European Literature Night: Edinburgh – May 14th: the full whack

European Literature Night 2015 will be a unique evening of live contemporary literature in Edinburgh, with over 30 poets performing at five events, from a dozen European nations, all on one night. www.theenemiesproject.com/el

Part of the continent-wide European Literature Night program, held in 75 cities during mid-May, and supported by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature trust, our program brings together some of the most forceful European avant-garde, literary and sound poets, to share their work, to read alongside and to collaborate with a swathe of Edinburgh’s equally brilliant poetry scene.

Four simultaneous events take place in the early evening of Thursday May 14th, around 6pm, with solo readings, before all poets and audiences will congregate at Summerhall for the epic finale of the night, with 11 pairs of poets presenting brand new Camarade collaborations, starting around 8pm

Every event is free of charge, so join us at The Fruitmarket Gallery, The Saltire Society, The Sutton Gallery and The Forest before seeing the night in at Summerhall, with poets from France, Spain, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Sweden and of course, Scotland. 


European Literature Camarade! Summerhall - 8pm doors for an 8.30pm start - Free entry. In the Demonstration room http://www.summerhall.co.uk/2015/unesco-european-literature-night-edinburgh/ 

Following the amazing success of the Auld Enemies project in Summerhall in 2014, we return to the Demonstration room for the grand finale of this ambitious evening. Brand new collaborative work will be presented by pairs of poets from across the continent. Featuring:

Colin Herd & Iain Morrison
Ryan Van Winkle & Calum Rodger
Graeme Smith & Andres Anwandter
nick-e melville & Anne Laure Coxam
Valgerður Þórodds & Katy Hastie
Esther Strauss & Ann Cotten
SJ Fowler & Jorg Piringer
Max Hofler & Robert Herbert McClean
Eduard Escoffet & Martin Bakero

JL Williams & Jessica Johannesson Gaitán 

The Saltire Society Caesura on Sound poetry: supported by the Scottish Poetry Library
6pm - Free Entry https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/connect/events/caesura-31-spl-saltire-society Enjoy some of Europe's most dynamic and pioneering sound poets, coming together for one night to present their innovative musique concrete, from Paris, Barcelona and Vienna. Featuring Eduard Escoffet (Barcelona), Martin Bakero (Paris) Jorg Piringer (Vienna) & curated by Graeme Smith (Edinburgh) as part of the Caesura series. 

The Sutton gallery on 20th century art:
6pm - Free entry http://www.thesuttongallery.com Join us for performance art from Esther Strauss (Vienna), readings from Tomasz Mielcarek (Poland), Robert Herbert McClean (Belfast), and the launch of Colin Herd & SJ Fowler's collaborative book Oberwildling: on the life of Oskar Kokoscka, published by the Austrian Cultural Forum all in the environs of one of Edinburgh's most beautiful galleries.

The Fruitmarket Gallery on Possibilities of the Object:
6pm - Free entry http://www.cityofliterature.com/event/european-literature-night-fruitmarket-gallery/ 
At one of Edinburgh's cultural hubs, The Fruitmarket Gallery, hear readings from Valgerður Þórodds (Reykjavik), Max Hofler (Graz), nick-e melville (Edinburgh), Jean-François Krebs (Paris/Edinburgh) and Iain Morrison (Edinburgh), all responding to the exhibition on display. 

The Forest Café on Activism / Craftivism
6pm - Free entry http://www.cityofliterature.com/event/european-literature-night-the-forest-on-activism-craftivism/ At an Edinburgh staple, join Ryan Van Winkle and other Scottish poets, alongside Austrian Ann Cotten, for readings on the theme of activism. Featuring Thomas MacColl, Ed Smith, Rachel McCrum & Ryan Van Winkle (Edinburgh), Katy Hastie & Calum Rodger (Glasgow) & Ann Cotten (Berlin) 

European Literature Night is supported by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Scottish Poetry Library & many others.


Poetry at Little Sparta - May 15th 2015 

"Set in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work of art. Imbued with a high idea content, the garden is created from the artistic fusion of poetic and sculptural elements with those of the natural landscape which is shaped and changed to become an inherent part of the concepts realised at Little Sparta.” http://www.littlesparta.org.uk 

The day following European Literature Night, we will be presenting this unique poetry event at Little Sparta. The performances will begin at 2.30pm and finish 4.30pm, taking the form of a series of short readings given as a tour of the gardens. This will be a unique mini-festival poetry celebration of one of the most extraordinary landscapes in Britain with an amazing array of contemporary European poets.

Readings & acoustic sound performances from Andres Andwandtner, Martin Bakero, Eduard Escoffet, Graeme Smith, Calum Rodger, Ryan Van Winkle, SJ Fowler, Colin Herd, Iain Morrison, Esther Strauss, Katy Hastie, Robert Herbert McClean, nick-e melville, Valgerður Þórodds & more.

Please note entrance to the garden is £10 and if you can't make your own way, you can join the poets on a pre-booked coach to the location by emailing me at steven@sjfowlerpoetry.com. The coach will meet at 1pm in Edinburgh city centre, at Waterloo place, and depart Little Sparta at 5pm. All are welcome. Thanks to the Little Sparta Trust, Calum Gardner & Graeme Smith.

Mexico : diario de la poesía #6 - Enemigos & the shadow of the Mexica

Aside from the practicalities of seeing the cities of Xalapa and Guanajuato, if there is one profound difference to this visit to Mexico, as compared with the weeks spent here in Mexico City last year, it is a sense that the paradox of the country has somehow been more in evidence. A circle of perception about the place has been completed. This is all in my perception of course, by its nature, incredibly limited and narrow in its vision, but last year was an opening up, a realisation that this is a place defined by things I couldn't have realised without experience. The hospitality, the energy, the physical vibrancy of Mexico. This year then is the closing of that bracket. What fuels that energy? I have no idea, but it is still a place where in Iguana, just an hour or so from Mexico City, a student was skinned and left on the street as a message to not be visible. They removed his face, what is the symbolism of that? He was protesting what he saw as unfair new tests for teachers, ones that precluded people who spoke indigenous languages and didn't favour Spanish or English. He and his 50 or so compatriots, student teachers, were not out against the narcos. Protests have erupted across the country, near the anniversary of 68 student repressions. This has come up in every conversation I have had here since it happened. Poets, academics, students, children; they tell me they are scared to travel, to be kidnapped. A nation where people smile at me on the street, shelter me without asking during a rainstorm, laugh off my lack of Spanish, give me gifts, buy me food, take me into their homes, offer to translate me, collaborate, lead me to transport, carry my bag. An obvious contradiction? A paradoxical place to such an extent it is a cliche. I have spent two weeks here, and being so sick right of the heart of that stay, losing my normal physical confidence, this has got into my breath. It has been a different experience, not bad, not at all. It has been magnificient. But not easy either. Not casual and light. 

I said farewell to Nell and Bee and the others who made up the official part of my trip, having chosen to stay on an extra series of days and see those I met last year and moved into a new, smaller, more ordinary hotel in Roma, a more youthful neighborhood. No one helping me now, strange to get used to cars picking you up and people shepherding you to events. I had more time to write and rest, still a bit weak. The first day 'alone' I did three readings and must have met a hundred new friends. 
First we read in the Condessa, launching the beautifully produced Enemigos anthology, what began my ties with Mexico in the first place really. We had 8 poets from London and 8 from Mexico City butcher each others works with the radical translations at the heart of the collection. To see it in print was very gratifying. I saw Ari Chavez Chacon again, who helped me so much in 2013, a brilliant artist herself and a friend, and Jack Little, the Newcastle born poet who has lived here for 4 years, and who runs the Ofi press. 

After a long lunch where I really got to talk with the wonderful Amanda de la Garza and Rodolfo Matas, and Ana Franco Ortuna, we headed to the Casa del Lago, an amazing and much lauded poetry venue right on the lake of the Chapultepec park, in the heart of the city. Apparently this ornate lakehouse had housed everyone from Paz onwards, and we set up as a panel to read from and talk about Enemigos. I met Gaspar Orozco here too, diplomat and poet and punk singer, not something I'd think possible in England. The audience was made up of families, a photography class and well wishers. I found it enjoyable, still full of cold, to be rather light hearted with the discussions, but reading the work of my dear friend Tom Raworth I felt quite sad he wasn't with me in the city he resided in during the 70s. We finished the day in a mescal bar, the Mexican hospitality raging as a thunderstorm wracked the city. 

I spent much of the next few days simply exploring the city, walking for many hours at a time, intermittently meeting friends like Jack, Ari and Rocio Ceron, and others, and getting to know Roma and la Condessa. It's been a long time since I've had days almost alone, unbusied. All things require adjustment. I spent the last day, the day I write this on, mostly in the anthropological museum. Famed for its grandiose architecture and epic displays, I spent the better part of 5 hours wandering the halls. But again the shadow came back. It was too intense, I became almost entranced, a bit sick even. I had to read every panel almost, to satisfy myself. I didn't take a single picture. There is a richness to the rendering, the animals, the faces of death, to the dwarfed gurning humans, to the very process and intent of the artwork of the indigenous civilisations of Mexico that is like the sensation I had experienced when being unable to escape the potential of the worst suffering and fear and occlusion that this country can produce. It is something of an intoxicant, and for now, just for now, I am okay with going home to London,

Mexico City diario de poesia #1

Every single person on the street stares at my big white face, my stupid mohawk and my mustard trousers, which is fair enough, and not entirely unpleasant. The city is both immensely busy and fraught and yet indelibly slow. I walk at least three times faster than anyone else I've seen. My lack of Spanish is a serious breakdown of possibilities, as perhaps it should be, to teach me a lesson, as Ive skived off English nearly everywhere else in the last five years, when I've not travelled much outside of Europe, as I used to often. The police are everywhere, look bored, but have intense weaponry, personalised shotguns and assault rifles. People let off fireworks which have no visible result but make a hard, dense crack when they go off. Sounds like gunshots every few minutes. There are 1000s of people crammed into tiny streets just off the historical city centre where we are staying and they all walk in front of cars. The food is absurdly dense and pleasant. The city is so big, that I am grateful I live in London in order that I not be overwhelmed. People are generous and patient with me.
We were met by one of the organisers, the charming Ari Chavez, in the morning and were shown to the Centro Cultural de Espana en Mexico, where we are doing workshops and a reading later in the week. It is a beautiful, unique architectural space, full of art and art spaces. We then took to the city. She walked us around, gently touring the very city centre. I've munched enchilladas and tacos so far, and guacamole so spicy I feared for the toot fog. The flight over was so easy, British airways has Louis CK and Alan Partridge on its in flight, and the great bear stakeout, unbelievable. No brain sleep cloud. Sharp. 
We go to meet Jack Little in the evening. Just such a fundamentally decent, warm hearted, open, hospitable soul. Amazing to spend hours with him, with a view over the city and then from a near cantina in the old town, just listening to how he found himself in Mexico City, 22 years of age, now his home, having perfect Spanish, mexican family around him, years past and how poetry became his passion in the years spent in Mexico, despite his mother being a really well known and established poet in the UK. Just an humbling experience to spend time with someone so outgoing, positive, human. Really the day is a day of two generous people who live in this city, giving something of their home over to us, allowing us new eyes to a place so big and intense it can blind you. Here's some of Jack's work on 3am http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/two-poems-jack-little/ and his remarkable Ofi press, where he published this interview we did awhile back  http://theofipress.webs.com/fowlersteven.htm