The static & the live

nemeses cover

NEMESES: SELECTED COLLABORATIONS OF SJ FOWLER, VOLUME 2, publishes with HVTN Press on 26 October. We’re pleased to feature SJ Fowler’s collaboration with Rike Scheffler in gorse 11, our forthcoming Borders issue. Here is SJ Fowler on collaborations.

a note on how the collaborations have been revealed


The relationship between the static and the live is akin to the relationship between the heard word and the read word. It’s similar even to that which is experienced and that which is remembered. Obvious as this may be, a hierarchy in the language arts of poetry, fiction and text in general, favours the written over spoken. Marks upon the paper are the dominant article because of their possible permanence, and their fixed place in time. The sounds or experiences are secondary. I’m understating the issue, historically and philosophically, to make my first explanatory apology.

For this is a book is made up of collaborations universally rooted in what I take my poetry to be – that is something language referent used for a primary purpose other than information or literal communication – emerging with film, music, sculpture, design, performance and the like. So I asked myself should I just fill these pages with notes of explanation, still images, documentation, scores and timelines? Yes. For what else can I do? This is the limitation inherent in the static – the page, the screen. But acknowledging the realities of documentation is, I believe, the first step to achieving something beyond it.

Moreover, so far as I can discern, no poet has ever published a book like this before. A comprehensive poetic volume that aims to evidence poetry encroaching into every corner of the arts through collaboration. Despite any limitations on the live, on the very fundament of many of these mediums, this book is ambitious. The real question was whether to include works not made for the page at all. I really wanted to but within a failing process of trying to make each and every entry new. A new work, at the very least an iteration or spawn of the collaboration that inspired it. But not a shadow of that, not a dead trace. I have probably failed, but I believe it is worth trying, even if to think through, once again, as I have often done, how I, and we, value the written and recorded against the otherwise experienced.

What will follow contains poems and fiction and photographs and notations and explanations. But it also refuses to be consistent and includes emails and other correspondences, poems made of what were once notes that are chosen to not represent what actually happened or was seen but are a melange of words and ideas that stand for an overall purpose. That collaboration is a way of learning, and a way of being a writer. This volume is also bookended with an essay, something more comprehensive than this note, though it is in the back for a reason, so read it later please. (Though do read it, it’s another explanation and another apology! Everyone needs more than one of these).


Steven J. Fowler : July 2019