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.
mail.jpg

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: European Poetry Now, teaching at the Poetry School

Lambeth Walk is synonymous for me with the Poetry School. The city is a massive patchwork of associations, splicing my own experiences against the ground. I feel part of something larger in London, in small patterns, of walking, visiting places for a purpose. Getting the Bakerloo line to Lambeth North, walking down to the Poetry School, where I started teaching in early 2014, and where I really developed the teaching techniques I tend to use now, and where I met lots of poets whom are now friends, is a really positive memory. I learned so much in that building, that row of buildings. The Poetry School is about to move on, as all things must, but I was really pleased I managed to do one last course in the old building before I've no real reason, for now, to visit Lambeth Walk. It was as good as anything I've done for the PS, a weekend exploring contemporary European Poetry, that I ran alongside on online course, on the same subject, with poets from across the globe.

I woke up very early on both weekends days, in the snow, the tubes quieter than normal, and was joined by a dozen really brilliant, positive minded poets. They couldn't have been more engaged and enthusiastic, it was just one of those experiences where the human mix makes it resoundingly positive. I shared some poetry I've never taught before, most especially around the notion of a new european lyric tradition, with poets like Max Czollek, Ann Cotten, Tomica Bajsic and many others I've been lucky enough to meet. This complimented explorations of sound, visuality, materiality, performance, new surrealism and pretty essential ideas that drive a lot of european poetry. Some of the participants will read on an upcoming European Poetry Festival event and it seems already that the contact with others that really motivates me to do these courses has begun once more, anew, thanks to what the poetry school does. www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool

Addendum, added April 12th 2018 - here are four of the participants on the course performing as part of the European Poetry Festival - Lithuania

A note on : Two new courses for Poetry School - European Poetry Now!

VD-C 1660.jpg

I'm delighted to be returning to teaching at the Poetry School, after nearly two years away from the fold. It is a place where I have met some of the finest poets and humans I've come across in this tiny tiny world. In the spring 2018 I am running two separate but intertwined courses. Please do book one of them and come be a part of our continent still yes.

You can see all my Poetry School experiences, including these below here www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool


European Poetry Now (& Then) – International Course

Online Course Celebrate and explore the best-kept secrets in innovative, contemporary European poetry https://poetryschool.com/courses/zur-holle-european-poetry-now-international-course/

As the UK sadly divorces itself from the EU, this course with SJ Fowler, director of London’s European Poetry Festival (April 2018), abjures further divisions by embracing (and reclaiming) contemporary European poetry. In this course you will be introduced to dozens of working poets and multifarious traditions, drawing on modern poetic history and with an emphasis on the radical, experimental and avant-garde. Exploring constraint, concrete, visual, sound, performance and language poetry, this is a chance to gain access to poetic cultures and scenes almost completely hidden from British poets and readers, and making your own new work in response.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.


European Poetry Now! – Two Day Workshop

Face-To-Face CourseA practice-focused weekend looking at what is happening right now in a golden age of poetic innovation just over the Channel https://poetryschool.com/courses/zur-holle-european-poetry-now-two-day-workshop/

This intensive two-day course with SJ Fowler, director of London’s European Poetry Festival (April 2018), explores what is happening right now in a golden age of poetic innovation just over the Channel, and how that offers British poets the chance to expand their own poetic practice. Focusing on methodology and making over two days, exploring relay-style the ten themes of the Festival, this crash-course draws on huge array of ground-breaking yet little-known European poets to blaze new paths into language, visual and live poetries. Participants will also have the opportunity to develop their own works for presentation at the European Poetry Festival.

A two-day workshop running 10:30am – 4:30pm on Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 March.

A note on: Launching my new book at Kingston Writing School

I had brilliant fun creating a performance at Kingston University, as part of David Rogers longstanding Kingston Writing School series, 'directing' a film or montage while sharing poems from my new book The Guide to Being Bear Aware. It's a performance Im strangely pleased with, trying to find the right balance between concept, improvisation, spacial exploration, humour, complex undertone and actual poetry.

The experience was particularly gratifying, a really lovely, resonant evening, as my students from my Experiments and Innovations module, the mainstay of my teaching at Kingston Uni, read with me. Coming at the close of their degrees and my teaching year, it was their first chance to share a stage with me and I suppose engage with my work. They are a remarkable group of young poets, some of whom are featured in my performance. 

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: Poetry School Camarade - July 16th & 17th 2016

A wonderful opportunity for me to work with the Poetry School again coming up this July (all the details on my other courses here) but this time in a unique format, one that suits how I like to share ideas, and specifically, in this case, what I've learnt about collaboration through the 100 or so collaborations I've done and over 200 collaborative events I've curated.

It's a weekend course, kindly hosted by Rich Mix near Brick Lane, which will finish with a Camarade reading featuring those on the course, in pairs, and other poets connected to the Poetry School (which is a grand list). It means not only do I get to contextualise the theory behind collaborations, and to explore its history in poetry, and the methodologies consequent from these two things, but I get to do so immersively, and with a definite, practical goal - the reading.

I think it'll produce some wonderful works and I hope, for those who participate, be a real locus for a whole new world of writing poetry across mediums and with other fellow poets.

Book here: http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/face-to-face/the-poetry-school-camarade.php

More details www.theenemiesproject.com/poetryschool

Saturday’s July 16th 2016 workshop

1pm – Introduction to the possible methods of collaboration in poetry and text.
2.30pm – Facilitated group writing exercises and practise performances.
3.30pm – Facilitated breakout sessions for collaborations in pairs.
5pm – Group discussion on the process, final pairs confirmed and feedback.

Featuring a discussion of the philosophies behind collaborative writing, the diffusion of the poet’s identity in collaboration and the consequences of that for solo writing. Extended explorations of the notion of the reading versus the performance, group writing, conceptual writing, constraint writing, improvisation and more literary methods like line-to-line and stanza-to-stanza. Features both talks, discussions and exercises.

Sunday’s July 17th workshop

1pm – The history of collaboration in poetry featuring source materials provided to the participants, covering a selection of salient examples from 20th century poetry, including movements like the Surrealists, CoBrA, The Beats and assorted examples from the likes of Ian Hamilton Finlay and John Furnival, Ron King and Roy Fisher, Anne Waldman and Joe Brainard.

2.30pm – An analysis of a host of collaborative performances from The Enemies Project video archive with footage screening and discussion.

4pm – Facilitated rehearsal of group collaborations and final paired works, with feedback.

Upcoming: November 2015 - Events, Performances & Projects

My 'A Language Art' course runs on Monday nights throughout November with sesssions exploring the intersections of avant-garde poetry and modern art in the galleries of Tate Modern and in the Tate stores.

November Wednesday 4th - Pugilistica at Apiary Studios
A chance for me to launch my book Fights, in it's 2nd edition from Veer Books, alongside some amazing journalists, novelists, poets and art historians, all exploring the literature of boxing. www.theenemiesproject.com/pugilistica

November Thursday 5th - Mondo: global avant-garde poetry at Poetry School
A new course at the Poetry School, this time exploring avant-garde movements from Japan, Nigeria, Canada, Brazil and Syria / Iraq. Still a place or two left! Book here

November Friday 6th - Symposium: Pulling Together/Pulling Apart: Forces in Creative Collaboration, OVADA, Oxford
Thanks to artists Brook and Black, I'll have the chance to discuss collaboration at OVADA, alongside Tamarin Norwood and others http://www.ovada.org.uk/arkitektoniske-kramper/

November Saturday 7th - Nemici: an Italian Enemies project at the Rich Mix
A really ambitious Enemies project I'm curating with ten Italian artists and poets visiting London, each writing new collaborations with British poets. I'll be presenting a new work with Alessandro Burbank. Should be special www.theenemiesproject.com/nemici

November Friday 13th - A World without Words IV at the Frontline Club
The fourth event in the series curated by Lotje Sodderland, Thomas Duggan and myself, exploring neuroscience, aphasia, the brain and art, this time at the incredible Frontline Club. With a talk by Barry Smith and anthropological short films from Vincent Moon. http://www.frontlineclub.com/screening-and-discussion-a-world-without-words/

November Saturday 14th - EVP Sessions at Shoreditch Town Hall
Electronic Voice Phenomena hits London once again, I'll be presenting a new commission in full skeleton embodiment, exploring disembodied voice http://shoreditchtownhall.com/theatre-performance/whats-on/event/theEVPsessions

November Sunday 15th - Globe Road walking tour for the Globe Road Festival
Happy to be leading a Sunday morning stroll up Globe Road in the company of Gareth Evans, Elaine Mitchener and the Bohman brothers www.theenemiesproject.com/globeroad

November Wednesday 18th - Soundings III with Maja Jantar at St Johns on Bethnal Green
So excited to collaborate with the incredible Maja Jantar for a new performance as part of the Soundings project with Hubbub at Wellcome Collection responding to prompts from the Wellcome Library. St Johns on Bethnal Green is an amazing venue too. www.stevenjfowler.com/soundings

November Friday 20th - The European Camarade at Freeword Centre
A mini festival of European poetry in collaboration, so pleased to have the chance to curate this night and present a new collaboration with Endre Ruset. Some of these poets are doing the most exciting work in their nations, not to be missed www.theenemiesproject.com/europeancamarade

bpichol.jpg



Upcoming: Mondo - a world of avant-garde poetry, a course for the Poetry School

Thursdays : November 5th - December 3rd : 6.45pm to 8.45pm at the Poetry School in Lambeth, London. £90.00. Concs: £72.00

5 sessions 5 international avant-garde poetry movements / methodologies from Japan, Canada, Nigeria, Brazil, Syria & Iraq

Book online using this link: http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/face-to-face/mondo--the-global-avant-garde.php

I'm very happy to be presenting a new course for the Poetry School focusing on 5 global avant-garde poetic movements of the post-war period, in five different nations, aiming to elucidate traditions that might be occluded in the UK, and explore how their innovations in writing can compliment people's poetry in the now. The onus is on how these great moments in modern poetry can enrich writing practise, rather than dense historical analysis. It’s a rare chance to excavate avant-garde work in such a setting, please sign up above if interested. 

Participants will have a chance to share their work at a post-course reading and you can see further information about Mondo and my previous courses & activities with the Poetry School here: www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool

Week One: November 5th – Japan
The ASA group to the VOU: Kitasono Katue & more
Logogrammatic poetry: The abstract illustration of language

Week Two: November 12th – Canada
The Four Horseman: bp Nichol, Paul Dutton & more
Sound poetry: Language as Sound, resonant, non-lingual, vocal.

Week Three: November 19th - Nigeria
The Mbari Club: Amos Tutuola, John Pepper Clark & more
Experimental mythology: Mythic tropes as paths to the new.

Week Four: November 26th – Brazil
Noigandres: Haroldo de Campos, Augusto de Campos & more
Concrete poetry: The visuality of the poem as its meaning

Week Five: December 3rd – Syria & Iraq
The Tammūzī Poets: Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb, Adonis & more
The ancient as modern: Free verse as liberation.

Published: How I Did It - ‘The Interrupters’ my article for The Poetry School

http://campus.poetryschool.com/how-i-did-it-the-interrupters/ An intriguing series from the Poetry School, hosted on their Campus platform, where they ask poets to discuss the process of writing a specific poem of theirs. Some previous editions were really interesting, but more often than not made me realise how different my process can be from the norm. So this article, where I discuss my poem The Interrupters from my recent collection {Enthusiasm} published by Test Centre, is an attempt to honour the article's remit but still maintain a true reflection of my actual methodology.

"I suppose each collection I have published has been an attempt to relate a style, or form, or concept, to a subject. Not the other way round. No collecting has been done after the fact, the fact has been established and then the collecting. My process is one toward a changing ideal. I don’t denigrate those who are consistent, or whose evolution is subtle, but I personally find the notion of radical growth, or variance, to be something I aspire to. It comforts me that my work is different book to book, that I produce things that bear not a singular stamp of my authorial ‘voice’, for I find that idea unrepresentative of my experience of being. It is not a metaphor to say we contain a multiplicity. I am a different person depending on my mood, my company, my job… As such I am a different poet, I have a different voice when writing about boxing than I do when writing about prisons, or when I’m using collage technique as opposed to visual poetry. And most especially when I’m writing mostly at night, as opposed to the morning, or when I’m reading mostly one poet as opposed to another."

Updated: Hubbub & Poetry School webpages

Finally I've filled up two sections of my site with all the relevant info that does them justice. My current and ongoing residency with the Hubbub at Wellcome Collection www.stevenjfowler.com/hubbub and the last few years teaching for the wonderful Poetry School www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool

Both include videos, blogs and general writings about my residential / pedagogical processes

The Poetry School: Maintenant - an international course & new website

I'm happy to say that in January 2015 I shall be once again teaching my Maintenant course for the Poetry School, this time as an International course. This means, as an interactive online course, it can be taken by anyone in the world and, I would hope, many from Europe as well as beyond. 

The course explores post-war & contemporary European avant-garde poetry, aiming to elucidate traditions that might be occluded in the UK, and explore how their innovations in writing can compliment people's poetry in the now. The onus is on how these great moments in modern poetry can enrich writing practise, rather than dense historical analysis. It’s a rare chance to excavate avant garde work in such a setting, please sign up below if interested.

http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/online/maintenant---an-international-poetry-course.php 

The course begins Monday 26th, in January 2015 and follows a bi-weekly format, with five movements covered over ten weeks, with poems and texts submitted by the participants every two weeks. The course is mediated through the Poetry School’s innovative social media platform Campus, allowing a remarkable accessibility to an assignment driven course, a credit to the innovative pedagogical approach of the school.

Week One:  – Oulipo

Georges Perec, Jacques Roubeau, Raymond Queneau up to Frederic Forte and British Oulippeans like Philip Terry. The constraints that emancipate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo

Week Two:  – Austrian postwar modernism

Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek. How to deal with the legacy of Fascism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Handke

Week Three:  - Concrete poetry

Hansjörg Mayer, Bob Cobbing, The Vienna Group, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Marton Koppany up to Anatol Knotek. The visuality of the poem as its meaning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_poetry

Week Four:  - CoBrA

Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont, Pierre Alechinsky. Dutch, Danish, Belgian & beyond, poetry as art revolt & primitivism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBRA_(avant-garde_movement)

Week Five:  - British Poetry Revival

Tom Raworth, Bill Griffiths, Maggie O’Sullivan & many many more. Those every British poet should know, our immense late 20th century Vanguard heritage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_poetry_revival -

I've also a new website www.stevenjfowler.com which can be navigated through a menu as well project pages, one of which is www.stevenjfowler.com/poetryschool which contains information on Maintenant: International as well as the first Maintenant course and the Vanguard course.

& here is the interview series that inspired the course http://www.stevenjfowler.com/maintenant all 97 editions so far.

Thanks for reading & happy festivus.

teaching Maintenant for the Poetry School in 2015 as an International course

I'm really delighted to say that in January 2015 I shall be once again teaching my Maintenant course for the Poetry School. This is exciting on two fronts:

The first is that this course, the first time round, was undoubtedly my most positive experience teaching, ever. I got very lucky with the group of people who came to share their thoughts, but also years of research, really from the start of my writing as a whole, as well as from the 98 issue deep interview series I ran here www.maintenant.co.uk, into contemporary European poetry came to bear. I knew more than I had thought I knew, and had a passion for much that I had forgotten. This in the ideas behind the movements more than anything - in teaching the course I came to realise so many of these brave, wondrous engagements with experimental literature on the continent since WWII had genuine and fully realised political, ideological and philosophical ideas driving them, and these were good ideas. Not at all pretentious or removed, so many of these movements were about responding to the horrors of the middle 20th century and could be gleaned for the unique problems, and opportunities of our time. So I realised more than I had that the European avant garde was wholly relevant to me, that I shared, often, its concerns, and so took much away in realisation of how and why my writing had become what it has. I think the 16 people who came every two weeks to speak with me at the Poetry school thought so too. So we engaged deeply with the potential of technology and writing, of political and social engagement, of collaboration and community. Their amazing energy and their desire to make these historical groups and movements new and real to them was palpable, and amongst other things, at one of my events celebrating Danish poetry, they did this:

The second reason in that this second go of Maintenant is an International course. This means it can be taken by anyone in the world and, I would hope, many from Europe as well as beyond. It's very exciting to be able to relate my ideas and my thoughts about these 5 great movements with people who have a wholly other perspective than my own. This accessibility is such an exciting prospect, and a credit to the innovative pedagogical approach of the poetry school and will undoubtedly produce a really interesting experience for me, as much as, I hope, those who take up the course. Moreover it means the course is assignment driven, i.e. writing driven, and this was always the hope, that the course would be a platform for others to create their own work, their own movements, or at least radical and personal ideas for themselves and their writing. Here is the syllabus:

Week One:  – Oulipo
Georges Perec, Jacques Roubeau, Raymond Queneau up to Frederic Forte and British Oulippeans like Philip Terry. The constraints that emancipate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo

Week Two:  – Austrian postwar modernism
Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek. How to deal with the legacy of Fascism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Handke

Week Three:  - Concrete poetry
Hansjörg Mayer, Bob Cobbing, The Vienna Group, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Marton Koppany up to Anatol Knotek. The visuality of the poem as its meaning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_poetry

Week Four:  - CoBrA
Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont, Pierre Alechinsky. Dutch, Danish, Belgian & beyond, poetry as art revolt & primitivism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBRA_(avant-garde_movement)

Week Five:  - British Poetry Revival
Tom Raworth, Bill Griffiths, Maggie O’Sullivan & many many more. Those every British poet should know, our immense late 20th century Vanguard heritage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_poetry_revival

You can also read an indepth interview with me about this course and other stuff here:
http://campus.poetryschool.com/maintenant-interview-s-j-fowler/

Transreading Central Europe by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese for the Poetry School

http://campus.poetryschool.com/transreading-central-europe/ This is a new course from the Poetry School that I am really excited to see happening. Transreading Central Europe by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese is really a perfect companion to my Maintenant course that ran earlier this year, and Elżbieta is the perfect person to share such an interesting and expansive idea through the genuinely open learning environment and considered support structure that the Poetry School offers. A few comments from Elżbieta on the course...

"I choose to accept the opinion expressed so aptly by Octavio Paz: ‘Each original poem is the translation of the unknown or absent text.’ I choose to ignore the largely misquoted Robert Frost statement that poetry is what’s lost in translation. I’m interested in Marilyn Hacker’s description of creative rewriting as ‘a battle between the literal and the pleasing,’ though I consider it in less belligerent terms. I opt for Derek Mahon’s approach as explained in his preface to Echo’s Grove: ‘the best plan may be to approximate with zest, to refuse pedantry and intimidation.’ I choose to repeat, after Clive Scott, a translator of Rimbaud and Baudelaire, that any translation is ‘an autobiography of the reading self.’
            Therefore, in our course, without pedantry and intimidation, I hope, though with imaginative acumen, we will read together: not Szymborskas, but other poets who merit similar recognition. We could have easily focused exclusively on Poland; however, I thought it might be revealing to look at Central Europe. Can we spot affinities between these poets and poems? Can we recognize common preoccupations? Can we pinpoint difference and idiosyncrasies? Sometimes after readings I’m told that Polish poetry has specific qualities not usually found in English-language poems..."

Course description in the Poetry School programme
‘Translating is reading, reading of the best, the most essential kind’, wrote William H. Gass introducing the concept of ‘transreading’. Would you like to read beyond Herbert, Holub, Popa, Šalamun or Szymborska, writing your own translations and independent poems? In this course you will respond to  recent work by Central European poets, strengthening your knowledge of other literatures and invigorating your own  poetry. You don’t need to speak Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian or Slovenian – all you need is curiosity and a love of anything trans: transmigration, transgression, transfiguration. Every fortnight you will experiment with one ‘rewriting strategy’ (homophonic translation, erasure, annotation, recontextualization) and transform the texts you’ve read into your own versions. Your fifth and final poem will be a ‘straight’ translation from a Polish crib, which will evolve into a collaborative work composed by the whole group. http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/online/transreading-central-europe---an-international-course.php

Vanguard: a course for the Poetry School

I’m really pleased to announce a new course I’ll be teaching for the Poetry School during their upcoming Autumn term - Vanguard http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/face-to-face/vanguard.php The course will be held on Thursday evenings at the Poetry School, in Lambeth, London. Here’s the info:
 
“Explore the expansive modern tradition of British experimental poetry, as SJ Fowler presents a necessarily idiosyncratic insight into the vibrant innovative poetries which have sought originality in the UK over the last 50 years.
 
Five bi-weekly sessions will explore the distinctive qualities of the British avant garde and chart a course through an enormous field of writing. Not formed by generation, region or faction, Vanguard explores characteristics that are possessed by, but in no way encompass, the work of many great British poets. These are qualities, and poets, chosen through the acknowledged limits of Steven's knowledge and interests, & representative of that alone.
Week 1 : October 23rd : Rapidity
Exploring immediacy, alertness; quickness; celerity, concision. Scalpel cuts at smugness / pomposity, seeking the fragmentary whole.
Drawing from the work of Tom Raworth, Maggie O'Sullivan, Denise Riley, Barry MacSweeney, Andy Spragg, Frances Kruk & others
Week 2 : November 6th : Proximity
Nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation. Imbued with situation / location / historicity.
Drawing from the work of Iain Sinclair, Bill Griffiths, Geraldine Monk, Lee Harwood, Carol Watts, Roy Fisher & others
Week 3 : November 20th : Sonority
Excavations in sound, the condition of being resonant, multi & non lingual / vocal. Performativities. Technologies.
Drawing from the work of Caroline Bergvall, Bob Cobbing, Phil Minton, Hannah Silva, James Wilkes, Zoe Skoulding & others.
Week 4 : December 4th : JocosityUmour. Disjunction, juxtaposition, reappropriation - deftness, humour as disturbance, sublimation. Humour as a liferaft.
Drawing from the work of Tim Atkins, Holly Pester, Jeff Hilson, Philip Terry, Robert Sheppard, Tom Jenks & others.
Week 5 : December 18th : Destability
Undermining the oppressive in language / politics, situating complicity, interrogation / rejection of subjectivity. Externality and the refraction of worlds of language as a mode.
Drawing from the work of Veronica Forrest-Thomson, JH Prynne, Allen Fisher, Sean Bonney, Emily Critchley, Keston Sutherland & others.
During the course the onus will be on how these qualities in modern British poetry can enrich writing practise, rather than dense historical analysis, and how experimentation emerges from necessary innovations that are required for a poet to be truly contemporary in a rapidly changing society. Vanguard is a chance for students to diversify from singular, retrograde modes of writing and provides an all too rare insight into a world of poetry that is a profound part of our literary culture and heritage.”
 
I will organise a post-course reading for students on this course, and they will have the opportunity to attend a series of experimental poetry events during its duration, including Camaradefest II, to be held at the Rich Mix Arts Centre on Saturday October 25th, which will feature 100 poets in 50 pairs presenting 50 brand new collaborative works in one day.
 
Vanguard follows on from my Maintenant course http://www.poetryschool.com/courses-workshops/face-to-face/maintenant.php which explored post-war European avant garde poetry, which I’m happy to say was a grand success, due almost entirely to extraordinary group of students, who can be seen reading original work they collaborated to write during the course here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07uFwjvBHNg
 
As part of next year’s Poetry School Spring term I’m delighted that Maintenant will happen again, in its entirety, but as an interactive program of teaching this time, so anyone can join in, even if they live outside of London. You can read more about that course by clicking the link above and reading this interview, with Sarah Dawson http://campus.poetryschool.com/maintenant-interview-s-j-fowler/ More news on that next year.
 

Fjender

Without doubt one of the best events I've put on, the best of 2014 so far, Fjender at the Rich mix was an intense and across the board brilliant evening of contemporary European innovative poetry. I was continually blown away by the quality of the original work and the performances of the poets I'd asked to contribute and the atmosphere of the evening was really generous and open, as it always should be. It was an epic two hour, twenty poet + event. I was really gratified to show the visiting Danes, all of whom I've admired and whose work I have been trumpeting for years, the quality of the poetry scene in London. 
Cia Rinne & Chrissy Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JwIWWX5ezk
Peter Jaeger & Martin Glaz Serup https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osVyEpJ0jHI

It was really a joy to read with Morten too, though difficult at times to maintain the prosaic difficulties of organising and introducing such a complex array of events along with reading, but once the event was in full flow it really felt like everyone was in on it together, and it was easy to relax into it. 
And those dozen who've been kind enough to attend my Maintenant course at the poetry school gave a really beautiful reading of an immense collaborative, constraint heavy text, which just added to my feeling that the synthesis of organising / reading / writing / teaching can be fluid and organic if attended to openly. 

An interview with the Poetry school for my upcoming course Maintenant

http://campus.poetryschool.com/maintenant-interview-s-j-fowler/ Text below taken from the beautiful Campus layout the Poetry School has set up, very generous interview on their part...
Has any other poet thrown himself into curating and collaboratively creating contemporary poetry with the same enthusiasm as S J Fowler?
Publishing five collections in three years is an achievement in itself, but there’s also something admirable about the way he draws other artists and poets into his creative orbit, whether that be by collaborating with them as part of his Enemies project, (which culminated in the Enemies book, published by Penned in the Margins), publishing them in 3:AM Magazine, or interviewing them for his Maintentant series, now almost at a hundred articles. Students on his spring term course, also called Maintenant!, will become part of his collaborative circle, writing poems inspired by key 20thcentury experimental poetry movements and performing them at an end of term reading. We asked Steven for advice on exploring experimental poetry and collaborating fruitfully…
Your course will be covering Oulipo, Austrian postwar modernism, concrete poetry, CoBrA and the British Poetry Revival. Can you explain how you came to be interested in these movements?
S J: I think because I came to poetry quite recently, only four years ago really, and very much fell into it, my reading habits, my influences, are not really formulated along formal lines. I wasn’t handed classical poetry as a child, didn’t listen to whatever was taught at school, didn’t grow up valuing a certain tradition or style or form, I have just read continuously, whatever I could where I could. For years I was completely isolated in my reading too, being led into it by philosophy, which I studied, and as such I was in a bubble, didn’t have the chance to develop any sense of prejudice against poetry in translation, or avant garde work, as somehow otherly. That’s perhaps why I read this kind of work alongside poetry that might be better known in this country in equal measure.
Moreover, each movement that I’m going to be covering in the course has its own special place in my own development as a poet. The Oulipo showed me how structural freedom can actually be more restricting than formal structures and concepts, because that freedom is mediated by very specific influences and tropes. Austrian postwar modernism is the example par excellence of avant garde writers writing for a purpose, and not as a self-indulgent stance against something, and that is to expose the ever present instincts of fascism in a nation that had tried to plaster over in immediate history and responsibility. Concrete poetry showed me that language is not mediated only by its content, but by its appearance, by the material it appears on – it has multiple dimensions, it is art as well as language. CoBrA really exemplifies the very best of what post-war European poetry aims to achieve – collectivity, collaboration, dynamic experimentation. And the British Poetry Revival, well this was a seismic discovery for me. An entire legion of incredible writers, writing about my country, writing works of genius, completely hidden from the mainstream reader.
In the course description it says that the techniques used by the poets you’ll be covering can, ‘compliment, rather than antagonise, more formal writing practice’. Could you expand on what you mean by that?
S J: I think there’s a territorial, self-defeating dualism that seems to permeate through people’s perception of the experimental, that it requires a philosophical or political praxis to be part of their writing. That it is against something, more than it is for something. This isn’t true, fundamentally. Experimentation is about finding the authentic way to express a very certain content. And that’s why a lot of formal poems fail in my opinion, because they are using the wrong form, because it is familiar or it is all the writer knows, to express their content. I hope to just humbly, gently, suggest that these movements show us new worlds of form and method toward content we might want to access and express.
You’re responsible for the Enemies collaboration project – will you be encouraging poets to collaborate on this course?
S J: Absolutely. It is wholly beneficial for any poet to engage in collaboration in my opinion, it allows one to step beyond one’s comfort zone, it forces the poet to be generous and generative and it mediates sociality beautifully, through the creative act. Plus you can blame failures on the other person! Best not to say this out loud of course. I hope the class will be defined by an atmosphere of communication, exchange and that the collaborations will be utterly organic, the genus being in the shared new ideas and discoveries which happen for everyone in the room.
In the Enemies book, was it a purposeful decision not to demark whose contribution is whose in many of the projects? What effect do you think this has?
S J: It was, and in the most instinctual way, this was primarily to commit to the work as a wholly new thing, a child of two poets, and not the spliced remnants of two individuals. So much of the poetry in Enemies, I really can’t remember whose line is whose. This is the most beautiful rediscovery, to have given so much to the style and brilliance of another writer that you and they are entwined in the work toward the same goal. I hope the effect of this is for readers to be taken by the content and not the authorial presence, which is often an obscuring force, a context we can rarely remove.
Why do you think collaborations succeed or fail? Do you have any tips for successful collaborating?
S J: It’s all about generosity as a mode, about perspective, and I think it goes right to the roots of one’s view on aesthetics, on poetry and its purpose, and one’s view of communication. If you see poetry as a reflection of your external experiences, internalised through the unique nexus of your millions of experiences and emotions and knowledge, then the act of collaboration is replacing the stimulus of your life with the specified stimulus of another human being, and their unique way of refracting the world. It becomes very easy to allow this to move you. If you see poetry as the effect of a muse like inspiration on your defined subjective soul or being, then you’ll probably want to protect that ‘inspiration’, and you won’t be so free to share, sacrifice and risk. Collaboration is all about generosity, it is an act of giving, a process of sacrifice.
When you collaborate with an artist, is it always a case of the images already existing and you responding to them, or have you worked in other ways?
S J: Every collaboration has been completely different. I’ve perhaps undertaken about 70 different collaborations to date, across every medium I could, and each time I try to get the collaborator to build the process with me, and to let them begin. I worry I can be a demonstrative person at times, overbearing, so I try to impose a deference upon myself when collaborating, and so far, it seems to be a good instinct. With visual images, photography and art as the like, often it does become tennis, but as often as not, it is my poems which generate their art, as well as their images generating my poetry.
I’ve always struggled to write poems that respond to visual images, do you have any advice for poets who want to respond to visual art in an original way?
S J: Being fidelitous to the grammar of visual images can’t be literal. One has to be familiar with the process of the artist or photographer, even if in the most material or shallow manner, and then, most importantly, what their intention is. Often the physical result does not achieve the intention for you, or for other viewers of the work. But if one then approaches that intention from your own poetic, your own abstract understanding, then a natural kinship will develop. I think so anyway. Museum of Debt, which is in Enemies, features portraits of museum workers by Alexander Kell, and Alex and I had both worked at that Museum, we didn’t even need to talk, we both created at the same time, with no dialogue, and the images and the poetry is imminently fused. It is about boredom, about the quiet desperation of a job that leads nowhere. The subject spoke, our intention was entwined.
Tell me more about the event that your students will have the opportunity to read at…
S J: It’s a very exciting programme. Three of the most innovative poets in Europe, Cia Rinne, Morten Sondergaard and Martin Glaz Serup will be visiting London for a week, for events with Rich Mix arts centre, in Brick Lane, and for an exhibition at the Hardy Tree gallery in Kings cross. The Danish agency for culture are supporting the venture, called Fjender, part of my Enemies project. They will be collaborating with myself and two other British based poets, and thanks to the Arts Council here I will be visiting Copenhagen to read our collaborations in Denmark too. The students will get to read on the big night in London, share some of their work with those poets and the public, if they want to.
Can you think of any good anthologies our students could buy to familiarise themselves with some of the poets you’ll cover? Or any good sources of information online, (aside from your wonderful Maintenant series of interviews)?
S J: Certainly, I can never speak highly enough of the Poets for the Millenium anthologies, by Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris. Get the first two volumes. Mind blowing, the scope and the width of the poets and the superlative editorship, this is what anthologies should be. Online, check out www.lyrikline.org. Quite formal poets, but a great resource for translated work across languages. Also Ubuweb, if you haven’t been on there, well that’s a good ten years of material for all of us.
If you think you could do with catching some of Steven’s contagious enthusiasm, you can book your place on Maintenant! online, or call 0207 582 1679.

Maintenant! a course for the Poetry School

I'm delighted to announce that in 2014 I will be teaching a course for the Poetry School http://www.poetryschool.com called Maintenant! exploring post-war & contemporary European avant-garde poetry.

It's a bi-weekly course, five lessons over ten weeks, aiming to elucidate traditions that might be occluded in the UK, and explore how their innovations in writing can compliment people's poetry in the now. The onus is on how these great moments in modern poetry can enrich writing practise, rather than dense historical analysis. It’s a rare chance to excavate avant garde work in such a setting, please sign up below if interested & in London.

The course will take place at the Poetry School London office, 79-83 Lambeth Walk. 2 hour lessons – 6.45pm to 8.45pm

Week One: January tuesday 28th – Oulipo
Georges Perec, Jacques Roubeau, Raymond Queneau up to Frederic Forte and British Oulippeans like Philip Terry. The constraints that emancipate.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo

Week Two: February tuesday 11th – Austrian postwar modernism
Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek. How to deal with the legacy of Fascism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Handke

Week Three: February tuesday 25th - Concrete poetry
Hansjörg Mayer, Bob Cobbing, The Vienna Group, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Marton Koppany up to Anatol Knotek. The visuality of the poem as its meaninghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_poetry

Week Four: tuesday March 11th - CoBrA
Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont, Pierre Alechinsky. Dutch, Danish, Belgian & beyond, poetry as art revolt & primitivism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBRA_(avant-garde_movement)

Week Five: March tuesday 25th - British Poetry Revival
Tom Raworth, Bill Griffiths, Maggie O’Sullivan & many many more. Those every British poet should know, our immense late 20th century Vanguard heritage.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_poetry_revival

& near the end of the course, on March 15th 2014, at the Rich Mix arts centre, the students will get a chance to read some of the work they've produced during Enemies: Fjender, which explores contemporary Danish avant garde poetry in collaboration, with Cia Rinne, Martin Glaz Serup and Morten Sondergaard, who will also be exhibiting his remarkable Wordpharmacy http://www.wordpharmacy.com

You can download the entire Poetry School London programme here: http://www.poetryschool.com/resources/ps-brochurespring14-printerfriendly-3.pdf

& here is the interview series that inspired the course http://www.maintenant.co.uk/ all 97 editions so far.

Kingston writing school international pedagogy conference

I gave a off the cuff chit chat paper on the Enemies project and innovation in poetry projects, alongside for more erudite talking by Kim Campanello, James Miller and Fiona Curran, and that was nice, we had a nice audience and a wide ranging chat. Then I went hollywood and went home. Then I returned for a really intimate and enjoyable reading in a lecture theatre in the Galsworthy building of Kingston U. Which is quite modern and clean and new, and like Kingston itself, new to me, and strange. I was one of only two men in a room of about twenty, and so went all dirty magician with my reading, interactively forcing a gentle goose cacophony through the Estates of Westeros book in a box. Saw Philip Gross, Kim Campanello and Jane Yeh read too, having heard of but never seen, all of them. Then I tried to walk the 8 miles home, and got locked in Richmond park in the dark and had to climb into someone's back yard. 

The Poetry School: a cameo

http://www.poetryschool.com/ The Poetry school is an intriguing thing. An admirable endeavour, but one, perhaps because of my background in the avant garde (or towards it, a bit more than some), that I haven't encountered often. My first such tryst came thanks to Chris McCabe, who kindly invited me to join him for the last hour of his penultimate class on collaborations. Set back on Lambeth walk, amidst boutique shops and a few housing estates, the evening was spent chatting with genuinely engaged and interesting people about Enemies, Camarade and my opinions on collaboration in and outside of poetry. I brought some books, books in boxes and anecdotal stories along with the theories. Then I joined the group in a frightening local pub afterwards... The hope, of course, in such a class is that the teacher is just leading the flow of an organic exchange, rather than being demonstrative. In this situation, where those attending were so erudite, artists and poets of significant merit in their own right, and the teacher was so capable and multifaceted as a poet himself, this was the inevitable result. It is really considerable that people will pay to attend such a focused programme about poetry, and collaborations at that! after working a full day, and bring so much creativity, energy and enthusiasm. Respect to everyone involved. I'm sure the relationships began on the night will bear fruit in the future. Here is a link to one of the students in the class speaking with the Poetry School too. http://www.poetryschool.com/courses/featured-student--sophie-herxheimer.php