Fjender: a Danish Enemies project in Copenhagen & London: April 2014
Taking place over an entire month, Fjender featured 3 events, 1 exhibition and over 30 poets. At the heart of Fjender was the visit to London of 3 of Europe's most brilliant innovative poets; Morten Søndergaard, Cia Rinne & Martin Glaz Serup.
For the first time ever in London, the remarkable Wordpharmacy was be exhibited for the Fjender project. The Hardy Tree gallery was turned into a fully functioning poetic chemist’s, a pharmacy for the avant garde poet, replete with stocked shelves, white-coated pharmacist and a near endless supply of word-drugs. After these events in London the Fjender project then traveled to Copenhagen for readings of the nw collaborations in the Danish capital.
Without the support of the Royal Danish Embassy in London, Fjender wouldn’t have existed, so special thanks to Kirsten Hansen, and thanks too to the generosity of Kulturstyrelsen (the Danish Agency for Culture) as well Arts Council England, the Rich mix and the Hardy tree gallery.
Without doubt one of the best events I've put on, the best of 2014 so far, Fjender at the Rich mix was an intense and across the board brilliant evening of contemporary European innovative poetry. I was continually blown away by the quality of the original work and the performances of the poets I'd asked to contribute and the atmosphere of the evening was really generous and open, as it always should be. It was an epic two hour, twenty poet + event. I was really gratified to show the visiting Danes, all of whom I've admired and whose work I have been trumpeting for years, the quality of the poetry scene in London.
Morten Søndergaard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib6qH5Ostgs
Cia Rinne https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfA04KIqkBg
Martin Glaz Serup https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKu5Wmefqb0
Prudence Chamberlain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZUliixEKaQ
Fabian Macpherson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0pt3ewXJFY
Stephen Emmerson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCVy7cB_KHs
James Davies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSjbw1d6e6o
Mark Waldron https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9ovt2lJVJg
Philip Terry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-fXDl93Y04
Cia Rinne & Chrissy Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JwIWWX5ezk
Peter Jaeger & Martin Glaz Serup
it was really a joy to read with Morten too, though difficult at times to maintain the prosaic difficulties of organising and introducing such a complex array of events along with reading, but once the event was in full flow it really felt like everyone was in on it together, and it was easy to relax into it.
And those dozen who've been kind enough to attend my Maintenant course at the poetry school gave a really beautiful reading of an immense collaborative, constraint heavy text, which just added to my feeling that the synthesis of organising / reading / writing / teaching can be fluid and organic if attended to openly.
The second part of Fjender was as satisfying as the first. Where the event at the rich mix had the energy and the speed of the best of the kind of events I try to experiment with, this, at the Hardy Tree gallery, had all the familiarity, community and intimacy I hope my events always have. It was a genuinely considered and friendly and engaged reading, with the British poets writing new work that responded to Morten Sondergaard's remarkable Wordpharmacy installation and exhibition. Morten is such a sweet man, so so remarkably nice, it was a proud moment to see him touched by the efforts of the readers and the audience, those 50 or so bodies packed into the intimate space. The evening was defined by a series of intense and rewarding conversations with other poets for me, and a lot of whom Id not had read before expressed the feeling that they felt welcome and that there was a noticeable lack of standoffishness or posturing, which is what I want to always be the case. All 8 readings were wonderful, huge thanks to those who made it what it was, and who did so collectively and generously
David Berridge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb0DUkjvGLo
Claire Trevien https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peVSIUyhu28
Alison Gibb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYa-TltihTA
Andy Spragg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35v4Rp_LvGY
Prudence Chamberlain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8Enn-vUR38
Mark Waldron https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXozGut3-NE
D is soft in Denmark. Sondergaard is Sonnegoe, Kierkegaard is Kierkegoe, Knausgaard is Kenausgoe. A happy, strange week in Copenhagen to finish off the Fjender project for now. Really at the core of this offshoot of the Enemies project was the relationship between myself and Morten Sondergaard, and his hospitality, generosity and energy of ideas has made my time in Copenhagen memorable. To have the time to really communicate with someone, to refine ones ideas in the face of such openness and intelligence is a wonderful thing, the very physical actualisation of an approach I’ve tried to take to my writing, my events and all such things, where process is emphasised over product, with the hope that the positive former will take care of the latter.
My last day in Denmark was spent visiting the Asger Jorn exhibition at the national art museum, with Peter Jaeger and Morten, two wiser, kinder poets you couldn’t hope to meet. Having just taught Jorn as part of my Poetry School class a few weeks back, as he was a fundamental part of the CoBrA group, and been entranced by his work the further my investigations went, this was a perfect combination of things. Once in awhile an exhibition does what it is supposed to do to you. Once I had spoken to Morten and Peter at great length I found an arts supply shop, bought indian ink and paper and a scratch pen and took to finally completing a project of asemic writing I had begun years before. This is the purpose of all the stupid emailing bullshit, all the admin, the fraught running between working fulltime, training, teaching, organising – to open up days, like a aperture, where I am overwhelmed with the feeling of being fortunate to be able to experience life as a choice, to have the complete freedom to have experiences beyond my own small world, in new places, with new people, who are wiser and kinder and more intelligent than I, and to be able to create reflections of that experience without limitation.
Overall it was a week split in two, dark days and light days. The day at the zoo, commiserating with the surviving giraffes and spending hours by the bears, finding Kierkegaard’s grave by accident, visiting Ark books, who were hosting our reading and exhibiting my books and runic art, and then reading in the strange literature house with Morten, Peter and Martin Glaz Serup was wonderful. I am sure it will be the beginning of much, the Fjender project, rather than an end, and over the three events and month that it has lasted I have proven to myself that this mode of organisation, creating partnerships in writing across nations and languages has the potential for brilliance I thought it did.
"I don't believe in any kind of profundity that cannot withstand being confronted with the banalities of everyday life" 1964
"Within Nordic art the picture exists before the word. Here, the image is the theme. The words are variations. Within the Latin Tradition things are the other way around. The word is the point of origin"
"A book of love bound in sandpaper, which destroys your pocket"
"not about ideas, but the concrete material, realities of art: wall, canvas, pigment"
"One is often better able to describe the struggle between people, the essential, by using fantastical animals, simple, primitive naked instincts than by painting a specific individual situation (...) we should describe ourselves as human animals"
"Art & handwriting are the same. An image is written and handwriting is images" 1944
The Jade flute / The girl in the fire / The Troll and the birds / Tallowscoop Waunderworker / Narcolepts on the Lake of Coma (titles)
HELHESTEN (THE HELL HORSE)