Revisiting Emily Dickinson for Summerhall, Halloween 2016

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I was cautious at first when I was asked to revisit my Emily Dickinson Subject Index performance for a Halloween themed night. After my last round of reading her poems, and in some ways echoing a possible physical presence of her, I was asked to take part in a Dead Poets Slam as Emily Dickinson. I said no to that. I didn’t want my service to her work to slip into campy take-offs.

But on looking into it, The Golden Hour’s Bone Digger event was a different case. Although there were definitely going to be some campy elements to this Halloween night, each participant’s piece was being given the space to find its own tone, and the curation by Ryan van Winkle was generous, but pretty focused. The first part of the night was a pretty meaty set of poetry installations involving a clutch of poets I very much admire (Nicky Melville, Colin Herd, Tessa Berring & Katherine Sowerby), which then was going to segue into a gig and wild stuff later on. 6pm to 1am; room for different energies!
So anyway, I said yes, but I’ve been pretty busy until now, the night before, with other writing and work. Today was the first day it clicked for me that I was really looking forward to this chance to reinhabit Emily Dickinson’s poems. There was a moment, when I was in the space by myself, when I worked out that there was a new train of feeling and thought going to come out of this particular installation situation, compared to the previous presentations of this piece in 2013 and 2014. On the last occasion, in an exposed cage environment in a Berlin subway I picked up some strength at dealing with hostile elements within a public performance environment, learning to filter out what wasn’t useful to the performance and to find a personal space within a public space, if you see what I mean.

But today, in the new setting of a tightly torqued ironwork spiral staircase, where I could really only move up or down in front of a dropped curtain of paper, I started to have a new feeling, about how Emily Dickinson might have been trying to escape from a physical entrapment through language. And there was something about being effecively squeezed in the tube of space, that made the words seem like a genuine dimensional adjunct that I might pop into. Am now, consequently, *ridiculously* excited about the experience I’m going to have in only a few hours time, between 6–8pm on Sunday 30 October, 2016. I think I will be really pressed up against the language, and I hope those moving around the staircase might get a shiver, and a sense of that themselves.

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(Also, I hear Chris Scott, my photographer chum is going to be working the event, so am hoping there might be some great images to share afterwards.)

 

 

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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

Another Athens: exhibition and events

I’m one of the crew of writers and artists who are part of the Another Athens project opening at Forest Centre+. Glad to be active back in the space there, after the 2013 April residency and the Warm Up exhibition last winter.

The exhibition opening is on Friday (6–8pm) but it’s open already from tomorrow 4–7pm. There are online elements coming and a symposium too.

Invitation to the opening is here  and general information about it all is here.

Thanks to the organising forces for getting me involved. A highlight of the process for me so far was making a sound-piece in collaboration with my estimable friend Colin Herd during over an hour’s worth of perfectly mixed business and pleasure. Come hear the results. No trailer this time, you just have to come check it out. Serious.

 

Veni, Vidi, Lectiti! Iain’s London visit, 24–28 October 2014.

I’m back from London now. What an excellent and self-expanding few days they were.

From Friday to Tuesday I was meeting and listening to (and hanging out with!) many articulate and interesting people, poets and other unacknowledged legislators of the world (thanks Shelley). London didn’t disappoint in its concentrations of talent.

Three events! Here’s documentation and some comment on the trio of readings I took part in. I’ve put in hyperlinks for extra info on the things I mention.

Camaradefest II was the biggie and main reason I ventured south. SJ Fowler had for the second year pulled together a diverse and strength-showing 100 poets, all performing brief outcomes of paired collaboration in hour-long blocks across the day. The forms the readings took were many. For me any criticisms about a brandedness of the event were obviously and swiftly overturned by the diversity of fronts (political, formal etc.) the presentations opened up. Some personal favourites of mine were Kirsty Irving & Harry Mann (also loved instantly by a friend who’d come along with me, which gave me added pleasure!), Olga Peck & Zuzana Husarova who brought a movement into their performance completely symbiotic with the words, and Sean Bonney & nick-e melville who appealed to my music-loving self with a drop-dead gorgeous ballad which kicked over any notion of a divide between the personal and political while also telescoping history – really genius.

The set I was in in collaboration with Colin Herd was the last of the night and there was a lot of musicy stuff for our piece to play along with. Here’s the video. We arrived at something, sounding like Steve Reich minimalism regularly interrupted by exclamatory words, via a poem by Brodsky called Elegy for John Donne. It’s an iambic pentameter poem. Most of the syllables in it we suppressed into the number 1 with a few words showing through to disrupt the typographic snow drift. Here’s an excerpted page of it so you can see what our performing score looked like. Well, before the vigourous pencil markings/barlines etc!

Censorable Poem, Iain Morrison & Colin Herd Iain Morrison & Colin Herd reading Censorable Poem at Camaradefest II

On Sunday morning we organised a Scottish Poetry Power Breakfast at the ICA for the many Scotland-based poets (and extended poetry family connections!) who were down for Camaradefest. Here’s a photo taken at the end with almost all of the readers (thanks Amy Hillman!). Poets at the Scottish Poetry Power BreakfastLeft to Right: Angus Sinclair, Luke Allan (partially obscured 😉 ), Laura Elliott, Graeme Smith, Iain Morrison, Colin Herd, Ryan van Winkle (peeking), Mike Saunders, Emilia Weber, Tom Betteridge, nick-e melville, Francesca Lisette and Samantha Walton.

Many croissants were consumed, we had a great and generous confraternity/consorority/consorty audience. Thanks espesh to SJ Fowler for getting along after what must have been a v. tiring day before. I was very glad he got to give his own placed and pitched reading after programming 100 people the day before.

Finally, I read at The Hardy Tree Gallery, St Pancras on Monday night. It was a closing reading for the Tom Jenks’ ZimZalla press exhibition, presenting ZimZalla’s innovative publishing over the last few years. He’s a poet I’ve enjoyed at a couple of Edinburgh readings before where the work he’s presented has been a delicious concotion of tightly formally constructed nonsense images which shows up the sheer width of breadth of image/disjucture available to us. Maybe it’s not unconnected that his ZimZalla press actually publishes poetry objects, pushing the content into very solid visual demands for our attention. Again, SJ Fowler had organised the running order, and thanks to his bulging little black book, there was a complex of different voices, among whom Lucy Harvest Clarke came as the strong pin between the exhibition and reading poets, launching her New World Banner ZimZalla publication on the night. She also performed a crazily moving poem to a murdered friend that she’d written on black painted Russian dolls, unlidding and placing each doll before carrying on with the text from a smaller doll inside. Thanks to SJ Fowler for the video documentation of my reading once again.

I’d strongly recommend that anyone interested in seeing a range of experimental (whatever that means, and that’s the joy of it!) work being written now, checks out the many many videos of poets on his YouTube channel. I think Mike Saunders and Amy Hillman worked their way through all the Hidden Door ones in bed. That’s my plan for the Camaradefest bits I missed if I can get it past the boyfriend. Who needs Buffy?! (I’ve literally never watched Buffy…)

To sum up this post, it was particularly good to come into connection and community with so many of the poets from London and elsewhere that I’d heard about for some time but not managed to see the work of. A true convocation. This trip has changed things for me, brought me into awareness of ways of thinking, and of debates I previously hadn’t been fully exposed to. I’m excited to feel more owned by a broader poetry body and to see how I can affect it and be affected by it.

Iain on tour in London

This coming weekend I’ll be decamping to London to take part in a trio of poetry events, all reifications of different, slightly envelope-opening thinking.

They are:

1) Camaradefest II, at the Rich Mix Arts Centre on Saturday night.

2) a Scottish Poetry Power Breakfast at the ICA on Sunday morning. Free coffee and pastries!

and

3) a come-all-ye closing reading at the ZimZalla exhibition at Hardy Tree Gallery on Monday night.

To tease you, here’s the teaser trailer for my Sat night collaboration piece with the ever-trusty Colin Herd on my right hand side (your left)

or your could just watch this documentation of our last collaboration at one of SJ Fowler’s Camarade events.

Hope to see some London, blog-reading faces. Be well everyone!

Auld Enemies: Colin Herd and Iain Morrison –– Friday 11th July 2014, 7pm @ Summerhall, Edinburgh

Just a heads up that in the midst of life we are in the midst of a smashing Scottish poetry tour: Auld Enemies. It’s organised by the magisterial S.J. Fowler from his London eyrie and is now unleashing fun, debate, collaborative writing and merry mayhem around our rebellious lands. A core coterie of poets are whirling round Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Shetland, and Orkney before storming London at the end. They are: Ross Sutherland, Billy Letford, Colin Herd, Nick-e Melville, Ryan van Winkle and S.J. himself. The core is being added to at each destination by poetry players from the local locale. Tonight they took Dundee, tomorrow Glasgow, and I’m joining in with mission Edinburgh on Friday.

Colin Herd and I have worked on a new piece, building on some of the spirit of our Hidden Door collaboration, but cycling around a bit more for content. I’ll say not a jot more but leave you with the teaser trailer and the details (free! unticketed!) on this link here. Hope to see some of you at Summerhall on Friday evening.

Emily Dickinson texts

Picked up two important books for performing Subject Index at the Berlin SOUNDOUT! Festival next week, today.

1) a very beautifully produced volume of selected Emily Dickinson poems in German translation from the Carl Hanser Verlag

and

2) a new copy of the Thomas H. Johnson edition, ready for me to break into it with 5 days of live reading.

Emily and Reverse copy

I wanted to start with a fresh copy, to give me the feeling of first walking on fresh snow again as I begin to read, and although I won’t be reading from the German, I thought it might be handy to have up my dress-sleeve for any conversations with German speakers about Emily D which arise.

Actually, I think Colin Herd and I might attempt some bilingual presentation of Emily D at our night at the Das Gift bar on Wednesday, as he’s a German speaker. More details to come on that.

Hidden Door Festival film and print contributions from Iain Morrison

SJ Fowler’s Camarade night has been and gone from Edinburgh’s Hidden Door Fest (which punches on until this Saturday 5 April, ’14). But there are videos, mes braves. Here’s the one of mine and Colin Herd’s collaboration Colinthian Hidden Dooric Iainic.  We were taking inspiration from planning documents for the street where the festival is being held, and trying a bit of musical experiment along the way. Watching the documentation, I’ve enjoyed thinking about how what Colin and I were doing related to my previous metrical music and poetry efforts for Syndicate last year, with Lila Matsumoto and Atzi Muramatsu.

And also, Roween Suess has published the 4 comissioned poems (including one from me) for her Hidden Door exhibition here. Double whammy of Morrison poetry. Double whammies all round really, what with all the paired poets reading at SJ’s night, and on his poets and artists walking tour in the afternoon. I’d strongly encourage you to look at the other uploads from his youtube channel if you want to get an effective sampler of many of the most exciting poet voices in Edinburgh(+) at the moment.

Iain Morrison poem for Roween Suess Scopien Tele Telos

Roween’s drawing and my poem for Scopien Tele Telos, her sculpture which inspired it.

 

Iain Morrison at Hidden Door Festival

I’m involved in the forthcoming Hidden Door Festival in a couple of ways. Am particularly glad about this as it seems like this year, the Edinburgh hand-reared festival has leapt forward in size and content quality. It seems like all of my favourite artists, musicians and poets are involved in one way or another, so I think it’s going to be a real celebration of the broadest representation of a scene I recognise and love.

Firstly I’ve written a poem for Roween Suess in response to the artwork she’s including in a show with some of the other Totes Colo artists. A publication of my it, with responses to the same work from other poets too, will be available in the exhibition space until they run out.

Roween Suess Iain Morrison bee up

That’s Roween peering over my screen in an inspirational fashion.

And secondly, I’m part of this rather wonderful list that London-based poet and performer S J Fowler has put together for an Edinburgh outing of his Camarade project, where he pairs up poets and gets them to write short bursts of new work together.

Ross Sutherland & nick-e melville
Samantha Walton & Jow Lindsay
Daisy Grove Lafarge & Anne Laure Coxam
Kirsten MacGillivray & JL Williams
Tom Jenks & SJ Fowler
Lila Matsumoto & Greg Thomas
Ryan Van Winkle & Sarah Kelly
Colin Herd & Iain Morrison
Graeme Smith & Anthony Autumn

More info here: http://hiddendoorblog.org/2014/02/24/s-j-fowler/

I’ve been having SUCH delirious fun working with poet Colin Herd who I hold in much esteem and affection. Treats for me all round!

And general info on how to get to/into the festival here. Really don’t miss this one if you can, as I think town set for a very special 10 days. Also, I’d recommend walking down East Market Street on your lunch break this week to get the buzz from the hive of activity there (2 bee puns! If you see Roween’s work, that’ll make sense….).