SJ Fowler and his performing bears

SJ Fowler: poet, friend, bear-lover

As mentioned last month, ‘Commiserate’ is an experiment in poetic collaboration born out of SJ Fowler’s inspiring Enemies project. As I’ll be down in London’s Rich Mix on the 9th as part of his ‘Comrades IV‘ line up I thought I’d share one of the five collaborations between SJ & I. Dig into Fowler’s ‘Enemies’ site and I’ll be sure to let you know when his big book of collaborations comes out in September. If the names associated with the project are any indication, it will be a dynamic, challenging publication featuring cutting edge work from throughout Europe.

February, 2013: SJ Fowler


Fowler says: ‘The Burbs is a collaborative writing through of the city space that is not the centre, and so these poems, dotted across the globe, are neither periphery or core. The goal was to leave behind who wrote what, and become poetically annulled, as is appropriate in a celebration of the places people only go to live’.


The Poem Says:

Bled Suburbs

if there is a date to make
what if I arrive injured?
swinging a cane with pleasure, singing
this is all coming together
a student of Hebrew
a Scot
delayed at the threshold by the English
rewriting / a marsh
that kills an army
blue cross
dark red beef cross family feelings
let’s abandon the discussion in
favour of poetry that is comedy
that is not song
that is what time slows down to
stick a pin in meat

I have a yellow heart
an apple
a burned-out physic Dodge
I can psychic drive
38 dollars and
desert desert desert
a wilderness of mirrors
in my left pocket, no
right pocket, rain
where my right pocket should be
You are right
to ask questions. You are left
turn at the light. I have one
thing I never talk about
another I can’t stop breathing.
What is a name
if you don’t know the eye,
the color red?

so I’m trained now
steven did you know, that even if you
have bad knees and can crouch down,
you can actually lean your torso
forwards from your hips? it’s called
bending over ooo tiny rabbit, i see your moon
but your health is crucial
to the inflatable you can’t resist
puffing air into your chest and pushing
into rain and I only remember
my mother’s maiden name
when they ask, steven did you hear
the shaking keeps you steady
you should know


RVW says: I was genuinely flattered when SJ asked if we could make a sequence of poems together. I had no idea what to expect or if I would totally embarrass myself / ourselves in this process. Not only was Fowler generous in his encouragement but he also seemed fearless in a way that was very freeing. I could toss out insane non-sequitors, drop an F-bomb, shift the poem radically and know that he’d run with it. Further, I think we had a genuine conversation though the work – we both stole from our discussions or emails and it was heartening to see Fowler use my own words against me. I can’t say enough kind things about this avant-garde provacatour. I remain inspired by his work and his commitment to the form.