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

 

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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.

Preview : Drag Queens @ the SPL

Lovely preview here of an upcoming event I’m working on for the Scottish Poetry Library with my fierce friend Jean-François Krebs.

More information and bookings here: http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/connect/events/library-open-drag-queen-poems

Expect sad music, performance, froideur, and some personal (and impersonal) poems.

Mumble Words

Thursday, January 28

Scottish Poetry Library

Edinburgh

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image002.jpgPoet Iain Morrison has written a sequence of poems about drag queens that he will perform at the SPL alongside Wanda Isadora de Fourrure (also known as the poet and artist Jean-François Krebs). The poems, which are insightful, funny and erotic, dramatize the pleasures and pitfalls of wearing drag.

The phrase ‘the library is open’ is used in the drag queen community to open hostilities, in a fun and witty way, when drag queens ‘read’ each other: ‘Girls, the library is open. Now, read her for FILTH!’ It was chosen as the title of the event as it represents an opportunity for a drag queen to express herself with her own voice as opposed to lip-syncing to a song.

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As mainstream society grows more aware of issues regarding those whose gender can’t be neatly labelled, the SPL’s event is an imaginative, sensitive and…

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D.H. Lawrence – The Ship of Death

This beautiful poem, The Ship of Death by D.H. Lawrence:

http://www.kalliope.org/en/digt.pl?longdid=lawrence2001061776

It was nagging at my head tonight. I half remembered the line about the cooking pans, which had struck me as delightful before, that line and the voice’s naive optimism in setting out on this journey with a change of clothes, setting forth with all the learned behaviours we have learned for every other journey we’ve made before, and hoping it will bear us through. And I was loving the echoes of some of the death rituals we hear about from the ancient Egyptian tombs, say.

Also I was reminded of the section in Alice Notley’s  The Descent of Alette where the protagonist sinks into the dark lake at the bottom of everything, with eyes glowing and swimming around her absence. Such strong imagery in both and this poem’s a good read for our (finally) cold, dark midwinter. It speaks with such vision I find myself almost unquestioningly believing in reincarnation. Enjoy its strangely comforting incantations.

 

Sophie Collins and paraphonotextuality, vis-à-vis visual art’s poetry crush

I enjoyed one of those pleasing experiences this week where recent reading and thinking seems to form itself into an interesting connecty cycle:

I’d been reading an article about paraphonotextuality, as I understand a term meaning the artefacts of sound recordings of poetry readings in relation to the printed text of the read poems as transmitted otherwise through writing/publishing. The article was by Al Filreis, whom I’ve blogged about previously, and who I have yet to find less than excellent.

In this article, one angle of the phenomenon he discusses is the existence as recordings of multiple readings by a poet of their same poems on different occasions, sometimes stretching across considerable spans of time (he discusses Rae Armantrout in this regard). And generally he argues persuasively for the admission of the evidence of the sound recording of live performance into the discussion of and interpretation of poets’ work.

Friend and fellow poet Jennifer Williams had also sent round to a few of us with feet in both camps, an interesting article on visual art’s apparent current/ongoing significant relationship with poetry, something, as someone who’s a poet and who works in a visual arts context, I’m keenly interested in.

As I worked my way down that article, I had my eye caught by a 2015 exhibition cited which had been co-curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, called ‘Poetry will be made by all!’.

In the broad terms of exhibitions invoking poetry, one thing I noticed – not my main relevant thought here and it probably needs unpacking further elsewhere – was that in the exhibition’s description the usually tricky conceptual bridge between the presentation of text in an art gallery and whatever is conceived within the exhibition’s construct to lie solely within, and thus being borrowed from, the art of poetry – was formed with the phrase ‘expanded writing and poetry’. I usually find these exhibition descriptions telling as they help me to work out what it is that the curator or artist showing/making work thinks it is that poetry does – what the particular glamour of poetry for them is. Here I read an implication from the writer (curator?) that poetry fits the description of ‘expanded writing’ itself – writing, that, as might be their ambition for the exhibited texts, is able to operate in more than in a monolinear, purely denotative or operational way. Expanded writing perhaps is also a more art-form neutral version of the ‘art writing’ term.

Anyway, when I investigated this particular exhibition a bit more, I discovered that at the opening event of the broader After Babel exhibition, of which ‘Poetry will be made by all’ was a part, there were readings from various younger poets, including a friend of mine, Sophie Collins. What was great about this discovery, in terms of things connecting, was that when I watched her reading, it gave me the chance to think about some of the ideas in the Al Filreis paper about paraphonotextuality from my own experience of attending live poetry readings.

I take on board that Filreis’ article was purportedly talking about sound recordings, rather than remembered live events, but mostly the same principles of triangulation apply between the readings as experienced in one form or the other. Also I note that with YouTube etc., we’re now often given recorded visual elements of an event we weren’t at to experience as well – paravideotextuality? That’s the case here in Sophie’s reading, which I recommend it in and of itself. The first poem, Bunny, was new to me and a particular witty treat.

But it was the poems that I’d heard Sophie perform live previously that I’m thinking of in this blog post. The one that seems particularly pertinent is the last in her reading at the Moderna Museet, a poem called Zizzio (I’m guessing at the spelling), which was also the last poem of the whole three-hour-long event, Sophie being the last reader. The poem charts an imagined experience of Hans Ulrich Obrist, who while feeding swans in the Royal Park of Kensington Gardens in London notices a sick swan, which somehow unsettles him, and opaquely leads him to take action the next day. It’s a poem I found fascinating when I first heard Sophie read it at The Number Shop in Edinburgh, a small artist run space, where the predominantly young art-educated audience took it in noticeably appreciatively. I now remember thinking something like that it was a well-judged choice of Sophie’s to read a poem about a somewhat cult figure for young artists that night, and that it showed somehow that she was on board with what the constituted audience might give cultural value to.

Now that I encountered the poem again, in this web adventure looping through the article about poetry in the context of art and after having watched Hans Ulrich Obrist himself talking in an introduction to the event Sophie was reading at, I realised that there might be other ways to think about the poet’s strategies. I was stuck that, unless he left early – a possibility – Hans Ulrich Obrist will have heard Sophie’s performance (perhaps the first of this poem? perhaps a poem written for this event?). Certainly he appears on camera reading out her name in the list of poets he welcomes to the event at the start – there’s a connection in a way I hadn’t suspected when I’d somehow imagined the poem as a more distant cultural appropriation on the part of the poet.

Also, then, the poet’s choice to read a poem naming a member of the audience, a member of the audience with a pivotal role in the assembling of poets under an art banner, I could read as more of a challenge to him, and to his own deployment of powerful organisation bringing together and presenting these young poets in this context. Was there a questioning of the validity of what was happening? I can think of ways that the imagined Obrist’s treatment of the swan – an interruption to the his confident carrying out of his activities at ‘the gallery’ – could be read as allegory for others unable to consume his product (in the swan’s case, his bread). This might be a stretch, but I certainly enjoyed thinking about the power of Sophie’s text in a context other than the one in which I’d first encountered it, and where I’d already found it powerful/effective in another way.

For a poem Sophie had read earlier in the reading, An Unusual Day, Sophie offered more of an introduction, a paraphonotext(!), than she did for others of the poems in her set, some of which she gave only titles for. This poem, I find this fun, she dedicated to her partner, which she also did previously when I saw her read it live in Edinburgh, I think at The Sutton Gallery reading where her partner was present and was also a performer on the line-up. I can’t remember how she introduced it exactly at The Sutton Gallery, but at the Moderna Museet reading she says ‘it’s about, I guess, male noise pollution’, adding with a smile ‘it’s a daily struggle’ and then ‘for both of us’, with a glance maybe at her partner if they’re in the audience (along with maybe Hans Ulrich Obrist!).

I don’t have any crushingly important point to make about this, just that I observed that something about my feeling about the poem, from its introduction in both readings, was slightly different, the Edinburgh one more playful and intimate perhaps, given the context and the fact that both parties were being given voice in the event. It struck me that these spontaneous introductions, really do offer a chance to think about the text presented in a slightly different way than the (usually) fixed words of the poems themselves. That we can chart changes in the poets attitudes too, tentatively yes, but that potentially that might be something we’re able to do when we look at the record of different performances of their works by them over time.

I guess this post has been about my delight in having a new (to me) idea to play with in thinking about poems. Thanks to Sophie Collins who I hope doesn’t mind me having had and shared an experience with her work, and employing it to try out this way of thinking. As someone who myself likes to think carefully about the potency of work I present in the specific situations that readings can’t help but offer, I’m happy to see this element of poems’ production and presentation given space to be considered as part of their effort and achievement.

10 Red. Reading in Edinburgh, Weds 1 July 2015

A pinch and a light punch for the 1st of the month; am going to be one of the readers at Kevin Cadwallender’ always interesting ’10 Red’ night at the Persevere Bar in Edinburgh tomorrow.

The concept is as simple as the event’s name: 10 readers of different styles read for 10 minutes apiece. Great way to introduce your work to new audiences and I always enjoy the reactions, including my own, to what’s on offer. Here’s the event on facebook here.

The simple deets are:

The Persevere Easter Road. £3 in. FREE Raffle. 7.30 for 8pm

398 Easter Road, EH6 8HT
10 Red Poster Kevin Cadwallender 1/7/15

Catherine Street / Modern Edinburgh Film School / Iain Morrison

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I’m making a contribution to an evening at the CCA in Glasgow, in the form of a lecture/talk/poetry-reading (it’s a bit of all of those) on Tuesday 26th May, 2015 at 6.30pm. The page on CCA’s website outlining the event is here.

It’s a hard one to paraphrase as part of the idea of the event is to open up to wider discussion and thinking around a project called Ripples on the Pond, which is showcasing women’s work in the Glasgow city collection, with particular attention to possible connections to be made between works on paper and moving image work. My involvement comes through an invitation from Alex Hetherington under the name of Modern Edinburgh Film School, an unapparent space/body which he curates. Catherine Street is one of the moving image artists featured in the Ripples on the Pond programme and the evening centres on her work, including a presentation from Catherine herself and the chance to experience some of her film and audio work. I’m taking as my role for the evening, the presentation of some thinking about how poetry and work in text can mirror some of the same processes that Catherine talks about her work being interested in: mainly the idea of multiple presentations of the self through layered recordings and live elements. I’m looking at the idea of variant readings and how they feature in editorial and performance work. Unsurprisingly to those of you who know my interests, Emily Dickinson will feature!

There’s more information on the whole Ripples on the Pond project here.

And here’s the Modern Edinburgh Film School tumblr here.

And not least, Catherine Street’s website here.

This is one of the more open briefs I’ve had for a while and I’m really enjoying the chance to open up my thinking in the space created by this linking into other practices and artforms. Come and see what transpires if you can.

 

Colin Herd & Iain Morrison new collaboration for Euro Lit Night

Here’s the trailer (our fourth such, if I’m counting correctly!) for the new poem performance Colin Herd and I are presenting at Summerhall in Edinburgh this Thursday, 14 May 2015, for European Literature Night.

If you’re in town or can get here, it’s free to come along and there will be a diverse host of poets offering a host of interesting content. I say this confidently because there has been at any other event I’ve been at which SJ Fowler has hosted. If you can’t make it, then please enjoy being teased by the trailer in the finest traditions of marketing!

Full info here.

 

 

Participation in European Literature Night events, 14th and 15th May 2015

European Literature Night is coming to Edinburgh this coming week. I’m helping to organise some of it and am reading in not one, but three events. There’s fulsome information from overall organiser SJ Fowler below.

The Iain Morrison involvement in a nutshell is: Thursday 14th 6pm reading at The Fruitmarket Gallery, 8.30pm reading (with Colin Herd) at Summerhall; Friday 15th 2.30pm reading at Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden just outside Edinburgh. Will be a busy night and much fun! Am particularly looking forward to reading at The Fruitmarket Gallery, where I’ve worked for the last five years. Now I shall be testing my mettle by performing on the other side of the clipboard, with a new set of poems which respond to artist Mira Shendel’s work in the Gallery’s current Possibilities of the Object exhibition.

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–Fulsome Information–

European Literature Night 2015 will be a unique evening of live contemporary literature in Edinburgh, with over 30 poets performing at five events, from a dozen European nations, all on one night. www.theenemiesproject.com/eln

Part of the continent-wide European Literature Night program, held in 75 cities during mid-May, and supported by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature trust, our program brings together some of the most forceful European avant-garde, literary and sound poets, to share their work, to read alongside and to collaborate with a swathe of Edinburgh’s equally brilliant poetry scene.

Four simultaneous events take place in the early evening of Thursday May 14th, around 6pm, with solo readings, before all poets and audiences will congregate at Summerhall for the epic finale of the night, with 11 pairs of poets presenting brand new Camarade collaborations, starting around 8pm.

Every event is free of charge, so join us at The Fruitmarket Gallery, The Saltire Society, The Sutton Gallery and The Forest before seeing the night in at Summerhall, with poets from France, Spain, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Sweden and of course, Scotland.

European Literature Camarade! Summerhall – 8pm doors for an 8.30pm start – Free entry

In the Demonstration room http://www.summerhall.co.uk/2015/unesco-european-literature-night-edinburgh/

Following the amazing success of the Auld Enemies project in Summerhall in 2014, we return to the Demonstration room for the grand finale of this ambitious evening. Brand new collaborative work will be presented by pairs of poets from across the continent. Featuring:

Colin Herd & Iain Morrison

Ryan Van Winkle & Calum Rodger

Graeme Smith & Andres Anwandter

nick-e melville & Anne Laure Coxam

Valgerður Þórodds & Katy Hastie

Esther Strauss & Ann Cotten

SJ Fowler & Jorg Piringer

Max Hofler & Robert Herbert McClean

Eduard Escoffet & Martin Bakero

JL Williams & Jessica Johannesson Gaitán

The Saltire Society Caesura on Sound poetry: supported by the Scottish Poetry Library

6pm – Free Entry https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/connect/events/caesura-31-spl-saltire-society

Enjoy some of Europe’s most dynamic and pioneering sound poets, coming together for one night to present their innovative musique concrete, from Paris, Barcelona and Vienna. Featuring Eduard Escoffet (Barcelona), Martin Bakero (Paris) Jorg Piringer (Vienna) & curated by Graeme Smith (Edinburgh) as part of the Caesura series.

The Sutton gallery on 20th century art:

6pm – Free entry http://www.thesuttongallery.com

Join us for performance art from Esther Strauss (Vienna), readings from Tomasz Mielcarek (Poland), Robert Herbert McClean (Belfast), and the launch of Colin Herd & SJ Fowler’s collaborative book Oberwildling: on the life of Oskar Kokoscka, published by the Austrian Cultural Forum all in the environs of one of Edinburgh’s most beautiful galleries.

The Fruitmarket Gallery on Possibilities of the Object:

6pm – Free entry http://www.cityofliterature.com/event/european-literature-night-fruitmarket-gallery/

At one of Edinburgh’s cultural hubs, The Fruitmarket Gallery, hear readings from Valgerður Þórodds (Reykjavik), Max Hofler (Graz), nick-e melville (Edinburgh), Jean-François Krebs (Paris/Edinburgh) and Iain Morrison (Edinburgh), all responding to the exhibition on display.

The Forest Café on Activism / Craftivism

6pm – Free entry http://www.cityofliterature.com/event/european-literature-night-the-forest-on-activism-craftivism/

At an Edinburgh staple, join Ryan Van Winkle and other Scottish poets, alongside Austrian Ann Cotten, for readings on the theme of activism. Featuring Thomas MacColl, Ed Smith, Rachel McCrum & Ryan Van Winkle (Edinburgh), Katy Hastie & Calum Rodger (Glasgow) & Ann Cotten (Berlin)

European Literature Night is supported by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Scottish Poetry Library & many others.

Poetry at Little Sparta – May 15th 2015

“Set in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work of art. Imbued with a high idea content, the garden is created from the artistic fusion of poetic and sculptural elements with those of the natural landscape which is shaped and changed to become an inherent part of the concepts realised at Little Sparta.”http://www.littlesparta.org.uk

The day following European Literature Night, we will be presenting this unique poetry event at Little Sparta. The performances will begin at 2.30pm and finish 4.30pm, taking the form of a series of short readings given as a tour of the gardens. This will be a unique mini-festival poetry celebration of one of the most extraordinary landscapes in Britain with an amazing array of contemporary European poets.

Readings & acoustic sound performances from Andres Andwandtner, Martin Bakero, Eduard Escoffet, Graeme Smith, Calum Rodger, Ryan Van Winkle, SJ Fowler, Colin Herd, Iain Morrison, Esther Strauss, Katy Hastie, Robert Herbert McClean, nick-e melville, Valgerður Þórodds & more.

Please note entrance to the garden is £10 and if you can’t make your own way, you can join the poets on a pre-booked coach to the location by emailing me at steven@sjfowlerpoetry.com. The coach will meet at 1pm in Edinburgh city centre, at Waterloo place, and depart Little Sparta at 5pm. All are welcome. Thanks to the Little Sparta Trust, Calum Gardner & Graeme Smith.

www.stevenjfowler.com

www.theenemiesproject.com

Inclusion on James Cummins’ poetry blog Return to Default

I’ve been kindly included by poet James Cummins on his blog with my poem [Poetry for] A new ing.

 

The context for my poem was prompted by an invitation from the brilliantly-named Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal to submit for an issue they were planning in the wake of turbulent political times during the Scottish Indie Ref, and I wrote it based on accreted journal and notebook entries made during that time. It was written fast and enjoyably but if the journal went to print, my poem was unsuccessful in being selected. So I’m doubly happy that James picked it up for inclusion here alongside a select group of writers I’m delighted to be in the company of. I notice Sam Langer, who I met in Berlin last year, is on there, and Stephen Emmerson whose energies I have been enjoying from afar, and occasionally in person, over the last while too.

 

I look forward to reading who joins me on this international Cork-based platform, as James’ wide-interest and (as he’s hinted) Irish perspective lead to his selections.