National Poetry Library : London
An amazing institution in London, the first place I take visiting poets in the city.
I co-curated the summer 2014 exhibition on collaboration with Chris McCabe, my work has appeared in two other exhibitions (visual and conceptual poetics) and I've performed at six Special Edition events, curating two of them (Poet as a Boxer / Poem Brut / Shearsman celebration / Translation Games / Camarade / Joseph Conrad celebration)
The library is also, I believe, the only place to hold copies of most publications I’ve released, that is around 40 separate books. Scroll down for videos and pictures of the events.
It won’t go well / Nov 2018 acquisitions feature
Special Edition : Poem Brut at National Poetry Library June 18, 2018
Fun was had in the wonder library of london. I love this library. It is a pure space. A space of generosity and discovery. I had the pleasure too to work with my friend pascal o'loughlin and the lovely jessica atkinson, librarians, in developing a special edition event. This time the event was part of my poem brut series, which asks poets often on the margins of what people think poetry is, to produce works that entirely concerned with liveness and material. Liveness in time, in language, in motion. Proper performance. Organically weird then, weird in a way that the world is weird. But also weird in such a range of ways. Saradha Soobrayen, Chrissy Williams, Patrick Cosgrove, Maja Jantar, Harry Man. They were all magic. And we had a packed out house, a nice audience of people, some of whom were suspicious, but in a way that made me trust them all the more.
My performance was a little naff, but something playing with ideas Ive had for awhile. I used a friend of mine, a chatimal, to repeat back words that I had said, to undercut the pompous tone of the recital. I read from in the stacks. I tried to asphyxiate myself. It was a good time.
Special Edition : Celebrating Shearsman Books July 6 2017
A grand evening at National Poetry Library celebrating Shearsman Books and their 35 years in publishing, constantly and carefully putting out books of brilliant modernist poetry from around the world. The library was full and I had the pleasure of reading alongside multiple Shearsman authors, including Peter Riley, who has been writing for over 50 years and someone whom I've been reading with great admiration for many years.
Special Edition : A Poetic Celebration of Joseph Conrad
The year 2017 has been declared ‘The Year of Joseph Conrad’ by the Polish Government to celebrate Conrad’s 160th birthday. An evening with poets highlighting the contemporary relevance of Joseph Conrad’s work and the Polish contribution to British, European and world culture. We also celebrate the cultural diversity of contemporary London poets with a lineup including Robert Hampson, Agnieszka Studzinska, Karen McCarthy Woolf, SJ Fowler, Saradha Soobrayen, Todd Swift, Amy Evans, Harry Gilonis and Edmund Hardy, who engage with different aspects of Conrad’s metropolitan and multicultural work, and respond to Conrad’s life and fiction through poetry.
For a poetic celebration of Joseph Conrad, generously commissioned by Professor Robert Hampson, I've written 3 new poems on his work, published by Wild Court, the magazine of Kings College, London @wildcourtpoetry http://wildcourt.co.uk/new-work/920/
Special Edition : Poet as a Boxer - my reading & talk 10th February 2014
The worst possible conditions to hold a poetry event might be during a city wide tube strike and a torrential rainpour. The poet as a boxer event was sold out weeks in advance, 100 plus people, and then disaster struck. But it really didn't matter in the end, such was the positivity of those who did come, the commitment they showed to the idea and the concept really shone through. I had some of the most gratifying conversations afterward that Id ever had following a reading, actually made friends with people, connections that will last I think. Its because those who came seemed to inhabit the same space as I do, they are not academics, not journalists, not boxers, and yet they really think on the sport, and are in love with it. They are afficionados, but not the boxing sweats, not the old school, but perhaps a wee bit more reflexive and interrogative about the sport. Anyway, I had a wonderful time after initial worries, and Gabriele Tinti, who curated the event, was brilliant, sharing his work (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OkbNh-Agdw), and the work of others, and the dramatic readings of his poems with leading actors from America (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_dNumsOkhs). I spoke briefly about my concerns with boxing and then read from my book fights, video below:
Conceptual Poetry Exhibition - Tuesday 24 May to Sunday 3 July 2016
A series of videos from the Enemies project video library have been included in this extraordinary exhibition running at Southbank Centre in London, at the Saison Poetry Library. It includes my performance with Amanda de la Garza and a series of brilliant publishers, who make up the heart of the exhibition, with whom I've been working with for years. (Photographs of the exhibition below generously provided by Pascal O'Loughlin)
Conceptual Poetics might be the most contested (and popular) movement in contemporary poetry and this special exhibition put it under the spotlight, with an emphasis on UK practitioners. The movement was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s approach to visual art, and has been described as ‘uncreative writing’. It featured items from presses such as if p then q, Information as Material, ZimZalla and If a Leaf Falls, as well as work by poets and artists including Fiona Banner, Simon Cutts, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Yoko Ono. https://www.nationalpoetrylibrary.org.uk/visit/past-exhibitions/conceptual-poetics
Poetry in Collaboration exhibition at the Poetry Library
I co-curated the summer’s Saison Poetry Library exhibition for 2014 at the Southbank centre with Chris McCabe, entitled Poetry in Collaboration.
The exhibition furthers and re-contextualises the concerns of the Enemies project (http://www.weareenemies.com/) in panoramic scope, drawing from the vast collection of the poetry library to reveal a small sliver of the modern history of poetry in collaboration, to evidence, in microcosm, just how fundamental a shared practise can be to poetry.
On display were new works commissioned by the Enemies project, including book art by Ragnhildur Johanns and Iain Sinclair, as well as collaborations by Ian Hamilton Finlay and John Furnival, Ron King and Roy Fisher, Anne Waldman and Joe Brainard, amongst many others. There was an extensive reading table, an audio station with live collaborative recordings of the Beats, and videos of works by Robert Desnos and Man Ray, as well as footage from the Camaradefest
The exhibition ran from 6 May 2014 to 6 July 2014
As part of the exhibition, a special view Camarade event was be held on May Tuesday 20th. As well as a quick introduction to the exhibition itself, around a half dozen pairs of poets, some of the most memorable from previous incarnations of Camarade, read original collaborations, including James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar, James Davies & Philip Terry, Sam Riviere & Joe Dunthorne.
The exhibition closes - The brilliant photographer Alexander Kell joined me as I visited the Poetry in Collaboration exhibited I've curated over the last two months at the Saison Poetry Library with Chris McCabe just before it closes. Im very proud of the exhibition, its carefully chosen, beautifully presented and easy on the eye. Its been a pleasure working with Chris too, and to have had so many people see the work is a wonderful thing, it's the premiere place to have a show like this in London. Hopefully not the last time Ill get to work with the library and its amazing collection
Special Edition : Translation Games 5th March 2014
http://translationgames.net/output/p-o-w/295-2/ curated by Ricarda Vidal and Jenny Chamarette This Translation Game was conceived specifically for the Special Edition series at the Saison Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. Its results were presented on the evening of 5th March 2014 at the Library. A note from my live commission below, click here for a German translation with some concrete touches
HELLO. DON’T TURN AROUND. IM DEFORMED. LEAVE ME ALONE. IM THE POET TROLL IN THE CORNER.
THANKS FOR THE MONEY QUEEN MARY. I NEED IT.
UH OH. I BETTER BE NICE. I SIGNED A CONTRACT SAYING I WOULDN’T BE OFFENSIVE. DON’T BE DISTRACTED. CONCENTRATE.
TONIGHT, LADIES & GENTLEMEN, I WILL BE USING MY PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS AS AN EXCUSE TO DO SOME OVERWRITING.
This time we translated from poetry to film, scent and digital art and then back to poetry. We chose five poems from Antonio Claudio Carvalho’s concrete poetry magazine p.o.w.: Simon Barraclough’s “two sun spots”, Paul Brown’s “cold”, Antonio Claudio Carvalho’s “(the) flesh of gods”, Mel Gooding’s “sextet: improvisations”, and Chrissy Williams’s “murder she wrote”. We invited filmmaker Anna Cady, multimedia artist Sam Treadaway and digital artist Katja Knecht to choose one of the five poems and translate it into their medium. Each of them presented their translations on the evening of 5th March and discussed the challenges and revelations of translating from one medium (text) into another (fine arts). The poet Steven Fowler simultaneously translated the discussions into live writing.
See his translation here.
Performing live writing at Special Edition : Translation Games
From the moment I came into contact with Translation Games, through the unusually considered and energetic work of Ricarda Vidal and Jenny Chamarette, I knew it was the kind of project I wanted to be involved in. The kinship it has with what Im trying to do with the Enemies project goes beyond the similar contextual concerns into the very culture of the project, it's openness, it's direction, it's appreciation of complexity. translationgames.net
ALL IS CIRCULAR, LIKE THE SUN. AND ALL BURNS US, EVENTUALLY.
I came into Translation Games at the beginning of it's second phase, as Ricarda and Jenny were expanding the scope of the program and working towards an event, which happened just a few days ago, at the Poetry Library, as part of their special edition series. The process involved 3 artists translating a selection of concrete poems from Antonio Claudio Carvalho's amazing POW series, into their own mediums. They had just a week to do so, and the results were unveiled at the event, with a general presentation of the project and its aims, as I sat in the dark, at the back of audience, live translating the translations and the general goings on.
There was a Q&A after the works were presented too, where I got to share the stage with Ricarda, and with two of the artists involved, the film maker Anna Cady and the artist Sam Treadaway. Both their work really was a joy to witness, and being so familiar with the POW series, I felt I had an inside track to the roots of their process. Anna's ethereal filmwork highlighted the potential of realising certain paradoxes about death and expiry which cannot be attained in formal language, and Sam's transforming of Simon Barraclough's sun poetry into scent was breathtaking. Sam handed tiny discs to the audience, which were miniaturised renditions of the poem and were infused with the scent of leather, oranges, cedarwood...it was remarkable. You can, and should, read more about it on the translation games website.
So much came out of the discussion and the work, but perhaps pivotally for me, I was really forced to consider the lines between translating and collaborating, and how intention defines the difference between these ambiguous concepts when they are deployed as I deploy them, which is, hopefully, a test to traditional boundaries. The live writing was a pleasure, because the event was a pleasure, and I tried to inculcate a meta-dialogue (humorous, I hope) alongside actual expressionistic poetic response. The words, as I was spilling them out, appeared on a screen so the audience could read as the event unfolded. The entire live writing text has been published online and if you liked the excerpts here, you can read it allll http://translationgames.net/?page_id=295
Happy to say some audio recordings of me reading my own work and some classic anglo saxon poetry texts will be part of the listening wall, to be installed at the Southbank Centre as part of Poetry International The installation is called I Leave This At Your Ear. Poetry International takes place from Thursday 17th - Monday 21st July, and from Friday 18th I Leave This At Your Ear will be open for the public to sit at and listen to the recorded poems. The wall will be installed on the Clore Ballroom floor of the Royal Festival Hall (level 2, entry level). Full details can be found on the Southbank website. Go and spend your summer days listening to my radio voice.