England mini-tour, Spring 2017

I’m doing a little self-described tour – definitely not grandiose – over the next few days. Would be good to see listeners, watchers, friends at the following three events. I’ll be reading from my Art Talk Notes poems, among other things (including a guest pop-up in Nottingham from Leiza McLeod!)

1) Nottingham

Reading at Five Leaves Bookshop on Wednesday 29 March, 7pm. Entry £3. With mon ami Colin Herd, as well as Vicky Sparrow. Thanks to Lila Matsumoto for organising this one.

2) Bristol

Back at my old haunt Arnolfini contributing to a reading series called Anathema for Moot, Hesterglock and Sad Presses. Friday 31 March, 6.30-9pm. Entry by donation. Co-readers are Redell Olsen, nick-e melville, Anne Laure Coxam, Sally-Shakti Willow & Joe Evans

3) Manchester

Not actually reading here, but attending the launch of this year’s Other Room anthology, which I’m in. Wednesday 5 April, 7.30pm. Free event. Seemed to me like a great excuse to catch up with friends there as well as hear readings fromErkembode, Juxtavoices and William Rowe.

 

p.s. This is all great and all, although I am sad to be missing CA Conrad and Sophie Robinson with home-girl Jane Goldman in Edinburgh. If you’re in Edinburgh, go to this! Embassy Gallery, 6pm, looks free.

video – Iain Morrison reading at The Other Room, Manchester

Got the video through from the reading I gave in July 2016 at a reading series I’ve long been an admirer of, The Other Room in Manchester.

I read a poem riffing on Star Trek, one that uses karaoke tracks from sad dance music, and Sunny Sutra, my beatnik poem for Orkney solstice times.

The night was a real pleasure for me, catching up with Manchester friends and poets. Kimberly Campanello and Geraldine Monk were on the line-up with me, two poets I’ve been interested in for a while, and I recommend checking out their readings too on The Other Room’s Channel.

Thanks for having me Manchester, and for the excellent documentation too.

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

First reading of the year ’10 Red’ Wednesday 5th February 2014

Delighted to have been invited back by that notorious Lazarus, Kevin Cadwallender, to read at his poetry-night-with-a-twist 10 Red on Wednedsay.

It’s a crazy idea for a regular night, involving no doubt huge administrative wranglings and perpetual persuasions to bring together ten different poets to each read from their work for ten minutes apiece.

Last time I read, I loved the resulting mix/clash of registers that ensued from the form. An evening so constrained, it’s the very villanelle of the poetry calendar.

More details here.

Bums on seats 2013: safety in numbers

random triangle diagram found on internet

Like lots of us at this time, I’ve been looking at the year past and considering how it went. I realise my creative work reached the eyes and ears of a number of people big enough to make it well worth the effort of having put it together.

I presented my poetry or performance on 14 live occasions and had text work in 1 exhibition, which led to about 425 people publicly coming to see Iain Morrison.

Looking at the blog results for the year, I can add in another 1,484 visitors from this WordPress. I don’t know how many people read my work in publication, but probably some did, as there are a few things out there online and in print now. If we say maybe 104 people read me that way…

…that would mean that in 2013, *coincidentally* 2,013 people paid some sort of attention to content I tried to communicate!

Now, in my previous life as a Front of House Manager, I remember learning a triangular diagram used to indicate the number of times a slight accident would happen (in a given context) in ratio to every really serious one. The idea being that you were encouraged to spot a pattern if several people had already cut themselves on a head-height rusty nail in the cleaning cupboard, say, and repair it before someone inevitably and distressingly gouged their eye out. The diagram looked a bit like this:danger triangle

If I attempt to apply the diagram to the numbers mentioned above, in 2013 at least 3 people (you know who you are) had serious or possibly even fatal encounters with my words or actions. About 40 more of you got away as walking wounded, and over a hundred will have made it safely home only to find some sort of unexplained water damage to your carpets. The rest of you should keep your wits about you in 2014; you might not be so lucky this year.

On the subject of fun triangle diagrams I have known professionally, I’d like to have interpreted my audience stats further using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (below). I haven’t worked out how to do that, however. Please feel free to think about it for me for a moment now.

maslow triangle diagram

Happy New Year! And wherever I see you this year, I hope it’s in the middle of the triangle.

Iain Morrison at Caesura this Friday, 8 Nov 2013

Hotly anticipating my return to Graeme Smith’s excellent, and much engorged, Caesura spoken word night. That is, if I’m allowed to hotly anticipate myself (Vanity thy name is Morrison).

Graeme pointed out on the facebook event today that the last time I read with them was at Caesura  #4. Well, they’re up to Caesura edition #18 now and have been busily accruing their reputation as “the voice event of the only real literary avant garde in Edinburgh” (as Martin Belk put it). Basically they’ve upped the ante and I’m going to have to raise my game.

I have worked hard on this, though, so am hoping to pull off some sort of credible reading of my new longish poem ‘Hippocrener’ without getting too soaked from bottles of beer/piss thrown at me by the now alarmingly swollen crowd of regular Caesura aesthetes. It’s good that they’re vocal, I tell myself now, before stepping into the ring. That’s the point, right…?

Here’s a giddy extract from Hippocrener for any keenos wanting to ostentatiously nod along/off at the appropriate moment (encouraged behaviour. I am vain, remember) 🙂

‘Bod bud, soft-porn is an attractive category, promising not to bruise;

show me the rib and show me the rib only.

Unmoved much to care, electrolytic Hippocrener, Diabolus in Musica, hemiola utterer, ghost in the machine,

do I consdescend (to myself) to estimate what percentile of the populace my voice can speak for or, failing, over?

Engagement and interaction vs. truth-shout vis-a-vis personal experience.

Variable isn’t when or who

so much as how it represents a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative or similar sound, velarized.’

Hope to see some of you upstairs at The Artisan Bar. Night starts at 7pm-ish I believe. Entry by donation according to Graeme Smith’s The Goodnight Press website. Many talents on the bill: Sandra Allan, Karen Veitch, James Leveque, Graeme Smith, (me).

Pic from Forest Centre+ reading last week

Just sharing my favourite photo taken by Ana González Chouciño of my reading on 24th Nov. It was a sort of closing event for the Warm Up exhibition at Forest Centre+’s new gallery space, Interview Room 11. I was happy to have the chance to read alongside my installation of the This Is Not The Place collaborative text I made with Leiza McLeod, not least because it let me put the spoken voice back into the work. I read along with the film of Leiza and I stating the text in the same space back in April before it was turned into a gallery. You can’t see it really, but on the little DVD screen there are mini-versions of me and Leiza. I even wore the same cardigan! #continuity

Before the reading, I unfurled the ribbons of text, attached to the pamphlet of the whole text, so that they stretched the length of the gallery. This felt like a release of the pent up energy in their coiled bundles (how they’ve been presented in the exhibition for its duration) and I liked the sort of flare, sort of outburst that this seemed to let them stage. Once I’d done that, I waited silently for the DVD to reach the point in mine and Leiza’s reading where the text located to Edinburgh, reading in my head along with the Bristol section. I liked the element of reading in my head alongside the recording of my voice reading out loud. I want to think about that more. Also, I enjoyed then reading out loud with my own recorded voice and playing with the possibilities of phasing/echoing/falling into step.

Anyway, Ana’s picture. Thanks to those who came.

Iain Morrison performing This Is Not The Place. Thanks to Ana González Chouciño for photo

Loved Stephen Paterson’s wire installation too, by the way. He was manipulating this invisibly from the wings all night so that bundles of hanging electrical cables jerked like puppetless strings and gradually withdrew back into the ceiling.

Looking forward to the next Interview Room 11 exhibition, which I think is by Nick-e Melville.