RICH MIX: Access All Areas - SJ Fowler

SJ Fowler is a poet and artist whose accomplishments could outweigh those of most artists double his age. His work has been translated into 21 languages; he has been commissioned to create work for BBC3 Radio, Somerset House and The British Council, and has taught at Kingston University, Tate Modern and The Poetry School, but name but a few. With so many events lined up for 2017 at Rich Mix, we felt it was only right we caught up with him to find out more about the man himself and his work.

In your own words…who are you, and how would you describe you work?

I’m a writer and artist. I’m interested in what I take to be the truly contemporary, that is often called experimental, and I’m an associate artist of Rich Mix, having performed and curated events here since 2010. It has been my home in many ways, I’ve had so many beautiful nights in Venue 2!

What’s your favourite part of working at Rich Mix?

Maybe the staff. Sounds trite but I’ve performed or put on well over 300 events, worked with a lot of venues and very few can match the level of personal investment, hospitality and unpretentious industry of people working at Rich Mix. I’m always treated with such gentle respect, nothing is too much.

What was your favourite song of 2016?

I didn’t expect that question. I think it came out at the end of 2015, but maybe John Grant – Black Blizzard. I don’t have one really.

What was your favourite film of 2016?

Again I don’t tend to have favourites but maybe, off the top of my head, I liked Embrace of the Serpent. Jungle Book was pretty great too, Fred the Pig and The Pangolin live long in my memory.

 What was your highlight of 2016?

The most satisfying personally was the first English PEN Modern Literature Festival which I curated at Rich Mix on April 2nd 2016. I asked 30 writers to each write about a fellow writer, but one supported by English PEN, currently at risk in their own nations. English PEN are the writers’ charity and for such a long time I had wracked my brain as to how my skills could be of any use to their genuinely extraordinary work. This, in a tiny way, was such a magnificent day, so full of energy, reflection and heartfelt solidarity, that I felt sure, for perhaps one day, I wasn’t completely wasting my time. It was so good it’ll happen again on April 1st 2017, at Rich Mix.

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

Aside from the above, I’m happy to be presenting a new short play for Rich Mix’s centenary of the Russian Revolution program. It’ll be alongside 3 other playwrights, four mini-plays in one night, over three evenings in June. It’s about the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, a hero of mine. It’ll be very weird.