Published : I Stand Alone by The Devils, and other poems on films

I Stand Alone by The Devils, and other poems on films
Broken Sleep Books : 33 pages : £5
www.stevenjfowler.com/istandalone
www.brokensleepbooks.com/product-page/sj-fowler-i-stand-alone-by-the-devils-and-other-poems-on-films

A book, though lean, I have been working on for years. It’s been a pleasure to bring it into life with Aaron Kent, editor of Broken Sleep. From the publisher = "26 new poems celebrating 26 cult films of the 20th and 21st century, I Stand Alone by The Devils is a slim volume of cinematic poetic ekphrasis. At play is an aberrant intersemiotic translation between the mediums of popular or arthouse cinema and contemporary, modernist poetry. The poems aim to re-imagine moving image in language, often cutting in tone, taking on the dark, symbolic and sardonic on film. Each poem is a single film, interpreting, reflecting, embodying and transposing, exploring both films familiar to many, and digging out, often from 20th century European cinema, more unorthodox motion pictures. From Querelle and The Baby of Mâcon, to American Werewolf in London and Don’t Look Now. From Aguirre and Festen to The Fly and Breaking the Waves, these poems are a strange and playful musing on cinema’s impact on poetry and language and a useless thinking through of how films are actually consumed."

A full list of films featured - Angel Heart, Querelle, Last Year at Marienbad, Ali : Fear Eats The Soul, The Fly, The Devils, Breaking the Waves, American Werewolf in London, Don’t Look Now, I Stand Alone, A short film about Love, En Coeur En Hiver, The Baby of Mâcon, Nightwatch (Nattevagten), Silence of the Lambs, Satan’s Brew, Aguirre, wrath of god, The Long Good Friday, Stalker, Salo, Festen, Three Colours Blue, Yojimbo, Possession, Beau Travail, M.

LAUNCH : August Thursday 29th 2019 at the Cinema Museum, London, alongside a screening of Peter Greenaway’s The Baby of Mâcon
http://www.cinemamuseum.org.uk/
7pm doors for 7.30pm entry. £8 (£5 concessions)
Readings, featuring Jonathan Catherall, Yvonne Litschel, Chris Kerr, David Spittle and more, alongside SJ Fowler, will mark this unique celebration of cinematic poetry, before a screening ofThe Baby of Mâcon, Peter Greenaway’s remarkable and challening 1993 film. More details to come soon.

Published : The Wrestlers

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

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

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

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

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.
 

My new poetry collection - The Wrestlers - due out this summer

I'm happy to say my next poetry collection will be out with Kingston University Press this summer. The Wrestlers brings together poems written over the last five years but finds it origin in a commission I was lucky enough to do for Tate Britain online, thanks to Sarah Victoria Turner - a suite of poems responding to Henri Gaudier-Brzeska's eponymous relief and the nine consequent copies.

In a sense these poems, when I wrote them in 2011 and 2012 were a pivotal moment in my writing, a rejection / acceptance of Poundian modernism. Moreover they were about wrestling itself, something that was the primary activity of my childhood and teenage life, as well as the relief, and written upon request, that felt / feel strangely autobiographical (though you wouldn't be able to tell that by reading them).

I've revised these and then added many other works where wrestling has become an action verb in the mechanics of the poems, often just in the title. In a sense wrestling becomes a concept of imposition that acts like a dialectic between ideas or opinions. 

Like my last book, The Guide to Being Bear Aware, I think The Wrestlers is pretty traditionally poetry, its literary, because like my last book, it has come into existence while, organically, I have found other mediums to be the place of my experiments, like in art books, theatre or performance. So my natural instincts have changed too, in poetry, something I'm glad about, to always be changing tastes. If it was those European poets of the post-war new lyric tradition looming over me for my last book, now I'd say it has been a revisitations to pre-war poets which have influenced me. Mallarme, Mayakovsky, Apollinaire, Wat, Cummings have become ghosts in my new book, a bit. Reading them again, seriously, for a second or third time has of course disturbed some bones in my own work.

The book will have a London launch on June 30th at Rich Mix with other readings to follow.

Poems in the collection have been previously published, in one form or another, by Gorse Magazine, Test Centre magazine, 3am magazine, The Wolf, Poems in Which, The Honest Ulsterman, The Bohemyth, Wazogate and the anthologies The Long White Thread: poems for John Berger (Smokestack Books), The Other Room 4, Millets (Zeno Press), Dear World and Everything In It (Bloodaxe Books), Hwaet: Ledbury Poetry Festival (Bloodaxe Books) and Shifting Ground (J&L Gibbons). It also features the suite Poems in which César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza wrestles Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (Pablo Neruda) which was commissioned by The Hay Festival : Arequipa, Peru in 2016 and a number of the poems in were created as part of The Green Infrastructure – a residency with landscape architects J&L Gibbons.

Published: Philip Venables' Below the Belt

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Delighted to have my poetry featured on the debut album from composer Philip Venables. Phil and I worked on a piece for the London Sinfonietta's blue touch paper scheme some years back, it explored boxing and fistic percussion, entitled The Revenge of Miguel Cotto. 

You can listen to five excerpts from our collaboration https://www.nmcrec.co.uk/recording/below-belt

Phil has created some remarkable work since we worked together so it's grand to revisit this project through this CD and I'm really pleased it has a second life forevery on disc http://philipvenables.com/2018/02/06/below-the-belt/

Published: Liberating the Canon anthology ed. Isabel Waidner

So nice to be included in this anthology, with a piece of fiction, never seen the light of day before, which is part of my Museum series. https://www.dostoyevskywannabe.com/experiments/liberating_the_canon

Liberating the Canon is an edited anthology capturing the contemporary emergence of radically innovative and nonconforming forms of literature in the UK and US. Historically, sociopolitical marginalisation and avant-garde aesthetics have not come together in UK literature, counterintuitively divorcing outsider experience and formal innovation. Bringing together intersectional identity and literary innovation, LTC is designed as an intervention against the normativity of literary publishing contexts and the institution 'Innovative Literature' as such. More widely, if literature, any literature, can act as a mode of cultural resistance and help imagine a more progressive politics in Tory Britain and beyond, it is this.

Contributors

Edited by Isabel Waidner, Liberating the Canon includes contributors working at the intersections of prose, poetry, art, performance, indie publishing and various subcultural contexts:

Mojisola Adebayo, Jess Arndt (US), Jay Bernard, Richard Brammer, Victoria Brown, SJ Fowler, Juliet Jacques, Sara Jaffe (US), Roz Kaveney, R. Zamora Linmark (US), Mira Mattar, Seabright D.Mortimer, Nat Raha, Nisha Ramayya, Rosie Snajdr, Timothy Thornton, Isabel Waidner, Joanna Walsh and Eley Williams.

272 pages
ISBN: 978-1999924508
Dimensions: 5 x 8 inches
Cat No: DW-391

Published: a new essay on The Learned Pig

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As part of my new series of art book publications for Poem Brut I've written a series of essays. Each one acts as a kind of contextualised full stop to the books and their otherwise un-explained content, but they aren't explanations, just ruminations. The brilliant online journal The Learned Pig have kindly published the essay On Time and Mess, which closed out I fear my best work behind me, with selections of the work from that book

https://www.thelearnedpig.org/on-time-and-mess/5477

Once we understand excess, then we can get really simple.

– Robert Rauschenberg

Exploring poetry’s absent indispensable character

"Because poetry is not a thing that lives, to put it mildly, upon the regulation and control of grammar and correct spelling, in the final preparations for the publication of my book, ‘I fear my best work behind me,’ an exploration of the rudimentary character of poetry – that is letters and words – there was only one correction to make for my editor. Only one deliberate error, with all the obsequiousness that this phrase entails, for him to find and for me to defend. The title. I fear my best work is behind me. Remove the is. Then perhaps, to those dozen or so reading the title, and those few within the dozen who are concentrated by interest, the absence of the is will take on its proper significance. The primary significance I would posit that poetry has, outside of letters and words, is purposeful semantic omission.

I do not imagine my best work is behind me, literally, but in those whom I’ve discovered – and that is the right word to use (for they have to be unearthed, do poets, in England) – who have given me permission to make such works as those that often litter my pages, they are behind me, and are the best work, for they were and are not making what can be mine. What they have made was original, or based on poets they have buried with themselves, as I shall not do........"

 

A note on: Duos & The Poem Brut - two new open calls on 3am magazine

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/submissions/

Poetry
Note: Poetry submissions are open only for the Duos and Poem Brut series. No other submissions will be read.

  • Duos: collaborative poems written / made by two poets. There is no criteria for the poems or process. Please send a single bio and single photo for both authors.
  • Poem Brut: poems exploring handwriting, abstraction, illustration, asemic and pansemic writing, visual poetry and material process, colour, scribbling, scrawlings, crossings out, ink, forgotten notes, found text, interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, geometric poems, inarticulate poems, minimalism, collage, toilet wall writing. No works produced on a computer.

Published: Three new poem bruts in Hotel Magazine

A really brilliant magazine is Hotel, and they've once again generously published some of my new art poems or poem bruts which will form the major output of my work over the next year or so, with a series of events at Rich Mix and four new limited edition books. These three works are taken from the book New Prim. 

http://partisanhotel.co.uk/S-J-Fowler-Poem-Brut-ii

A note on: The Learned Pig - Julia Lewis' Rottweiler

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A deep poetic compliment from a peer and friend, referring to my 2014 book, - a new poem! as part of The Learned Pig's Wolf Crossing season, which is as excellent as this poem http://www.thelearnedpig.org/rottweilers-guide-dog-owner/4855

"If you were a fruit,
what fruit would you be?
Black banana, fruit flies,
les ananas ne parlent pas,
(a little song of two children learning french on Canadian TV)."

A note on: an interview with Jana Astanov, published on 3am magazine

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/poetry-is-an-opportunity/ 

3:AM: I recently had the pleasure of reading your four collections of poetry: the latest “The Guide to Being Bear Aware”, Enthusiasm, published in 2015, The Rottweiler’s Guide to the Dog Owner, from 2014, and your first book, Red Museum, published in 2011. How is “The Guide to Being Bear Aware” different from your previous works?

SJ Fowler: Thank you. I’m sorry you had to slog through four of the, one is normally enough for people. As you probably picked up, each one is very different from the next – different style, method, tone, subject. You couldn’t tell they are from the same person, I’ve been told that anyway, and I take that as a badge of honour. The language I reclaim from the world and plop down on the page is not supposed to represent me as an individual but just some of my mental activity and inquiry. The Guide is different as it’s a return to more literary ground, it’s more notably poetic. That’s because I only discovered poetry in 2010 and this kind of writing, post war European poetry, is what got me into the field. So for the first time I feel I’ve been reading that work long enough to let it speak out. And I’ve also been more active with really experimental pieces of performance, visual art and theatre over the last few years, and so I felt, organically, my poetry could be a little more lyrical.

3:AM: In this collection you begin most of the poems with quotes from a wonderfully curated list of European poets. Could you explain the concept behind this?

SJF: When I first began reading poetry I would take out huge anthologies from Senate House Library in London, big dusty things from the 60s, 70s, 80s that no one else was looking at, and I would spend all day reading them, stopping only to write down lines from poets, both known and obscure, that struck me intensely. It sounds untrue but back then I would read poetry for six or seven hours a day, I was so excited to have discovered it. So for this collection I raided this old word doc of stolen lines. I assigned the epigraphs randomly, often, and I know people hate epigraphs, they take it to be the poet being a prick, showing off their learning, so I thought if I put one for pretty much every poem that’d be quite funny. It’d also force people to look for meanings between the poem and the epigraph which perhaps don’t exist aside from their own analysis, which is also nice. .... CONT'D

 

Published: Who'll Guard the Horse? on The Learned Pig

A journal I’ve always read and respected, I’m very pleased to have a poem in The Learned Pig, as part of their Wolf Crossing series. The poem was written on a flight back from Bangladesh last year, after meeting the amazing Tim Cope and reading his book, which he generously gifted me at the festival where we met. Tim’s writing is wonderful, as is his humble and understated demeanour, given his almost unbelievable achievements. His is a book about stoicism, about endurance. I was very inspired by it, so it makes this poem all the more meaningful to me.http://www.thelearnedpig.org/wholl-guard-the-horse/4412

A note on: An Incident of Originality for BBC Radio 3's The Verb

A new commission on The Verb, for a programme exploring the notion of the fake, in poetry and beyond. I had the best time visiting the studios in Salford once again and the producers of the show, like Ian McMillan himself, are the nicest and most generous people. The other guests couldn't have been cooler to hang out with too. This show is really one of a kind in the UK, a must listen.

My text also features cameo contributions from brilliant poets and artists Maja Jantar, Zuzana Husarova and Prudence Chamberlain. You can read more about the piece here www.stevenjfowler.com/theverb and listen to it clicking the link above. For the full show, below. 

A note on: new BBC Radio 3's The Verb commission - An Incident of Originality

Very excited to appear on The Verb once again this week coming. Here is the page for the show : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08n24fc

I've written a new piece about the concept of originality, authenticity and fake-ness for the show, as this is the theme. I'll be appearing alongside poet Ira Lightman, novelist Delphine de Vigan and comedian Mark Steel. 

The last commission I was lucky enough to do for The Verb, The Worm in its Core, actually began a whole new series of texts and so with this piece, An Incident of Originality, I've happily kept a certain aesthetic connection to this piece, which can be heard here https://soundcloud.com/sjfowler/theworminitscore 

The commission will be a collaboration too, with a small group of poets from across Europe whom I admire. I've asked them to contribute short bursts of new text, like a dialogue. My text is literary but quite computational too – abstract at times, using more common speech but also quite disembodied. I think modernist theatrical writing has been influence, as I’ve been writing more theatre – Pinter, Beckett, Churchill certainly. It is written for a kind of monologue delivery, addressing an abstract other.

It’s about the impossibility of originality, or something like that. It was in earlier drafts about literal thinking, how that is the root of nearly all ethical malignancy, on both sides of debate nowadays certainly – the false binary that drives the left and right, the death of complexity and ambiguity in discussion and often in poetry too, and how this is connected to the myth of the original poem / poet, and the traditional, formal, metaphysical and romantic notion of the poet as producing original work, as though they invented language itself.

But with further edits, its become more about me burying this commentary in strange tonal and conversational shifts, though it is still about authenticity being a fundamental acceptance of authenticity’s impossibility and the paradox at the heart of that. 

Listen in this coming Friday night! 10pm BBC Radio 3.

A note on: Launching The Guide to Being Bear Aware at Swedenborg House

A beautiful room to launch my latest collection within, and in generous company, I turned out a performance with increasing levels of bear awareness, from a bear poster, to collaborating with my friend Emanuel the Bear, to bringing the room's bear to human ratio into line, to transforming myself into a bear. Very grateful to see so many friends there, to have Tony Frazer do such a fine job on my book and to read alongside the great John Hall. www.stevenjfowler.com/bearaware

A note on: appearing on Resonance FM with Jude Cowan Montague

I spent a fine hour talking with Jude Cown Montague as the only guest on her The News Agents show, a longstanding highlight of Resonance's saturday programming. Jude is a really interesting writer, poet and musician, check out this for example, amongst many things. We talked about hmmmmm The Anthropocene, Education, Animals, Snobbery, Ethical Perspective, Language, Consciousness, Mortality, Epigraphs, Russian Revolutionary poets and soooo many other things, including some talk of my new book, topically, The Guide to Being Bear Aware. It was a lovely experience and I'm hoping I don't sound pretentious, certainly Jude was anything but and even made a new piece responding to one of my epigraphs https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/the-news-agents-8th-april-2017/

A note on: Launching my new book at Arnolfini in Bristol

Another grand launch, the third of four, at the world renowned gallery Arnolfini in Bristol. I read alongside friends and peers Holly Corfield Carr, Paul Hawkins, Matti Spence and John Hall, who is a great influence on my work, and Phil Owen, who is a curator as well as a writer, and was immensely hospitable to us. Shearsman Books and Tony Frazer, the editor, were on site too, being local, and it was a inviting, intellectually agile, open evening with some really fine readings. The weather in Bristol was beautiful, people sat along the dock before the Arnolfini and I had time during the day to really take it in, enjoy my book as an excuse to see friends, leave London and spend time busied with good things