A note on: my collaborators for European Poetry Festival 2019

As part of the oncoming European Poetry Festival I have the opportunity to collaborate six times with six poets from six places. With Maja Jantar, Patrick Savolainen, Fabian Faltin, Morten Langeland, Krisjanis Zelgis and Tom Jenks. From April 6th to April 13th, one week, I do six new performative collaborations. It is one of the most exciting parts of the fest, this constant collective creative output, in live settings, making new things, writing them, negotiating in cafes, changing plans minutes before the event starts, having to also announce the lineup, help all the other poets, work the venue, then perform too. Making new friendships also, I have never worked with Patrick, Krisjanis and Fabian before. Cementing friendships too, Tom, Maja and Morten are all very close and dear friends. It is obvious terrible for them they have to work with me but sacrifices must be made on the altar of poetry.

Check out when and where here www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/programme

Talking Performance at Tate Modern

www.stevenjfowler.com/talkingperformance 

A wonderful experience to be able to showcase a performance at Tate Modern, to be commissioned by them to explore the theme of public speaking, digression and derivation. Held in the East Room, on level 6 of Tate Modern, overlooking the Thames, it was a chance to present an original, extended piece of performance which explored speech, biography, truthfulness, sound and rhythm. 

Speaking rather relentlessly for half an hour, and swarming a supposed poetry reading with improvised speech, I attempted to explore the notion of biography, of audience and performer hierarchy, and the human relationships possible between them, the nature of poetry readings, their bracketing of attention and the limits of that, the nature of the introduction as a form, the experience of language in excess and speed, the notion of collectivity in performance and in intimate physical proximity, the 'poetic' and what people understand by poetic and therefore non-discursive language, and finally truthfulness, salesmanship, the rhythm of comedy, and, I suppose, at the very end, disappointment. 

The performance was followed by an extended discussion with curator Marianne Mulvey and Patrick Coyle, with whom I had the privilege of sharing the bill. Contextualising the choices I had made performatively so soon after performing was fascinating, when my piece had been about blurring the lines between genuine feeling and sentiment, verity and falsehood, I couldn't help but feel what was essentially a meta performance then became a meta discussion, where no one could really believe what I was saying. This perhaps solidified the purpose of what I was trying to do, constantly acknowledging context and the limits of communication. 

The piece was a product of a generous developmental process, and to have Joseph Kendra help me from the off, then to be joined by Marianne Mulvey as the performance neared, was really pivotal - to have the attention of professional curatorial expertise, it is akin to having a good editor for a manuscript. And to share the event with Patrick Coyle, a close friend and someone I've admired and collaborated with for a such a long time, made the experience all the more resonant. 

Gelynion: Enemies Cymru: Blog #1 - Newport

What a way to begin Gelynion, in Newport, with an amazing night that did everything I hope Enemies might do. In so much that it became something utterly its own, nothing to do with me, nothing to do with what I could predict or shape. Or in this case, pivotally, what my co-curator Nia Davies and I could shape. It was an occasion for people to share a space, to exchange their new collaborations, to support & meet, to be in a new place or see a familiar place new. And it was a community, it wasn’t artificial in anyway, but gracefully warm and positive and generous. Such a lovely way to begin our tour of Wales, and our attempt to do something ambitious with contemporary Welsh poetry and poets.

The first time I’ve visited Newport, let alone the first time I’ve read in the city, and I made my way straight to our venue, Project Space, a reclaimed high street shop, to be welcomed by Kate Mercer, a photographer and artist who manages the activities. From the get go the hospitality was evident, that people had taken it upon themselves to welcome us coming to Newport, specifically, and later in the evening Jonathan Edwards would say it is a place often overlooked culturally and all the better for Enemies for that.

I was collaborating with Rhys Trimble, a friend from previous times and someone whose work I admire, and, rarely, a folk musician, the marvellous Patrick Rimes, whom I’d seen by chance at Cecil Sharp House representing Welsh folk in London just two weeks before and invited. This made our collaboration, one of 3 core pairs from the 6 poets touring the whole of Gelynion, and one of 9 pairs on the night, unique. We spent the afternoon hammering out our work, a structure of exchange and accompaniment with refrains, in abstract poetry and declaration, that complimented all of us and our strengths, hopefully.

The event was full, we needed more seats, with over 60 laid out, and the event had a very natural rhythm to the myriad of approaches the pairs provided. Kate North and Katrin Lloyd offered some Oulipo, close to my heart, while pairs from the Walking Cities project, which paired Welsh and Indian poets, and left us with the serendipitous boon of amazing Indian poets at our reading, explicated their previous exchanges from already established works. Ranjit Hoskote and Tishani Doshi were both immensely assured and graceful in their readings. Cris Paul and Samantha Walton upped the density of the texts, and the pace, and were followed by a brilliant and beautiful art poetry performance from Josh Robinsin and Merega. A revelation to discover Josh’s work through Gelynion, we share so many interests.

Rhys and I and Patrick made a good hoof of it, and Joe Dunthorne and Eurig Salisbury were witty and on point as ever. Zoe Skoulding and Nia Davies were the highlight of the night, such a balance in their collaboration between force and textual density, and synchronicity of reading. I was able to discern their entire piece, it revealed itself to me in its reading, which is normally the opposite of how I experience such things, getting a trace to be moulded into my own thoughts. We then finished with Patrick Rimes playing one last piece of music, and as the perfect end to a generous and memorable night in Newport.

Morphrog publishes Bristol by Patrick Coyle & I

http://morphrog.com/morphrog7/Fowler%20&%20Coyle.html#Bristol 

Second time up in Morphrog, edited by Jeremy Page, this time they have kindly published my third collaboration with Patrick Coyle, entitled Bristol, which was commissioned as part of the Arnolfini led Enemies of the South event, which was thanks to Jamie Eastman. This rounds off my trilogy of found text work with Mr Coyle. Good to see it on the web page http://morphrog.com/ 


thus ends a trilogy of foundtext performances with Patrick Coyle

the latest in Bristol's Arnolfini was about Bristol Bristol Birstol. I've learned so much from the practise of mr Coyle it was a privilege again to work and read with him. An immensely warm, witty, erudite and lovely human being, as much as he is intimidating as an artist. We first did in 2011, then again in 2012, and now in 2013. We had a profound series of moments preperformance discussing what we are trying to do in general with our work and how it is changing, and undoubtedly we shall work again in the future, moving further into the world of improvised raw pain pain.

Sarah Zakzouk on Reel Iraq poetry

http://www.reorientmag.com/2013/04/reel-iraq/ "Reel Words, an evening of poetry in translation, was but a small element of the Reel Festivals lineup. This year’s festival, Reel Iraq, was comprised of a series of cultural events marking the ten-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by US and UK forces. Dubbed ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’, America and Britain’s stated mission was to liberate the Iraqi people from despotism, and disarm Saddam Hussein  of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’. Serving as a poignant reminder of the consequences of the invasion, Reel Iraq brought the nation’s cultural sphere to the forefront, exploring Iraqi contributions to art, culture, and creative expression in the UK, during a time of conflict and unrest. Featuring film, art exhibitions, poetry readings, and concerts, as well as panel discussions with audiences across the UK, the festival not only celebrated cultural diversity, but also provided a forum for people to reflect on the suffering and hardship endured by the people of Iraq during the past decade.

Hosted by Ryan Van Winkle, Reel Festival’s’ Literary Coordinator, in collaboration with Maintenant and 3AM Magazine, the Reel Words event was an evening of poise, impact, and eloquence. Introducing the readers of the evening, 3AM’s Poetry Editor, Steven Fowler, emphasised the theme of the evening as a reminder to people of the ongoing events in Iraq, and spoke about the cyclical nature of news stories presented via Western media. ‘It might have been our country, our culture that was invaded … this [event] is about peoples’ lives’, he remarked, as he asked the audience to compare the situation in Iraq with that of the UK.
The first half of the night played host to a variety of poets. Particularly outstanding was Patrick Coyle, who read a poem entitled Kirsty Wark’s Questions to Tony Blair, Reversed. Dictating a series of events backwards, Coyle counted down as the narrative progressed in Kirsty’s dialogue with Blair. Images were confused, and the narration distorted, as he disoriented minds with his verse in reverse. Highly engaging, his careful intonation lending itself to the backwardness of the text, the audience was still able to make sense of his words in their chaotic format....."