European Poetry Night
I've had the pleasure to participate / curate multiple European Poetry / Literature nights in cities across the continent. It is vital for me, so that I might engage with and evidence my passion for the poets of Europe, as the continent I am part of is going through a remarkable renaissance in avant-garde and innovative poetry. The European Poetry Night has been a way to bring together the finest of this generation to London and visit other cities, to collaborate, to perform, to build connections that will last for decades I hope.
Videos, images and reports from EPN's in London, Norwich, Edinburgh, Amsterdam below.
European Literature Night : Amsterdam - May 10th 2017
A brilliant few days in Amsterdam thanks to the British Council and the myriad folk behind Amsterdam's ELN. A city I love, a cousin to my home London, with friends abounding in poetry, decent, serious poetry folk. I arrived and rolled right into the amazing Lloyds Hotel, one of the nicest places I've ever stayed, a cultural venue and landmark in and of itself before going to the Brakke Grond venue and meeting the 10 others writers who were part of the night. Guido Snel curated and moderated the evening, placing small groups of writers together, each of whom would have a discussion panel on the theme of home. An essay was commissioned beforehand, translated into Dutch and published in Erik Lindner's Terras magazine. I was paired with the Syrian writer Rasha Abbas. Naturally her conception of home was so powerfully juxtaposed against my own but we had both written in similar ways about the concept, so we were paired and it was the best thing could've happened. She was magnificent, darkly funny, generous and deeply intelligent. We had a really energy in our conversation on stage, to a sold out house. She read some of her diaries, about her arriving in Germany after leaving Syria. I talked about London being the only home I've truly felt I've had because it is populated by those who are not at home there and therefore at home in that sense of being without a home. I also talked about my own background, Englishness, paradoxes, semantics, and together we worked up some fine ideas while the artist Sarah Yu Zeebroek live illustrated it all.
The next day, a full day I had given myself in the city, I was interviewed by Mylene van Noort of Lloyds Hotel and cultural embassy, getting the most hospitable welcome, with a tour of the incredible rooms, all of which were designed by artists and tie into the building's storied history. Then I explored the city, the highlight of which was a tour of Perdu bookshop by Frank Keizer, a fine poet and a hub of experimental poetry action in the city. A beautiful few days. https://www.brakkegrond.nl/en/agenda/eunic
European Poetry Night : London - May 6th 2017
One of the best events I’ve put on for awhile, one of the best Enemies ever by all accounts. Over 130 people packed into Rich Mix, 13 new collaborations from 26 poets from over 12 nations across Europe. It was intense, energetic, original and still open, welcoming, engaging. Having organised two events the two nights previous on the same continental theme, taken everyone visiting London to dinner the night before, to show a wee bit of all too rare London hospitality, and then having a collaboration on myself, it would be fair to say in the buildup, I was busy. In the end it was smooth as you like. www.theenemiesproject.com/epn
My collaboration with Ásta Fanney SigurðardóttirAsta was one my favourite performances I’ve done. We worked on it very sporadically, so much of it open to improvisation just moments before, much of it fleshed out in a stairwell in the venue. This kind of liveness and intensity gave the piece something, and the control of tone, the pace, the balance and rhythm of delivery really seemed to work. The big turn at the heart of the piece, and the satire driving it seemed to surprise / resonate with the audience. Always something special working with Asta.
By the end in the bars of Brick Lane, many new friendships had been made and there was the distinct payoff such endeavours occasionally provide – the feeling something special, something small and transitory, but none the less special, had taken place.
European Poetry Night : Norwich - May 4th 2017
As part of three days of European poetry celebrations last week I had the pleasure of accompanying four Scandinavians poets to Norwich, to read at an event I organised, which also drew in local Europeans, in the camarade model, in pairs. The night was brilliant, full of energy and warmth. I met lots of poets new to me, and reconnected with many friends. We had a grand turnout thanks to the Nordlit seminar on translation which had been taking place that day, hosted by those who had kindly hosted us, Writers Centre Norwich and the International Litcase Showcase. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/norwich
I collaborated for the fourth time with Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir. We’ve only known each other for just over a year, but our collaborative magic feels many years deep. We put on a kind of Eurovision Poetry Contest, or hosted something to that effect. As ever, Asta’s rare energy and invention told, it was a weirdly beautiful piece of poetry theatre.
We were shown great hospitality too, with Dan, Endre, Martin, Asta and I taken to dinner, and then out on the town for many hours after the event. Always wonderful people to work with, Jonathan Morley, Sam Ruddock and everyone involved made sure the beginning of EPN was memorable.
European Poetry Night : London - May 2016
Obviously a fair sized undertaking, with 24 poets from 19 countries, but a wonderful event to celebrate the first European Poetry Night. Very easy to work with Jon Slack and the folk at European Literature Festival, revamped for this year, and we managed to get around 150 people into Rich Mix on a balmy night. The great joy of balancing all this curatorial work, all the small details of travel, tech, order etc... is that I'm surrounded by friends from all over the world, from Billy Ramsell who drove me around Ireland, to Sasha Filyuta who introduced me to Berlin, from Alessandro Burbank who made me love the backstreets of Venice, to Efe Duyan who took me for a coffee in Istanbul before I'd published a book. And new friends made too, Niilaas Holmberg, who sang in Sami and Ulrike Ulrich, Swiss by way of Germany now in residence in London. It felt like a real collective effort, an example of community and collaboration at its best. Their performances were uniformly good and all complimented each other in their differences. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/epn
Working with Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir is an amazing experience. She is masterful - so funny, so innovative, a great improviser, and so much fun to play with. Both of us seek out strong concepts and have a certain sense of humour and really we achieved something on this night. I couldn't believe the audience would believe as they did in our concept, and we really ran hard into making them believe once we sensed their absolute awkward excruciating silence. A beautiful thing. I did feel a tiny bit guilty that some friends bought it too, but the notion of truthfulness has been such a concern of mine this year, this collaboration felt like the apex of that. I hope to work with her again and again into the future.
European Literature Night 2016 in Edinburgh. May Friday 13th 2016
For the second year running The Enemies Project curates European Literature Night 2016 on behalf of UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature. ELN Edinburgh presents the best and brightest of a new generation of avant-garde and literary poets from over a dozen countries across Europe with two events in the city. Curated by Colin Herd, Theodora Danek and SJ Fowler. www.theenemiesproject.com/eln
Event One: 5pm - 6.30pm at North Edinburgh Arts Centre
Performances from selected poets Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir (Iceland), Nurduran Duman (Turkey), Billy Ramsell (Ireland), Alessandro Burbank (Italy), Alexander Filyuta (Russia / Germany), Christodoulos Makris (Ireland / Cyprus), Efe Duyan (Turkey).
Event Two: 8pm-10.30pm at Summerhall - Red Lecture Theatre
Performances from European poets and local to Edinburgh poets followed by a specially commissioned collective performance.
The European Camarade - November 28 2015
All but 2 pairs had never met each other before the night itself. From the 18 poets participating, travelling in from 12 nations across the continent, virtually none had established friendships. Yet, by the end of the night, a night that went on long after I went home, it was clear that a community had been made and relationships which would last years had begun. I can't emphasise enough how the collaborative creative act and the diffusion of energy away from the singular, representative, pre-written poetry, creates closeness and community and energy and openness. Quite amazing to witness on this night, almost the perfect evidence for what I spend quite a lot of my time talking about, theorising behind the Enemies project. The most gratifying thing was the poets themselves feeling they had had a generous and memorable experience, one where they were treated with hospitality and due respect. For me it was a great privilege to see so many friends, Christodoulos Makris, Gabriele Labanauskaite, Christoph Szalay, Ville Hytonen and co, whom I had only known before in their countries, or during a festival. And to meet so many new poets. Every collaboration was distinct and dynamic in it's own way and many remarked it was the best Camarade they'd been to. All the videos are here: http://www.theenemiesproject.com/europeancamarade
And working with Endre Ruset, a friend for many years now, was wonderful. We had written a poem with ascending lines corresponding to the Fibonacci sequence, and then planted lines with other poets in the audience, so as our collaboration grew in number, so the number of voices would multiply too, and become intermittently choral. It capped a great run for me with events and performances, each one has been a special experience and motivating to keep on, keep curating and creating together. And keep travelling, extending reach and asking poets from all over the world to visit us in London.