feature: essay

Poetry and Cultures of Feedback

Monday, 20 January 2020

Doolin Writers Weekend 2020

I look forward to taking part in the 9th annual Doolin Writers Weekend (24-26 January 2020).

Taking place at Hotel Doolin (Doolin, Co Clare) the festival is this year guest-curated by Susan Tomaselli who has charged it with a definite experimental vibe. The festival artist-in-residence is sound, film & performance artist Vicky Langan, and there will be readings, seminars, workshops, music/DJ sessions and open mics across the weekend featuring a host of excellent writers, poets, editors and publishers such as Darran Andreson, Patrick Chapman, Alice Lyons, Lucy Collins, Jessica Traynor, Gavin Corbett and many others.

My contribution to the festival is twofold:

First, on Saturday 25 January (2-5pm) I'll be giving a workshop with focus on sampling in poetry:

"In music composition, sampling is the act of taking a portion of sound and reusing it as an element of a new recording. Similarly, poets at the cutting edge of the practice increasingly employ their critical faculty in recognising, selecting, and reusing material that already exists. In conceiving linkages through which texts flow into each other, their work participates in a broad culture that operates through the sharing and recombining of data. Participants in this workshop will be guided to make new work through sampling, sharing and recombining already existing texts."

And on Sunday 26th at 12 noon I'll be reading as part of the festival's long-established 'Sunday Mass' session along with Jen Calleja and Ellen Dillon.

Full details and tickets are available on the festival website.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

'this is no longer entertainment' reviewed in The Irish Times

A review of this is no longer entertainment appeared in The Irish Times on Thursday 26 December 2019. The review is by Gregory Betts, professor of English language & literature at Brock University, Ontario, Canada - who has recently served as Craig Dobbin Professor for Canadian Studies at University College Dublin.

My book is reviewed in juxtaposition with Kimberly Campanello's MOTHERBABYHOME as a means of exploring how "as the world transforms, so too must its poetry, disregarding tradition." The two books are presented as examples of writing that "gives up the nationalist illusion of commonality to expose the fault lines of a society," which is "particularly necessary in an age of complex social turbulence on the precipice of even further changes."

Commenting specifically on this is no longer entertainment, Betts states that "[it] uses a conceptual writing approach to illuminate fissures in our social fabric," and that the collage work underpinning it is connected to "the avant-garde history of similar experiments from Pablo Picasso to Brion Gysin, John Cage to musical sampling in contemporary hip-hop." Further on, he writes that the book "uses language to store a complex network of ideas about the age in which we live. Like the best of Ireland’s literary tradition – the canonical tradition of Swift, Wilde and Joyce – it also highlights the hypocrisies of our age." Concluding, he argues that "how we experience and perform language in Capitalism, is at the heart of Makris’s documentary."

You can read the full review on The Irish Times website.

The review has been highlighted by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry Magazine (Chicago), via their blog 'Harriet'.

Many thanks to Gregory Betts for his deeply considered reading of my book.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Writing Course: Something Borrowed, Something New

Beginning Thursday 5 March 2020 I will be teaching a weekly course (duration 8 weeks) with title 'Something Borrowed, Something New' at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin:


"This is a course encouraging innovative approaches to writing: responding directly to our contemporary content-sharing culture, it will explore in practical terms ways in which this is altering all forms of literature.

As a direct consequence of the superabundance of readily accessible text and other documentation, the nature of literary composition is undergoing radical transformation, with the contemporary writer increasingly relying on their reading, selection and manipulation skills.

Participants on this course - which is nominally geared towards the advanced, but is suitable for inquisitive writers of all levels of experience - will explore approaches that make use of pre-existing material with an application to poetry, fiction and nonfiction.

Issues relating to copyright and attribution will be addressed. Focusing on techniques such as sampling, montage, remixing, reframing, rewriting, ekphrasis and transcription, the course will encourage both the making of new work and the enhancement of existing drafts."


You can book a place on the course through the Centre. At the time of writing a 10% Early Bird discount offer is in place.

Friday, 6 December 2019

yes to the above (The Lifeboat Press, 2019)

In an exciting development connected to my recent reading in Belfast, The Lifeboat Press published a limited edition pamphlet of my work with title yes to the above.

yes to the above is a collection of outtakes, or 'deleted scenes', from this is no longer entertainment. Conceived as a 'bonus material' accompaniment to the book, it consists of seven of the sections I cut out the massive document I assembled over the timeline of the entertainment project in the process of composing the poem.

The pamphlet, a limited edition publication in 50 numbered copies, was produced for the reading on 12 November 2019 as The Lifeboat Issue Thirty Six, and sold for the nominal price of £1.

A small number of copies remains available. If you're interested in acquiring one please email me to arrange.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Warning: Difficult! Poetry? at University College Dublin

I very much look forward to reading with Charles Bernstein - foundational member and leading practitioner of Language poetry in the US, and Catherine Walsh - one of Ireland's most significant experimental poets, on Monday 2 December at the Institute of Humanities, University College Dublin.

'Warning: Difficult! Poetry?' is curated and hosted by João Guimarães.

Start time is 5.30pm, and the venue is UCD Humanities Institute seminar room (H.204).

The event is free to attend but requires registration. More details, including poet biographies and tickets, here.


Video:

Monday, 25 November 2019

SWG3 Poetry Club (Glasgow)

On Friday 29 November I'll be in Glasgow to read from this is no longer entertainment as part of an event at SWG3 Poetry Club. Curated and hosted by Colin Herd, the event also features readings by Alycia Pirmohamed and Lynn Davidson.

SWG3 is a multi disciplinary arts venue hosting a multitude of different types of events in its various indoor and outdoor spaces including music gigs, fashion shows, visual arts exhibitions, TV and film industry events and food & drink events. Its Poetry Club is a hub for art, music, performance and spoken word situated on the ground floor of the building, and links the main building to the end railway arch.

The event starts at 6pm and admission is free.

Many thanks to Colin for programming the event and hosting me in Glasgow. I'm really excited to be reading for the first time in the city recently named by the European Commission as the top cultural and creative centre in the UK.



Monday, 18 November 2019

Correspondences

"My story is a hidden one, you cannot see it written on my face as I walk on the streets."

I am proud to be contributing to Correspondences: an anthology to call for an end to direct provision in Ireland. In being paired with a writer in the direct provision system, my participation was predominantly in a mentoring capacity, that is to help bring writing by said writer (in my case, Donatien Francis) to print, but like everybody else I also contribute a short text of my own.

Correspondences is edited by Stephen Rea and Jessica Traynor, and pairs writers, photographers and visual artists in the direct provision system in Ireland with Irish artists and writers.

I was happy to be invited on board the project, not least given my own personal & family history as a child refugee of war and as a person who has migrated more than once. Comparing circumstances and severity is pointless or even counterproductive, but I can't fail to highlight the humbling effect of what I read in Donatien Francis' memoir writing during this process.

While working with Donatien to prepare his piece 'Never Again' for publication my original intention was to let his words speak umediated; in the end I decided I needed to contribute an accompanying note that gave context to what was printed:

"On receiving Donatien Francis’ original biographical piece for this project – a brisk, grounded, and at times deeply moving 23-page account of national, family and personal history originating in Burundi and landing in Ireland via refugee camps in Tanzania and Malawi, taking in tribal conflict and civil war, genocide, self-exile and asylum seeking, holding back what would be justifiable anger (which we all indulge in regularly in response to so much less) about the indignities of the direct provision system, and finally full of gratitude and hope in the face of such difficulties rendered matter-of-fact, thus step-by-step revealing a remarkable spirit behind the words – I wondered how we could do it justice within the space afforded to him by the anthology. I felt that if anything the 23 pages were begging to be expanded into a longer, multilayered piece cross-illuminating the conditions Donatien inherited, the complex family history with its collective and individual journeys alongside his personal decisions and objectives. It’s clear that we and our policymakers need constant reminders of how easily the unacceptable can become normalised; how utterly commonplace and human the forced migrant experience is and has been throughout history, and how the various comforts any of us are fortunate to enjoy at different times can blind us, often wilfully, to others’ everyday and in extreme cases (which sadly abound) brutal circumstances. At first I wanted to avoid a contribution here so that Donatien’s writing appears without any sort of mediation – and this is why I proposed to the editors to allow many of the grammatical idiosyncrasies or (from a certain perspective) errors in what ended up being Donatien’s own edited account to stand unaltered. But given my insight into so much more than is possible to be represented here at this time, I just wish to place on record this brief note of acknowledgement of his perseverance and spirit. And to underline that experiences like Donatien’s, which we must not forget are still evolving in real time, need to be widely documented, amplified, culturally internalised."

All proceeds from sales of the anthology go to Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), which is an independent platform for asylum seekers to join in unity and purpose, and a collective seeking justice, freedom and dignity for all asylum seekers.

If you are in a position to and wish to support the work of MASI, please buy the anthology - and buy copies for your friends and family also.

Correspondences features work by:

Bulelani Mfaco | Mimmie Malaba | Paula Meehan | Dr Natasha Remoundou | Adam Wyeth | Heidar Al-Hashimi | Sarah Clancy | Dr Angela Byrne | Marwa Zamir | Claire Hennessy | Donatien Francis | Christodoulos Makris | Evgeny Shtorn | Annemarie Ní Churreáin | Emilie Pine | Hina Khan | Stephen Sexton | Batur Nadir | Eileen Casey | Insaf Yalcinkaya | Katie Donovan | Nngcobo Bongamahlub | Elaine Feeney | Donnah Vuma | Arnold Thomas Fanning | Vukašin Nedeljković | Dave Lordan | Cónal Thomas | Owodunni Mustapha | Jane Clarke | Deborah Oniah Blankson | Theo Dorgan | Rehan Ali | Ian Maleney | Catherine Young | Nokukhanya Dlamini | Jessica Traynor

Saturday, 9 November 2019

The Lifeboat (Belfast)

On Tuesday 12 November I'll be in Belfast to read from this is no longer entertainment for The Lifeboat.

The Lifeboat is a poetry reading series and small press run by Stephen Connolly and Manuela Moser.

Established in 2013, The Lifeboat as a series has hosted a range of poets from Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian, Nick Laird and Sinead Morrissey, to Sarah Howe and Kayo Chingonyi.

Expanding into publishing in 2016, The Lifeboat Press has published pamphlets by Padraig Regan, Caitlin Newby, Susannah Dickey and Paul Muldoon among others.

Reading with me on 12 November will be US-born and Galway-based poet Shannon Kelly. The event takes place in The Sunflower Pub: doors 8.30pm, free entry.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Nemeses, by SJ Fowler & collaborators

My collaboration with Steven J Fowler 'The New War Machine: A Miniature Poetry Play' is included in the second volume of Steven's selected collaborations, Nemeses, just published with HVTN Press.

Nemeses "brings together over 50 collaborations and collaborators, placing poems and prose alongside musical scores, diaries, sculptures, films, photographs, scripts and more. It explores not only the grand potential for collaboration as an innovative, generative, playful and profound practice, but also aims to expand what is possible when sharing the live upon the page."

Steven writes: "It is always in compiling Nemeses that I really realised how many collaborations I have undertaken in the five year period the book covers. It presents excerpts of full collections alongside works made specifically for Nemeses. It draws from full feature films, exhibitions, commissions, installations and poems made for performances around the world. The book is finished with an essay which details, in basic terms, how it was constructed and what my thinking has become around poetry and collaboration."

Our text for 'The New War Machine' is edited from transcriptions of two semi-improvised collaborative performances enacted as part of the Arts Council-supported Yes But Are We Enemies project and 10-day tour of Ireland and London that I produced and co-curated with Steven in 2014 - the performances in question happening in Galway Arts Centre on 21 September and Rich Mix Arts Centre, London, on 27 September of that year.

Additionally, I'm proud to have played some part in a producing, curatorial or editorial capacity in bringing about or supporting some of the other collaborations featured in Nemeses: 'Subcritical Tests' with Ailbhe Darcy began at Yes But Are We Enemies and culminated in a book-length project which then became the first Gorse Editions title we published, in 2017; 'It Is What Is Love / It Is What Is Hate' with Rike Scheffler is also forthcoming in gorse No. 11; 'Beastings' with Diamanda Dramm is the result of a collaboration that began after Steven and Diamanda met at Phonica: Eight in March 2018 (where they performed storming individual sets) and with a full album release forthcoming later this month; and 'The Irish Character Study' with Billy Ramsell was conceived & performed as part of Yes But Are We Enemies.

You can read Steven's introduction to Nemeses on the gorse website. The book is available to buy from HTVN press.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

this is no longer entertainment in Russian: Cirk Olimp TV

I'm happy to report that five sections from this is no longer entertainment have just been published in Cirk Olimp TV, one of Russia's oldest and most significant avant-garde literature magazines, in translations by Maria Malinovskaya.

Malinovskaya chose to translate sections 3, 5, 6, 8 and 11 of the book through her own expertise in documentary poetics, in conjunction with detailed discussions with me regarding the material's origins and specific references appearing in the relevant sections.

Cirk Olimp's editor in chief Vitaly Lekhtsier has a particular interest in world documentary poetry, with the magazine previously publishing translations of Philip Metres, Mark Nowak, and Bernadette Mayer among others.

Much gratitude to him and to Maria Malinovskaya for bringing my work to a discerning Russian readership.