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Poetry and Cultures of Feedback

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Norway's European Poetry Festival: Ålesund & Bergen

I look forward to travelling to the west coast of Norway for events in Ålesund and Bergen on 17 & 18 September, part of the Nordic & European Poetry Festival.

First at 7pm on Tuesday 17 September I'll be in Ålesund reading from this is no longer entertainment in a showcase of solo readings by poets from across Europe as well as a selection of poets from Norway.

Venue: Mottaket (Nedre Strandgate 2A, 6004 Ålesund). In association with Ålesund Literary Salon. Free Entry.

Line up: Hilde Myklebust / Kaisa Aglen / SJ Fowler / Jon Ståle Ritland / Harry Man / Maja Jantar / Endre Ruset / Dan Andersen / Eli Fossdal Waage / Christodoulos Makris / Maria Malinovskaya / David Spittle.

Then the following evening Wednesday 18th (7pm start) I'll be in Bergen for an evening of poetry in pairs, where I'll present a brand new collaboration with Endre Ruset.

This takes place in Bergen Public Library (Strømgaten 6, Bergen). Again, entry is free.

Full line up: SJ Fowler & Dan Andersen / Harry Man & Fredrik Stenhjem Hagen / Maja Jantar & Erlend Nødtvedt / Christodoulos Makris & Endre Ruset / Maria Malinovskaya & Eli Fossdal Waage / David Spittle & Jon Ståle Ritland.

With big thanks to project curators & organisers Jon Ståle Ritland, SJ Fowler & Erlend Nødtvedt.

Sponsored by Stiftelsen Kjell Holm, Norsk Forfattersentrum, Ålesund Kommune, Bergen Kommune, Møre og Romsdal Fylkeskommune.

Report (20/09/2019)
An intense and beautiful couple of days on the west coast of Norway. Around 100 people gathered at Mottaket in Ålesund to witness our short solo readings which alternated between Norwegian and English. The audience was particularly attentive, with an unusually high degree of our textual and performative nuances noted and responded to, especially given that some of the material tended towards the avant-garde. I read three sections from this is no longer entertainment (the line "I see Norway is top of the happiness chart" from Section 7 serendipitously sneaking in there...) which I felt hang in the air for a little while before settling into the audience's consciousness, and by the end of the second section the thrust of the material hitting home nicely. After the event we moved to a nearby bar restaurant for the launch of the latest book by the generous and brilliant organiser of our tour, Jon Ståle Ritland. The trip to Bergen began at 1am and consisted of a 13-hour ferry ride down the coast, a magnificent and richly picturesque interlude made even better by the (mostly) clear weather and (relatively) calm sea. Most remarkable, however, was the synergy between the ten of us travelling together, a rare case of collective and individual relationships rekindling or forming, and growing in real time. So many conversations and connections made on so many things: docupoetics with Maria Malinovskaya; the peril of erstwhile friends becoming estranged following our editorial decisions with Dan Andersen; east Mediterranean politics and community trauma with Eli Fossdal Waage; family dynamics with Jon Ståle Ritland; and much more. Our collaborations in Bergen public library delivered a range of brand new material, from the straight literary to the documentary (mine with Endre Ruset was a verse-and-chorus structured piece drawing directly from the massive and publicly available document detailing the official investigation of the death of Prince in 2016), the subversive of the literary analysis trope to the cross-linguistic and the improvisatory - and closing with a collective sound poetry piece scored and directed by Maja Jantar. There was not enough time really to properly explore either place: a few hours the morning after in Bergen gave me the chance to roam the narrow streets at the foot of the hills surrounding the city, and to take the cable car to the hilltop with Maria Malinovskaya and David Spittle for a spectacular view of the city and a brief venture into the forest. Thanks to Jon Ståle in particular for arranging and for taking care of everything, and to Steven Fowler for being the ongoing catalyst for these connections.

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