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

A note on : The IGNOR festival travelogue and performance

You can read a full whack travelogue of my recent time in Slovenia here http://www.stevenjfowler.com/slovenia

Excerpta : “The fullest of full moons on the first night in Ljubljana, I travel in with Astra Papachristodoulos and Scott Daughters from London, Astra will also perform. I see friends, knowing people in the city who aren’t the people I’m going to meet. Good and bad in that, not making it to the opening night. But apparently everyone decamps to a squat afterwards which is decorred with available browned mattresses and reasonably priced horse. Oh well, you can’t win.

The next day, performance day, I’m writing my thing during the day, with photos taken on this day, trying to shape it immediate and responsive. I scope out the venue, people try and sell me drugs, I’ve got my meds thanks, it’s an autonomous art squat space near the train station, very different tone than the rest of the plush city, and this is a theme, what perhaps the notion of IGNOR is about, being an alternative. The readings start on Balkan time. Basically all readings, in Slovenian, no performances, one spoken word thing, so perhaps the alternative is contextual rather than content based. Astra is great, as ever, she really has gifts in performance. It’s nice too to hang out with Muanis, who is responsible for my being here, who came to London for the first European Poetry Festival and is a considerable presence and poetry mind. Not without some pretty severe and wonderful humour too. He introduces me to some really warm and dry people.

ON MY PERFORMA : I did a Powerpoint performance, the third of this series in fact, following works in Bucharest and Dublin. Those first two were two of the best things I’ve done live. This was not quite there like those, but it was certainly an experiment for the audience within the context of the festival. Some things went fine, but perhaps diminishing returns on the concept, or my failing, my impatience crept into me with the night being quite standard readings in a language I don’t speak starting late and pulling, giving me an edge of harshness I didn’t necessarily plan on having. That does happen to me, I felt my humour was landing in chats but then up on a stage, with a mic, that kind of cut, it stings people a bit. I had a lot of positive vibes but definitely, as has happened to me in other countries when travelling and performing like this, a certain coolness crept into some people’s demeanours after the slightly savage fingertips of the performance were felt. Also the tech got proper balls up twice, in big ways, and that really did crush my rhythm. The second one, when music was supposed to play me out, left me without the possibility of my final words seeming sarcastic or satirical, as they’re supposed to me. All a learning process.

We all go to a bar after, which stays open til 2am, and I have colacao or whatever, hot choco and it’s the loveliest night, just chatting, laughing, the best of this kind of small poetry festival travelling thing.

A note on : European Poetry Festival Camarade at Rich Mix

Nearly 200 people came to this event. That’s gratifying, having run events in this space of Rich Mix since May 2010, and this taking place in october 2018. It was the best attended event in that space. 27 poets from 20 countries showed off new collaborations. I met new friends, some of whom had travelled in from Spain, Greece, Latvia, and spent lovely hours with old friends, from across Europe, but many of whom live in London. It was a collective, as before with the Camarade events, bonding between those making the works and witnessing them.

The actual work was a little different than normal, a little more mixed, but many of the poets, 5 in fact, were giving their first ever readings, as I’d met them through their work in different fields, around poetry, me feeling the poetry in their work, or through courses I’d run at a few different institutions. This created a valley peak feel to the outputs, which can be better, at times, to offer contrast in not only rhythm, but style. But it was a captivating mass, energised, intense, various, experimental. And it bodes well for the project, The European Poetry Festival, and it’s next full festival coming in April 2019. www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/eurocamarade

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A note on: reading at Torriano

This was a really pleasant evening, what I wish readings always were - personal, unpretentious, lots of people I hadn't met before. People listened, chatted without snarkiness, were generous. The people who go to Torriano, given it has been going so long, seem to be local and connected to the space and it's past. I was welcomed by Susan Johns, who has run the Torriano with the late John Rety (whose work is legend https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rety) since 1982 before meeting old friends like Robert Vas Dias. The readings from the floor were short and sharp, well appreciated as to avoid the oft quag of open mics, and then all the poets gave really engaging recitals, a beneficial contrast between Linda, Lynne and Russell. 

This was what I think will be my last pseudo launch of my new book The Wrestlers and felt fitting, given that I am now a local to the Torriano and intend to return regularly. The night ended with my chewing the ear off of many who had come who lived nearby for decades upon decades and who shared with me a potted history of where I now live. For this alone, this was a memorable, intimate evening

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Published: Bubble comb up on Perverse

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:
http://tinyletter.com/perverse

Website (with an archive of previous issues):
http://perversepoetry.tumblr.com

 

A note on: Mondo for Poetry School - Autumn Term 2018

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.
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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. 

A note on : The end of the Other Room

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. 

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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.
 

EPF2018 #10: Collaborating with Robert Prosser

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?

A note on: The University Camarade III was brilliant

A very special evening at the rich mix, the third time ive put this event together, with students from all over the UK. As ever, collaboration absolutely engenders friendships while producing challenging, idiosyncratic poetry. The students involved were universally excellent, brave, bold and the evening left a real impression on the audience, and I think, I hope, on the rest of their poetry / writing / performing lives. I believe sincerely that opportunity is what shapes people's journey and growth, and this event gives people young in their experience a real urge to go into new spaces. 

I was especially content with the showing of my students, who we and are markedly their own, which is all I want from them, to expand and explore their own paths, with some erratic guidance www.theenemiesproject.com/unicamarade / www.writerscentrekingston.com/richmix

Writers' Centre Kingston : blog #2 - Sampson Low Poetry Publication series

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I would say of all the initiatives I've lined up for my new role at Writers' Centre Kingston, this one, a series of new limited edition poetry pamphlets for current students or recent alumni of Kingston Uni, is the one I'm most excited about. It gives me the chance to work closely with some remarkably mature, original and exciting poets and its the first series I've edited like this, only seven years into my own writing. Molly, Zakia and Dacy have all made my time at kingston in the last few years more engrossing because of the constant surprises and reassurances their work has provided.  https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/sampsonlow

The link has the place to buy the booklets, and anything that supports Alban Low's work at Sampson Low is worthwhile. His professionalism and attention to detail is remarkable too. Here's my statement accompanying the series

“Kingston University brings together students from all over the world, from as wide a range of backgrounds and cultures as can be found in the UK. It creates a community that cross pollinates influences and ideas, and this is inevitably reflected in the work the students create. The university does not get enough credit for this – it is, I have seen, a vibrant, harmonious environment where originality and difference can be transformed into exciting and innovative expression. The students are hungry for that which is innovative, that which allows them to express the true size and complexity of their experience and their community at the university. This series of poetry pamphlets reflects that. The work is utterly contemporary, it is exciting and energetic. It is, I hope, the best kind of representation of what Kingston University stands for – intelligent, unique and various in its character.”  
Series editor, SJ Fowler

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A note on : The end of Fiender in Malmo

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.

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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.

A note on: Atlantic Drift page on Edge Hill site

Really a grand anthology to be part of, so many poets included are quite beyond me, I am in every way the runt. It's been brilliantly fashioned by Arc publishing and the good folk at Edge Hill Uni, and they've thrown up a page about me

https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/university-press/steven-fowler/ 

It includes this interview, shot specifically for the project in Liverpool while I was there for Camarade'ing.

A note on: Duos & The Poem Brut - two new open calls on 3am magazine

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/submissions/

Poetry
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.

Published: Three new poem bruts in Hotel Magazine

A really brilliant magazine is Hotel, and they've once again generously published some of my new art poems or poem bruts which will form the major output of my work over the next year or so, with a series of events at Rich Mix and four new limited edition books. These three works are taken from the book New Prim. 

http://partisanhotel.co.uk/S-J-Fowler-Poem-Brut-ii

A note on: Performing at Ledbury Poetry Festival 2017

Ledbury Poetry festival is an internationally renowned fest, one entering its 21st year in fact, and for my first time attending I was happy to perform and organise a small Camarade with poets local to the festival or tied to it in some fashion. Set in the beautiful Malvern hills its very much a festival aligned with the more formal in British poetry than myself and the Enemies project, but as I’ve repeated a lot -my tastes and work is what it is for my own ends but that can only exist within the range and width and panoply of traditions, and it’d be hypocritical to not seek out difference in poetry, to not always be open to generous invitations, and be ready to listen and learn and discover what people are writing. I found the festival to be utterly welcoming, hospitable and full of interesting work. Myself and 11 other poets in the Camarade were treated so well, we had a lovely audience in the Market Theatre, a great space and in fact were asked to be the very last, 87th, event of this 10 day incarnation of the festival. My work with Harry Man, one of my closest friends in poetry, went down well and though my visit was brief, it was a really positive experience.

A note on: Celebrating Erich Fried - Illuminations II

The second of the Illuminations series took place at Kensal Green Cemetery Dissenter’s Chapel this past Thursday. It was unique for a number of reasons. The first, is that it celebrated Erich Fried. His poetry has been special to me since I began reading poetry because it is indelibly tied to where I have lived for a decade, West London. He was recommended to me by Sheila Ramage of the legendary Notting Hill bookshop, one of the very many writers Sheila gifted me and so many others over many decades, and then, by chance, exploring Kensal Green Cemetery, just over the canal from where I live, I came across his grave, by accident. Pure chance led me to find his burial site and then go deeper, beyond the Calder books of his love and political poems, into exploring his life. For years his presence has been there with me, writing poetry as I have done, in the cemetery and being concerned with the middle European post war aesthetic more than any other. Then this past year the very generous Austrian Cultural Forum allowed me to develop the Illumination series, and I choose Fried immediately.

What followed deepened the aforementioned connection even further. I was able to secure the Dissenter’s Chapel through my collaborative exhibition with Tereza Stehlikova, so host the event in the place of Erich’s burial, which he choose over Austria, as London was his home in exile. I ran the entire event alone, getting in early to set up projections, seats, switching off alarms and locking catacombs. It was well worth it, the audience was able to take in the most beautiful view of the cemetery after hours, sneaking in through a small gate on Ladbroke grove. And vitally, the connection Stephen Watts gave me to John Parham and then David Fried and Kathy Fried, Erich’s children, allowed me to bring the Fried family to the event. Generations of the family were there, with even Maeve Fried contributing, two generations removed from Erich.

A personal affair for me, one tied intimately to the west London literary history I am value so much and feel myself to be in the lineage of. And the performances were really great, full of different, not too reverential to Erich, but not completely oblique either. All the videos can be seen here www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations and some pictures too by Madeleine Elliott who was kind enough to attend and document.

A note on: The South Korean Enemies project was very cool

Such a great group of people to work with Seryu Oh, Chaikwan Lee and all the folk from the WOW festival who will host myself, Hannah Silva and Luke Kennard in September following this duo of events in London at the start of June. Check it out proper here http://www.theenemiesproject.com/southkorea

Friday night was a panel talk in the very jazzy Korean Cultural Centre in central London. It was crazy at times, 2 hours or more of winding chat, swearing, funny questions, in a hot basement without a break, but the discovery of the poets from South Korean in the project - Kiwan Sung, Minjung Kim and Hwang Yuwon - was fantastic, so talented and sooo funny all three of them. Such a great vibe immediately upon our meeting, a great laugh, and Kiwan and I worked out our collaboration that night.

Saturday night was the big event at Rich with loads of pairs. Kiwan recorded my heartbeat live, then his own, merged them with a live coding programme the audience could see before I sounded out the consonants our our alphabet and he did the vowels, while I held the camera. Was peachy. All the pairs were great in fact and we went out afterwards to solidify our new poet friendship over tapas. What more can one ask for?

A note on : European Poetry Night London 2017

One of the best events I’ve put on for awhile, one of the best Enemies ever by all accounts. Over 130 people packed into Rich Mix, 13 new collaborations from 26 poets from over 12 nations across Europe. It was intense, energetic, original and still open, welcoming, engaging. Having organised two events the two nights previous on the same continental theme, taken everyone visiting London to dinner the night before, to show a wee bit of all too rare London hospitality, and then having a collaboration on myself, it would be fair to say in the buildup, I was busy. In the end it was smooth as you like. www.theenemiesproject.com/epn

My collaboration with Ásta Fanney SigurðardóttirAsta was one my favourite performances I’ve done. We worked on it very sporadically, so much of it open to improvisation just moments before, much of it fleshed out in a stairwell in the venue. This kind of liveness and intensity gave the piece something, and the control of tone, the pace, the balance and rhythm of delivery really seemed to work. The big turn at the heart of the piece, and the satire driving it seemed to surprise / resonate with the audience. Always something special working with Asta.

By the end in the bars of Brick Lane, many new friendships had been made and there was the distinct payoff such endeavours occasionally provide – the feeling something special, something small and transitory, but none the less special, had taken place.

A note on : European Poetry Night Norwich 2017

As part of three days of European poetry celebrations last week I had the pleasure of accompanying four Scandinavians poets to Norwich, to read at an event I organised, which also drew in local Europeans, in the camarade model, in pairs. The night was brilliant, full of energy and warmth. I met lots of poets new to me, and reconnected with many friends. We had a grand turnout thanks to the Nordlit seminar on translation which had been taking place that day, hosted by those who had kindly hosted us, Writers Centre Norwich and the International Litcase Showcase. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/norwich

I collaborated for the fourth time with Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir. We’ve only known each other for just over a year, but our collaborative magic feels many years deep. We put on a kind of Eurovision Poetry Contest, or hosted something to that effect. As ever, Asta’s rare energy and invention told, it was a weirdly beautiful piece of poetry theatre.

We were shown great hospitality too, with Dan, Endre, Martin, Asta and I taken to dinner, and then out on the town for many hours after the event. Always wonderful people to work with, Jonathan Morley, Sam Ruddock and everyone involved made sure the beginning of EPN was memorable.