A note on : Poems in Jacket 2's 'Extreme Texts' summer feature

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Well happy to be featured in this feature in which I am extreme in a certain kind of silence maybe? https://jacket2.org/feature/extreme-texts I have three poems 'Atrocita,' 'Sphinxe,' and 'Your Own Double Entry' plus this note below. Check it please https://jacket2.org/poems/atrocita-sphinxe-and-your-own-double-entry

“Extremity is relative. The furthest thing from a given point, which is relative and changeable, cannot escape the tether of that stake. To some, within tradition, at the most surface level, any unusual gesture is severe. If one’s goal is to seek control over the uncontrollable, any submission to the unruly is a threatening gesture. If one has accepted that there is no control possible, only mediation, then only the fundamentally transgressive is extreme, because it touches on the opposite of life. All this begins within the human mind, not the poem, the strange secondary barrier of language that emerges, faulty and failing.

I came in late to poetry and without a clear orientation. I discovered many modes at once, had the naivety to hold them beside each other, and thought questions that occurred spontaneously to me to be obvious inquiries. The consequence of my own unpunctuality and gullibility is that, alongside what others might deem literary poetry, sound poetry, performance literature, and all the other ways of writing the poem, I felt it necessary to ask what is in the shape of a letter. What images do words recall? What is the meaning of color in poetry upon the page? And white space? The handmade? How does the situation of a poem change its meaning? Why is composition not a concept that applies to a medium that is innately visual? In poetry, why has content overwhelmed context? Why has product dominated process? There is nothing extreme about these questions; they are fundamental. But they have created poems of liquid and wood, ugliness, toilet wall draughtsmanship and mess. Water, ink, spit. And beneath the method lies the only thing that I might concede as extreme — that my work is about acknowledging in each banal mark on the page that these are useless impediments before what’s coming to each and every one of us and therefore quite pointless beyond time consumption, and yet I keep doing them anyway. Lots of them. That seems excessive. “ All three of the works below are featured in my book Aletta Ocean’s Alphabet Empire (Hesterglock Press, 2018).

A note on : Physical Education by Robert Reid Allan for BCMG

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Over the last numbers of months I’ve had the chance to work with composer Robert Reid Allan as he completed his Birmingham Contemporary Music Group apprentice composer in residence programme by developing a new and singular work. It premiered on June 21st in Birmingham and I witnessed Physical Education in its first ever iteration.

The piece was ambitious, dynamic, comfortable with knotty poetic paradoxes, working through multiple mediums, often at the same time, while still feeling quite generous to the audience, perhaps because it was fundamentally exploring a very specific topic and subject which allowed the aesthetic to be eclectic. It was personal while technical, playful as much as intensive.

My work with Robert was as open as the final piece itself, but aside from some conversations on the conceptual framework of the piece, and how multiple mediums might be fused, especially where text might sit with music, it was the words and the possibilities of the poetics in the show we discussed most. The language worked best to my ear, and eyes, when at its most intransigent and complex, inevitably, but Robert showed considerable skill with his writing given it was his debut foray into writing words for his own music.

A note on : a poem as a song on the Dramm's Modern Genetics

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Been a grand source of collaborative verve to work with Diamanda Dramm over the last 15 months or so (we’ve more significant outputs to release into the aetherworld this year that I am particularly proud of) and recently a poem of mine which was written to become a song of hers was featured on a remarkably beautiful “triple LP by laberge, laberge dramm and dramm.”, that is Diamanda and her creators. The LP is made up of live recordings & unreleased material on 180-gram vinyl, plus a high-quality digital download code. the first release on Splendor Records. I’m lucky to be a small part of a special sonic object

Modern Genetics can be ordered through Bandcamp online here

David Dramm plays guitars and sings. Anne La Berge play flutes and electronics, talks, and sings. Diamanda La Berge Dramm plays the violin, bass pedals, kick drum and sings.

From the makers - “a collector’s item upon release, this triple LP is a musical family history unlike any other. a rousing mix of punk, country, spoken word and electro. recorded live in Splendor Amsterdam by the 21st von Trapp family La Berge Dramm & guests.” Modern Genetics was recorded during live concerts at Splendor Amsterdam, in various studios in New York City and Amsterdam, in a hall in Eindhoven, and at home between 1990 and 2018. https://diamandadramm.com/modern-genetics/

A note on: English PEN event at Greenwich Book Festival

Sara Upstone nearly made me cry. I felt my voice quivver a tiny bit as I wrapped up this event, giving props to the remarkable Cat Lucas, whom everyday sees, hears and gets emailed about writers suffering for principle and freedom across the world everyday. I said I felt we were all visitors in her world, and she was a visitor in theirs. But Sara, her piece for Dawit Isaak, it did exactly what I hoped this mini-fest event would do when I conceived of it a few years back. It neither collapsed on itself with self-referential guilt nor swung past the truth of Dawit’s life and struggle. It was something entirely new, complex, dense, celebratory and powerful sad. It was poignant and beautiful but in no way sentimental (the thing I dislike the most in these contexts, just after the endless apologies people make for their own lack of suffering, a kind of ungratefulness to my ears).

The whole event was like this. It was considered and serious, and yet playful and mindful. The environment, thanks to Sam Jordison, whose own piece was powerful and personal and brilliant, was a busy literary festival on a warm summer saturday, and we were in a lecture theatre. But all the context drifted away for an hour as Ellen Wiles, James Miller, Paul Ewen, Sam himself and Sara read pieces for authors around the world.

You can find more about the fest and all the videos from the event (https://greenwichbookfest.com/event/english-pen-writers-at-risk/ ) here on the Enemies Project website www.theenemiesproject.com/englishpen


For my own performance I nailed fruit and then ate it nailed with a black bag on my head while improvising some words about what Oleg Sentsov’s gesture of resistance, and life in general means to me. The principle that we might not be brave when called, and that even if, at first flush we may feel courage, it normally dissipates as reality sets in. This is an idea I have thought about my whole life. That it is easy to be what you hope to be when the weather is fair, but character is what happens when you realise days in you will be forgotten and your suffering, no matter how representative, symbolic or important, if yours alone. The man, Oleg Sentsov, is a giant. He has a giant soul. He embarrasses me into gratitude for my life, and that there seems no question on the horizon for my own principles like the one he has quite unbelievably answered.

A note on : Greenwich Book Fest - chatting with Paul Ewen, Isabel Waidner, Sam Jordison

An eye bleed get up for me, to get down to Greenwich and join three wonderful writers on a panel about writing and the contemporary university environment. As is often the way, precisely because it was a wee bit quiet and we were all a bit blurry eyed, it was a rare delight.

Sam essentially made a space for us in what was otherwise a very busy festival, of a certain tone, nowt wrong with it, but quite commercial and a little bit bourgeois diet prog type thing, indicative of greenwich itself, and we were perhaps a bit more eclectic? Or roughened? Not that the event and chat was in anyway contradictory. Our differences were small and complimentary as we talked over creative writing pedagogy, class and money and writing, the challenges 21st century students face and other such things.

I admire all three of their writing, and it was the best kind of literary festival event, authentic and unforced. https://greenwichbookfest.com/event/writers-on-campus/

Published: memmoirs poem on Berfrois

Grand to have a piece of #poembrut visual literature up today on the grand Berfrois, taken from my book 'Unfinished Memmoirs of a Hypcrit' due out from Hesterglock press in one month's time stevenjfowler.com/memmoirs & the poem itself https://www.berfrois.com/2019/06/no-one-really-understands-me-sj-fowler/

A note on : An Invisible Poetry : exhibition at Poetry Society

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….so this is pretty great. For the month of July I’ll be presenting a mix of new works made specifically for the Poetry Society Cafe space, including window poems and sculptural pieces, alongside a selection from my five poem brut books. I will also be curating a group show alongside my solo show, as the exhibition space has two floors. Both shows, but especially the group show, will firmly be a part of what I’ve tried to do with Poem Brut as a project - that is to make available ideas and methods of poetry is a way that is liberating and not judgemental to those who perhaps don’t find mess and play so appealing as I.

The Poetry Society, especially Michael Sims, have been hugely generous and supportive, and accommodating, and it bodes well that this summer month can be spent in the space, which is open six days a week, nearly 12 hours a day.

AN INVISIBLE POETRY : JULY 1ST TO JULY 27TH
a new solo show of paint and sculpture poems at The Poetry Society Cafe in Covent Garden 
https://poetrysociety.org.uk/poetry-cafe/exhibitions/future-exhibition/

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The Poetry Society Cafe : July 1st to 27th / 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX
Opening Hours 11am to 10pm everyday bar sunday. www.stevenjfowler.com/invisible

"A visual poem should be visible, yet it seems it’s often not so. In this solo exhibition of new painterly poems, SJ Fowler asks questions so manifest they are almost indiscernible. What is in the shape of a letter and what images do words recall? What is the meaning of colour in poetry, and where went the handwritten word? Where is mess, notation, scrawling and material? Why is composition strange to an art-form that is as visual as it is sonic? An Invisible Poetry presents new sculptural poems and original visual literature alongside a selection from Fowler's Poem Brut project and its accompanying series of publications from Hesterglock Press, Stranger Press, ZimZalla and Penteract Press. These are poems exploring handwriting, abstraction, illustration, pansemia, scribbling and scrawling." 

Special View Performance Event - July 8th 2019 : 7pm doors for 7.30pm start. Free entry. & // This is a split exhibition, as in the basement gallery of the Poetry Society I am curating a group show - The Poet's Brut www.poembrut.com/poetrysociety

The Poet’s Brut : A group show with Chris McCabe, Paul Hawkins, Astra Papachristodoulos, Karen Sandhu, Simon Tyrrell, Imogen Reid, Vilde Torset and Patrick Cosgrove www.poembrut.com/poetrysociety

Brand new works exhibited by seven of the UK's most exciting contemporary poets. Poem Brut project has generated over a dozen events since 2017, alongside multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences, publications and over 1000 submissions to it’s 3am magazine series. It advocates for an artistic creative writing, a visual literature, a concrete poetry - poetry that embraces colour, the handwritten, the composed, the abstract, the scribbled, the noted, the illustrated. Poem Brut affirms the possibilities of the page, the pen, and the pencil (and the crayon) for the poet in a computer age, and celebrates these ideas in the live realm alongside the two dimensional. This group show evidences a new generation of poets working in old traditions often forgotten or nudged into the realm of modern art. http://www.poembrut.com/exhibitions

Published : Tentacular - 3 poems from Memmoirs of a Hypcrit

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This is a really marked issue of a excellent online poetry journal, Tentacular, edited by Jonathan Catherall.

These three poems are from my new collection of poems celebrating notation, handwriting, inarticulation as a means of articulation (by trusting the reading to have subjective, generous responses, as well as dual visual / semantic responses) due in just over a month from Hesterglock Press.

Some brilliant poets in this issue overall too.

https://www.tentacularmag.com/issue3b/steven-fowler

Published: Tortuous Cruelty as Human History on The Versopolis Review

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https://www.versopolis.com/times/essay/778/the-word-slayer

Another in my series of poetic articles for the Versopolis Review. This one on Cruelty, and revealing my surprisingly deep knowledge of torture. This book here began my research into the human creativity of creating unimaginable pain.

“Did you know, for example, the Roman’s had five variations of the crucifix? This is nothing. They did so much more with suffering.

Did you know, for example, Plutarch describes The Boat thus, “The execution is performed like this: two boats are used that exactly fit. The prisoner is put on his back in one of them. He is offered food and he is drenched with a mixture of milk and honey. It is poured across his face. They keep his face turned to the sun and it becomes covered by the swarms of flies that settle. Then the other boat is laid on top. He is left for the rats and insects and vermin to prey upon him and slowly eat him away, from the bowels out. It took Mithridates 17 days to die. When the upper boat was lifted his body was a mass of maggots.” But this is something like dubious historical record. 

Did you know, for example, a human skull from nearly 3000 years ago has been found to have been scalped, ritually? A knife drawn across the forehead and the skin of the head ripped off with a grip of the hair. But this is something like dating technology.

Did you know, for example, that Timur would behead those who resisted his sieges and make towers of their skulls? An eye-witness counted more than 28 towers constructed of about 1,500 heads each after one siege. But this is nothing, there is one story, probably apocryphal, whereby he ordered his chief architect to build a minaret of living human bodies, to be cemented together, with the bottom body still alive when the top was laid in place. 

Did you know, for example, in Ernst G. Jung’s A small cultural history of the skin notes that the typical causes of death due to flaying was shock, critical loss of blood or other body fluids, hypothermia, or infections, and that the actual death after being skinned alive was estimated to occur from a few hours up to a few days after the flaying itself. Already from the times of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) the practice of flaying was displayed and commemorated in both carvings and official royal edicts.

A note on: celebrating Attila Jozsef in Covent Garden

A really fun second entry into my new series of events celebrating Hungarian authors with the Hungarian Cultural Centre, who, as before, could not have been more hospitable, laid back or funny. / We had six new performances from 8 artist writers reflecting on Jozsef - that powerful emotional archetypal poetic presence - and a lovely pretty much full audience for a soft early june night in the heart of Covent Garden.

You can see all the performances at the link below, including some amazing work by Bettina Fung, Stephen Watts and Astra Papachristodoulou.

https://www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/europeanwriters

It was also the first reveal of a new project I’m editing with Dominic Jaeckle - Hotel Cordel - ‘A House on Fire’ (Translations After Atilla József). For more info visit partisanhotel.co.uk/Hotel-Cordel-A-House-on-Fire

For my own performance I did another black box music movement work. I have tried to make these entirely irreverent, lively, playful, weird, improvised. This time I threw out distracting possible performance ideas before playing three songs legitimately made of Jozsef poems, while black bagging myself. One was country, one 70s prog, one was death metal. Good finds. I also opened a window and shouted at some people in the street in a nice way. I asked them if they were hungarian. They said they were from cambridge so I shut the window.

I may not know why I do things, but I do them. (Spring 2019)

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Spring 2019 stuff Before the semi-glorious summer begins, a recounting of some things I've done since March, with nearly 20 performances, amongst articles, anthologies, events et al (more on each at www.stevenjfowler.com/blog)

Fokus Lyrik Frankfurt - Apparently the biggest poetry festival ever organised in Germany, I gave a 'powerpoint' talking performance for the opening night of the Fokus Lyrik fest conference to an audience of 500 or so, though you can't see them so... I ate flowers and they all thought I’d die. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19Nx1g8J_o8
 
The Hope Slayer, alcohol - an article on despising the drunk for The Versopolis Reviewwww.versopolis.com/times/essay/771/the-hope-slayer-alcohol
  
The Next Step, a performance with Fabian Faltin : Male retreats, kickboxing, intimate diaries and friendship. At the Austrian Cultural Forum.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MM0cWDDpbM&t=1068s
 
La Voix Liberee - Sound Poetry exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, Paris exploring the entire history of sound poetry  www.stevenjfowler.com/blog/2019/5/19/a-note-on-visiting-the-la-voix-liberee-exhibition-at-palais-de-tokyo
 
Water Rituals, a performance with Krisjanis Zelgis : It is actually quite difficult to drink a litre of water in one gulp. It is easier to have one's hair washed on Kingsland road, during a poetry thing. At Burley Fisher Books. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzfyIpsfk3E
 
We’ll Never Have Paris A brilliant new anthology ed.by Andrew Gallix, from Repeater Books. www.stevenjfowler.com/blog/2019/5/20/published-new-fiction I've new fiction in the volume, alongside folk like Tom McCarthy, Will Self, Brian Dillon, Joanna Walsh, Eley Williams, Max Porter
 
Nature - Special to be in one of the world’s most important scientific journals, given I’m a blurt. But I have been working around an interest in neuroaesthetics the last five years or so, and my focus here, my collaborations with Thomas Duggan.https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-019-0450-x
 
Utsanga, a conversation with Tim Gaze – covering my poem brut book series in depth, an interview with the Australian vispo legend on the Italian Utsangawww.stevenjfowler.com/blog/2019/5/6/published-an-an-interview-on-utsanga-with-tim-gaze
 
Neutrality Questionnaire, with Patrick Savolainen – Swiss elephants, mimicry and a live poetry questionnaire at the Poetry Society https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbepZOaU_Yo
 
The Word Slayer, on Tortuous Cruelty and Human History – a fun new article on the Versopolis Review evidencing my surprising deep knowledge of torturehttps://www.versopolis.com/times/essay/778/the-word-slayer
 
Black Box Dancing – Yiddish music and window escapes, a performance for Franz Baermann Steiner at Austrian Cultural Forum www.stevenjfowler.com/blog/2019/5/6/a-note-on-the-black-music-box-performance-for-franz-baermann-steiner
 
On Optioning Cannibalism – an article on future eating.https://www.versopolis.com/times/essay/756/on-optioning-cannibalism
 
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group – a note on working with composer Robert Reid recently for the BCMG www.stevenjfowler.com/blog/2019/4/29/a-note-on-working-with-robert-reid-allan-w-the-birmingham-contemporary-music-group
 
Eurobear performances – in Kingston and Kildare I spoke to bears, live. The latter bear was particularly cruel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iraBdtF_1vk
 
a performance for Laszlo Krasnahorkai with a spider and I became a pirate!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRZYAoya0DI
 
a performance for Queens Mob Teahouse anthology launch with a roboto toy!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzGZXl2Nneg
 
a performance for Battalion anthology with bat dancing and echolocation!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Edxxm6E3og
 
a performance at Burgess Centre with Tom Jenks on post-brexit apocalypse techniques! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUfS5FOgvw8
 
a performance at Dragon’s Hall Norwich reading amazing poetry bios!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVyRYdNjlTk
 
a performance at Rich Mix with Maja Jantar unveiling mega papers and singing and dancing again! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or9Ah09PhQw

Thanks for making it this far down, bless you bless you

A note on - Celebrating Attila József : June 5th

Hungarian Lit Night: tributes to Attila József
June Wednesday 5th 2019 : 7pm at Hungarian Cultural Centre

10 Maiden Ln, London WC2E 7NA : Free Entry but registration is required! Please email bookings@hungary.org.uk or register here 
www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/europeanwriters

The event will feature Ellen Wiles, Stephen Watts, Bettina Fung, Gareth Evans, Astra Papachristodoulou, SJ Fowler, Dominic Jaeckle, Serena Braida, Han Smith & more. 

Lyrical, idiosyncratic and impassioned, the mature works of Attila József have been celebrated throughout the world since his premature death in 1937. His self-conscious, concise, ambitious poetry contains within it a unique insight into poverty and suffering. Gone before his 33rd birthday, the short, intense life of József spawned an outpouring of poems that seems, as much as any other, to represent the tumult of the European 20th century at large. 

This event celebrates the iconoclastic Hungarian poet through brand new commissions of contemporary artists, writers and musicians, who respond to József  - his poems, ideas & life - with new performances, recitations and readings. / This event will also see a performance to celebrate the new Hotel Cordel project - ‘A House on Fire’ (Translations After Atilla József). For more info visitpartisanhotel.co.uk/Hotel-Cordel-A-House-on-Fire  

Supported by http://www.london.balassiintezet.hu/

Published: new fiction in the We'll Never Have Paris anthology

A brilliant new anthology edited by Andrew Gallix, from Repeater Books. https://repeaterbooks.com/product/well-never-have-paris/

We’ll Never Have Paris explores this enduring fascination with this myth of a bohemian and literary Paris. Edited by Andrew Gallix, this collection brings together many of the most talented and adventurous writers from the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia and New Zealand to explore this theme through short stories, essays and poetry, in order to build up a captivating portrait of Paris as viewed by English speakers today — A Moveable Feast for the twenty-first century. We’ll Never Have Paris has contributions from seventy-nine authors, including Tom McCarthy, Will Self, Brian Dillon, Joanna Walsh, Eley Williams, Max Porter, Sophie Mackintosh and Lauren Elkin.

And me. And it’s new fiction in the book, not poetry, which is beautiful. It’s a piece I wrote somewhat riffing on the style of patrick modiano, connecting different incidences i may of experienced in paris with other humans through incidental details and without narrative tissue

A note on - visiting the La Voix Liberee exhibition at Palais de Tokyo

Well it’s pretty spiffy to be part of a group show at Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Maybe the top institute Ive been involved with exhibition wise, certainly up there with V&A et al. It was cool to be there in person and listen to sound proper sounds and duke about paris like a proper artiste https://www.palaisdetokyo.com/fr/evenement/la-voix-liberee

Fondazione Bonotto presents a new exhibition project in collaboration with Palais de Tokyo. As the result of research lasting over a year, the exhibition has been conceived as a non- exhaustive journey through sound poetry, from the end of the Second World War until contemporary developments. Intentionally trans-historical and international, representing over thirty countries covering all five continents, this project has been conceived as a place to be listened in, a transmitter creating a frequency that passes outside the walls of Palais de Tokyo thanks to an application providing an open, free-of-charge download of the exhibition’s sound programme, as well as a multitude of sites, radio stations or reviews which will extend this experience of sound poetry during the entire spring of 2019. / 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? Myths and legends. But times have changed. Combats too. Utopias no longer have the same look. / New technologies have now invaded the space of language, for the better or the worst. For the worst, by imposing a digital rationalisation of words and sounds. For the best, by providing language with an infinity of sources and tools. Since the 1950s, technological progress has allowed phonetic poetry to become sound poetry. https://www.fondazionebonotto.org/en/news/1-events/164-la_voix_lib_re_e_-_po_sie_sonore.html

A note on - BatBox Dancing : Battalion anthology launch

This was a charming evening in the Westminster Ref Library just next to Leicester Sq to celebrate the launch of the Battalion anthology from Sidekick Books. It’s a beautiful book and Sidekick are a really original, enthusiastic and purposefully innovative publisher. They should be celebrated more, we would miss them were they not active, Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone.

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You can buy the book here http://sidekickbooks.com/booklab/books/battalion/ Do buy it, it’s really beautiful. The bat is a liminal thing, and goes by many cultural identities: aviation expert, clandestine committee member, victim of superstition, delicate contraption, beautiful mishap, miniature aristocrat, occultist, conjuror, ninja.

Battalion is your alternative, unregistered guide to bats – a live, writhy cave colony of findings, fixations and sonic experiments. Add your own inky skitterings to the mix, bring it on your evening flit. Take after its denizens: open your mouth and listen to the sky.

For my performance for this night I decided to continue a new series of live works using a Black Box Speaker and some Dancing. I first emerged from behind book shelves and read, hooded, to bat squeaks. I didnt realise how dark this seemed, it was meant to be funny. But luckily I had the song Echolocation in my bag and made a bat fool of myself. / It was good to see some other brilliant performers too, Andre Bagoo, Yvonne Litschel, James Coghill et al also

A note on: continuing my film collaboration with Tereza Stehlikova

A fixture of my summer, all the way to 2015 now, to spend time with my friend and long-term collaborator Tereza Stehlikova, shooting footage for our film Worm Wood, about the private and disappearing wonder of corners of west london, its unique and unpretentious character, from out across kensal green cemetery to wormwood scrubs and the grand union canal. Our plan is to have no plan, to keep shooting in sections, with poetry and text responding, in many different cinematic aesthetics and compiling, as years go by, and the film grows, into an artwork but also a document, as its made through our friendship and the joy of its being made. The work has been really rewarding, offering insight into where I once called home as an active, absorbing, inspiring space and Tereza is really an artist whose mode I admire.

The film has been screened across London in chapters, and our previous iterations of this long term work has taken in readings, pamphlets, walks, exhibitions from the Garden Museum to Crypts full of the dead. We are working towards a screening of the film in a new over 60 minute version this autumn or winter, in London. http://terezast.com/ / www.stevenjfowler.com/wormwood

A note on : Greenwich Book Festival June 15th

I’ll be doing two events at the Greenwich Book Festival this June 15th. The first will be a panel on writing and teaching creative writing, and university environments, and the second will be a special edition of the marvelous English PEN modern literature events I’ve been doing for many years now. It’ll have a half dozen authors presenting new works in celebration of a Writer at Risk supported by English PEN. Both these eventsare down to the wonderful Sam Jordison www.theenemiesproject.com/englishpen

Visit up on https://greenwichbookfest.com/ and here is the performance I did for Sentsov this January

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Published : Nature Nano - a piece on science & poetry with Thomas Duggan

It’s a special thing to be in Nature, one of the world’s most important journals, given I’m a blurt. But I have been working around an interest in neuroaesthetics the last five years or so, with the Hubbub wellcome residency, the Salzburg global fellowship and perhaps most importantly, my focus here, my collaborations with Thomas Duggan. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-019-0450-x

Thomas and I wrote a piece about our years of work together and how we night negotiate the obvious knowledge hierarchies when science and art interact. This has been a big interest of mine too, how people pretend they are equally useful, or that scientific and artistic ‘knowledge’ are the same etc… Or being asked to essentially translate complex scientific ideas into simple artworks for the public to consume etc complex issue complex issue… https://www.nature.com/nnano/

Published : The Hope Slayer, Alcohol - despising the drunk on Versopolis Review

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Way more personal than I normally like to do but it’s a topic that I felt compelled to be blunt about, and the editor pushed me. https://www.versopolis.com/times/essay/771/the-hope-slayer-alcohol

“What I was not prepared for, and remains profoundly and bizarrely understated in English discourse, was the level of violence perpetrated, and accepted, in every pub and club I worked within. I had had no experience of the kind of aggressive drinking that felt emotional, psychological, confrontational. People in their hundreds and thousands drinking as much as they could as fast as was possible. People screaming, at the top of their lungs, for no reason, weeping, pissing their pants, fighting over nothing. 

I once saw a man try to gouge a stranger’s eyes into his head. I saw another kick a stranger’s head like a football. I saw a woman wrap her handbag around the neck of a stranger and try to strangle them to death. I was punched, kicked, tackled, bitten and even, though not seriously, stabbed, by humans who couldn’t stand up straight. And within this adrenalin-soaked arena, I remained, unlike my colleagues, completely dry. Not on shift, or off shift, would I touch alcohol. And so, so my peers told me, remained without the tiny speck of empathy which often held their hands. I have calculated, in writing this, that I did a minimum of 200 shifts, probably far more, and while some at student unions and small pubs were quiet, most, in gaudy nightclubs and city centre pubs involved multiple physical confrontations a night. Conservatively I have tangled with over 500 drunk humans. Some easy wrestling. Some life-threatening fights. 

I watched them enter, sober, watched them order luminescent chemical candy drinks by the doze. I watched them drain these liquids like water and begin to slowly hunch, slur, drool and scowl until, inevitably, they attached themselves to a fellow inebriate, and my job, under the abuse of other customers, was to interrupt these conflicts and eject the parties. Their apparent faultlessness, their stinking of alcohol, their altered speech, their desperate attempts to harm me remain in my memory, and have altered my opinions of humanity, and ethics, permanently. What stays with me too is what I did to them, as sober as anyone has ever been, unfairly advantaged against them, vindictive, frightened, excited and swaying in the palm of liquor.” cont;d…

A note on: The black music box performance for Franz Baermann Steiner

At 2pm on May 2nd, knowing i had to perform something to celebrate Franz Baermann Steiner that evening, for the Illuminations VI event at the Austrian Cultural Forum, i realised the poem I had written for him wouldn’t do it. Such was his unbelievable range of interests and abilities, and such was his intelligence, and influence on friends like Elias Canetti and Iris Murdoch, and generations of students, and British anthropology in general, that I realised the poem would be lame and curt and not enough. Seriously, check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Baermann_Steiner

So I thought why not throw the babay out with the bath water and do an oblique performance instead. The music playing was recorded in 1909, the year of Steiner’s birth. The Yiddish songs are from over 100 years ago. This is maybe my first pseudo dance? Han Smith was a star to help me. To let me sleep on her feet, and when is a hug not a good idea? When does it not pay tribute to a loss, a lost, an intelligence so immense it cannot be worded back into history? I have only one regret, that there wasn’t someone on the street I could’ve coaxed up to the event when I went outside, entirely improvised, mid saunter. I could’ve told them about Steiner, and kept it, as I wanted it, between me and them.

All the vids from the night are http://www.theenemiesproject.com/illuminations