My first collection published, Red Museum, from Knives forks & spoons press, April 2011, 142 pages.

A 2nd print was released in January 2014 
http://knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/redmuseum.html

 

The book is indirectly about the museum industry's necessary 'truths', narrated through aberrant histories, focused on European modes of relating history, fact and truth, both a celebration and a judgement of this often tortuous, detail orientated method of writing. It is also a conceptual book, an attempt to be as dense and impenetrable as many of the occult and liminal sources from which it draws its material. I wrote it while working at the British Museum and that institutions collection, and work culture, plays an enormous role in the book.

 

Below you can find a discussion of Red Museum by the critic Richard Marshall, a video of my reading at the book's launch and a large selection of poems from the collection published in online journals.


Richard Marshall discusses Red Museum in his Eric Auerbach essay

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/time-history-and-literature/ Humbling to be mentioned by the extraordinary literary critic and scholar Richard Marshall in his epic essay on Eric Auerbach, which covers a multitude of interweaving subjects, and ends up discussing my first collection, Red Museum, which was launched in 2011. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Museum-S-J-Fowler/dp/1907812431

"...In the Middle Ages Dante’s poetry is described as a true umbra, a shadow of the truth. This suggests figura was Dante’s theory of inspiration. Auerbach suggests that ‘… we can say in Europe , the figurative method goes back to Christian influences, the allegorical to ancient pagan ones, and that the first is applied for the most part to Christian materials, the second, rather, to ancient ones’ but then admits that this is too neat and in the High Middle Ages ‘ the Sybils, Vergil, and the figures of the Aeneid, indeed, even the characters from the cycles of mythic sagas from Brittany (Galahad in the Quest del Saint Graal, for example) were absorbed into figurative readings.’
 

SJ Fowler’s poem ‘Benedict IX, elected Pope at the age of ten, shocked the sensibilities of the pagan age’ from his ‘Red Museum’ collection is a fiercely brilliant example of a contemporary poet working sensuous vigor into death, echoing Capaneo in ‘Inferno 14’ ‘I am in death as I was in life’, refusing the ascetic demand to sacrifice particularity even when in these vast poetic vaults of fantastic prodigousness. Fowler’s collection first strikes a reader as the imaginings of a cunning Gothic primitive, presenting a massive net of barbarian gothic figura. He’s picking up unmediated vital forces and threading them with legacies of late antiquity coupled with ideas and fantasies frozen in time immemorial to swarm across the page like their own ghastly phantoms. His voices span that gulf between allegory and history where, as Schelling says about Dante, individuals ‘… become timeless because of the positions in which the poet has placed them, positions that are themselves timeless.’ The grim sculptural visions Fowler achieves are a result of the synthesis of a vernacular pulse plus the imperishable spheres of locality as vivid and tragic as he judges necessary. Fowler is our contemporary tragic realist poet, capable of infusing passion with erotic hum as well as Auerbach’s ‘zealous and domineering egoism… ambition… gloire.’

The last stanza of ‘Canados’ from the same collection is this:

‘We are not a drought,
We need an artificial lake.
I have a book I would like to sell you, he says.
He whips back his long grey coat;
Its buttons stitched in blue thread,
And from within produces a book
As deep as a ribcage.’

I like to think the book is Dante but it’s just as likely to be some woman who, as in the Bowie song, ‘makes you feel so lonely you could die.’ The goal is not to enjoy individual details in quiet contemplation but to get caught up in the dynamic movement of the plenum like a fish in a net, struggling for a last astonishment."


Canudos published from the Citron Review March '11. Taken from the Red Museum

the Seven deathly sins / Ira, the Seven deathly sins / Invidia & the Seven deathly sins / Luxuria published by Otoliths February '11. 

Infortvnivm published by the Haggard & Halloo Feb '11, from the Red Museum. It is published with the Hans Memling picture that inspired, that sits blutakked above my desk.

{How to join the Hashishiyya in five easypieces} published by the Legendary Jan'11

{Jan Hus travels to the Council of Constance to argue the case for reform & is burned as a heretic, despite an imperial guarantee of safe conduct} published by the Toucan Feb '11

Infortvnivm, Tamerlane harvests horses & the Horns of Hattin published by Orion headless Jan'11

the Suicide note of John Downham & the Seven deathly Sins / Desidia published by Anastomoo  all the way out in Tasmania Jan '11

A second very generous publication by the Eunoia Review {illustrations to an unidentified collection of Dionysius' sermons}, {across Steppe come horsebound Infanta}, {erudite symbolists, mystic poets, they form, then pluck the most perverse flowers of wickedness}, {how to enlarge the Pudenda}, {Tunning of Elynor of Rummin} & {the Mereblut tunnel} Feb'11

{the seven deathly Sins / Ira} & {fog of guts} published by Weirdyear Journal Feb'11

{tell my beloved that his chamber is prepared & that I am sick with love for him} published by Quantum poetry Dec '10

Alcuin freehands a signet in blue inkVeronica Giuliana, beatified by Pius II, who, in memory of the lamb of God, took a real lamb to bed with her, kissing it an suckling it on her breaststhe Mongol Princess & Endura published by the Eunoia Review Dec'10. All four poems from the Red Museum

Blood Bank #1 to Blood Bank #5 published by the Scrambler Dec'10. All five poems from the Red Museum (Knives Forks & Spoons press)

daughter of Aungilsister of Alpga, Diogenes has a writing desk, Blue CocoonJeanna des Anges makes a host of false accusations, a Clue Bucoon,Saint Catherina of Genoa suffers such infernal firesBalthasar Cossa confesses to incest, adultery, defilement, homicide and atheism,Cue the BuffoonI leave my meals to Neleus published generously by Peter Philpott at Great Works in Dec '10. Includes drafts of poems for Red Museum, some of which never appeared in the final volume

Benedict IX, elected Pope at the age of ten shocked the sensibilities of a barbarous age, I am a dancing Cathar, married twice, looming incest, Jus Primae Noctis, Nafkhae is the name of that particular form of air or vapour which the angel gabriel is said to have blown or caused to pass from his coat sleeve into the windpipe of Mary for the purpose of impregnation published by the Rufous Salon, a new ejournal from Sweden. All four poems from the Red Museum. Thanks to Jenny Enochsson.

{Pope Alexander VI, who, with his son, Cesare Borgia, carried perfidy further than it had ever ben carried before} published by the Clockwise Cat April'10. Included with a beautiful stained glass image

the Il-Khanid period AD 1220-1335, under the descendants of Timur AD 1370-1576 & Seljuqs in Iran ::: AD 1050-1200 published by Otoliths Oct'10. All 3 poems from the Red Museum.

The Mamluk Dynasty AD 1250-1517 & Notes from the Desk Drawer published by Otoliths Oct'10