A note on: North x North West Poetry Tour part 2 - Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool

All info and funbatch on this tour is here www.stevenjfowler.com/nxnw and allll videos www.theenemiesproject.com/northwest

Leeds was fire. I’d heard it was a quiet town for the avant garde or literary poetry but this proved untrue, or we got unlucky. In the wharf chambers we had over twenty poets and from many different scenes and backgrounds. From first time readers to folk like Ian McMillan and Robert Sheppard, it ran the gamut. I got there early, in the snow, to be met by Ian in fact, whom, ever the gentleman, helped me shift 100 chairs into the basement punk venue. So many poets I was excited to see and meet for this one, and there was a uniformly playful tone, with a noticeable investment by many. For my own work with Patricia Farrell we wrote a collaborative poem and then I played with some ideas around memory and recitation, recording her poems onto my phone, popping in earphones and reciting from that audio file at parts, and at others, just trying to copy what she had said. Nearly 100 crushed in all told and some of these collaborations will be long remembered, everyone was buzzing

Sheffield was interesting. Again there was talk of a quiet gig but our room at Bank Street Arts was chocked, even dangerously so with much of the gig standing room only with people blocking my camera or stepping on each other’s feet, literally. Some great works here, punctuating a range of stuff, from the high literary to the amusing. At times it leaned into the self-referential, the audience having its favourites / friends, which is really the opposite of the deliberately open Enemies mode, but this is inevitable with such an intense room and a single city scene.

To be honest for me, the whole time in Sheffield was clouded by hearing of the death of Tom Raworth, who was a great influence on me and a friend. I wrote a piece remembering him, feeling emptied and deeply sad, in a Travelodge in the city, having travelled from Leeds and so it was a melancholy day. It took me many attempts to write the piece, I was feeling quite out of sorts. We ended the event with Chris McCabe and I reading some of Tom’s poems and this I will never forget, to have the big audience to read Tom’s work to, a day or two after his passing.

Liverpool is a city I love and this sprawling reading in the beautiful Everyman playhouse, who could not have been more generous as a venue, brought together many friends and great poets from across the region, being the final gig. I had the grand pleasure of working with Nathan Walker, whom I respect immensely and our improvised sound poetry vocal piece was a joy, though it was maybe too intense for the audience. Some fine works here but it was a rare misfire over all in terms of the Camarade tradition. Not quite sure why, but there was an imbalance in the works overall, perhaps a lack of identity in the event, a lack of successful experiment, or engagement with liveness. Happens sometimes.

Certainly I left the event happy because it was the summation of the project, and the final moments of that were spent with my friends, Tom Jenks especially, a brilliant poet and a great person to work with. As ever it’s a privilege to do this work, to such large audiences and such enthusiastic and varied writers.

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

Liverpool Camarade - February 18th 2015

I’m happy to announce that on February 18th the Enemies project will travel to Liverpool for a special Camarade event featuring 16 poets. Some of the northwest’s most exciting vanguardists will present brand new collaborations in pairs, written for the night. The event is being co-curated by the Wolf magazine.

Details below, entrance is free but please book using this link:



7.30pm, Wednesday 18th February
Upstairs at the Fly in the Loaf. 13 Hardman Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 9AS

Tom Jenks & SJ Fowler
Robert Sheppard & The European Union of Imaginary Authors
Scott Thurston & Steve Boyland
James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar
Patricia Farrell & Joanne Ashcroft
Steve Van Hagen & Michael Egan
Lindsey Holland & Andrew Oldham
Elio Lomas & Luke Thurogood

Please come along to support another Enemies project foray outside of London.

Interview with the Double Negative magazine

Kind of a weird one... http://www.thedoublenegative.co.uk/2014/08/the-glitch-interview-s-j-fowler/

The Glitch Interview: S. J. Fowler

Syndrome Sessions 2.1: CHOROS, 24 August 2014
C James Fagan throws the rule book out of the window for his interview with Syndrome’s latest resident artist, poet, performer, and muse, S. J. Fowler…
Syndrome is an event; it is a place where poetics, technology and movement meet. Tonight, Syndrome Sessions 2.1: CHOROS opens; the latest in a series of interactive installations, held, as always, at the micro Victorian warehouse 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool.
But what does CHOROS mean? The closest Google can get is that choro is a ‘little cry’; Syndrome tells us that it is an environment created by Jamie Glendhill and Stefan Kazassoglou where bodily movements will be recorded and reproduced into electronic echoes.
“Into this space steps S. J. Fowler: poet, performer, master of the martial arts…It is, in his own words, “one of the most innovative and intensive pieces of performance art that I’ve ever undertaken”
If that weren’t enough, into this space steps S. J. Fowler: poet, performer, master of the martial arts. Who’ll be using CHOROS as a boxing ring, to perform a element of The Book Five Rings: a piece regarding the sport of western shadow boxing. Making the space his sparring partner, his pugilistic antagonist. The Ivan Drago to his Rocky. It is, in his own words, “one of the most innovative and intensive pieces of performance art that I’ve ever undertaken.”
Before he gets punch drunk, I approached S. J. Fowler to conduct a pre-match interview, in the style that Syndrome is most accustomed: glitch. That slippery art of electrical tomfoolery. These questions are taken randomly from other interviews, found exams, questionnaires, and personality tests.
What sound or noise do you love?
The word Osu. A Japanese word that means a lot of good things at once.
Spontaneity or stability?
What do you prefer: Giving or Receiving?
If you were Santa Claus…
… I’d change the last answer.
Constants are changing.
Are there other ways to treat my condition?
Need more information. But yes, probably. Eat better, exercise, first port of call.
“‘Who are you and why?’ I don’t ever want to be able to answer that question”
What are your weaknesses?
I’m actively trying to seek them and work on them, but I must recognise they are perpetual and improving; one will create another. So whatever I give will be temporary. At the moment I still retain a quick temper based on a prideful and unnecessary sensitivity to rudeness and lack of perspective in other people.

performing for Syndrome : staying in Liverpool

I had the chance to spend a near week in Liverpool developing a new piece for Nathan Jones intensely ambitious, Syndrome project {http://www.mercyonline.co.uk/who-we-are/what-we-are-up-to/article/introducing-syndrome}. I got to stay in Toxteth, near where a fair bit of my family is from, though I've never lived there, walk into the city everyday, actually take time to develop the work for a performance, always with the knowledge it may very well grow into something bigger in the future. It's the 4th visit to Liverpool I've made in the last few years to work with Nathan, each time in a different venue with a different work for a different program - EVP, the Biennial, Liverpool music week and Syndrome. http://www.syn-dro.me/

I found the city to be an inspiring place to visit, perhaps precisely because it isn't my home and in visiting I was able to really enjoy that which London doesn't have. Space, in human terms as much as anything, and a different energy to the art and the artists, one that is more communal I'd side, closer, more hands on. It is a thriving place to visit, a lot of ideas concentrated together. And the city itself was beautiful, the people pleasant and more muted than I'd remembered. If you've time there, it is easily filled, and I got to catch up with friends from the north west like Tom Jenks and the like. That richness, in human terms, was somewhat complimented by the stark reality of the beautiful surroundings of Toxteth that were fringed with so many abandoned properties. A great wealth or dearth that seems unreal when struggling to find space in London.
The work I produced, {http://www.syn-dro.me/portfolio/syndrome-2-1-choros/} the video of which will be available soon, is perhaps the most impactful martial arts based piece of performance art I've done, but feels so much owed to Nathan and Stefan and Jamie, those collaborators of mine, that I've yet to feel I own it. More I am part of it, I wore it. But always in our minds was the possibility of doing it again, and I have ambitions to create a program of performances and publications of my own that further my exploration of martial arts. This could be a breakthrough work in that regard.

And to Nathan's focus and erudition, and hospitality, again I am left feeling very proud to work with him so often and to be part of the impact he is having in a place that really needs him, not because of a lack, but because of the precise opposite - because of potential. Nathan is unflappable and driven and considerate at the same time, such rare qualities, and he's definitely a peer I draw much from.  http://alittlenathan.co.uk/

performing the striking of light & sound for Syndrome: Liverpool

http://www.syn-dro.me/syndrome-2-1-choros-21st-24th-august/ Such a privilege to work with Nathan Jones again on his remarkable Syndrome project in Liverpool, and creating a piece of work which will be one of the most innovative and intensive pieces of performance art that I've ever undertaken. Again it calls back to my martial arts practise, but this time, in collaboration with two remarkable technologists, the performance of shadow boxing, or kata, is in a light and sound receptive cell, a space in which every move I undertake is responded to, not only in colour and light, but in sound, both specific to the space into which I move and to the depth also. It is complex, better seen than explained, and I'm lucky to have a small residency with Syndrome with which to develop it before the big performance on Thursday August 21st, at 5.30pm at Kitchen 24. 

Syndrome 2.1: Choros // 21st – 24th AUGUST

A room-as-instrument devised by artist Jamie Gledhill with sound artist Stefan Kazassoglou, using an array of computers attached to X-box Kinect devices. This project brings together popularly available motion capture technology with 3D audio set up into a unique experiential and performative artwork.
The work will allow for the dynamics and speed of a users movement within the space form a live illustrative mapping on the walls, and for sound to be literally ‘thrown’ across the 3D space by a performer – and members of the public as active participators in their own performative moment with the work.
The CHOROS installation will be open for playing and viewing from 10 – 4pm on 22nd – 24th August. Entering the space, the movements of your limbs will be traced by light and sound across a 3D axis using projections and an ambisonic speaker array. Entry is free for all, and suitable for all ages.
A launch event will feature a brand new movement work by SJ Fowler in which he explores the ritual and violence of martial arts:
The Book of Five Rings by SJ FOWLER
The Book of Five Rings is an unforgettable exploration of physicality and martial spirituality through cutting edge avant garde theatre and performance. And while each Ring will be decidedly different, each a unique, responsive production to its subject, as a whole, they will form an unforgettable tale of a universal human expression, battle without violence, war without war.
no. 1: Pugilistica UK / US (western boxing)
A conceptual performance exploring the sport of Boxing. SJ Fowler takes the audience through a boxing workout with a different, shadow boxing with a complex, cutting edge technological rig, so that each movement has a responsive light and sound reaction. An exhausting, explosive performance of light and sound
The work will then be available to view from 21st – 24th August.
Booking recommended and encouraged for groups.

Syndrome season 2 for Mercy in Liverpool this August

Syndrome Season 2http://www.mercyonline.co.uk/who-we-are/what-we-are-up-to/article/syndrome-season-2 yeaaa, Im up for this going to Liverpool for a near week residency with the brand new amazing project from Mercy that is Syndrome going deeper in the realms of control under the watchful eagle eyes of Nathan Jones wherell Ill get to work with radical technologists and ideas people Jamie Gledhill  and Stefan Kazassoglouan who will help my create interactive space that responds visually and sonically to physical presence and movement in a similar way that a musical instrument responds to being played with, but in this case the instrument is my body, through the martial arts, voice and breath performance. Very good very good.

Syndrome - arts lab - from mercy...

SYNDROME arts lab and events programme for Liverpool 2014/15 exploring interaction and affect in new media performance Some amazing new works and performances and residencies being spearheaded by the ever groundbreaking Nathan Jones in Liverpool, including Caroline Bergvall, Zoe Skoulding, Sam Meech &
 launch event - session 01
A collision between Fifty Shades of Grey, the radical punk-pirate Kathy Acker and the sounds of Sonic Youth. In the grand tradition of literary terrorism, Hannah Silva layers, loops and subverts in pursuit of a violent sexual feminist satire. *This is the first showing of a new work, developed as a residency with SYNDROME, with technical residents Sam Meech and Simon Jones*

Pictures from EVP in Liverpool

Pictures from EVP in Liverpool. The same site also published a review of the show, which was rightly glowing about Hannah Silva and Honor Favin, and included this snippet "The evening was compered by London-based poet SJ Fowler (main image), who through a series of vignettes attempted to channel a retching spiritualist's progressive decline into suicidal despair. While amusing, and Fowler has obvious talent and performance skills, it was impossible to banish images of Derek Acorah from my mind (albeit during his little documented laudanum phase), and although thematically relevant, we found it hard to understand how the piece contributed to the promised exploration." An amazing link, Acorah is the kind of underground avantgarde television personality whose authenticity I often have felt I am aping on this tour.

EVP Liverpool

Saint Georges Hall is a ridiculous place to look out from, into an audience. My mum tells me her dad used to take her there every saturday morning, this must have been in the mid 50s. More time in a city my family is rooted in but I never returned to until doing things with art / performance. The view from the green room is immense. A day of dressing room with Outfit, http://www.everynightidressupasyou.
com/main.php who are as intelligent, down to earth, brilliant a group of creative individuals self-coerced into a collective as I've met. I feel removed from the procedural responsibilities of such an undertaking. We consider the balcony for a thing. Still really scared for this one. Honor Gavin plays, really impressive  http://honorgavin.tumblr.com/ The whole tour lineup is a huge act of skill on the part of the producers, the acts are so radically different but wholly communicative, and they do speak across each other. The gore, a silhouette fudge, but it's fine. Colin Herd was kind enough to mail me, he saw Gateshead, was very kind about it, respect his opinion, helps to hear. Leaving Liverpool, staying at a hotel I've stayed at before. Threats in late nite tesco. I am as confused as I believe the audience were, which is a tremendous alienation achievement. I lay on the stage long after, bespattered, as they snapped pictures of me, and filtered out. The view was beautiful. See below.