I’ve wanted to work with Rike since I saw her first perform in Berlin. She is an ideal of whom I wish to work with, poets who will force me, within a warm and enjoyable process, to grow. So it was, Rike and I had a grand time collaborating. We mooted loads of ideas, often around the notion of space and performance, movement and reading, and then decided to write together too, with me writing new works responding to her pair of beautiful poems What It Is You Love. And arriving in Middlesbrough together from Manchester, chatting the hours across the Pennines away with Inga Pizane during a really resonant day, we stumbled into our venue in MIMA to see what the space itself would give us. It gave us a chess board built into a table, a gorgeous ornament. We decided then and there to structure our exchange around a full game of chess, which I haven’t played since I was about 12. Rike basically taught me the rules and as we chatted we decided also to include improvised chat with the poems and the chess. On the night something unexpected happened, the intensity of the game, the focus it requires, took over, somewhat blunting the play, but growing the collaboration into something utterly new, and even more pleasing for that. It was a game of chess that happened to feature poetry, rather than the other way around. And I won through dumb skill. I had worried it might’ve got a tad too long but the audience were very generous, saying they became as engaged in the chess as we had. Rike has challenged me to a yearly performance game and I will stake my European Poetry Festival chess championship once more in 2019.
A brilliant night of performances from contemporary European poets and artists, radically recreating and responding to figure of Habsburg Vienna, around one century past, at Lettretage in Berlin, supported by the brilliant Osterreiches Kulturforum http://www.theenemiesproject.com/kakaniaberlin
I had a blast putting this one together, it ended up being so easy to work with everyone from start to finish and the event was welcoming and dynamic in good measure. The performances ranged from playful poetic texts to tech savvy sound performances, and some conceptual performance too. I admire the work, and the generous personalities, of Lea Schneider, Rike Scheffler, Kinga Toth, Norbert Lange and Fabian Faltin, and they made it something special.