A series of videos from the Enemies project video library have been included in this extraordinary exhibition running at Southbank Centre in London, at the Saison Poetry Library. It includes my performance with Amanda de la Garza and a series of brilliant publishers, who make up the heart of the exhibition, with whom I've been working with for years. A must see, go visit it while you still can! (Photographs of the exhibition below generously provided by Pascal O'Loughlin)
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
I was so sad to hear, in the end, Amanda didn't receive her funding to come to the UK to collaborate with me live. But we have fashioned a video art collaboration that we'll screen at the event instead. The last time we read together, video here, it was an unforgettable night. She has an extraordinary calm, dignified and powerful way which permeates her writing. We'll have to renew our work another day.
I've been very ill travelling before. It's always a lonelying experience. You are a long way away from those you love, as you are sensorially, from comfort. It is a mental game. In the end I had trouble walking, it not just being projectile but with cramps, migraines and so on, and before we were to leave for Guanajuato, they had to have a doctor visit me. I was faced with a difficult decision as to whether to attend or not, but with such ripe disdain for that hotel room, that plush open room that sat on the 17th floor and took in most of Mexico City, that I hated, I went. Much is owed in easing my own will to those around me, the writers Nell Leyshon (who kindly ((!)) took this photo of me as the doctor visited) and Bee Rowlatt, the British Council staff, the organisers of the Cervantino and those back home who relentlessly insisted on getting me better when I wanted to crawl into a corner.
A five hour car journey then, still ill, but corked, listening to Veracruzian music sent me by new friends in Xalapa just gone. Into Guanajuato, an impossibly beautiful place. But I was blind to it, and hid again for another lost day, trying to get past the nausea. Student protests raged outside my room, hundreds, like thousands across Mexico, protesting the horrific torture and murder of a group of protesting students in Iguana. The brilliant Ioan Grillo wrote this article on the awfulness of what happened http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/10/opinion/mexicos-deadly-narco-politics.html?_r=0
I woke up better yet, and being able to know the date, and the place. I walked around Guanajuato, also being to eat more than a bite for the first time in days. The city is unbelievable, every corner a scene in a film, every street a picture. Every colour on the buildings, rising up on hills and littered with parks and markets and small alleys, and tunnels. The city is build on tunnels that bore through the hillside, genuinely subterranean streets that hold bus stops and pedestrian walkways see cars pour through and pop out in brilliant sunshine. I talked with people again, bought things, felt like a person once more.
My nurses and friends and buoys, Nell Leyshon and Bee Rowlatt, and I, then attended our event, at the University, for the grand Cervantino festival. This is the 42nd year and the festival goes on for three weeks. That we were staying just a day seemed incongruous. We were self panelling on Shakespeare, and it turned out marvelous I thought. We all come from different backgrounds, different professions, different modes of thought. And it complimented. I stressed the need to interrogate the value of Shakespeare, pedagogically, to make sure the relationship was personal and not assumed, earned and not because the value of his works were so overbearingly lauded. I also talked about his role in the future, which was the theme, being the same as it was in the past, really, but that there were immense things to be taken from his prolific nature etc etc.. It went well and the students were positive.
More time allowed me to visit Diego Rivera's house and the old market, before we bundled into a van for a brutal 6 hour crawl back south across Mexico into Mexico city once again. I was well and truly well then, for if I hadn't have been, I would've capitulated. Instead Nell and I shared the backseat and confused the Mexican car with conversation.
Nell Leyshon and I then fulfilled our promise to our vehement hosts and were dropped off for one of the few times without a chaperone to visit the anthropological museum. It was breathtaking, and having worked in a museum for seven years that is a statement, for I have developed a deep suspicion about museum's and their function, my first book was about that really, and yet this place was more a park, an architectural project and a state of experience than a traditional museum. The ancient cultures of Mexico were not portrayed singularly, their entire culture, and its truly unfathomable artistic skill was expressed. I was left with an intense sense of their humour, and play, their families, their subtlety, and the embracing of mortality. It was too much after only minutes, I needed more time to try to understand the objects. Nell and I ate in the cafeteria there too, a simple one room cafe, where a lady cooked us homemade food in a tiny kitchen.
We walked down from the museum, and thanks to Nell's intrepid nature and excellent Spanish, managed to visit the Panteon Xalapeno, the old cemetary of the city. Each grave was a complex in and of itself, a war of styles and colour, from the brilliantly tasteless to the architecturally avant garde. We were told families commission architects and construction workers to build these tombs and visit them so often they are like extensions of a home space. A privilege to witness, so removed as it was from a British cemetary.
I needed a few hours to write, and to recover, and train, and managed to have a long and rolling conversation with the brilliant Forrest Gander, whose reputation for generosity is well deserved next to the high esteem he is held in as a poet, and in Mexico, as one of the very most important translators. He could not have been more decent and down to earth. I was soon out again after dinner to see Daniel Johnston in concert. I had watched the documentary about his life many years ago, and had listened to his music then, but his performance was so beautiful, so vulnerable and open, I wasn't expecting to be moved so much by it. It was almost wounding, and made me, for the first time physically, miss home and the people I love. His performance was very much like this one I found online. After a brief trip to the hotel we all bundled off to a party thrown by the publisher Sexto Piso, who have a reputation for being very generous and very trendy. It was actually more of a celebration for the local people, the students really, who have volunteered the make the festival so amazing. It was good to see another side of the city again, not one I longed for, the hip nightlife, but fun none the less. I spoke to Forrest, the lovely Bee Rowlatt and Nell, and a lot of the young Mexicans, managing to get them to open up about their lives, and the effect the drug violence has had on their childhood. Their unrelenting warmth and friendliness seems to be in spite of the horror they have often witnessed, all of them had stories of hearing or witnessing terrible violence. Very humbled once again, and feeling very sober (the party had free tequila) I went home trying to quiet my mind.
Un regard sur la poésie anglaise actuelle (1). Allen Fisher, présenté et traduit par Steven J. Fowler et Marilyne Bertoncini
Confiée au jeune poète et animateur de la revue 3AM magazine, Steven J. Fowler, en collaboration avec Marilyne Bertoncini, cette chronique vise à faire découvrir des poètes anglais actuels aux lecteurs français de Recours au Poème. - See more at: http://www.recoursaupoeme.fr/chroniques/un-regard-sur-la-po%C3%A9sie-anglaise-actuelle-1/sj-fowler#sthash.Dmc2nwB2.dpuf