Emanuella is an amazing film maker and artist who I’ve had the pleasure to correspond with for years. She made a film of my poetic sequence - Meditations on Strong Tea - which was in my 2014 Rottweiler’s guide to the Down Owner book, and written for tom and val raworth. It’s a beautiful example of abstract intermedia translation, a removed but potent form of collaboration. Her work is wonderful, worth seeking her out.
Struga poetry nights is one of the world's biggest and oldest poetry festivals, which I'm super happy to have attended and performed at. Some beautiful piccies here from the in house photographers of me doing things.
Chrissy Williams has recently started a brilliant and innovative new journal / e-mag endeavour entitled Perverse. It's a really engaged, open, direct, clever, complex way of sharing and reading poems, typical of Chrissy's work. I'm very happy to be in the latest issue, 1c, with some grand poets, and to feature a visual work which will be part of my last Poem Brut book, Memoirs of a Hypocrite, due out in November with Hesterglock press. Click the link or sign up below to comb my bubble.
"Perverse 1C - Nelson / Moore / Gross / Fowler / O’Loughlin
Welcome to issue 1C of Perverse! There's a slightly different type of perversity at work in some of these poems than we've seen in the others. I hope you enjoy them. As before, these poems are best read sideways on a phone, or else as usual on a computer screen. You can also save them as a single PDF here if you like. (You'll find the previous micro issues here.)
Contributor Note on ‘The Bubble Comb’:
“'The Bubble Comb' is part of a book of art poetry, Memoirs of a Hypocrite (Hesterglock Press), which is part of a series of publications entitled www.poembrut.com It is about the potential poetic possibilities of handwriting, material, colour and composition meeting the semantic meaning of the written word.”
Please forward this email on to anyone who might like it - they can use the link below to sign up for future issues and updates:
Website (with an archive of previous issues):
Mondo Monda Mondu Monde Mondi https://poetryschool.com/courses/mondo-the-global-avant-garde/ Saturday 3 November and Sunday 4 November. Two-day workshop, 10.30am – 4.30pm.
I am pumped to do another weekend course for the Poetry School, I had such a positive experience earlier this year, sharing European work (you can about that here http://www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool) and this November, I hope to repeat the trick. Mondo draws on a personal interest of mine, attempting a global vision of what poetry has gone through on the last 70 years or so - how individual cultures, languages, seismic political changes have shaped fundamental modes of writing. Not just content that is, which translates and then sits across nations through that translation, but actually context too. How poetry itself has shifted, and what we can glean from that. I've followed quite a few hundred rabbit holes thanks to friends across the world and the fact this isn't the most popular area of research. I will make this weekend quite open, explorative, using examples from many nations - Nigeria, Japan, Russia, Peru, China, Syria, Canada, etc... - so it won't be built around geography so much as ideas. Come and join me if you please
Mondo: The Global Avant-Garde Face-To-Face Course
Journey through a world of avant-garde poetry over this jam-packed weekend with SJ Fowler.
Explore a world of avant-garde poetry and discover how remarkable explorations in the written word often compliment, rather than antagonise, more formal writing practice. Using examples from Canada to Nigeria, from Syria to Japan, from Latvia to Brazil, the course will focus on methods of original poetry practise that have emanated from some of the 20th centuries most exciting experimental poetry groups of the post-war period. Rooted in making, this course – with the energy, dynamism and invention of the writing it explores – will enrich anyone’s poetry horizons. Mondo is not intended as representative of anything but an idiosyncratic selection of international avant-garde movements, all presented as a gateway to new writing methodologies for contemporary poets. Examples include:
- Japan: The ASA group to the VOU: Kitasono Katue & more – Logogrammatic poetry: The abstract illustration of language
- Canada: The Four Horseman: bp Nichol, Paul Dutton & more – Sound poetry: Language as Sound, resonant, non-lingual, vocal.
- Nigeria: The Mbari Club: Amos Tutuola, John Pepper Clark & more – Experimental mythology: Mythic tropes as paths to the new.
- Brazil: Noigandres: Haroldo de Campos, Augusto de Campos & more – Concrete poetry: The visuality of the poem as its meaning
- Syria & Iraq: The Tammūzī Poets: Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb, Adonis & more – The ancient as modern: Free verse as liberation.
This workshop will be in our new offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.
The Autumn Term is open for booking! Have a read through our fantastic quick guide, which you can find here and below, to see all of the courses - online and face-to-face - we're running this autumn! There really is something for everyone.
Fun was had in the wonder library of london. I love this library. It is a pure space. A space of generosity and discovery. I had the pleasure too to work with my friend pascal o'loughlin and the lovely jessica atkinson, librarians, in developing a special edition event. This time the event was part of my poem brut series, which asks poets often on the margins of what people think poetry is, to produce works that entirely concerned with liveness and material. Liveness in time, in language, in motion. Proper performance. Organically weird then, weird in a way that the world is weird. But also weird in such a range of ways. Saradha Soobrayen, Chrissy Williams, Patrick Cosgrove, Maja Jantar, Harry Man. They were all magic. And we had a packed out house, a nice audience of people, some of whom were suspicious, but in a way that made me trust them all the more.
My performance was a little naff, but something playing with ideas Ive had for awhile. I used a friend of mine, a chatimal, to repeat back words that I had said, to undercut the pompous tone of the recital. I read from in the stacks. I tried to asphyxiate myself. It was a good time.
The Other Room has come to an end. Ten years of remarkable events that have led the way in a resurgence of decidedly contemporary forward thinking poetry in the North West have wrapped themselves up as of April 2018. The trio of curators, all markedly influential poets, publishers and educators themselves – Scott Thurston, James Davies, Tom Jenks – have worked together in putting on dozens of poets in dozens of events, publishing 10 anthologies and posting hundreds of updates online for events and publications across the UK. They have done the kind of work that acts as an invisible inspiration to generations that come up behind them, that create concrete connections between writers and happenings that influence the future of poetry in the UK, especially outside of London, and I for one have often made it known their very specific way of working events has been a massive influence upon me. https://otherroom.org/
I would say my experience reading at The Other Room in 2011 was the singular influence on the nascent Enemies Project then and has concentrated my focus ever since. What I discovered was that there isn’t a contradiction between a warm, welcoming, hospitable, funny, unpretentious atmosphere and poetry that is challenging, complex, oblique, idiosyncratic and strange. In fact, these two things are complimentary. This discovery made me realise the often experienced distance, coolness and hierarchy of many readings was a deliberate imposition fashioned in order to create for themselves a sense of exclusivity. The Other Room showed this to me, this vital realisation and in so doing eliminated any instinct I might’ve had for utopian projects in poetry, allowing me to focus on each night at a time, to be present with the poets on those nights, enjoy their company, listen concentratedly to their work and then have a laugh whenever possible. This is very likely the reason my events are still going, 8 years after they began.
The Other Room also showed me that the superstition some poets have as a legacy from the last century, that organising too successfully blots out appreciation of your own poetry, a spectre of conflicting interests somewhere in the poetry ether (being a poet and editor is fine though apparently, and anthologising, and teaching) is also a myth. Scott, James and Tom are some of the most interesting poets writing in the UK, each with their own markedly original oeuvre and intellectual concerns, rendered in a multitude of forms and spaces, each with their own influence over many of their peers. Scott was one of the very first poets I met, and I listened to him carefully then, as I do now - his work offered me great possibility. James has done as much as anyone to make conceptual poetry in the UK its own separate exploration with its own decidedly British concerns, separate from the humourless aggrandisement that can be indicative of people’s understanding of that area of poetry. And Tom’s prolific invention, insight and deep erudition worn lightly has been a huge influence on my use of satire, humour and the balance between lyricism and found language. Tom, like Scott and James too, is such a clear thinker about poetry, has such a mind for the art, but carries this knowledge with great humility, always in a mode of learning, always open to new ideas.
The end of The Other Room is a loss for the UK poetry scene. I had always hoped similarly organic homes for interesting poetry would pop up in cities across the country, that it would procreate into more rooms of otherness, so that we could build a circuit that would be exponential, that would serve as a link for new poets coming through everywhere, doing what they have done for a decade, leading a way, lighting a path, providing a space. Yet, after this time, after such selfless labour, one can’t help but understand why it should end, so neatly, so that it doesn’t just dissolve as often the best things in poetry do, into something lesser, to disappear unnoticed. For my part, I’m grateful to them, they’ve run something powerful for longer than I’ve been involved in writing at all, and I hope as the next years pass The Other Room is remembered as a real moment in 21st British poetry.
The first time that I’ve had the chance to work with Robert and it will not be the last time. We had a plan when we met on the afternoon of the day of the evening event to develop the piece. It went out the window. The notion was intersemiotic translation but the format was about disturbance. I think we created something that worked on multiple levels and succeeded when it failed. It began with a natural pretence about being pedestrian, or about the differences in our performance style, which is varied with us both, and so we embellished, building from the literary and comedic into the archetypal and symbolic, all way into the mindfully awkward. We share quite a few interests and this emerged organically into translations that included stomach punching, rap, google searches, lullabies, cradling, atonement and guilt. People said it stayed with them, which is nice, but maybe not in a good way?
One of the things about curating an event is that you are fundamentally responsible for where it takes place. So when you arrive at a venue and it's locked and dark and down an alleyway next to the Thames off Kingston's market square, and it remains so for an hour, right up until people start arriving, you are aware that it might irk those who have made the effort to come out on a thursday night. That being said, as the event was a Poem Brut performance, it did seem to some that it was a deliberate act on my part, a conceptual investigation of what a literary event is. Some thought I planned it so performances would happen in the dark, in the cold, by the river. They were thrown when I walked the entire audience across the town like a grumpy pied piper to a new venue I had rustled up on the spot. To the endless credit of the audience, it seemed to do something positive to the proceedings, bonding people, creating a peripatetic unity. The performances that followed were brilliant, five new works in the poem brut style - challenging and inventing upon the possibilities of literature made live. Ink spitting, dog translations, mannequin pinning and canvas shredding. The poem brut events I have been running have restored my excitement for curating events, which I perhaps do too often, and it was grand to bring this energy to Kingston Uni for the Writers' Centre and the students. I'll do it again for the next year of events, as I realised, as the night unfolded in a rather clinical lecture theatre, that Iris Colomb gobbing ink onto a page and then reading it was perhaps the exact antidote to the lectures that had left there trace in the room. All the videos www.writerscentrekingston.com/poembrut
Another magic engagement with Surbiton's Museum of Futures, a unique community gallery that I've been able to work with through Writers' Centre Kingston and Kingston University. Students, local artists and writers, and those able to travel to the gallery nearby contributed to a brilliant month long exhibition of writing art, aligned with my poem brut project, on the theme of scribbling and scrawling. The work was uniformly good and once more, by taking on the labour of an open submission process, I had the chance to meet a load of talented new people, from Nicole Polonsky to Denise McCullough, there was some real discoveries for me. Moreover my students had the chance to see their work walled for the first time, and help me, significantly, in the curation of the show and it's events.
Lovely to have this write up of my poem brut project appear on Tentacular Magazine, recounting some of the issues of the series on 3am magazine https://www.tentacularmag.com/elsewhere-blog/brut
Poem Brut is a colourful and stimulating celebration of what lies at the intersection of the poetic page and the artwork. Curated by SJ Fowler, it’s a series of events, exhibitions, and publications – but here I’ll focus on some of the 29 works (so far) represented online in 3am magazine.
What’s impressive is the reach of the community that Fowler has assembled and is playing an important part in creating, from Tallinn to Toronto and Trinidad. Trinidad is the source of Andre Bagoo’s compelling ‘Scarlet Ibis’, where the placing of bright red rectangles over what we might assume to be lines of experimental text seems such a simple act, but invests the page with an animate quality, a jauntiness and inscrutability that may or may not be features of Trinidad and Tobago’s national bird. The work compels a kind of double longing, both for the text beneath, and for the identity and energy of pure colour, in what may also be a metaphor for (resistance to) the blood and erasure of a colonial past.........."
The third poem brut event I've held at Rich Mix continues the project's momentum, and in so doing, keeps restoring my faith in the concept which motivates these live happenings - that is, if we concern ourselves with the actual material of live performance, time / space / aliveness / physical presence etc..., what possibilities are there for the poem to become itself, and not some hackneyed, overtly controlled syphoning of experience into language? I had become, in a slight way, slightly overly familiar with the events I had been curating, it's why I instigated Poem Brut after years of The Enemies Project, and nights like this, communal, friendly, busy with people (nearly 100 in attendance again), led by particularly wide ranging and challenging work, keep my heart afloat that this is work that needs doing. The positivity from the audience and participants really meant a lot to me, really made me consider carefully what it is I've tried to build and what I should do in the future.
We had poets visiting from Trinidad, Berlin, Estonia, Austria, America and it was gratifying they all said they had never experienced an event like this before. All the performances can be viewed https://www.poembrut.com/richmix3
Poem Brut is an exploration of poetry and colour, handwriting, composition, abstraction, scribbling, and illustration, affirming the possibilities of the page, the pen, the pencil - in a computer age - generating over a dozen events, multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences and publications. 3am magazine, a partner in the project, is also running open call for new works that fit within the tradition
I'm happy to announce the release of my new art book, from Hesterglock Press, released in limited-edition hardback first-print of just 40 copies, 20 of which have sold so far. The book is available to purchase here - Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire from my bigcartel page.
"A book that asks, abstractly, are letters shaped like bodies? Can words evoke faces, captured in a screen? Who, or what, is assimilating, who or what? Aletta Ocean's Alphabet Empire is a collection of art poems, hand wrought in black, grey, silver and white, fashioned with indian ink, paint and pen, worked with techniques that edge around writing, vying with abstraction, constantly harrying semantic meaning and legibility.
Five years in the making, conceptually this is a book about sex, poetry and pornography and the disconnect between the former and the latter. These pages explore technology in its absence and aim to evidence the power of materiality and the body, and our hands, that are still required for touch."
It's been a good time to be getting submissions for 3am's poetry section. Seems what I've been trying to do over the years has stuck a little, and so much of the work I'm getting is brilliant. So more than usual has been published, and this is in no small part down to the Poem Brut and Duos series, being the only poetry I'm accepting at the mo. As ever there's a big backlog, so much more to come soon. Since September 2017...
- Anne Gutt http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poembrut23/
- Ruhi Amin http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/brut22/
- Mischa Foster Poole http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poembrut21/
- Emily Critchley and Eric Langley http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/duos4-2/
- Joseph Clarke http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/josephclarke/
- Andre Bagoo http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poembrut20/
- Kate Siklosi http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poembrut19/
- Astra Papachristodoulou http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/astrapapachristodoulou/
- Ian Cartland http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/environmental-art-poems/
- Olga Moskvina http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/brut18/
- Julia Schuster http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poem-brut-17/
- Sean Cearley http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/brut16/
- Patrick Cosgrove http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/brut15/
- Francesco Aprile http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poem-brut-14/
- Federico Federici http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poembrut13/
- Emmitt Conklin http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/conklin/
- Nathan Walker http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poembrut12/
- Calum Gardner http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/pain-and-other-poems/
- Aaron Kent http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/aaronkent/
- Imogen Reid http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/imogenreid/
As part of my new series of art book publications for Poem Brut I've written a series of essays. Each one acts as a kind of contextualised full stop to the books and their otherwise un-explained content, but they aren't explanations, just ruminations. The brilliant online journal The Learned Pig have kindly published the essay On Time and Mess, which closed out I fear my best work behind me, with selections of the work from that book
Once we understand excess, then we can get really simple.
– Robert Rauschenberg
Exploring poetry’s absent indispensable character
"Because poetry is not a thing that lives, to put it mildly, upon the regulation and control of grammar and correct spelling, in the final preparations for the publication of my book, ‘I fear my best work behind me,’ an exploration of the rudimentary character of poetry – that is letters and words – there was only one correction to make for my editor. Only one deliberate error, with all the obsequiousness that this phrase entails, for him to find and for me to defend. The title. I fear my best work is behind me. Remove the is. Then perhaps, to those dozen or so reading the title, and those few within the dozen who are concentrated by interest, the absence of the is will take on its proper significance. The primary significance I would posit that poetry has, outside of letters and words, is purposeful semantic omission.
I do not imagine my best work is behind me, literally, but in those whom I’ve discovered – and that is the right word to use (for they have to be unearthed, do poets, in England) – who have given me permission to make such works as those that often litter my pages, they are behind me, and are the best work, for they were and are not making what can be mine. What they have made was original, or based on poets they have buried with themselves, as I shall not do........"
Another remarkable night for the Poem Brut events. There is a community forming around the notion of literary performance through these events which is warm and welcoming but is producing some challenging, though often very funny, poetry. It feels, though early in the Poem Brut project which took years to begin, that the concept of the events, like with The Enemies Project, has grand potential.
The event also saw the closing of my exhibition Hard to Read. It was a privilege to have space at the Rich Mix for a whole month, but the exhibition was a collecting of previous things rather than a showing of that which is new, so I felt I needed to close it down with something memorable.
An event that restored my faith in organising events, Poem Brut began with a night full of difference and cohesion. The poems were truly innovative, exciting and full of humour, insight and intensity. All the videos are viewable www.poembrut.com/richmixi
Poem Brut at Rich Mix : November Saturday 25th 2017 : 7pm - Free entry
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA www.richmix.org.uk/events/spoken-word/poem-brut-i
A literary event celebrating of the visual, visceral, messy, handwritten and colourful in poetry with new unique commissions from writers exploring alternate ways of making literature. Each presentation will be different from the last, with readings, performances and talks alongside pop up exhibits, interactions, video poems and more.
Featuring new works from Harry Man, Imogen Reid, Stephen Emmerson, Hiromi Suzuki, Paul Hawkins, Chloe Spicer, Kate Wakeling, Christian Patracchini, Patrick Cosgrove and Christopher Stephenson. These works will explore the possibilities of literature and liveness, responding to the page and to the act of writing itself.
Commissions include explorations of erasure and lettering, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and poetry, video poems, gif poems, passive reading, children's languages, abstract illustration and more.
Poem Brut is an exploration of poetry and colour, handwriting, composition, abstraction, scribbling, and illustration, affirming the possibilities of the page, the pen, the pencil - in a computer age - generating over a dozen events, multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences and publications. Our first event will be followed by an exhibition - Hard to Read - also at the Rich Mix, opening December 9th. 3am magazine, a partner in the project, is also running open call for new works that fit within the tradition. Future events:
- Hard to Read opening at Rich Mix Gallery : January Sat 13th 2017
- Scribbling and Scrawling opening at Museum of Futures : February 22nd 2018
- Poem Brut at Rich Mix II : March Sat 17th 2018
- Poem Brut at Writers' Centre Kingston : March Thursday 22nd 2018
- Poem Brut at National Poetry Library : Wednesday June 6th 2018
A final event in the Fiender project, a Swedish collaborative enterprise that Harry Man and I put together, 12 poets presented new collaborations in Malmo, one of the most interesting cities in Sweden. The event was really thanks to Kristian Carlsson, whom I had met in Georgia in 2016, a remarkable activist and publisher living in the city, he was our key co curator.
We took over the Poet on the Corner shopfront venue for one night and poets from Mexico, Iran, Uruguay, American, England and Sweden trod the boards, a signifier of Malmo’s international character. It was an intimate, gentle, often quiet, even timid, Camarade, but as ever, meeting the poets and discovering new spaces, especially alongside old friends like Harry and JT Welsch, was rewarding. My collaboration with Iranian poet Naeimeh Doostdar was a literary work, quite careful, but opening into some interesting textual spaces at times. We always seemed at a remove from each other, no matter what I tried to do to allow her the space to define the context and content it always seemed gentle, generous but not really collaborative. A rare thing for me nowadays, and a lot to take from it, certain barriers can’t be crossed quickly, these things are miniature friendships and that takes time. So Naeimeh and I got on well, but it was merely a beginning.
Malmo is an interesting place but it didn’t reveal itself immediately, felt metaphorically connected to the limitations of the event and my collaboration. It appeared obvious or residential on its surface, but clearly promised a great deal. This is attractive in a sense, enticing if not immediately gratifying. Certainly finishing another rare visit to Sweden, where I have blood ties and a quarter of me is actually from, sat around a dinner table with friends old and new, is something to prize.
Note: Poetry submissions are open only for the Duos and Poem Brut series. No other submissions will be read.
- Duos: collaborative poems written / made by two poets. There is no criteria for the poems or process. Please send a single bio and single photo for both authors.
- Poem Brut: poems exploring handwriting, abstraction, illustration, asemic and pansemic writing, visual poetry and material process, colour, scribbling, scrawlings, crossings out, ink, forgotten notes, found text, interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, geometric poems, inarticulate poems, minimalism, collage, toilet wall writing. No works produced on a computer.