About S. J. Fowler
S. J. Fowler is a poet, artist, martial artist & vanguardist. He works in the modernist and avant-garde traditions, across poetry, fiction, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance. He has published six collections of poetry, and has been commissioned by the Tate, Highlight Arts, Mercy, Penned in the Margins and the London Sinfonietta. His work has been translated into thirteen languages, and performed at venues across the world, from Mexico City to Erbil, Iraq. He is the poetry editor of 3AM magazine, and the curator of the Enemies project.
Fowler’s poetry has become notorious for its copiousness and range, with each of his books taking a new subject and employing a different approach, from addressing the suppressed histories of the museum industry (Red Museum), to tackling the brutalities of American prisons (Minimum Security Prison Dentistry). A near constant in Fowler’s work is its combative stance, particularly towards the limiting and detrimental effects that he perceives the dominance of a conventional lyrical mode have had on the reception of experimental and non-English language poetry in Britain. His productivity and sometimes bracing directness can be viewed in terms of a refusal of the tactics of restraint and allusion valued by the mainstream of British poetry. But to over-emphasis this would be to downplay the generosity and fundamentally outward-looking nature of his work.
Fowler’s interest in European avant-garde traditions emphasises the inclusive and many-registered qualities of his own poems, selected here from several strands of his output. His delivery of his poems – matter-of-fact, almost casual – belies the cautious, considered and sustained interrogation his work makes of its serious and demanding subjects: violence, power and its abuses, and the role of art in responding to the horrors of twentieth century European history. Throughout the variety and virtuosity on display, his insistence of discovering treatments of these subjects that are imaginative and bold, yet never flippant or presumptuous, emerges as his over-arching concern.
This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 1 August 2014 at Soundhouse and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.