A note on : The end of Fiender in Malmo

A final event in the Fiender project, a Swedish collaborative enterprise that Harry Man and I put together, 12 poets presented new collaborations in Malmo, one of the most interesting cities in Sweden. The event was really thanks to Kristian Carlsson, whom I had met in Georgia in 2016, a remarkable activist and publisher living in the city, he was our key co curator.

We took over the Poet on the Corner shopfront venue for one night and poets from Mexico, Iran, Uruguay, American, England and Sweden trod the boards, a signifier of Malmo’s international character. It was an intimate, gentle, often quiet, even timid, Camarade, but as ever, meeting the poets and discovering new spaces, especially alongside old friends like Harry and JT Welsch, was rewarding. My collaboration with Iranian poet Naeimeh Doostdar was a literary work, quite careful, but opening into some interesting textual spaces at times. We always seemed at a remove from each other, no matter what I tried to do to allow her the space to define the context and content it always seemed gentle, generous but not really collaborative. A rare thing for me nowadays, and a lot to take from it, certain barriers can’t be crossed quickly, these things are miniature friendships and that takes time. So Naeimeh and I got on well, but it was merely a beginning.

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Malmo is an interesting place but it didn’t reveal itself immediately, felt metaphorically connected to the limitations of the event and my collaboration. It appeared obvious or residential on its surface, but clearly promised a great deal. This is attractive in a sense, enticing if not immediately gratifying. Certainly finishing another rare visit to Sweden, where I have blood ties and a quarter of me is actually from, sat around a dinner table with friends old and new, is something to prize.

A note on: Fiender, performing with Aase Berg

I enjoy collaborating with Aase Berg. We put on something conceptual, something about surprise, coldness, fakery, a satire I suppose, about the opinions of others. And about liveness against the page. A new work for the new audience. We had fun doing so.

This event was a return to the Camarade Harry Man and I put together at the Stockholm International Poetry fest last November, but this time, in enemies project style, pulling in 20 poets in all, 3 from swedeland, and a 100 people to witness the 10 new works. It was a fun evening, full of energy. All the videos www.theenemiesproject.com/fiender

A note on: Fiender - Swedish Enemies in London - January 28th

Fiender: Swedish Enemies in London - Rich Mix : Saturday January 28th 2017
Free entry 7.30pm - 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA

www.theenemiesproject.com/fiender

Brand new collaborations of poetry and text for one night only, written by pairs of poets commissioned for this unique literary event. Visiting Swedish poets will present new works of avant-garde and literary poetry with their British counterparts alongside other 'Camarade' pairs especially for the evening. 

Featuring: Aase Berg & SJ Fowler - Harry Man & Jonas Gren - Elis Burrau & Holly Corfield Carr - Kathryn Maris & Patrick Mackie - Fabian Peake & Jeff Hilson - Nick Murray & Joe Turrent - Prudence Chamberlain & Eley Williams - Hannah Lowe & Richard Scott - Annie Katchinska & Mark Waldron & more

Fiender: Swedish Enemies is multifaceted transnational collaborative poetry project engaging poets from both Sweden and the UK. Taking place in both nations across 2016 and 2017, Fiender is an ambitious, exploratory engagement with contemporary poets across Europe.

Curated by Harry Man and SJ Fowler, with curatorial assistance from Emanuel Holm and Madeleine Grive. Supported by Arts Council Sweden. www.theenemiesproject.com

A note on: Performing in Stockholm with Aase Berg

Read the full writeup here with all the videos and pictures www.stevenjfowler.com/sweden 10tal's Stockholm International Poetry Festival - November 22nd 2016

An inspiring burst of collaborative performative energy and invention in the Swedish capital for the Fiender project at the 20th anniversary of 10tal’s famed Stockholm International Poetry Festival. Six months in the planning, curated by myself, Harry Man and festival director Madeleine Grive and Emanuel Holm, this was a intense experience, with nothing but fascinating people in attendance at the fest and a genuinely resonant team feeling to the collaborations.

I had the pleasure of working on a new poem performance with Aase Berg, without overstatement one of the most interesting European poets of the last twenty years, whom I’d interviewed for my Maintenant series just after I started writing really. Our correspondence collaboration broke through powerfully when she suggested we might work on the notion of guiltlessness, the quality, or characteristic rather, of being cold, unemotional and somehow shading psychopathy, so rarely admitted in contemporary arts circles (!). I share such a suspicious about myself, that I have an empty chasm in my chest sometimes and am capable of terrible deeds, simply fenced in by a comfortable life and very little stress and opportunity to render harm, and we quickly wrote something akin to a miniplay made up of poems, a test to give out to the audience and conceptual acts. In real time we put all this together on the day really, in the hotel an hour or two before performance. It came together beautifully. Aase was the cold dictatorial matriarch and me the kvetching jelly, at various times lying face down on stage, taking the fetal position and drooling on myself. It was awkward in the best way possible.

A note on: Fiender at the 20th Stockholm Internationella Poesifestival

Visit www.theenemiesproject.com/fiender for more specific info

"With this year’s Jubilee Festival we wish to draw attention – with gravity, sensitivity and intellect – to poetry in its many shapes as a living and constantly changing art form through which we peer inwards into the human mind and outwards unto the incredible Universe. Our aim has been to present a succinct but also light programme, where each individual reading and performance gets the focus it deserves whether it is poetry, music, dance or talks. Come along with us inside the theatre house and move freely between programme points, the beautiful theatre foyer, the bar and the restaurant!
.... We have invited poets from South Korea, Colombia, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Great Britain. We present the result of a workshop that is running during the festival – the unique performance Fiender (Enemies), with three British and three Swedish authors. AKT UNG! – the scene for young, Swedish poetry – has its fifth anniversary and will show how very lively the young poetry is. We present poets that have been with us from the start, but also many new voices, who will take poetry into the future. Welcome to enjoy three days of literary art! = Madeleine Grive, Artistic Director and Editor-In-Chief"


Programme - Tuesday 22 November - 9 pm
Poetry Performance: Fiender (Enemies)

Six innovative poets from Great Britain and Sweden have collaboratively written poems that are performed in pairs in a unified performance: Aase Berg (SWE) and Steven J Fowler (UK), Jonas Gren (SWE) and Harry Man (UK), Elis Burrau (SWE) and Holly Corfield Carr (UK).

lines from Ekelof

when one has come as far as I in meaninglessness
every word becomes once more interesting


to be equal to each other
to warm each other’s corpse under chastity’s lovely curve in eternity’s white marble
gravestones whose oppressive cold forms over the dream like the smell over remains or a whisper
decay for ages together
defend each other’s corpse against damp and freedom
be two in blessedness, lie still, endure, be still
lick each other’s corpse with kisses slowly like worms creep into the hiding places


Here is the lower world’s smile


Farewell Order!
Welcome Disorder!


I forced the man to his knees
forced my enemy on all fours
I put his wife on his back
and I took her there
before I gave her to the wild cows


my limbs go wandering
my thoughts scatter
without you
Gunnar Ekelof