JL Williams on representation of women in recent poetry events/publishing

Ace blog entry here on the Scottish Poetry Library’s site from Jennifer Williams, their programme manager and all-out poet hero imho.

Jennifer covers the recent StAnza festival in St Andrews (which I was sad not to make it up to this year, though grateful for this and for Dave Coates’ reports back), and talks about recent publishing of and aimed at women. I share with her the desire to get on and read Vahni Capildeo’s Measures of Expatriation and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen.

Check out JL’s last book, Locust and Marlin, reviewed also by Greg Thomas in Hix Eros not so long ago. I love the below picture of her performing at Cooper Gallery in Dundee recently.

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documentation from Another Athens exhibition, Interview Room 11

Now that Interview Room 11 is no longer in its gloriously brutal concrete former location at Argyle House in Edinburgh’s West Port, it’s nice to look back and see documentation of what was achieved during its stay.

One of the exhibitions I was invited to be part of, in this case by Nicky Melville, was the 2014 Another Athens exhibition. This film on Vimeo from Suzanne van der Lingen interviews its curators: Nicky Melville, Mirja Koponen and Gerry Smith, and shows visual material from the exhibition.

The ambitious project was pretty global in its reach and included a one day symposium. There was an official pairing with the SNEHTA art space in Athens.

 

My involvement was to provide text pieces, two in collaboration with Colin Herd, two on my own, for display in the space. We were asked to provide an original piece and to respond to a text from one of the Athens writers who were paired with us on the project. The texts were displayed beautifully with pins on two opposite gallery walls. They were unidentified by author, so it was left to the view to play with attributions to Athens or to Edinburgh authors, and they were a variety of sizes, so looked great.

The request for our original pieces was framed in the set of instructions below:

Edinburgh is The Athens of the North. This project will show Another Athens, a composite city constructed from depictions of both Athens and Edinburgh. The composite city will be based upon the memories and personal experiences of its inhabitants.

You should write about an event or situation which says something about your own “Athens”.

The text should fit on one side of A4 paper.

The city should be referred to as Another Athens.

Aside from that, the style and content is up to the writer.

I loved thinking about composite cities, cities of possibility. And in my piece I was also thinking about cities in their different historical moments, with memory and trace as important cues for how we navigate and negotiate them. The project was happening at the time of the Scottish Independence Referendum, so had resonance with large scale imaginings of that sort. I was very engaged with Emily Dickinson’s work at the time, so my piece of writing quotes her only poem to explicitly name Athens. I also went to Greek poet Cavafy for material to work with. I loved his homoerotic poems when I was younger, and I enjoyed mapping personal past erotic experience into this flickering virtual city the project was allowing me to conjure while mapping Cavafy’s geographical concerns about his identity as an Alexandrian Greek onto Edinburgh’s very present politics.

Here’s the piece I compiled in its entirety.

Lad of Athens Iain Morrison

More information can be found about the exhibition here.

 

Disimprovements. Disimprovements. Disimprovements. Disimprovements.

Charlotte Prodger Northern Dancer

I’m part of a reading at the British Art Show 8‘s Edinburgh leg. This is happening on Saturday 5th March in Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Maria Fusco has invited Sam Riviere, Daisy Lafarge and myself to respond with her to Charlotte Prodger’s work, Northern Dancer. Prodger’s work is a 4-screen installation which flashes up names from a lineage of racehorses, in a pattern worked out with a choreographer – it’s pretty visually dancey, black screens/white text pulsing. While the screens work, an audio text about Gertrude Stein being made to savagely edit one of her texts by her girlfriend Alice B. Toklas is played.

We’ve taken a lead from the purported Stein incident and the text patterning, and over 40 minutes we’ll be reading out our ‘disimproved’ texts, texts which have succumbed to sadistic rules set by our fellow readers.

http://britishartshow8.com/events/disimprovements-disimprovements-disimprovements-disimprovements-1722

 

Thinking Verse – online journal recommendation

I haven’t yet found time to read the articles within this online journal – Thinking Verse – yet, but over the last week, there have been lots of posts elsewhere with poets I respect and admire praising it. At a quick look, I think it’s aims are valuable. Here’s their ‘About us’ section quoted:

‘T H I N K I N G    V E R S E   (ISSN: 2049-1166) aims to provide a forum for discussion and debate in poetics, specifically regarding verse as a feature of writing, and the different kinds of thinking — aesthetic, linguistic, philosophical — that verse engenders and necessitates. In so doing the journal seeks to reconcile a close attention to the technical aspects of verse art with these broader stakes, not least given that it is through an engagement with technical minutiae that these stakes are articulated, and that without an understanding of these stakes the focus on such minutiae cannot grasp the object it purports to discuss. In particular, it seeks to reconcile a close attention to the technical aspects of verse art with these wider questions for ‘thinking’.

I like this sort of proposed switch around between the micro-macro and macro-micro: how does a big idea use small-scale organisation to articulate itself; how does the sum of verse technique deployed give us an understandable road-map towards furthering our understanding big ideas, or shape the way we think to allow us to arrive at new perception?

I put it more crudely there. And part of me questions that it is an entirely reversible link – I have a slight intuition that the ideas can’t be arrived back out at through a process of reverse-engineering the way they made it into the crystalised verse, and I think the journal mission may imply that. I wrote that last sentence more like the below sentence first, and I leave it in, as even though I think it’s more mysterious, it might be closer to what I was trying to say: the technique doesn’t latch on to the ideas in the way the journal might imply is the equivalent of the way the ideas might be worked through the space of the technique’s actions.

These are questions I enjoy thinking about, and if this journal lives up to people’s appraisals of how well it is thinking about them, then I look forward to reading on.