Monday, December 16, 2013

Senti'mental Journey

Ten years ago Foro de Escritores was formed in Santiago, Chile - inspired by Bob Cobbing's Writers (no apostrophe) Forum.

Celebrating tenth anniversary Foro on December 17 2013, a recording (produced by Adrian Fisher, Martin Gubbins and Luna Montenegro in London on June 4 2003) is submitted by Mike Weller - journeying through time and space on a virtual sound cloud.

seasons greetings.     

Friday, November 29, 2013

Non-historical 'zine tales

 'Antihistory Tabloid' found at House of Brag this year.

As a young man when the Dialectics of Liberation Congress led to formation Antiuniversity of London: Mike Weller was bemused and suspicious about an elderly grey-haired white man who would regularly turn up in the audience when revolution was in the air.

In 1967 it could be cool to be a London organizer like poet Bob Cobbing or an elderly grey-haired invited speaker like Herbert Marcuse. Not so cool to be an old bum on seat among an audience of young men and woman. James Savile was well into gigging by then - for not every male actor or entertainer in the '60s got to play BBC family friendly Dr Who in a broom closet time machine.

Mike Weller is a grey-haired elderly white man now.

Tiny Clangers, one hand gripped tightly to their pushchairs - sometimes wheeled along by Croydon's yummy mummies - don't pass an elderly man's knees at eye level, look up, point and then turn and cry "Man!" at their embarrassed mothers without good reason. It's early recognition of the adult human cismale.

At 2012's Queer Zine Fest, founder member Charlotte Richardson Andrews looked Weller straight in the eye after his table space request, asking with appropriate concern at this elderly grey-haired white male normative -

  "Is there hate in your content?"
  "I hope not," was Mr.Weller's reply.

Forgetting thirty-two years before, quite possibly before Charlotte was a twinkle, a still relatively young Mike Weller had drawn "Hate on the Dole" for Chainsaw punkzine.

As non-history, hate is shouty poetic and artistic energy.

Around same time drew a cartoon in feint pencil - not reproducible on photo-copiers in those days  "boy dolls kiss kiss (try a little tenderness)". This drawing eventually formed part of 'English Punk Ballad' faintly reproduced, hidden like a whisper, in Veer's Beat generation Ballads (2011)

As non-history, tenderness is quiet revolutionary energy.

Zines found on info tables @anarchist social centres are largely ephemera drowning under other more or less useful 'Like'/'Unlike' information as social non-history. 

Clenched fist (with/without red rose) and Delacroix derived liberty leading the people remain key visual symbols for revolutionary militancy - the republic's "Marianne" holding blood-soaked S-shaped flag. Yet "Ava the Riso" as affectionately described by The Common House seems to enjoy a tenderness for poetry and revolution in a antihistorical machine age.

After 2012's Pussy Riot/poetry/zine fests - Weller invited design xmas 2013 flyer for SW London & Surrey Zines. Fliss Collier, on visit Poetry Library end of last year, borrowed one of Bill Griffiths' Amra books, likening it to 'zine production. Michael was delighted to be asked to design flyer for Christmas 2013 social, especially as Miss Fliss thought a billygriff vispo would make fitting tribute to Griffiths as well as being appropriate for SW Zines. Bill sent homemade yule greeting cards from Seaham, County Durham, before his sad passing in 2007. Hermaphroditic reindeers from early 2000s do job nicely.

Bill Griffiths had L-O-V-E  and H-A-T-E crudely tattooed on his Alessandro Scarlatti poetry-playing harpsichord fingers.

Chella Quint's 'Activism through Zines' (fold-in mini-zine featuring portraits Charlotte RA, Fliss & self-portrait Chella + other new gen zinesters).

Monday, October 14, 2013

football's just a branch of science

Back in 2010, organizing small 'Home'Baked: literary artzines in the age of the internet' exhibition at London's bookartbookshop, Belfast based comics artist Andrew Luke sent me copies of his hand-written, hand-drawn, self-published title Absence based on experiences of growing up with epilepsy.

Within a year Andrew obtained funding (not from my GSK suggestion I hasten to add) to mass produce his title with professional illustrations by Stephen Downey. It's free to view here. Applied cartoon art with pedagogical aim? Yes and no.

Andy, like British comics artist Darryl Cunningham, are not objective commentators using a populist form for purposes of prescriptive social instruction. They are writing and drawing from their own experience, using the cartoon art they grew up with and know well. An artform they enjoy and understand.

I attended readings and launch of Litmus Publishing's sequences and pathogens at Keats' House.

Poetry passed the litmus test. Good humour between poets and biomedical scientists did shine through mutual exchange. I couldn't help but imagine late poet and scientist James Harvey beaming upon this whole endeavour.

& Dorothy Lehane & Elinor Cleghorn does it better.
& James Wilkes knows about different ways of knowing. 

& Dr Peter Goodfellow announced "I will never be a poet: I can not make words dance..."

But he did. He voiced a footballer's skill - dribbling tectonic plates of literature and science within rules of game. There was no referee to blow whistle. No shouts of "foul" when Dr Goodfellow referenced  those-who-shall-not-be-named among some progressive arts modernists - LARKIN & BETJEMAN. Dr Goodfellow broke a taboo and scored an unexpected goal for team poetry.

And it was not an own goal for team science either. It moved the evening. A first waltz between potential lovers - live five star jossed giants standing on shoulders of dead ones.

Dance bands Angular Momentum Ltd & Lottery/Arts Council of England orchestrated support.

GlaxoSmithKline, alas, this dance did decline.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Letter Against Neoliberalism

picture from the past // June 11 1988 /// sent passing futures

'letter against neoliberalism' appears in printed journal Veer Vier: For Will Rowe (Veer Books, 2013) launched at Birkbeck 28/9/13 and celebrated @blutkitt here

Friday, September 20, 2013

inconsequential information

In short ontological tale Mike's Yellow Fever, character Mike Weller wakes up to discover he's been Simpsonized in slow fiction as electronic animation Mick on virtual clouds with soundtracked birds chirping in their billions.

The birds are singing sweet. But they were singing tweet tweet over and over again in the same pitch. It was a repeated sound loop. On persistent repeat, it didn't sound so sweet to the ear.

Written in 2005 and self-published in 2006, before Twitter caught on, a Twitter account was opened  by M J Weller as EGNEP with the first two sentences of extract above used as present tense tweet on June 3 2009. Just over three months later, on September 24, the third sentence of the extract was tweeted.

Using Twitter as pattern-poem developed during four years; with the first two sentences tweeted four times every 20 days give or take a day (US time zone fluctuation), followed by the third sentence: ie, sentence one & two x 4 + sentence three x 1 - continued as 20 day loop until August 31st this year. A tweet by proxy mistakenly repeated sentence one and two a fifth time.

With correction to third sentence on September 15 - EGNEP figured, after four years, with fourteen followers, to deactivate the account. Openned's online zine documented pattern for a couple of issues. Stephen Willey's and Alex Davies's Openned poem was the only Twitter account followed by EGNEP as user. Alex did ask EGNEP in 2010, "How much longer are you going to continue tweeting this sequence?" EGNEP replying "Until I stop."

The account and sequence is ended today, September 20 2013, 20 days after the erroneous tweet. EGNEP's account is now technically deactivated and will be deleted in 30 days. Pity it's not 20 days but that's the social relationship between soft consumer user and social media prosuming hard driver.

The sequence was published as Sorry, that page doesn't exist (HomeBaked eBook, 2014)  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Notes on old new little presses part nine

& parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight

For a one-off talk on my stuff at the University of Bedfordshire four years ago titled The Making of Slow Fiction, published later in Kindle format (below substratum level in Amazon's sales rhizosphere), wrote -

For my self-published printed chapbooks, I prefer using font writer with personal word processor. Typescripts pasted up and master pages photo-copied at high street printers. Copied again as pages on desk top printer.

This desk top printer used to print boxed editions of Slow Fiction: twenty-three tales 2001-2010 was punished to destruction.The kit has not been replaced.

Still promoted as print-on-demand object available from Home'Baked website - printing the set of intended 'cheap chapbooks' would now be a logistical problem. Anybody who obtained titles for complimentary review, or found individual titles for sale when tabled at gigs has rarities. I was only able to complete six editions of box when the printer gave up. 

Home'Baked Books began in spirit of Cobbing's Writers Forum. That is, keep everything in print if possible: keep editions unlimited, keep books affordable, don't sign stuff (devalues poetry & poetics). 

In previous Notes on old new presses I attempt to document working the little press ethos alongside changing economics, print technology, aesthetics, and growth of modern university-based creative writing pedagogics.

For committed users of computer processed documents filed for print-on-demand, with an eye on the book as perfect bound - pleasures of imperfect, unbound, uncommitted artifacts containing elements of paper or card may seem irrelevant to literary practice.

A favoured form for preparing my verbal texts before personal computers was the electronic typewriter with basic font processor app plus irritating floppy disks. On a minus, disks got spoiled losing data. On the plus, ribbon cassettes lasted far longer than those of laser printers. Characters fade into appealing light grey with multi-strike battering - unlike inkjet cartridges which sometimes dry & die after couple weeks non-activity.

Multi-strike ribbon cassettes have become annoyingly unavailable, unless hours are spent trawling eBay for dealers opening dual packs to sell one cassette at inflated prices. An era of Home'Baked Books has ended.

Still, cartoon art and poetry can find entry as 'zines. Artzines emerging from punk are desired  collectables.Three years ago I organized an exhibition of' artzines. Displayed during the week of Malcolm McLaren's funeral; London's bookartbookshop window took on the appearance of an anarchist social centre info free table.

Little presses may find themselves drowning with 'zines on free tables of anarchist social centres but that isn't necessarily the end of their poetical journey.

The Making of Slow Fiction closes -
Slow Fiction as printed boxset is intended to be a bookwork installation. Web-format online variations in existing fic-blogosphere addenda and possible e-book versions of work with multiple comment threads could allow Slow Fiction to grow as work of collaborative textmaking.

Multiple comment threads have appeared @WordPress's wellerverse fic-blogosphere since 2008. It's been ninety-nine percent spam bombed. Tedious to delete every day. A few junk-slimes retained because of flarfable entertainment value.

But is there entertainment value in collaborative textmaking. And if there is - who is entertaining who?    


Monday, July 29, 2013

Poets road to...

As part of the Southbank Centre's ongoing summer-long Festival of Neighbourhood, a free London Lines weekend was organised in July. Southbank, in collaboration with Jaybird Live Literature, invited writers and artists to each represent one of the thirty-three London boroughs with a poem.

Along with some curious choices of poets and artists (and interesting use of creative division between performative, textual and visual labour) the use of one particular road sign to brand 'neighbourhood' as slightly vispo-geographical may be arresting to London avant-gardists and poetical militants.

Poets Road leads to Petherton Road.

89a Petherton Road, for anyone who doesn't know, was the working location and residence of Bob Cobbing up until his death. Basement flat no. 89a housed the print shop and archive of Writers Forum publications and New River Project. It was home and studio of Bob's widow Jennifer Pike up until her recent illness and departure from London for nursing care in the west of England.

Even in terms of political localism and cultural collaboration encouraged by liberal arts-oriented coalitions - the extent to which a borough actually represents real and poetically imagined vent-bubble rewrites, spatial bends, durational warps, secondary worlds - making up deep sea dives and aerial reconnaissance for wildlife, insect patterns, and human misbehaviour - is open to question.

Is there a possibility Islington Council or contracted Environmental Services could roll up sometime during Southbank's poetry-celebrating Festival of Neighbourhood and shove Bob and Jennifer's remaining archive in a skip destined for local tips, remote landfills, or other convolvulaceous neverwheres...



Friday, July 26, 2013

Abstract Retrievalism

Related to posts as early as this Note, plus more recent posts on visual poetry and cartoon art here & here; zimZalla avant objects have just released Matt Dalby's object 19.

Unless mistaken, zimZalla is first UK-based poetry imprint to release an object featuring abstract
panels worked as paginated sequence by using painterly fine art impasto techniques. Matt Dalby's object is designed in page units and mechanically reproduced with textual title: SHREWSBURY.

If "abstact comics" is cartoon art, it is not mainstream UK genre, nor part of the British & Irish small press 'indie' comic scene I wrote for The Making of Slow Fiction pdf (p. 24) a few years ago.  

Content and aesthetics, however, are as different as means of production, distribution, promotion and exchange share similarities. Much had changed since 1960s counter-cultural days of Jeff Nuttall’s pioneering Writers Forum poetry-c(art)oon hybrids.

Things, however, are blurring again. Andy Bleck, a European-based practitioner of abstract comics and featured in Fantagraphics' Abstract Comics made his micro-zine available at Camden's street market comics stall in 2009.

Genre differentiation in any arts formation can have the effect of diluting a difficult concept into taxonomy, marketable without too many tears. This may not be so easy with Fantagraphics' The Last Vispo,- a sophisticated combination of poetry, art, and poetics.

Dalby has thought carefully about these questions. He writes as contributor-critic of Philip Davenport's The Dark Would at his own blogspot - santiago's dead wasp - a post linked to The Last Vispo's News/Reviews.

Dalby's avant object 19 is transformed from hard copy artzine (making best possible use of digital print-on-demand facilities to bring lovely 3D texture to reproduction) without imprint or publishing ISBN/ISSN (cf Clarke and Freer's similarly produced AND #13) to a bookwork object realization through zimzalla's colophon serial byline on back cover.

The content of Matt Dalby's object appears to have precedence in mid-20c British non-representational painting, influenced by American Abstract Expressionism. This school was made of two fine art tendencies - abstract landscape and conceptual abstract. The latter art was defined by their titles, naming what the viewer unambiguously perceived. That is, coloured rectangles, circles, squares in  movement and tension. The former abstract art evoked feeling: for sea, sky, rock, land, trees, beach, hill, mountain, and place (sometimes described and sometimes named). 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Cartoon Art's class act

My original line artwork for The Someday Funnies was returned to me this week. Federico Fellini and Mike Weller were the only two contributors who drew their pages double published tabloid size, according to book's creator and editor, Michel Choquette.

Also returned was smaller gouache painting Mick made to assist printers select mechanical colour for reproduction.

Choquette, on a visit to UK and Europe - is returning  originals to writers' and artists' families and estates. Those still living are signing their printed contribution in a unique copy of book Michel worked on for over forty years. The ballad of The Someday Funnies keeps singing.

Painting (above left) was completed before electronic print. As well as its time-capsule content Choquette's book is a record of print technology for producing visual poetics of cartoon art. This forty-year old painting was used as guide to assist Choquette's Canadian colorist Max (Salgood Sam) Douglas to work on my line original. A young man called  Mick began the analogue job. An elderly man named Michael signed the digitally published result.

Mike Weller  photographed by  Michel Choquette, July 2013

Earliest crayon sketch detail  from Beat generation Ballads (Veer Books, 2011)    

Fantagraphics, the US comics publisher who first discovered Michel Choquette's five decade hoard, didn't have resources to actually publish the book. They were unable to offer complimentary copies to all 169 contributors. Abrams took it on, delivering a copy to every living contributor - family and estates everywhere. Cities, towns, rural backwaters. Even Penge. The book is being bought by libraries.

But Fantagraphics are getting there fast. They are publishers of both 2009's Abstract Comics poetics and The Last Vispo Anthology mentioned here in an earlier post.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

militant narrative by poet

Jumping over a balcony to his death (once again) I espy fictional Mike Weller. I look up at his window and another version of myself is scribbling away. Busy doing nothing. No escape from Sinkmoor. Death is not an option in a hell-hole where (d)wellers are dead on arrival.
    from "Festival of Lights" - Mike Weller's Space Opera no. 12