Poem Brut aims to bind, open and embrace two fundamental areas of exploration that are often absent from poetic practise.
Artistic creative writing - poetry and colour, handwriting, composition, abstraction, scribbling, illustration - a project that aims to engage and energise poets, writers, artists, readers and listeners. Poem Brut affirms the possibilities of the page, the pen, the pencil for the poet in a computer age, and celebrate these ideas in the live realm alongside the two dimensional.
A mindful thinking through of the potentials and possibilities of neurological and physiological diversity for a poetry that expands our understanding of what the medium can do. Rooted in an exploration of cognitive difference, of everything from autism, dyslexia, aphasia and dyspraxia to mental health conditions, Poem Brut seeks to ask whether it is in service to original and powerful poetry for poets with these experiences to try and ‘escape’ them into sense and order, rather than embracing how their brains understand language.
Poem Brut has generated over a dozen events since 2017, alongside, multiple exhibitions, workshops, conferences and publications.
Poem Brut aims to ask what is in the shape of a letter? What images do words recall? What is the meaning of colour in poetry and text upon the page? And white space? How does the situation of a poem change its meaning? Why is composition not a concept that applies to a medium that is innately visual? In literature, why has content overwhelmed context? Why has product dominated process? Poem Brut, in a playful, creative and accessible manner, aims to redress some of these concerns.
Poem Brut, conceptually, aims to not only support contemporary practitioners, but to illuminate an alternative history of modern poetry while exploring how innovative methods of poetry are often utterly purposeful - emerging from alternate experiences of language and consciousness in the world. In this way, Poem Brut aims to bridge a gap between poetry and art, and to support artists and poets who often have to navigate an unfortunate binary of outsider / insider.
What poem brut is about
Supported by institutions like Rich Mix, Arts Council England, Wellcome Library, 3am magazine and more, Poem Brut will engage, publish and commission works from artists like Imogen Reid, Carlos Keshishian, Paul Hawkins, Hiromi Suzuki, Stephen Emmerson and many others. The project begins will a focus on the art poetry of SJ Fowler, as a base from which to expand. The brilliance of poets like Henri Michaux, Francesc Sempere, Hélène Smith, JB Murray, Asger Jorn, RB Kitaj, Franz Kline, Basquiat, Karel Appel, Christian Dotremont and many others are central to the project.
Poem Brut will evidence the brilliance of poets working in underexplored traditions or whose work responds to their own alternative experience of consciousness, be that through neurological disorder, intellectual disability or mental health experience. It is a project which aims to share their methods and means, to create new works and bring light, primarily, to the inspiring potential of a poetry of colour, shape, composition, geometry, handwriting and material.
The project supposes that returning to the gestural and instinctual methods, often mistakenly associated with ‘high art / poetry’, can have an extraordinary effect on many individuals who are often ill at ease with formal learning of literature. In doing so, Poem Brut aims to create a narrative through historical poets who have explored this exciting territory, to show audiences and participants interested that they are part of a tradition.
Poem Brut will be an examination of words that are meant to make you squint, to battle for legibility, rather than you be able to pinch and extend your thumb and forefinger against the page to get a closer look. It will be a celebration of scribbling, crossings out, forgotten notes, strange scrawls - the odd interaction between paper and pen, and pencil, and the colours that randomly collide. It is a project about the page as a block, about geometry, about lines that sever meaning, about inarticulate shapes, about minimalism and collage. It is about making, gesturing towards the handmade, the amateur, the outside, liquid and wood, ugliness, toilet wall draughtsmanship and mess.