A note on: The StAnza Poetry Festival 2016 - Diary & Documention

StAnza is one of the UK’s principal poetry festivals, respected around the world, and drawing in a really admirable range of poets and events and audiences. I was very pleased then, having had many friends attend and perform, to be part of the festival in 2016, and could not have been better treated or had a better time sharing my work through readings, performances, discussions and workshops. 

I have a page that explains my participation with a Festival Diary, pictures and videos:
www.stevenjfowler.com/stanza

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.

International Translation Day - September 26th at the British Library

International Translation Day 2014

The British Library
Friday 26 September, 9am-5.30pm
£35 (£28 over 60s) & £25 (concessions)

Book tickets
View full programme
Ngugi wa Thiong'o talks to Amanda Hopkinson at ITD 2013

"English PEN invites everyone who is interested in the art and business of literary translation to join us at this year’s International Translation Day." 
I'm leading a session with Ricarda Vidal from Translation Games and chatting about Enemies! join us at the british library http://translationgames.net/?page_id=192

Weirding out the Baltic - performing in Riga for Totaldobze & the FreeRiga festival

Another epic trip into outside the UK, to the Baltic, where I havent been for ten years, visiting all three nations, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, but really for Latvia, Riga, thanks to the amazing Totaldobze art collective, and the British Council who supported me visiting and performing for them. Im the fourth year of British to visit Riga, and Totaldobze brought the wonder Hannah Silva over a few years back, so I slot in nicely, though in Latvia anything outside of literature is called spoken word / slam, so I was a bit worried they wouldnt be up for what I do. Not that I planned anything, I intended to wait to see the space and speak to the curators Austra and Kaspars about what this festival was really about, called Freeriga, I had been told it was a specially organised exploration of abandoned spaces in Riga, which were denied to artists while rents rose, blocking them out of the city. This is a world wide issue, a huge one in London too, with so many flats empty and so many people struggling for space. Many reasons to be grateful and excited.
The performance day was a brutal / brilliant one. At it's close I felt like I had beaten myself up, which I did. The whole time in the Baltic I have walked, at least 50 miles over the ten days, all told, and on the performance day, just after arriving, I started by walking miles in 30 degree heat, right out to the outskirts of Riga, near countryside, listening to moondog, before walking all the way back past my factory studio (which was an incredible space, a once abandoned place, enormous) across the railway lines and all the way across the city to the river, crossing the Daugava via bridge and arriving at the Press building, the new home of Totaldobze for the afternoon to teach a workshop. The press house was a massive space, just indescribably big and dustry and resonant and ghostly. Like real resident evil set, it had been left to mulch for twenty years, just recently cleaned, recently electricked and watered by the arts collective and room after room was empty, sealed off, full of furniture, glass, material. Just breathtaking. 
For my workshop,  just a few people, but really generous and lovely people. 17 year old Kristina, and the remarkable journalist Ivars, established poet Laura...we worked on translations of their work from Latvian into English before they filmed covers of my poems. Then Ivars interviewed me and his erudition and intelligence, and incredible knowledge of literature really made me feel more situated in the space and the atmosphere of the collective. 

So the performance, as I said this whole festival was about Freeriga, how so much of the city sits unused, inaccessible to artists and the people of the city, while rents elsewhere price them out. I wanted so much to let this idea and the environment itself create my performance. I considered doing many things, readings, exercise performances, sound performance, but when I arrived in the space I knew it had to be about the space. I felt I could see how the buildings are constructed (one being built, a high rise, with the address 9 11, in sight of the Press house), then abandoned and deconstructed, stripped down, and occasionally, someone like Totadobze then reconstructs them. I wanted to highlight how that process is about regeneration, through the act of destruction. How it is not about utility, or presence, or history, but business, the appearance of improvement. The press house is black stone, so it is a ghost town. The new tower is glass and rises, during a crippling depression. I spoke to Austra and Kaspars in depth about what parts of their new home had to retain their integrity and which parts I could go nuts in, practical things.. We traced out a path where I would travel and the rooms I could absolutely level. We settled on me using a sledgehammer to crush the rooms and walls and old furniture and piles of tiles and doors etc... We couldn't find one anywhere, I walked over an hour to an industrial estate in the countryside, in the torrential rain, but they had shut. Just before closing time, just before I gave up hope and would have two hours to come up with a new performance, I found a gardening shop and bought a brand new cast iron shovel. I had read recently (On the plane over in fact!) does a rifle kill someone? yes. does a spade kill someone? yes. does a spade dig a hole? yes. does a rifle dig a hole? no. Choose the right tool for the job.
I had real, sweating, retching fun in this performance. I loosed, so rare I get to express anger so immaturely and bare monkey power in the process of the concept I felt somewhat behind. I reached moments during the performance where I felt like I was going to collapse from exertion, and had to keep repeating my mantra, and reading the excerpts of found text I had taken from the net about abandoned urban spaces and the history of Riga. I smashed floors, walls, piles of glass, cement, tiles, concrete, wooden boards, furniture. I smashed a metal dress into hundreds of pieces. I stopped when, with extraordinary satisfaction, I broke the brand new steel spade in two pieces.

After the performance I felt elated, but also like a pall had fallen over me in the space. People seemed understandably weary of me, though complimentary, and the standoffishness, which was not anyones fault but was terribly exacerbated by a few moody hipsters (who made me think for the first time that the abandoned space / squat vibe is a stereotype of vapid artists, especially in East London, and that this hadnt even come close to occurring to me in Riga was such a compliment to the legitimacy of Austra and Kaspars activity and attitude) made me feel like I should leave, to let the adrenalin of the assault fall away gently.

Ive walked across unfamiliar cities at night when travelling over the last few years, quite regularly, by accident, as I tend to leave late but earlier than others when they start drinking. In the last half year Ive nightwalked Mexico City, Bratislava, Reykjavik, Paris, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Venice, Erbil, Prague, and now Riga, crossing the Daugova to fireworks. An hour back to the factory, more, suburbs and high rises, I realised as well as cutting my hands quite badly during the performance (which was bandaged at the venue) I had mushed my previously broken right big toe with the spade. The adrenalin wore off, its what I deserved.

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.