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

Published: Versopolis Poetic Articles #2 - Animals as Humans, can only monkeys laugh?

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The second in my series of articles that are prose poems that are anti-opinion / anti-conclusion / anti-journalistic. It’s an interesting challenge, a long form poetic reflection, for an English person anyway. This one, following the theme of Drugs, is on the theme of Animals.

https://www.versopolis.com/times/essay/730/animals-as-humans

“Things obviously to be regretted in the future. The way humans educate their children. The way humans treat and consider their own planet, their own environments, their own place. The way humans treat and consider animals, as meaningless, stupid, brainless nothings. As food, to be made and unmade for a belly that might be full of whatever it likes. 

What the bloody hell is this massive weapon? It protects us, splits us homidiae from the pan pongo interface. Yet we cannot know each other’s self-consciousness, let alone that which lies in the grey brain of other creatures. A funny assumption begins a history. 

The octopus compared to the human. The chimpanzee compared to the human. The otter compared to the human. The bear compared to the human. 

The human glad in misadventures, harsher and more ravenous than anything you ever heard, anything in all other creatures born days.

Dogs. That perpetually dogs the footsteps of humans. Dogs as a verb. Dogs a best mate. Dogs as a fetching machine. Dogs who need defending. Dogs who defend homes. Dogs eaten in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Nigeria. “

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: being in a Feral Concord

By far the least experienced vocalist in the circle, I was so happy to be so. To be asked by Phil Minton, one of the world’s foremost improvised vocalists and a kindly golden ghidora of the avant garde music world, to be one of a dozen artists involved in a Feral Concord, that is an entirely improvised choral performance at Cafe Oto, meant a great deal to me. I have a toe in many pools, so naturally I’m ankle deep in none. I am therefore often at a remove, which is a grand thing most of the time, but also cautious, in this case, to not be the chimp whistling when others are singing or singing when others are whistling. In the group were friends like Dylan Nyoukis but also many others I had not met but whose work I knew and very much admired.

The actual experience was profound. It’s hard to describe. I was struck this time, during our 30 minute performance, just how remarkable it is to communicate with others so directly, following as the piece varies and alters and shifts like fish in the ocean, without any language or movement being the thing that makes the moves. A friend in attendance described it as a solemn seance that made everyone else not move.

A note on: Queens Mob Teahouse at Primrose Hill Library

Such a lovely reading - poetry does these intimate livenesses so well, where its just the people in the room alive to each others presence, better off with sub 20 souls than with an audience line - at Primrose Hill Community Library, hosted by Queens Mob Teahouse ans the grand russell bennetts, a really fine poet.

I got to read alongside old friends like Russell and Julia Lewis and then discover new folk like Anthony Etherin and Canadia's Rob Mclennan and Christine McNair who were visiting hard. We had fun in a private corner of north london on a sunday night by reading aloud piems we had written at a previous time. Magic. Piems I say.

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A note on: minidoc about Struga

Struga was my 51st poetry festival outside of engerland and often ive returned wishing I had documented these experiences better, being as they are often so idiosyncratic. I finally invested a bit of time in making a minidoc supercut of such a trip and Im quietly happy with the result. It captures just a touch of what it was like to be there.

A note on: Struga Poetry Festival travelogue

This can be read in it's entirety here www.stevenjfowler.com/struga (it's quite long but I hope worth a read...)

"With the opportunity to give the last reading of the festival, in Skopje's Daut Pasha Hamam, I said that I’ve had nearly 2000 weeks on the planet and this week was up there with the best. Embarrassed by the week behind me, I told the truth. 56 Struga festivals before us, behind me.

A week in Macedonia. The Struga Poetry Nights. Translucent time, hectic, furious but also gentle, diaphanous. This kind of altered rhythm of consciousness descends, a dislocated holiday from reality, a soft military excursion for poetry. The ether turned up, like a week on whippets.

The overriding feeling, reflecting upon it, a few days out, is about the sensation of sincerity without sentimentality that so marked the Macedonians running and steering the ship, and how that permeated into some really wonderful poets / poems / people / experiences.

Pedigree, an extraordinary history, coming into being during the early 60s and extending Yugoslavia’s idiosyncratic connections to independent post-colonial states and a myriad of political allies outside the Russia / US binary. Struga poetry is in Macedonia something that we in the UK do not have. It's important. I'm really happy to be invited, because not many english poets are, because its a cauldron of tradition that I feel bonded too. Global poetry. A friend who has been who has heard I'm invited tells me when he was invited it made the 2nd page of the national newspaper. In England not a single soul will notice. Good. All the better. Monkey in the shadows."

A note on: The sex lost in Porn - an article on Versopolis

The theme of August on the European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture is sex and pornography. http://www.versopolis.com/column/656/the-sex-that-s-lost-in-porn

I have the same attitude toward a plot of the usual type as a dentist to teeth.
I built the book on a dispute between people of two cultures; the events mentioned in the text serve only as material for the metaphors.~
This is a common device in erotic things, where real norms are repudiated and metaphoric norms affirmed.                       Viktor Shklovsky, Zoo

It is impossible to track the increased frequency of masturbation through human history into the 21st century. But it is likely that it is at its most frequent in human history. It has to be. Even the most self-loving ancestor of ours, be they 100,000 or 10,000, or 200 years in the past, could not have possibly imagined the kind of sexual stimulation that immediate and unlimited access to pornography provides the average person. There are, of course, more humans than ever before, the world population has doubled since 1970, and in western societies, more people are without a partner than ever before, in context. These are grounds on which we must think of pornography and its ubiquitous but resolutely underground presence.

....

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Pornography wants waste. It may be just watched. It may be something other to those who make it. It may tax the senses of those who use into ineffectiveness. It may permeate mainstream ideas and culture, though far less than people say. It may be a force for whatever moralising or shifting nihilism that breezes through too much theoretical consideration. But what it is, in all it’s remove, vivacity, anger, necessity, absurdity, sorrow and energy is a mirror. Perhaps literally, a computer screen reflecting the figure of human, spread legged or hunched over, trying not to see themselves and their own desire, placing it elsewhere, in pieces, in the past, into the excess of other bodies. Pornography need not insist upon itself then, it is the fantastical growth from the part of ourselves we are as ready to deny now as in anytime during our western past. It is an answer, not a question.

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: new articles commissioned for Versopolis

The European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture is an online literary journal, funded by the European Union, aiming to create an anglophone publication platform with a focus on continental Europe and world beyond. www.versopolis.com

A sample of the articles I've commissioned recently.

Published : The Wrestlers

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I'm happy to announce the release of my latest poetry collection - The Wrestlers - from Kingston University Press, is available to purchase here The Wrestlers

From the publisher "Wrestling, the world’s oldest sport, has been used by artists, poets and sculptors as a metaphor for the internal struggle of the human mind for millennia. In the poems of SJ Fowler it becomes an action verb, a metaphorical crux which reflects not only upon the contradictions of our interior selves, but also the endless proliferation of entrenched argumentation in our contemporary world. Finding its origin in a commission from Tate Britain, where Fowler’s poetry responded to Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s extraordinary eponymous relief, The Wrestlers is an accomplished collection from one the UK’s most thought-provoking poets, often playful, surreal, satirical and ambitious." www.stevenjfowler.com/thewrestlers

The book will be launched in London on July 12th at Burley Fisher Books http://burleyfisherbooks.com/event/triple-launch-vahni-capildeo-steven-j-fowler-and-zaffar-kunial/ A further launch to follow at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, in September 2018.

Produced to a remarkable standard by KU Press, it collects together poems from a five year period, including poems published in Gorse Magazine, Test Centre magazine, 3am magazine, The Wolf, Poems in Which, The Honest Ulsterman, The Bohemyth, and the anthologies The Long White Thread: poems for John Berger (Smokestack Books), Millets (Zeno Press), Dear World and Everything In It (Bloodaxe Books), Hwaet: Ledbury Poetry Festival (Bloodaxe Books) and Shifting Ground (J&L Gibbons) alongside commissions by The Hay Festival : Arequipa, Peru and Tate Modern.

Published: an interview with HIPOGLOTE

This was really fun, i had a blast chatting with portuguese sound poetry achivers / activists / investigators tiago swabl and nuno nevers who have been part of the Hipoglote interview series for 87 issues, up to mine. Everytime I get asked to mark my contribution to sound poetry is feels special, as I do feel a sense of great respect for those who created and lead the practise, it's always something on the frontline, and to be a little part of it, and to be recognised as such in europe, means something special

Nuno and Tiago have created a great route in to discussing sonic and sound poetry, with some brilliant conversations in the past. we got on like a house on fire, really a privilege to be part of the project for me, we chatted about loads of stuff, and they seemed to enjoy my notion that sound poetry is what we do the moment we are born and in the last moments before we die

listen in here https://www.mixcloud.com/Hipoglote/87o-hipoglote_2018-06-18_interview_-steven-j-fowler/

A note on: Poem Brut at National Poetry Library

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.

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.
 

Published: Selected Scribbling and Scrawling : - ZimZalla

Available to buy here http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/sj-fowler/selected-scribbling-and-scrawling/paperback/product-23659470.html

My new asemic writing / art-poetry collection is now available from Zimzalla Press. It contains over 50 works of writing art, pansemic poems, doodles and scrawls, celebrating poetry that harries semantic content and explores the possibilities of the handwritten and illegible. The book contains essays by Tom Jenks and myself, and will be launched on June 6th at National Poetry Library for Poem Brut.

From the publisher "The scrawl or doodle is not a by-product of distraction; it is an active production of the mind when concentration moves downwards in the brain. It is the poetry of the mind’s rearguard, and it is more often a product of writing, pen in hand, than it is a visual art. So why should poetry, the language art, not have held scribbling to its chest? This volume of SJ Fowler’s collected works in the line let loose tradition attempts to return the wandering shapes of letters and words back to the front. Selected from over 1300 works spanning 11 & ½ years and touching upon asemic and pansemic writing, widely varying in tone, density, form and character, this selection of poems shows SJ Fowler’s fundamental impatience and childishness."

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