Published: Philip Venables' Below the Belt


Delighted to have my poetry featured on the debut album from composer Philip Venables. Phil and I worked on a piece for the London Sinfonietta's blue touch paper scheme some years back, it explored boxing and fistic percussion, entitled The Revenge of Miguel Cotto. 

You can listen to five excerpts from our collaboration

Phil has created some remarkable work since we worked together so it's grand to revisit this project through this CD and I'm really pleased it has a second life forevery on disc

A note on: The Essex Book Festival - Sunday March 20th 2016

About as nice a way as one can spend a Sunday. I had the pleasure, thanks to the generosity of Philip Terry, Ros Green, Jo Nancarrow, those behind the Essex Book Festival and University of Essex, to curate a Camarade event for the festival. I had the chance to bring poets from London and Manchester to Colchester, but also draw on lots of local talent. In the end, the works were held in an amazing venue, a huge auditorium in the Firstsite Gallery, and the performances were really distinct and interesting, all very complimentary, a range of voices and styles. 

It was especially satisfying to see so many poets discover new poets, and to reconnect to those who live in Essex whose work I admire so much like Townley and Bradby, who I had the pleasure to work with in a performance in 2015, who did a brilliant performance with their family, and Isabella Martin, Vicki Weitz, Justin Hopper, Lucy Greeves and many others. All the performances are available here

Exhibiting w/ Anatol Knotek at the Text Festival, Bury A unique and admirable fusion of exhibitions and events, celebrating text based art and vanguard poetry, the Text festival is a beacon that lights up Bury, and has done quite a few times over the last decade, drawing in some of the most interesting writers/artists in the world. I'm happy to say, for the Dark Would exhibition, edited and curated by Philip Davenport, the amazing Anatol Knotek, my long term collaborator, has produced beautiful visual poetry work based on our collaborative exchanges for the Dark Would anthology ebook, the interviews in fact, that we provided for the digital version. You can see a few pictures, taken by Philip, of the work below. 

The Text Festival in Bury is an internationally recognised event investigating contemporary language art (poetry, text art, sound and media text, live art). Opening on 2 May 2014, the next Festival will be its fourth manifestation and run into July 2014.

Philip Terry & Tom Jenks on otoliths

Proper pure Enemies!

     For J. H. Prynne, in The Pyrenees

Days are a proposition laid by desolate gorges, the body a repulsive looking landlord. Into muscle blood-red capas. The dark clouds and chasms, ancient summit Alps; valleys of a richer southern sunlight. Smell of a Frenchman and orange-peel saturated within the first three-fifths, muted interchange in the iridescence of the descriptions of energy. The usual perfunctory fasces at the scanty distant mountains. Memories of the lonely roads walk by a doughty Colonel. Open terrace twice girdled in soft banditti. Nothing which the Pyrenees, a skyline untrodden by Americans. In our City of the Great Czar chemistry is livid heat reduced to coigns of vantage. Bid on a Biscayan beach, her sweet making ready. Condition of bright awnings, the palest green verandas. Single spark of its sober, unornamental, business government. 

Tapestry for the Goldsmiths prize! I called it a few months back, Philip Terry's brilliant novel Tapestry has been nominated for the new, and timely, Goldsmiths prize, which is celebrating innovative fiction. Philip has been an important part of many of my events, met him at the writers forum in 2011, and his novel captures the precision in conceptual innovation that is always a hallmark of his work. So positive to hear his talents are being recognised, and I sincerely hope this spreads his work further into where it should be on the poetry scene here in England. He knowledge of, and use of, Oulipean methodologies is influential in many circles, and it could do with widerning still. This nomination is gratifying for many people who are sorely overlooked in the experimental community too, I just wish, along with Philip, the likes of Jeff Hilson, Carol Watts, Tim Atkins, Peter Jaeger et al would carry more weight with prizes and the like. One at a time! 

Fight Music & Silk

A week of seeing my work thrown back at me in forms that utterly supersede my perception of its initial value. First I got to sit anonymously in St Lukes in Old st. and see the work of Philip Venables crescendo with our piece the Revenge of Miguel Cotto. It's been said before but Phili's ability to set music and text is truly groundbreaking and it was such a lovely moment to see our work appear so dynamic and valuable, it made me feel a poet, though Id normally eschew or ignore that feeling. Quite rightly the concert was a laudable success for Phil, whose application to his craft is intimidating. I hope we get to further Cotto. It was a nice audience to be in too, friendly and erudite and I took the time to chat to people afterwards, asking their opinion of Cotto without telling them I was involved in it. All good. Richard Baker conducted the balls off it too.

Then I had the joy of seeing my old friend Thomas Duggan before he jetted off again, and took possession of our work for the Hardy Tree Enemies exhibition. The glory of the work is not that is utterly unique, made of a material never seen in public before, that it is technologically trailblazing, the future of biodegradable material and has world significance in that, and that it probably cost a fucking packet, but that it is aesthetically so understated it appears before one as a jelly film on black, unassuming and gentle. People will walk past it in the gallery, such is its precision. Little will they know what they are walking past. So precious is it that a framer turned down setting the material, for fear of destroying it. For if water touches the silk, it disappears.

Philip Terry's novel 'Tapestry' reviewed in the Guardian So happy to see this, Philip Terry is one of the most inventive and brilliant contemporary British poets. 

"By showing a language in flux,tapestry draws you into its world: that of the creation of the Bayeux tapestry (which, as we are reminded in the book by an exasperated narrator, isn't a tapestry at all, but a work of embroidery) by a group of nuns in the late 11th century at a priory in Kent. (The theory that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William the Conqueror's half-brother, and stitched in England, very possibly in Kent, has the full endorsement of Professor Wikipedia.)..."

Fight music: an evening celebrating the work of Philip Venables

I'm really delighted to say on June 30th at the amazing LSO St Luke's on Old Street in London, at 7.30pm, there will be a portrait concert of the recent work of Philip Venables, who I worked with for the London Sinfonietta Blue Touch Paper project on our piece the Revenge of Miguel Cotto.  The concert will be one hour and is free to attend.

The concert features five recent pieces, all focusing on muscular music, spoken text and themes of violence, socialist protest and memory.  Performers will include the Ligeti Quartet, Ashot Sarkissjan, The Warehouse Ensemble, Melinda Maxwell, Leigh Melrose, Richard Baker and The London Sprechchor.  The concert is being supported by LSO Soundhub, the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust and Arts Council England. 

It will include a performance of the Revenge of Miguel Cotto, so my sound poetry and words will grace a really incredible stage once again, something I am very proud of.