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: 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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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.
 

A note on : National Poetry Library Special Edition - Shearsman Books

I'm excited to return to the national poetry library reading from my new book in an event celebrating Shearsman Books and the work of Tony Frazer.

DATES & TIMES 5 Jul 2017 : 8:00 pm
WHERE National Poetry Library, Level 5, Blue side, Royal Festival Hall
https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/123048-celebrating-shearsman-books-2017

Hear authors from across the generations that Shearsman Books represents, as they read and discuss their work. Speakers include SJ Fowler, Elisabeth Bletsoe, Siriol Troup and Peter Riley, in discussion with Shearsman editor Tony Frazer.

Shearsman Books have been a driving force in British modernist poetry for 35 years. Their global list has championed the work of some of Britain’s most important, and often overlooked, modern poets. With a reputation for exploration and considered experiment, Shearsman has provided a prolific and invaluable contribution to our understanding of what poetry might be.

 

A note on: Poetry Magazine April reading list

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2017/04/pm-reading-list-april-2017/

 

S.J. Fowler
My friend Tom Raworth died recently, so I’m reading his poetry. He was somewhat of a mentor to me. One of my first meetings with Tom was at the last reading Anselm Hollo ever gave, an event I helped organize. After Anselm’s death I felt the urge to seek out every single one of his books and read them from first to last. That experience utterly changed my perception of my writing, and the books I publish. When I read Anselm’s earlier work, when he was in London in the sixties, it felt as though he had lived exact elements of the life I am living now, but just fifty years removed. And tracing his life through his poems I realized these books were a palpable record, a concrete legacy of his life in writing. I knew then I wanted that, and not a big readership, or critical success, not to unleash the “perfect” collection every ten years. Just a quiet record of my life in poetry would be fine. So I decided to publish whenever I felt the urge, or whenever a publisher would support me, which is why I have six collections after eight years writing. I did the same when Tomaž Šalamun died, followed his life in poems, he had been very kind to me too. But Tom was a light to me, he taught me the most, and so I’m in the middle of this journey now, reading him book by book, remembering him this way.

The only other poetry I’m reading is that of my current and former students at Kingston University in London. Like many poets, I support myself through teaching. I think the quality of their work is indicative of a unobtrusively brilliant time for poetry in the U.K., there is so much talent around at the moment. Molly Bergin, Zakia Carpenter-Hall, Matt Navey, Dacy Lim, Julia Lewis—all names to watch. There is also something inevitably poignant and powerful about reading young poets coming into their own alongside the works of a great poet, just departed. A sense of my own place on the wheel is palpable, that I’m still rising but soon to drop off.

A note on: reading in Amsterdam this May 10th at Brakke Grond

Well pleased to be repping the UK for Eunic's European Literature Night in Amsterdam on Wednesday May 10th. https://www.brakkegrond.nl/en/agenda/eunic Kind of the British Council to have me over too.

"What does 'home' mean in today’s multilingual world? When you try to explain to another person what that word means in your language, you step into a labyrinth whose passageways don’t necessarily lead anywhere. A dozen writers and poets from across Europe discuss their idea of 'home' during the Night of European Literature, as well as how to convert that idea into another language. And which language, then, is best suited to expressing themselves?"

A note on: Curating the Museum of Futures Visual Poetry Exhibition

I conceived of this exhibition for multiple reasons. The first, I wanted to invest in the place. I've been teaching at Kingston University for a few years and wanted to create a platform in the area, outside of London (just) where those living or studying local felt that not everything was east of them, in the city, that there was some focus on the place as other than a place to visit, but to reside, creatively. Second because I wanted students and faculty from across departments to connect, from across ages and years and practises, and I wanted this to happen in the context of the many brilliant poets and artists who were also not associated with the Uni. Too often we're all in our own boxes, in all things, but especially in the pace of teaching or studying. Thirdly, I had hoped new friendships and collaborative relationships would begin and by placing students work next to those who are ostensibly professionals, that many students would take inspiration from that, would get permission to experiment, to follow their own noses, and that it would as a project show them they could go into spaces beyond the university. This is often a problem too, that students feel too safe at university creatively, and this comes to bear painfully when they graduate. Fourthly I had built some fantastic connections with a specific group of students, both undergraduate and postgraduate whom I felt deserved the opportunity to do something special, or unique certainly, and I knew I could rely on them to help me, to make it a collective enterprise. This proved true. And finally, I wanted the actual aesthetic content of the exhibition to be innovative, to explore the potential of text beyond the book, or the visual to be read as a text. In the end we had 40 works of a really striking standard, the exhibition looks genuinely engaging, original and beautiful.

Museum of Futures themselves, Simon Tyrell and Robin Hutchinson, introduced to me by the brilliant Lucy Furlong, were amazingly supportive, doing great work. Myself and the student co-curators, especially Molly Bergin, Olga Kolesnikova and Matt Navey, had a laugh putting it all together on a windy Wednesday in Surbiton. There is real camaraderie to be found in this kind of project. And the opening night was amazing, gratifying. The room was so full someone feinted. Packed to the gills we listened to a host of new collaborative readings I had commissioned for the night and I got to make new friends as well as seeing some of my favourite people, old friends and talents like Thomas Duggan, Alexander Kell and Camilla Nelson. The readings were great and the sense of community, of purpose and excitement was palpable. A special project all told.

All the reading videos and pictures are, or will be, here www.theenemiesproject.com/futures

A note on: York Literature Festival - March 29th

Very pleased to be reading at York Literature Festival on March 29th, launching my new book The Guide to Being Bear Aware, and reading alongside Antony Dunn, in an evening curated by Kim Campanello and York St John University. Details here http://www.yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk/event/contemporary-british-poetry-sj-fowler-antony-dunn/ It's a very impressive programme overall, if you're in the area, please come along.

 

Published: an article of "The Poetry Reading, Literary Performance & Liveness" for Norwich Writers Centre & ILShowcase

http://litshowcase.org/content/reading-in-public-is-always-a-performance/

"READING IN PUBLIC IS ALWAYS A PERFORMANCE

SJ Fowler explores the role of poet as performer and artist

Cautiously declaring a desire to be severed from the tendon of smugness often associated with the avant-garde, be it in writing or performance, I will begin rather by saying my interest in this kind of writing is really not about literature first, but about three things, two of which seem relevant to the notion of liveness and poetry.

The first is the future – a desire to be future facing, in a moment where the world is so different than it ever has been before, so much so that it is beyond previous imagination. By this I mean the world population of human animals doubling in the last forty years, climate apocalypse, the internet as a language based human nervous system emerging in the last three decades etc… No more on this, but to me the avant-garde gives poets more in the way of preparatory strategies than the classically fascinating, formal, history-facing poet. I’ve been asked why it is important to be future-facing. To know the past, as I try to do, reading as much classical poetry as I can (ought to?) is useless without having a stake in the future. It is undeniable that the default mode of contemporary British poetry is conceptually, theoretically and methodologically facing backwards, over its shoulder, resisting what might lie ahead.

The second is potential. What is the possibility of the page? Does it stop at times new roman size 12 left aligned grammatically correct first person narrative anecdotes of emotional insight, as most poetry books are? No. White space, paper stock, colour, font, language as material - this is the domain of the poet, if any kind of artist. The poet is a language artist, and these material concerns are not just for the graphic designer, or text artist etc… This is all a frame of mind, a mode.

The third, most importantly to me, is my naiveté as it relates to poetry. I have only been writing, performing, painting, for a sixth of my life, or thereabouts. It all, for better or worse, flooded in at once. Before, and since, I am fundamentally confused, about most things, about poetry. Why is what might be taken for a normal, everyday sentence, describing an event or incident or anecdote, but given line breaks, called a poem? And speaking most generally, I find existence relatively adversarial, within the comfort I’m lucky to have (again I mean macroanalytically thinking, life is adversarial as its fundamentally degrading before expiry etc…) And this is often the state of avant-garde work. It is confused, can appear inexact, or exacting, it is equal to life, it does not control the uncontrollable, it mirrors it. It presents questions to questions, not unlikely answers......."

A note on: In Other Words: The Journal for Literary Translators Winter 2016

Very happy to have a short article in the beautiful and vital In Other Words journal, which is published by Writer's Centre Norwich and the translation centre. Do go get a subscription, it's a brilliant journal http://www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk/about-us/wcn-publications/

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My article gives an account of how I happened to be in Serbia as the UK's exit from Europe happened, and the inevitable disquiet around that experience. I was helped by editor Sam Schnee in putting it together, she did a wonderful job with me and with the whole issue, which features Gabriel Josipovici, Chris Gribble, Jen Calleja and many other talents.

A note on: celebrating Pyramid Editions at the Archivist, London

Great to officially launch my pamphlet Tractography, and more importantly, celebrate Owen Vince's Pyramid Editions at an event in London, by the grand union canal, at the beautiful Archivist venue. Pyramid Editions published four works this year, all by younger poets, all featuring three poems, conceptually united. I read with the three other authors on the list, Alison Graham, Sophie Essex and Andrew Wells, but more than this the evening was a generous, intimate, conversational exchange, more social than performative, and appropriately so, as this project, driven by Owen, taking responsibility as he is for the curatorial space of poetry rising up beneath the UK scene from especially young and clear voiced poets, was a great example of the flurry of considered activity so prevalent in England at the moment. I was proud to be involved. Visit www.pyramideditions.co.uk

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A Bangladesh diary: Part Two - Dhaka Lit Fest

November Thursday 17th

Waking up in Chittagong Nahin accompanied me to the airport, catching another car-with-wings flight across Bangladesh to Dhaka, for the primary reason behind my visit, the Dhaka Lit Fest. I watched the streets of Chittagong pass by once again, with lots of time to think on how unique these last few days had been, as it took hours to veer through the crazed traffic. I was to learn quite quickly that Dhaka traffic made Chittagong traffic look positively expansive. We trawled through the city, getting just a taste of the intensity of a metropolis of twenty million, its density and force. The hotel, a compound of sorts, was absurdly nice. Five stars, with huge rooms, free minibars, buffets restaurants always on the go, swimming pools and such. The kind of hotel so nice it makes one feel strange, estranged, always grateful anyway, but aware of the contrast in such luxury from my room to the street. None the less, I was keen to take advantage of the comfort I didn’t choose, to use it to stay unsick, rested and ready to make the most of just a measly few days. An event was due so I had to leave rapidly for the festival itself.

Upon arriving at the festival I was immediately assigned a buddy / shadow / friend / fixer – an absolute mensch of a man, Sifat. Sifat was one of what seemed a hundred young local students who worked with the festival, each one assigned an individual author, looking after them, and not letting them out of their sight it seemed. I've found this at many festivals, the young people who work so hard, keep the momentum going throughout, are some of the nicest people one can meet, and so it proved. I must’ve taken 80 selfies with these amazing folk by the end of the three days, all of them were so funny, so warm-hearted and Sifat and his many friends made the whole thing feel communal, connected and sincere. I was tempted, as in Chittagong, to play practical jokes on him, and hide, but resisted to spare his blushes.

The Dhaka Lit Fest was spread out over the Bangla Academy, a short ride from our hotel, and the grounds were beautiful. Food markets and book stalls strewn over a campus requisitioned for the fest, which had a dozen venues. Over 20000 people came in the end, and over 100 events were ongoing in parallel sessions. It was extensive, and moreover, really so friendly and open. The particular quality of the light, the air, the heat too, the constant energy and exchange, and for me the unique circumstance of being stopped every minute for a selfie, led to a very energising experience. I was always keen to say hello to anyone looking in my general direction, which was normally dozens of people, I remained keen to meet new people. My opening event was nice, wonderful to meet the poet Carles Torner and to have the chance to read my work, a small video from it is attached above. It was a little rushed, and interrupted by announcements, and slightly squished by a poet on the panel who was a little unaware of his own ego, but these things are part of the flow, they are part of the thing I want to overturn in poetry. I was happy to take a back seat and save my thoughts for my final event, which was to be a panel. I was then free to explore to festival and to spend some time in the authors lounge, meeting an immense range of writers and journalists from all over the world.

I had the chance to meet some marvellous people, and I hope, begin some friendships. Simon Broughton, whose work with Songlines magazine and the Rough Guide to music is something I've long followed, was an inspiration. World music is an integral part of my interest and teaching in sound and improvised vocalisation with my own work, and has always been a passion of mine. Such a self-effacing and knowledgeable man, he essentially shaped an entire understanding of this field in the UK and we lost a few hours talking of everything from Ketjak to Romani music. I could’ve picked his brain for much longer. I had the chance too to talk to Tim Cope, and felt really quite humbled by his incredible work as a writer and a guide exploring Mongolia and central asia. In fact I was not truly aware of the scale of Tim’s work before we chatted, and found him to be vastly insightful, modest and kind, always interested in others, always gentle and assured with his words. To then discover he had traversed a huge stretch of the globe on horseback, over three years in the saddle, following the Mongol path from Mongolia to Hungary, it really made me feel I had made a special connection. I cannot recommend his book enough, I read it within a few days on my way home.

So nice to meet many others from the UK too, the translator and publisher Deborah Smith, whose work from South Korean has brought her greatly deserved success, the novelist Evie Wyld who was really lovely company, the publisher Kelly Falconer, who has championed some brilliant writers from all over Asia, including some of the leading avant-garde poets. I was surrounded by really inspiring people and tried to balance the intense, engaged individual conversations which I am naturally inclined to, with a constant desire to roam, explore, meet new people. After a few more events, with the sun slowly starting to mute and the festival gently quietening, they walkie-talkied for a car and I was driven back to the hotel.

I nipped to the gym, full of slightly strange swarthy men trying to tiger stare me and so gave in to my own fragile ego, bashing a punchbag for an hour, and then headed to the opening night party, held in the hotel, but out on the lawn, with an extraordinary dinner served in a nightlit tent. It was a beautiful setting but I felt talked out from the day, and though I met some fascinating people like the journalist and fiction writer Nadia Kabir Barb, and reconnected with my buds from the british council, I took an early one to rest for a free day following.

November 18th

This was a really memorable day amongst many. It was a genuine festival day, a day where I was able to just be an audience member, and experience what can be distant when you are performing or presenting, thinking altered by your own responsibilities to the audience. I was able to attend six events back to back. Eating my bodyweight in free pancakes at the fancy hotel breakfast buffet I waddled onto the festival site first for a panel on Indian music with Simon Broughton and Vidya Shah, which was fascinating, and saw Vidya perform her music later in the day, and then to the aptly titled Cosmic Tent, to watch Tim Cope speak. This was a festival highlight for me, I was entranced and wrote texts responding to the hour, as I often do when a talk really takes me, refashioning the language into a poem. Suffice to say the audience loved Tim’s talk and it seemed, as it often does with really insightful speakers, it was a multi-layered experience. One could take the details of Tim’s travels, his achievements, his insight into human nature across the Steppe, his hardship alone (or never alone with his wonderful dog Tigon given to him as a puppy in Kazakhstan.) Fundamentally, what I took was a revelation of human will, of perseverance, through choice – it was an exercise in human strength, quiet, unassuming, without complaint, with utter focus and without existential angst. His was a work, a life, of quiet immensity. It really stayed with me, something in his words and his journey resonated.

I spent much of the day from then on seeking out primarily Bangladeshi themed events. I witnessed a panel about the campaign of rape by the Pakistani army during the Bangladeshi liberation war of 1971 which featured Nayanika Mookherjee, Firdous Azim, Shireen Huq and Sadaf Saaz. The event was about the victims of this campaign and their status as Birangona, or war heroes. Considering the topic, I have not been to more engaged, balanced, intelligent and insightful panel discussion in sometime, the true brutal tragedy of the events of 1971 were revealed with real expertise and positive disagreement, and it was an education for me. One of many events I went to about Bangladeshi history, politics and culture, and this was an ongoing process of education that I tried to constantly engage with when they were in English and not Bangla. I packed a few more events in before the main event, Ahsan Akbar’s packed out discussion with VS Naipaul in the main hall, a particular highlight, knowing Ahsan in London and having heard him speak with such eloquence about the festival and the support of Naipaul to the enterprise.

On the way back to the hotel I fell into conversation with the wonderful Romana Cacchioli, and our initial exchanges led to an hour of intense conversation in the hotel lobby. Her work at PEN and her time working in Anti-Slavery Internationalin  Africa in the last decades just scratched the surface of revealing a life dedicated to helping others. She was yet another remarkable human being to listen to and learn from. This was a perfect way to end a wonderful day and once back at the hotel I skipped the fancy dinner to just write and rest.

November 19th

My last day in Bangladesh, feeling time having shot past absurdly fast. I tried to rest as long as possible with a night flight upcoming, but was soon up in the hotel stuffing my chops. Straight off after arriving at the festival, travelling in with my friend Daniel Hahn, a brilliant translator and thinker who travels the world with the ease of diplomat, I asked my friends to take me out of the compound, to see some of the sights of Dhaka. Raihan Mahmud and Shadab Anwar took me out, it being Sifat’s day away. Two amazing dudes, full of humour and great companions, we had a ride around and visited the national museum of Bangladesh amongst other things. A strange and intense mix of war memorial, taxidermy and ancient archaeological history, we had a fine time bopping around the museum, surrounded by stuffed swordfish, pangolins and Bengal tigers next to abstract modern art, next to horrifically graphic pictures from the 1971 war and the crimes committed during that conflict.

Back at the Bangla academy it was time to prep for my event, brilliantly chaired by Anjum Hasan. It was a panel discussion about resistance, and poetry. The title was a little conceptually vague, but we managed through, I enjoyed talking about the range of my work, people were receptive and even took my decries that people must be allowed to hate poetry etc… my normal spiel about uninterrogated myths, notions and metaphysics in poetry making it less than it is, less popular, less interesting, seeming to be of interest to the rather large audience on the lawn. The event was again a bit overshadowed by slight pomposity from other panel members, the loud, dominant ego driven proclamations of poets still abide into the 21st century, but perhaps, to the discerning viewer, this emphasised my points even further.

I made a last tour of the festival, the beautiful Bangladeshi music that followed my event floating over the onset of dusk, the still busy stalls, the activity and bustle of a great three days. I went to closing ceremony and far from being the normal official list of thank yous, it provoked a sense of palpable appreciation in me, offered me time to enjoy the moment as it slipped away. I owe a great deal of thanks to Ahsan Akbar and the other directors of the festival, for allowing me to be part of it. What an achievement on their part, not just another grand literary happening, but literally a political act, one that demanded people refocus their gaze on Bangladesh not because of extremism or intolerance, but precisely because of the secular, intelligent, generous nature of this country, as has been its way since its independence. This festival brought together so many people and so much focus through its size and enterprise to the qualities of Bangladesh which are in fact the norm. Its ambition, and its achievement were remarkable, I was lucky to witness it and be a tiny part of it. The closing ceremony, which had some very earnest and honest, and frankly sincere speeches, was a moment for me to personally pause to consider actually what a thing it all was, just months after the horrible events of July, and just how I had been treated. It felt emotional to be there, to see it unfold as well as was possible.

Flying in the early morning following the day I went to the closing party with my luggage in tow. This was a nice opportunity to say goodbye to people properly, in the same spirit of compressed intensity that such festivals provide, everything at hyperspeed, outside of the usual rhythm of life. Again the setting was lavish, with a magician, naturally, entertaining the authors. At times the vibe got away from me a bit, perhaps I was tired, or that I have no inclination to group smalltalk, but I did find myself politely nodding to some bourgeois private school English literary talk at times, the normal incestuous dinner party stuff of posh young novelists and journalists that sometimes does happen at these festivals, but mostly I was able to evade and find further sources of intelligent inspiration. A lovely chat with Marcia Lynx Qualey and again with my new Bangladeshi friends, and a round of heartfelt farewells led me to the airport. Raihan Mahmud accompanied me, a few of the lovely young Bangladeshis did in fact, even though they didn’t need to, just to say farewell. Raihan and I swapped whatsapp and Instagram and within minutes of leaving his company he was messaging me with video game recommendations. He said he’d pray for me every day because I was so cool. I’m not sure a bigger compliment is possible, in all its complexity.

I faced a brutal journey back home, a 5 hour flight delay from Dhaka making me miss connections and spending nearly a full day on the road, through Qatar, and being awake from nearly 40 hours all told, before I found a bed to sleep in. But I had time to think back, to retrace a mere week and reflect on what a beautiful and profound experience it was in Bangladesh, and to all those I had met, whom, in the spirit of Tim Cope’s words that remembering was giving, I would not forget.

A note on: my Poetry Magazine reading list for October 2016

I'm very lucky to be in poetry magazine this month and they ask the poets in the issue to provide a small writeup of a reading list (where everyone presents their fancypants list in the month they happen to be published). I am no different. I'm down there past ken chen and between calvin forbes and daisy fried. americans have good poetry names apparently.

 https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2016/10/pm-reading-list-october-2016/

S.J. Fowler
Offering me the chance to write this has made me realize I barely finish books anymore. I read chunks and snippets of lots of things at once. I mostly read non-fiction but no one here wants to hear about that I’d imagine. With poetry and text I’d consider poetry I’m always sniffing around for things to nab, so that’s a very different kind of reading, often splicing and lifting, robbing the tombs of the dead and snaffling the aesthetic of contemporaries. It’s a great moment for British modern poetry (what others might call avant-garde), I think, and I’m deep in Tom Jenks’s Spruce (Blart Books) and The Tome of Commencement(Stranger Press), Vahni Capildeo’s Measures of Expatriation(Carcanet), Stephen Emmerson’s Family Portraits (If P Then Q), and Denise Riley’s Say Something Back (Picador).

Beyond the U.K., I tend to look to mainland Europe, and I’ve gotArchitectures of Chance by Christodoulos Makris (Wurm Press), Zuzana Husarova’s Liminal (Ars Poetica), and Max Höfler’s wies is is(Ritter) on the go.

I’ve also been at Enitharmon Press’s new selected Mayakovsky, entitledVolodya, edited by Rosy Patience Carrick. It’s extraordinary, and has led me back to a load of Russians I’d been given years ago, Fyodor Sologub’s The Little Demon, A Novel Without Lies by Anatoly Mariengof—a memoir about Sergei Esenin and how loopy he was,Leonid Andreyev’s The Red Laugh, poems by Gumilyov, Khlebnikov, I’ve been trying to pick up threads all over.

I’m also putting final touches to a book of asemic poems and artworks due out next year and that’s thrown me back into Henri Michaux’s amazing Untitled Passages (Merrell), as well as Christian Dotremont, Constant and Asger Jorn, supreme poets all, huge for me anyway, all were in the CoBrA group. That’ll do. Thanks for asking."

A note on: Reading with Jerome Rothenberg in London at Birkbeck College

The Technicians of the Sacred to Barbaric Vast & Wild: celebrating the work of Jerome Rothenberg
Monday 17th October, Birkbeck College : Room B34, Malet St Campus, London WC1E 7HX
Free Entrance : 7:30pm

A great privilege to be reading alongside one of the greats of world poetry, Jerome Rothenberg. An enormous influence on countless poets, his impact on how we conceive of poetry since WWII is unbridled. During this reading Rothenberg will present a series of poems termed 'variations' and 'auto-variations' demonstrating the connections between his work as an anthologist and a poet, while I will read from his works and those of my own which his have influenced.

The event is hosted by Steve Willey of the Contemporary Research Poetics Centre, Birkbeck College, and for further details email s.willey@bbk.ac.uk or visit the event facebook page.

Prior to the reading, from 6pm - 7.20pm there will be a seminar presentation and discussion in the same location. Jerome Rothenberg will present a review of his work as an anthologist from Technicians of the Sacred (1968) to his most recent anthology Barbaric Vast & Wild: Poems for the Millennium Volume Five (2015). This will be followed by an open discussion centred around ethnopoetics and what Rothenberg calls 'omnipoetics' with a particular focus on questions of translation. A rare opportunity in London, also free to attend.

Jerome Rothenberg is an internationally celebrated poet, translator, anthologist, and performer with over ninety books of poetry and twelve assemblages of traditional and avant-garde poetry such as Technicians of the Sacred, Shaking the Pumpkin (traditional American Indian poetry), Exiled in the Word (a.k.a. A Big Jewish Book), and, with Pierre Joris and Jeffrey Robinson, Poems for the Millennium, volumes 1-3. He was a founding figure of ethnopoetics as a combination of poetic practice and theory, and he has been a longtime practitioner and theorist of poetry performance. His most recent big books are Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader (2013) and Barbaric Vast & Wild: Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Preset (volume 5 of Poems for the Millennium, 2015). A new book of poems, A Field on Mars: Poems 2000-2015, has just appeared in separate English and French editions. http://poemsandpoetics.blogspot.co.uk/

A note on: Poetry International at Stortemelk, Vlieland: Holland - August 2016

My first reading in Holland, and an utterly unique place to give it – the island of Vlieland, a poetry reading on the Stortemelk holiday camp. All thanks to Tsead Bruinja and Bas Kwakman, and Poetry International, for letting this beautifully idiosyncratic mini-festival tradition – poetry readings for those on holiday on the camp, in the dying days of the summer season, nearing its tenth year of happening – be my debut in Holland. More than that, I had a really wonderful experience meeting some remarkably hospitable, intelligent and generous people.

Another grand result of Tsead and Bas’ invitation was the chance to have Tsead translate a dozen or so of my poems. We spent some hours working on this, one of the most comprehensive and rewarding translation processes I’ve been through, and Dutch is the 20th language my poetry has been translated into. So Tsead and I had chatted plenty before I arrived in Amsterdam to begin the journey north, to the sea. I had a night in the city, amidst rainstorms, in an Airbnb not conducive to rest, before I met Tsead early and we began catching busses across country. Friends from the first, the sensibilities Dutch and British people share, the dry, barbed humour most of all, we chatted for hours until we caught the ferry from Haarlingen to Vlieland. The island has a tiny population, it is a well known holiday destination but genuinely removed from the mainland, a culture unto itself. And as part of the reading’s tradition, the poets contributing get to stay in tents as part of the sprawling Stortemelk complex. I was led to my tent, the first time for a poetry event, and got to reunite with Bas, who I’d spent time with in China, Germany, Scotland, and meet the wonderful Saskia Stehouwer, Ries de Vuyst and the others in what became a temporary, extended family/friendship group to which I was immediately included. Just beyond the tents, over one large, lengthy dune, was the expansive white beaches and the north sea. I had a chance to ramble, and be cooked for, before hitting my tent, exhausted.

visit stevenjfowler.com/vlieland to read the complete travelogue

A note on: The Night-Time Economy exhibition & special view in London

A lovely evening celebrating the exhibition Kate Mercer have produced this year, photography and poetry beautifully balanced, after visiting Newport, coming to London, with a good few dozen folk down in the basement gallery of Rich Mix, near Brick Lane, on one of the hottest days of the year. 

Great to have Nia Davies, Ghazal Mosadeq and Marcus Slease read too, all with new works responding to the themes of our work. Visit www.theenemiesproject.com/nighttimeeconomy and www.stevenjfowler.com/nighttimeeconomy

A note on: CapLet Anniversary reading: August 10th, with Prudence Chamberlain

Very happy to be reading at Jonathan Mann' CapLet series again in Bethnal Green, and to have another chance to perform with Prue Chamberlain, launching our book further into the world www.stevenjfowler.com/houseofmouse

CapLet was conceived as a community of readers and writers of poetry from a range of backgrounds and traditions. Since its launch last year, it has gone from strength to strength, hosting some of the most innovative poets around. Come and join in the discussions at this special event. Details about this event are available here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1705524116380796/

A note on: Launching House of Mouse with Prue Chamberlain at Poetry School Camarade

So lovely to release a new collaborative book into the world, written alongside the brilliant Prue Chamberlain. We performed at The Poetry School Camarade, an event I curated at Rich Mix alongside 8 other pairs of poets, in what was a fine night all told, by alternatively reading, blindfolding, spinning and sticking noses on an olaf the snowman poster. The spinning was my favourite part of it, which perhaps goes some way to evidence my current feeling toward reading, but everything Prue and I have done in collaboration has been energising, such is her humour, intelligence and adventurousness. Buy our book please www.stevenjfowler.com/houseofmouse

A note on: The The the, reading in Peckham - July 5th 2016

A really great job done by Mischa Foster Poole curating this reading series in Peckham. I had a great experience reading alongside Jen Calleja, Isabel Galleymore and some strong open mic poets. Completely relaxed and open vibe, everyone was really friendly and my reading, trying out some brand new poems I've written in the last month, when travelling, and then finishing with an interactive, conceptual twist, playing Jacques Brel while inviting people to write farewell messages to their own continent, seemed well received.