Subcritical Tests : Gorse Editions : with Ailbhe Darcy (July 2017)
Available to buy here http://gorse.ie/book/subcritical-tests/
I'm happy to announce my latest collaborative book, written with Ailbhe Darcy, will be published as the very first Gorse edition - Subcritical Tests. Available here gorse.ie/book/subcritical-tests/
About the book
"The nearness of nuclear holocaust, always just one clumsy accident away, forms an entry point into this record of a friendship. The poems in Subcritical Tests stubbornly make connections, ever conscious of the impending threat of annihilation. Oblique, modern, lyrical, humorous, these poems represent the range of Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler‘s individual practices, modulated and melded through the collaborative process." www.stevenjfowler.com/subcriticaltests
Gorse have established themselves as one of the finest literary journals in Europe, if not the world, and so to have this book open their venture into publishing standalone books is an immense privilege. The book is beautifully illustrated and cover designed by Niall McCormack.
You can read a blog post on the collaborative book here : http://www.stevenjfowler.com/blog/gorsesubcriticaltests
The collaboration was begun for the Yes But Are We Enemies? Irish Enemies project in 2014, videos from that tour below.
Subcritical Tests reviewed, briefly, in the Irish times November 18, 2017
It's at the bottom, and spelling words differently than how they are given in a dictionary can be deliberate, and full of meeeninggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/leontia-flynn-serious-about-the-butts-of-her-jokes-1.3291470
"Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler’s collaborative collection, Subcritical Texts, is the first book publication from Gorse (€13). Nicely designed but not entirely typo-free, its poems are often obscure and tense, pulled this way and that in what feels like a tug-of-war between Darcy and Fowler.
Images of nuclear bombs and fall-out recur and, every so often, in among the cross-talk and non sequiturs, pellucid lines or vivid passages emerge whose clarity feels both hard-won and relieving. “It is wrong” they write in Snooperscope,” to think of the day as busy, / or the army as impotent because of cakes / and waltzes. Do not be fooled, you cannot list / your way out of a fight, even with these beautiful men.” This is a strangely compelling book whose productive tensions are well described in Trumpet: “But no winter could be arrived at that / both parties would agree on; / the nations of you writing and I writing.”"
A note on: Launching Subcritical Tests in Dublin July 16, 2017
I am aware it’s easy to project one’s hopefulness onto places other than where you live, and in the context of launching books and doing events, its true in London I tend to rack them up, so perhaps numbing the experience for myself. But what a beautiful reception in Dublin for the launch of Subcritical Tests. Maybe it was the presence of Gorse as a really brilliant journal birthed by the city and its literary history somehow, or Ailbhe Darcy returning to her city. Maybe it was Poetry Ireland behind it, hosting it in the most grand of buildings. But we had a good hundred people, many students from American university summer schools, around the Dublin literary faces behind and supporting Gorse. And people listened close. We did a reading, just a reading, something I do resist nowadays, feelings its limitations like nails on a chalkboard a lot of the time, feeling oversaturated with the mode, and feeling few are honest about what it can do, and what it can’t do. But here, it was perfect. Ailbhe and I were succinct, in our last moment of a long, three year writing journey, a friendship in a book, reaching a peak of some sort. And as Christodoulos said in his intro – it is a difficult book, a gorgeous thing thanks to Gorse and Niall McCormack’s illustrations, but the content is dense and modern as well as lyrical. It’s not a book to whizz through certainly, not in its making or tone or subject. And then on top of that its collaborative, which seems to distance people for some reason. This was an evening really about friendships, and a community, in a place where it seems to me poetry is taken seriously, perhaps that isn't where I belong- a place I should just visit. All told, it was a really memorable evening, a fitting end to a three year writing and collaborating journey.
A note on: Launching Subcritical Tests in Soho July 16, 2017
Well where else but the basement of a pub in old soho to launch a poetry book about the nuclear bomb / apocalypse / threat / possible sweet release from all the puff? A weird and wonderful night in a dark corridor with people I am so fond of it comes close to a fraternal love - Christodoulos Makris, Susan Tomaselli, Ailbhe Darcy - and some new folk who will become friends. We spent a good five hours down there, relaxed, talking and reading and into the world was launched Subcritical Tests. Watch on on the video for the very end, where the performative urge just nearly just nearly got the better of me. Ailbhe is a sport. www.stevenjfowler.com/subcriticaltests