This was a full-bore weird-poe unexpectedly-intense night down at the reclaimed shopfront community centre that is the Museum of Futures. It was hallucinogenic and memorably. 10 performances as part of my Poem Brut project www.poembrut.com The poets definitely took the licence to play and experiment with the material of live poetry to heart. The finish, with the entire room as animals, made my year. All the vids are here https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/poembrut2019/
My performances are about context. In this case, acknowledging I was performing at an exhibition I curated and presenting something that embraced the strange line between the amateur and professional artist, and how work is valued. This is the third Auction style performance I’ve done and lowest amount of money I have raised so far, which bodes well, as the room was full of friends.
The first screening outside of London of my feature length poetry film made with Josh Alexander happened in Oxford, at the beautiful 100 year old one screen Ultimate Picture Palace. Josh is at Ruskin and the place was pleasingly busy. I again found it difficult to sit and watch, though I should have, but perhaps that is not the point of making a film, to watch it. The day itself, lolling in oxland and wandering around in the sun, was pleasant. To travel, to go and see your own film screened, it is a privilege not lost on me.
OO I had the chance to give a performance for the opening night of a new series in London called Speak, curated by Martin Wakefield.
The event featured myself and Vanessa Onwuemezi, Valentine Carter and Martin himself presenting short new works, in 5 minute bursts, twice over, a format that I appreciate.
We were all together at Ink 84 bookshop on Blackstock Road. This is a remarkably beautiful place, a quintessential modern independent london bookshop. https://www.ink84bookshop.co.uk/ Betsy Tobin and Tessa Shaw run the place and were our very hospitable hosts.
I presented a new performance whereby I first told the audience that i don’t like reading poems anymore, because Ive catalogued all my readings and so know Im bored of them, which is true. I also mentioned how I love Blackstock road because of the Gunners Fishbar and the rival cat charity bookshops. Also true.
I played Hot Chocolate’s 70s hit everyone’s a winner (baby) while telling the audience that we were to make a new collection of my old collection, the guide to being bear aware. I had them rip pages from my book, then go to the front and pritt stick these ripped pages, with their names, and some edits, into the notebook I had brought with me. Pictured right.
Then in the second 5 minutes, I pretended this was an award winning collection, read in a posher voice and dedicated each poem to the person who had popped their name down, with an apocryphal story. Sounds good, but was it good? I don’t know.
Hungarian Lit Night: tributes to László Krasznahorkai
March Wednesday 20th 2019 : 7pm at Hungarian Cultural Centre : London
10 Maiden Ln, London WC2E 7NA : Free Entry but registration is required! Please email email@example.com www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/europeanwriters
The event will feature Eley Williams, David Spittle, Mischa Foster Poole, Karen Sandhu, Benedict Taylor, Christian Patracchini, SJ Fowler & Stephen Watts.
László Krasznahorkai has produced an iconoclastic and utterly unique body of work throughout the 20th and 21st century. This event, the first in a new literary series, celebrates the idiosyncratic Hungarian novelist through brand new commissions of contemporary artists, writers and musicians, who will respond to Krasznahorkai - his novels, ideas & life - with new performances, recitations and readings.
Free to attend at the Hungarian Cultural Centre in the heart of Covent Garden, this is a chance to re-experience the writing of one of the foremost novelists of our time through innovative, literary and experimental live works. Supported by http://www.london.balassiintezet.hu/
The short of it is I now own Iris Colomb’s soul. I bought it for just £10. It was witnessed by nearly 100 people. She signed the contract and now, for eternity, I may feed off her non-corporeal being. This will come in great use post brexit. An egg with a shell upon it is simply a crunchy egg. A soul with a shell upon it is simply a crunchy soul.
(I was happy with this one. Often my performances have to balance the fact that I am also introducing the event and my role as an organiser, and in this case, a lecturer to many of those in the audience, so I must walk a line between playful and menacing, strange and direct.)
Iris has since written to me, after I wrote to her, to ask if she too felt it had suddenly grown cold,
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you the sincerest congratulations for your acquisition of my French Soul.
Nevertheless, since the signing of our agreement, it has come to my attention that, in order for the European Union to redress the political and economic uncertainty that recent political events have triggered within it, along both its material and transcendental planes, and so that it may fulfill its prerogative to exercise complete sovereignty over its Constituent Souls, the Union must renegotiate the terms of previous transactions involving European Soul Dealers and buyers on the British Soul Market completed between the date of the United Kingdom’s 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union and the European Single Transcendental Market, and its impending withdrawal from these formations.
Thus, in accordance with the above legal imperatives, I hereby propose the organisation of a ‘Referendum For My Soul’ as part of our collaboration on Thursday, 28th March 2019, at “The leaving-our-own-continent Camarade”, delegating to our audience members the democratic right to exercise their own collective will by determining which party enjoys the legal right to the legitimate ownership of my French Soul.
A wonderful opportunity for me to exhibition at Highgate’s Avivson Gallery for just over a week this month. My exhibition consisted of new asemic poems, blotchpoems, responding to an original Michaux centred on the walls. We had a powerful opening night and I invigilated for a few days too, with posh people and weirdos coming in to peruse my inks and ask what they were? I tried to change my answer everytime. Midochlorians, mitochondria, pathogens, people, abstracts… The real joy was beginning the relationship with the gallerist Janus Avivson and his colleagues. Amazing people, generous and dynamic and completely unique. I hope it’s not the last time I’m in this space, one too rarefied for my dirty work. www.stevenjfowler.com/pathogens
Yekta and I met in Macedonia but I had known his work for sometime before, having just missed each other at Ledbury festival and my own interest in French contemporary poetry making me keen to pluck his brains. We became fast friends and have since corresponded and collaborated. Amazingly he wrote his parts of his bursted poem straight into english.
Really lovely this work is the 4th in the series I am doing with the energetic Wazogate magazine with new collaborations between myself and european poets.
It is inevitable that repetition will blunt a certain kind of joy. Yet this is the third year I have run an open call visual literature exhibition at Surbiton’s Museum of Futures - a DIY community reclaimed shopfront - and it seems to get better every year. I do it not only because my university is nearby and it helps to fuse student community and alumni with local artists and poets, but also because the people behind the Futures are amazing humans. That is really why we might do things like this, to be around people like them, active and creative and strange within an environment that encourages that.
This year the theme was photopoetry or photoliterature. A month before the deadline I had perhaps 10 very talented artists involved. On the opening night the walls had been installed with over 50 works and the futures was packed to the brim with people, taking in the exhibition, but also witnessing and participating in a special Camarade, full of quite notable performances.
Repetition of this project has not diminished it’s generosity. It has increased it. It is an equaliser, it places professional artists next to students next to those local. The night was uniformly enthused, energised and there was the sense everyone contributing had done so with a seriousness and consideration that elevates others. All the performance films are here https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/futures2019/ and More on the exhibition here https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/futures
The Sampson Low Writers’ Centre Kingston publication series has been a really joyous project. It essentially involves a collaboration between the literary centre i run at Kingston Uni and local publisher Alban Low, with an open call to students and alumni of the Uni, to publish debut or rarefied chapbooks of pretty innovative poetry. All 9 of the poets have been quite brilliant so far, and this year’s cohort is no different. Julia Rose Lewis, Helena Artus and Marcia Knight Latter are all gifted writers. This past week, at the opening of the Museum of Futures exhibition we had a second launch of their works, and I had the pleasure of reading the English translations of Helena’s poems, which are written entirely in British Sign Language. Her pamphlet is essentially hands, signing letters, forming poems. This is undoubtedly the bestest part of sharing ideas at a Uni, for work, meeting and working with writers like this. (Buy the publications here https://sampsonlow.co/wck-pamphlets/
The second in my series of articles that are prose poems that are anti-opinion / anti-conclusion / anti-journalistic. It’s an interesting challenge, a long form poetic reflection, for an English person anyway. This one, following the theme of Drugs, is on the theme of Animals.
“Things obviously to be regretted in the future. The way humans educate their children. The way humans treat and consider their own planet, their own environments, their own place. The way humans treat and consider animals, as meaningless, stupid, brainless nothings. As food, to be made and unmade for a belly that might be full of whatever it likes.
What the bloody hell is this massive weapon? It protects us, splits us homidiae from the pan pongo interface. Yet we cannot know each other’s self-consciousness, let alone that which lies in the grey brain of other creatures. A funny assumption begins a history.
The octopus compared to the human. The chimpanzee compared to the human. The otter compared to the human. The bear compared to the human.
The human glad in misadventures, harsher and more ravenous than anything you ever heard, anything in all other creatures born days.
Dogs. That perpetually dogs the footsteps of humans. Dogs as a verb. Dogs a best mate. Dogs as a fetching machine. Dogs who need defending. Dogs who defend homes. Dogs eaten in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Nigeria. “
A really brilliant night of performances marked the opening of my exhibition - Poethetic Pathogens (a Michaux inflammation) at Avivson Gallery on Highgate Hill.
I asked people I admire to come present something new, and uniformly, the work was really weird and engaging. It was also a beautiful night in London, orange skies on the hill, and it all knitted together, everyone was generous and warm.
My performance riffed on the way this exhibition came about, with my walking into the gallery to ask about their logo, a razorblade. I sliced myself a little bit to sign the works I had made for the night, but perhaps I deserve that?
Typically amazing photographs from the remarkable Alexander Kell. For an exhibition about photography and literature it would be an irony to have bad photos of the event. Luckily Alex has a way of capturing the warmth, humour, energy and generosity of such an event. It was a lovely night and we have these frozen images to mark the memory. http://www.alexanderkell.com/
Me making some talkings
The Liberated Voice - at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, which charts the modern history of sound poetry, and features works by poets like Henri Chopin, The Four Horsemen, John Giorno, Ernst Jandl, Jackson MacLow, Seiichi Niikuni, Gerhard Rühm, Carolee Schneemann et al. It runs March 22nd to May 12th. https://www.palaisdetokyo.com/
Very happy that my film The Animal Drums, made with Joshua Alexander, will screen outside of London for the first time at THE ULTIMATE PICTURE PALACE IN OXFORD ON MARCH SATURDAY 2ND AT 2PM FOR FREE! (COWLEY ROAD, OXFORD • 01865 245288 • INFO@UPPCINEMA.COM) http://uppcinema.com/film/the-animal-drums
Maybe the coolest thing about this screening is the film had to be certified. It has been given a 12. You must be 12 years old to watch this film. No unaccompanied children. No U for me. No PG. No 15. No 18. 12 12 12.
We’re also screening before Green Book, so an oscar race ensues….
The first prize I’ve judged in the UK in awhile, and it’s a cool one. A brand new award for young writers working in the innovative and experimental tradition supported by Arts Council England and run by Streetcake Magazine.
“This prize will be one of the first of its kind, aimed at young people (18-26 years old), who are responding creatively and extending the possibilities of the literature mold. Writers in this age band will shape the future of experimental writing and bring new ideas to this genre.
The submission period will be open from March 4th 2019and close on 14th June 2019.
There will be two age bands (18-21 and 22-26) in each category of short fiction and poetry, which means there
will be four overall first place winners. We will also award a second and third place winner in each category.
The first place winners will receive six personalised mentoring sessions from our dedicated and experienced judges. Other prizes include personalised feedback from the streetcake editors and book bundles.
All wining entrants will also be published online and in a hardcopy anthology, as well as being invited
to attend a winners’ event later in 2019.
ENTRY INFO The entry fee starts at £1 for one entry (£1.75 for 2 poems / stories and £2.25 for 3 poems). You can enter up to 2 pieces of fiction or 3 poems per entrant. Please read the rules for full details.
Please read the following before entering: streetcake prize rules and entry info “
I'm delighted to announce the European Poetry Festival will return this April after 2018's grand debut. You can find below more information on the programme and poets involved, click the link for each event and please diarise the dates. www.europeanpoetryfestival.com
European Poetry Festival 2019 : April 4th to April 15th
As the UK pretends to leave it’s own continent, over 70 of Europe’s most innovative and dynamic literary and avant-garde poets come to London, Norwich, Manchester, and Dublin for 9 events over 2 weeks.
April Thursday 4th - Norwegian poetry at Writers' Centre Kingston
Rose Theatre. New publications launched for the opening event of the fest.
April Saturday 6th : The European Camarade : Rich Mix, London
32 poets in 16 pairs from 25 nations. New performance collaborations.
April Sunday 7th : Back into the Mouth: celebrating Sound & Performance
Iklektic Artlab, London. Expect avant-garde / sound / conceptual poetry.
April Monday 8th : Swiss poetry in collaboration : Poetry Society’s Cafe, London. 6 contemporary Swiss poets collaborate with Britain-based counterparts.
April Wednesday 10th : Austrian poetry in collaboration : Austrian Cultural Forum, London. 3 contemporary Austrian poets collaborate with British counterparts.
April Thursday 11th : Latvian poetry in collaboration : Burley Fisher Books, London. 4 contemporary Latvian poets collaborate with Britain-based counterparts.
April Friday 12th : Norwich’s European Camarade : National Centre for Writing Poets from across Europe collaborate with Norwich based poets.
April Saturday 13th : Manchester’s European Camarade : The International Anthony Burgess Centre European poets collaborate with Mancunian poets.
April Monday 15th : European Camarade at Riverbank Arts Centre : Newbridge, Co Kildare, Dublin. Ireland Solo readings to close the festival.
With programme and lineup still subject to revision, those poets confirmed as participating can be found www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/poets & includes Maja Jantar, Leonce Lupette, Pierre Alferi, Olga Stehlikova, Michael Fehr, Fabian Faltin, Simone Lappert, Sophie-Carolin Wagner, Yekta, Andras Gerevich, Michelle Steinbeck, Inga Pizane, Cosmin Perta & many more.
The festival is generously supported by over 30 partners www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/partners
Poethetic Pathogens (a Michaux inflammation) : an exhibition by SJ Fowler
Avivson Gallery : February 20th to 27th 2019 : 49 Highgate High St, London N6 5JX, UK.
Five new paint or asemic poems exhibited alongside, and responding to, an original work by 20th century poetical iconoclast, Henri Michaux. I'm pleased to announce this week long exhibition at the Avivson Gallery in the heart of Highgate, London.
A special view opening event on February Wednesday 20th, free entry, 7pm start, will feature performances and readings by Christian Patracchini, Iris Colomb, Astra Papachristodoulou & Oliver Fox, Russell Bennetts and SJ Fowler, all responding to Henri Michaux and his life and work.
Gallery hours : Wednesday to Saturday 12.15 -18.00 www.avivsongallery.com/
The Henri Michaux poem to be exhibited >>
From the gallery “... Fowler’s work has become synonymous with a new generation of European poets following Michaux’s explorations into writing abstraction and handwriting art, and the possibilities of a more instinctive notion of what literature might be. The Michaux work in question evokes the microscopic bacteria that permeates our bodies beyond our sight, and it is this visible but unseen aesthetic that Fowler has pursued in his artworks.”
I'm very happy to have a sound poetry installation in this upcoming exhibition - The Liberated Voice - at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, which charts the modern history of sound poetry, and features works by poets like Henri Chopin, The Four Horsemen, John Giorno, Ernst Jandl, Jackson MacLow, Seiichi Niikuni, Gerhard Rühm, Carolee Schneemann et al. It runs March 22nd to May 12th. https://www.palaisdetokyo.com/
"In the 20th century, phonetic and then sound poetry always stood as an act of emancipation. Sometimes ready to abandon semantics, the avant-garde turned it into a spearhead of a struggle against systems, beliefs and dogmas. What is now left of their heroic combats?"