Mount London 
Fiction
Tomaz Gonzalez’s In the Beginning was the Sea

my Silk poems in The Wolf: issue 29

One of the first magazine I sent work to, the Wolf, which has been in print under the guidance of James Byrne for eleven years. I am genuinely glad my early, embryonic attempts at poetry didn't make it into the magazine, for now, when I do feature, I know my work is that of a toddler perhaps. My four poems are all taken from my work Silk, written for and inspired by Thomas Duggan, and rendered in jet printed silk this summer in exhibition in London. Very proud to feature in issue 29 alongside others I admire, alongside peers & influences Stephen Watts, Robert Sheppard, Robert Hampson, Ales Debeljak, daniele pantano & Tomaz Salamun (!) and even prouder to follow the blazing introduction by the editor, which is timely and direct and 100% correct in it's assertions. Buy it to read it http://wolfmagazine.co.uk/



James Byrne & The Becoming in 3am magazine

Very proud to publish to exceptional works of poetry on 3am today, The Becoming is an excerpt from a longer work being released by Calamari press http://www.calamaripress.com/Becoming.htm a towering Bosch tectonic shuffle of language that is as relentless as it is entralling. Inspirational  work from an anonymous author. http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/the-becoming/

Meanwhile, new work from James Byrne, a wonderful poet and a gentleman, who has been involved in my Camarade series with Sandeep Parmar on multiple occasions. He's someone whose poetry, and whose presence, in British poetry, I admire very much. http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/james-byrne-drin/


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.