Monday, 17 October 2011


I went to a couple of events at Exeter Poetry Festival last week. I would have liked to see more of it but I only found out about the festival because a friend who was reading told me just beforehand. I don't think there was any advertising. The readings I saw in Exeter Library were very good indeed and it was a pleasure to meet friends and have a drink there, a great way to use the library. On Saturday 8th October there was a book launch for a new anthology of prose poems This Line is Not for Turning edited by Jane Monson and published by Cinnamon Press. There were readings by Andy Brown, Anthony Caleshu, Luke Kennard and the editor Jane Monson. Andy Brown's work included some postcolonial narratives that reminded me a little of Tom Raworth's Logbook, but they were more continuous and atmospheric, less deliberately disjunctive. Anthony Caleshu read some work from his recent collection Of Whales, I really enjoyed the Writer's Room poem, and Luke Kennard's witty performance of a playful and vivid piece about scale was a delight. Jane Monson's poems were much better than her explanations about the anthology.

On Sunday 9th October there was a Shearsman event with readings by Mark Goodwin and Harriet Tarlo, who both have work in the anthology The Ground Aslant, edited by Tarlo. This was an extended reading of landscape based work, Goodwin's poems were about walking and climbing in Torridon and I loved them having climbed there myself a long time ago. Tarlo's reading from Clouds Descending was very interesting, the works like arrays of landscape features spread projective verse style across the page. These were sections from a work made in collaboration with photographer Jem Southam. It would have been great to see some of the photos projected at the same time. Photos of Harriet, Anthony, Luke and Mark were the only snaps worth posting.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


I just found these photos by Jari Kuusenaho, posted on the Text Festival Facebook page. The top photo is of the main gallery at Bury with one section of the Sentences show curated by Tony Trehy. Derek Beaulieu is walking towards the camera and Marjut Villanueuva is looking at the exhibit and writing. The second photo is my piece More and More moving between sentences.

Saturday, 6 August 2011


In Edinburgh for a reading at the Voodoo Rooms for the University of New Orleans overseas summer writing programme, I went to see the local art museums and took photos of these outdoor works by Eduardo Paolozzi, Nathan Coley, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Martin Creed. The Finlay memorial for Robert Louis Stevenson is in Princes Gardens. A Finlay work at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is badly installed next to a car park. I also saw a wonderful retrospective of Elizabeth Blackadder at the Royal Scottish Academy but no photos allowed.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


I'm giving a reading for UNO at the Voodoo Rooms, 19A West Register Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2AA, at 8pm, 25 July 2011 with Hank Lazer, Susan Schultz, Biljana Obradavic and Dorothy Alexander.
    I've been working through the summer with the editor Bill Lavender and designer Carrie Chappell of the University of New Orleans Press on the production of the North American edition of my book Only More So. UNO currently has a summer writing programme in Edinburgh.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


The Poets of the Sala Capizucchi is a new anthology published in Rimini, Italy by Raffaelli Editore and in USA by the University of New Orleans Press, edited by Caterina Ricciardi, John Gery and Massimo Bacigalupo. Poems in Italian by Maria Clelia Cardona, Luca Cesari, Mario Lunetta, Daniel Maria Mancini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Daniele Pieroni, Mario Quattrucci, Edoardo Sanguineti, Carlo Vita printed with parallel English versions; Poems in Czech by Petr Mikes printed with parallel English translations; Poems in English by Massimo Bacigalupo; Mary de Rachewiltz, Patrizia de Rachewiltz, John Gery, Tony Lopez, Biljana D. Obradovic, Wayne Pounds, Stephen Romer, Ron Smith, C.K. Stead printed with parallel Italian translations. Introduction by John Gery.
This is my first Italian publication and includes Italian translations of 'A Path Marked with Breadcrumbs', 'Look at the Screen', 'On Tuesday', 'When You Wish ...', and an excerpt from Darwin all translated by Caterina Ricciardi.

Monday, 11 July 2011


Just back from the Pound Conference in London. Four days of papers with three strands running at once at the Institute for English Studies in London University.  
Among those that I saw were talks by:
Evelyn Haller of Doane College on the Pisan Cantos and the fashion houses of Charles Worth and Jeanne Paquin;
Gavin Selerie of London on London Ghosts and their Haunts;
Jo Brantley Berryman of Cal Arts on Pound and Hokusai;
Ira Nadel of UBC on Picasso and Pound;
Stephen Romer of Tours on Pound's views on London architecture;
David Ewick of Tokyo Woman's Christian U on Japanese No: Ito, Kume, Kori, Pound and Yeats;
Tateo Imamura also of TWCU on Hemingway, Pound and Japanese artist Tamijuro Kume;
Dorsey Kleitz also of TWCU on Ito, Pound, Yeats and At the Hawk's Well;
Karlein Van Den Beukel of London South Bank on Pound and Modern Dance;
Keith Tuma of Miami Ohio on Sons of Pound (Whigham, mostly);
Julian Stannard of Winchester on Bunting's Metropolitan Shudder;
Annabel Haynes of Durham on Bunting, ethics and politics;
Richard Parker of Sussex on Zukofsky's London;
Jeff Grieneisen of the State College of Florida on Pound and James Wright;
Alan Golding of Louisville on Rachel Blau DuPlessis' Drafts;
Gary Leising of Utica College on Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns as mini Cantos;
Gareth Farmer of Sussex on Veronica Forrest-Thomson's remarkable unpublished criticism on Pound;
Ryan Dobran of Cambridge on J H Prynne's Aristeas;
Helen Carr of London on Pound and Desmond Fitzgerald;
Catherine Paul of Clemson on HD's End of Torment about Pound's WW2 radio propaganda;
David Moody on the 'f - word';
there was a panel of presentations on the forthcoming new edition of the Pisan Cantos, with Ron Bush of Oxford and David Ten Eyck of Nancy, with respondents including Kenneth Haynes of Brown;
also a panel on Ezra Pound in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2010) with Ira Nadel, editor and Ron Bush, Rebecca Beasley, Demetres Tryphonopoulas, Catherine Paul, Massimo Bacigalupo, and others. There was a film of Canto 116 by Bernard Dew, a special reading by Keston Sutherland and Tim Atkins at the Poetry Library on the South Bank, and a conference reading by a dozen or so poets including Ron Smith, Biljana Obradovic, Wayne Pounds, Stephen Romer, Mary de Rachewiltz, John Gery, Jeff Grieneisen, Richard Parker, Gavin Selerie, Julian Stannard and me.
As usual I missed lots of interesting talks, not only because of parallel sessions but because there is just so much going on. It was good to see so many friends and hear some really good papers and very varied poetry readings.
I went on the Imagist Walk in Kensington and in Bloomsbury led by Robert Richardson of De Montford. The photo above is of Pound's lodging at 10 Kensington Church Walk, near Kensington High Street tube, where there is an English Heritage blue plaque for Pound.

Friday, 1 July 2011


Only More So is published in North America by the University of New Orleans, UNO Press and is available now on Amazon. A poem in ten prose sections, 254 pages including a bibliography of sources and index. Cover photo: Fimmvörðuháls Iceland, 1997 © John S. Webb.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


David Nash sculptures at the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW), Haldon Forest Park, near Exeter. The exhibition runs from 22 April to 25 September 2011. The sculptures shown here are 'Charred Cross Egg' (interior) and 'Three Humps' (outside), also details of 'Three Humps' showing new inhabitants.

Monday, 23 May 2011


When I got this book I found it contained a piece of writing that I have read before and been back to many times to mull over and read again. I saw it first in the anthology Text 2 and I've seen a version of it exhibited, it must have been in the 2009 Text Festival. Called 'Untitled' it comprises 6 'Plates' which are brief apparently descriptive texts such as you would find on an art gallery label:

Plate 1 James Davies, Text 1 (2006).
Text on paper, variable dimensions,
Collection of the artist.

Next to 'Plate 1' is a printed square outline or box containing the same text, beginning 'James Davies'. So on the page we see two columns, one a list of three 'Plates' and the other column a display of three boxes containing the same texts, enlarged and reset. Over the page this layout and content is repeated in a similar display. The layout is similar but the content is not identical. The numbers change and 'Plate 6' is a 'Study for Text 4'. There is an emptying of the expectations we have for art and for poetry to signify. I'm used to that being managed in various ways but this is a particularly pure and conceptual form of written abstraction. It has a playful recursive emptiness that is appealing and witty. There is a very sure and confident touch in the switch from the genre of the descriptive label to that same material reset and exhibited or objectified as content in each typographical box. I mean it's confident to leave it at that and repeat the process six times without adding anything else, no quotes from Wittgenstein or other see-heres, just the thing itself. Beautiful.
The opening of the book is a sequence of 'Unmades', this is the first one:


Written, typed, altered, deleted


You'd think that this was a dead end but Davies manages 31 witty variations, his 'Unmades', title after Duchamp, remind me of Tom Raworth's sequence 'Stag Skull Mounted' in Moving 1971, especially the last poem in that sequence '7.40 PM. June 29th. 1970'. So much has been removed from the normal equipment of the poem that it comprises only (only) a highly literary intelligence at play. Because of this cut-down quality the titles become bizarre, ludicrous, fantastical, banal all at once. I love it.

James Davies, Plants, Reality Street, 80 pp, £8.50, 12 dollars US, 9 Euros.
The poems quoted here for review are copyright James Davies 2011. The book cover is by Simon Taylor.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Yesterday, 21 May, I went to a workshop Exploring Digital Aesthetics led by Graham Dean at Spacex in Exeter. Described as 'a hands-on workshop exploring how to re-create data in physical form, using the Arduino prototyping system', this was a really good event. All the participants, who had no experience with electricals and almost no knowledge of programming, managed to use a programmable circuit board with components such as LEDs, switches and sensors, to make very simple functioning circuits and to write code to enable them to work.
THE RECIPE EXCHANGE is an off-site Spacex community art project led by artist Helen Pritchard, who uses digital technology as a creative tool to encourage community collaboration. The Recipe Exchange is a network based on Farringdon, a village just outside Exeter, and it seems to have been a great success in connecting people to share knowledge and skills and get involved in learning by making. Documentation of the project, including video of various workshops and local direct action events, is the current show at Spacex. There is more information at The Recipe Exchange, and more workshops are coming up at Spacex.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


'Magic Touch' by Susie Green, 2005/09. C-Type Prints, published by Modern Empire and reproduced here by permission La Scatola Gallery.

24 May to 5 June 2011: La Scatola Gallery presents Modern Empire a group show with artists Vicki Bennett, Charlotte Bracegirdle, Alec Finlay, Sandy Grant, Susie Green, Russell Maurice and Inken Reinert.

Modern Empire commissions and produces print editions by emerging and established artists.

Modern Empire’s first public exhibition, at La Scatola, includes original drawings, paintings, collage, photography, and sculpture, illustrating the broad range of practice among the artists they work with. The show celebrates the launch of new print editions by Sandy Grant, Russell Maurice and Inken Reinert.

For some of the artists the process of creating a print is a complete departure from their regular artistic output, providing new techniques and tools to explore in order to express artistic ideas. For others, printmaking is already an existing aspect of their output and the opportunity is one in which the relationship to a print publisher creates a new context to develop an idea.

Modern Empire fosters a close relationship between the artist and an established print workshop or technician. The results are affordable, limited editions prints, which are available to purchase through Modern Empire online.

Further information about the artists and editions at Modern Empire.

1 Snowden Street, London, EC2A 2DQ

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


These are new photos of More and More by Julia Grime: see my explanation of the work in the previous post. The reflections, used to great effect by Julia in these photos, are of Ron Silliman's neon work, an excerpt from Northern Soul, also exhibited in the Sentences exhibition on show in Bury Art Gallery until 9 July 2011.
Thanks to Julia Grime, Phil Davenport and the curator Tony Trehy.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


More and More is a new work of mine exhibited in the exhibition Sentences at Bury Art Gallery, near Manchester. Three linked exhibitions were opened as part of the Text Festival, 30 April 2011. More and More, a kinetic poem, was a Bury Art Gallery commission made for the Sentences exhibition, purchased in 2011. The piece is an animation that simulates a Solari departure board as used in airports and train stations. There are sixty-six sentences programmed into the flash animation. At each new transition from sentence to sentence, each cell of the board travels through the alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks, until it gets to the character (or blank) required for the next sentence. The flash animation is by ranfirefly, and the display is a 42 inch TV screen with speakers for the clicking soundtrack and a DVD player. Technical development: programming and conversion to video by Tom Lopez. The work is on display in the Sentences exhibition 30 April to 9 July 2011 along with works by Pavel Buchler, Christian Bok, Ron Silliman, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Kate Pickering and others (I haven't been able to find a full listing in the Text Festival information but there is a link here.

Monday, 7 February 2011


I'm reading with Steve Spence, 7pm, 8th February at the Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth. This is one of the Peninsula Arts series running through February 2011.


I'm still catching up with events listings from last year. On 13th and 14th November I took part in a Colloquy of Poets at the media centre, University of Hull. It was a busy weekend including public readings by invited poets: 1: Kelvin Corcoran, Zoe Skoulding, Matthew Welton, Philip Gross and Denise Riley; 2: Daljit Nagra, Carol Watts, Tony Lopez, Susan Wicks, and John Burnside. We stayed together at a hotel in Hull centre, near the station, and small groups walked around the city centre for a series of photo shoots with Carolyn Forbes. I had never been to Hull before. The Colloquy began with each of the poets giving a prepared talk on a poem that was important to them, and the idea, given the range of different poets invited, was set up useful encounters in poetry. I really enjoyed the readings on Saturday evening and Sunday Morning, including new commissioned poems. All of this was organised by Martin Goodman, Professor of Creative Writing and Director of the Philip Larkin Centre at the University of Hull.

Thursday, 27 January 2011


10th November I went to the Exeter launch of Harry Guest's new book Some Times from Anvil Press. This is the first literary event I've been to in Exeter Central Library. It was a really fine reading, as expected, sensitive, beautiful poems and Harry's readings bringing them immediately into sharp focus. 'The Custard Mountains' is first one in the book about a young boy mishearing a word in a radio performance of a Lorca poem. It would be a funny story anyway but with Harry Guest's verbal invention of exotic landscapes in variations of yellow we are led into the daydreams of childhood imagination recovered through unreliable proliferating memory. And the poem's humour and imagination is a tribute to Lorca. It's a generous intelligent book by a restless and passionate writer. Of course Harry Guest draws a good crowd in Exeter and the event had that buzz with a big queue for signed books, a good night for Anvil and the library. The cover design of Some Times is by Tamasin Cole, based on a painting by Piran Bishop.


I failed to write anything about the British and Irish Contemporary Poetry Conference back in September because it was a difficult and very busy time. The second in a useful series organised by various collaborating universities British and Irish Poetry 1960-2010 was held at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen's University of Belfast, 15-17 September 2010. There were keynote papers by Sir Christopher Ricks, William Logan and Angela Leighton, and readings by Belfast poets Michael Longley, Ciaran Carson, Medbh McGuckian, Sinead Morrissey and Leontia Flynn, with a panel of poet-publishers: Michael Schmidt, Don Paterson and Peter Fallon. Another session of readings was given by Michael Schmidt, Don Paterson, Gerald Dawe, Christopher Reid, Peter McDonald and Peter Fallon.
I was in a panel with James Cummins of University College, Cork who spoke about Tom Raworth's use of self-reflection and repetition in Writing and Catacoustics, with Lacy Rumsden who read a paper 'Reading Prynne Aloud: Constraint, Orientation, Form. I gave a talk on what was then a work in progress 'Only More So'. The panel worked really well, we could have used more time for questions.
The next day I chaired a panel including Neil Pattison of St John's Cambridge on Denise Riley, Robin Purves of Central Lancashire on Tom Leonard and Keston Sutherland, and William Rowe of Birkbeck on Barry MacSweeney. This also was a terrific panel with quite different approaches to some of the most interesting recent poetry written in English. I went to some of the other papers but the thread I was really interested in did not survive into the later sessions. I saw Derek Attridge talking about Don Paterson, Christopher Ricks on Geoffrey Hill and Angela Leighton on various poets including Philip Gross.