Posts Tagged ‘i am not a poet’


In Uncategorized on March 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm





The latest VSK chapbook is nick-e melville’s EDITORIAL, which is available for online consumption and PDF dowload here. EDITORIAL begins:




fiend kills girlfriend’s mum
over wedding snu


it’s good to pay
for careless drivers

first de playwright JB Priestley.
              poet Samuel
Taylor Coleridge

80 Lap
Mixed Lots


sentencing backlash
as riot moth
is set free

oil stopped

David Mellor famously
warned that the British
press was now “inking
in the loon”.

South Africa
selected art up to 2012
the Big word
Andy Devl

like a nit
George’s plan isn’t quite
stacking up



EDITORIAL began as an installation of the day’s newspapers at the Totalkunst Gallery, Edinburgh 20/21 August 2011, the concluding installation of I AM NOT A POET.







Tippex and marker pens were available, and a score invited “tippex the papers and correct the news.” As the notes to this chapbook explain:



words made from tippex deletions.

words in brackets are words added in tippex by participants
words in bold are words added by participants with black marker, one provided or their own.
words in red are words added by participant(s) in red marker.
words in square brackets describe images made by tippex.

each variation comes from a separate notational revolution round the gallery.




EDITORIAL will be launched as part of Evergreen at X Mark’s the Bökship on 30th March  2012.



A u u with no and thos’

our guid heap


outrage as Tussaud’s
defends its right
to say Heil Hitler

Last minute sale
Bank Bargains!

Honeymoon horror
Killer was White

a moral bound
the pup that won
Cilla’s ear








nick-e melville’s work is also part of VerySmallKitchen’s I AM NOT A POET ASSEMBLING.

Other tippex works by nick-e were part of THETEXTISTHETEXT (co-curated with Gerry Smith), an online version of which is on VerySmallKitchen here.

See a recent interview and reading at The Other Room here.



the man who spent
£15,000 to shed pounds

park boss heck
over light sides

fat spread as city’s tin walls join the strike
tens of 1000s of port
man who relishes a fight
everything it touches
turns to ash

the new capital
one world
mastercard will
pay you back hands

charge the bank




Continue reading here.





In Uncategorized on January 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Sandra Huber, from Sleep/ Writing/ Rooms, 2011





Sandra Huber SLEEP/ WRITING/ ROOMS  part one, part two, and part three

Nathanaël, The Middle Notebookes [extract]

Aodán McCardle,  ‘abair’: ANARCHEOLOGY part one and part two

Paul Antony Carr, Excerpts: Tadeusz & Gregory

Tine Melzer, Language Games Part One: On Colours and    Part Two: On Games




Tamarin Norwood, The Locations of Six Domestic Figures

Maurice Carlin, Notes on The Self Publisher

Jill Magi, An extract from SLOT


Matthew MacKisack, (A Comedy of) Danger

Stefan Riebel, somethings 07

Nico Vassilakis: Staring Appendix Part One

Neil Chapman, Memo Seven

Alison Ballance, Other Gardens – Version 12





from lilmp by seekers of lice, 2011


2011 began with two e-chapooks, lilmp by seekers of lice and  BULLETINS by Mary Yacoob. Later in the year came FOURTH THING by Fiona Templeton, as well as e-book versions of  Other Gardens -Version 12 by Alison Ballance and Memo Seven by Neil Chapman. The year concluded with  From the Occult Diary of Hosni Mubarak by Paolo Javier and Matt Jones.


from BULLETINS by Mary Yacoob, 2011




The first VSK Residency was Paul Antony Carr, who used the his time in the VerySmallKitchen to compose NATHANIEL’S PERPETUAL MOTION, a new narrative strand of his Excerpts project.


Paul Antony Carr from Nathaniel's Perpetual Motion, 2011


The image-text combinations were published in groups of three. See post one, post two, post three and post four.


Ohad Ben Shimon, from Post (2) 2 Dec 2011


Currently in residence is Ohad Ben Shimon. See (1) 14 November , (2) 2 December and (3) 20 December



Co-curated with Mirja Koponen, I AM NOT A POET took place at the Totalkunst Gallery, Edinburgh, 7-21 August. See here for the full program.


Jennie Guy’s Selected Crônicas


Tamarin Norwood These Are Not Poems



Magdalen Chua’s Passages of Silence: Justified Right, Flushed Left

Peter Cant and Alex Eisenberg, Instructions/Constructions

Mary Paterson, Memory Exchange

Emma Cocker’s Close Reading (C.O.P.V, 1950)


seekers of lice Creamy Language




“Failing to Work on So Many Levels” : Gerry Smith at I AM NOT A POET


Gerry Smith, Window Pieces, I AM NOT A POET, 2011





Recent talks, exhibitions and workshops have lead VerySmallKitchen to consider its relationships to teaching and pedagogy, how its explorations of writing, language and art practice can suggest and take place within a diverse array of learning situations…

This document is a draft that will be revised as appropriate over the coming months, as well as supplemented with other materials (book lists, essays, notes…).

The STUDIO project is also part of VerySmallKitchen’s residency at London’s X Marks the Bokship, which involves compiling an essay and bibliography on the use of scripts and scores in contemporary art writing, to be published in March 2012.


nick e-melville's EDITORIAL for I AM NOT A POET invited public alteration of the day's news...






The Tropisms of Nathalie Sarraute

Dick Higgins: What Are Legends: A Clarification

Guy de Cointet’s  ACRCIT

Jerome Rothenberg curated a selection of poems and criticism on the influence of Robert Motherwell’s The Dada Painter and Poets anthology.

James Baldwin’s Stranger in the Village

Special Issue on the Occassion of the Richard Kostelanetz Bookstore  at Kunstverein in Amsterdam.


Guy de Cointet, from ACRCIT (1971)





READING ENSEMBLE/ READING AS PUBLISHING a script for a collaboration with Jennie Guy that was performed at the Galway Arts Centre on January 22nd. This is Jennie’s pile of books:



KITCHEN ESSAYS include Small Ad Sweethearts of the Image Virus Do-Poetry, a survey of minimal poetries across writing and art practices, and Artists Talking at The Doubting Interface, on monologue, stand up, performance lecture and conversation in/as art practice.

A trip to Dublin to talk at the Art Criticism Now at The Lab, Dublin on 26th May was a great chance to begin to get a sense of  ART WRITING IN DUBLIN: PUBLICATIONS/ EXHIBITIONS/ PROJECTS  –  of which the first issue of ALLOTROPE (below) was one example.


Allotrope, Issue 1, 2011


Linda Short’s article I AM HIDING IN A ROSE: SWEENEY REED & CONCRETE POETRY explored the exhibition Born to Concrete: The Heide Collection. at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Victoria.

At the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh, Gerry Smith and nick e-melville curated THETEXTISTHETEXT, under the frame of “visual poetry vs text art exhibition match.”


nick e-melville, junk mail, 2011





VerySmallKitchen starts 2012 with a new hard copy book series in collaboration with LemonMelon.  Our first title is Uh-Duh by Sarah Jacobs, which she describes as follows:


The conversation between a poet and an artist at their first meeting was recorded. An extract from the transcription is presented: ‘So how would you where would you how would you describe what you what you do?’

As well as the LemonMelon series, other hard copy projects include titles by seekers of lice and Paolo Javier.

In collaboration with Maintenant/3AM and Szépírók Társasága, VerySmallKitchen also will host a London visit by Márton Koppány from 28th March to April 1st 2012.  Details of publication, exhibition and performance to  follow. A dialogue with Márton is here.



Finally, VerySmallKitchen is excited to be part of A Pigeon, A Kichen and an Annexe: Alternative Sites of Publishing at Five Years Gallery in February, curated by Ladies of the Press, who have invited VerySmallKitchen, Pigeon and Annexe to work collaboratively on an exhibition. More info soon.

Thanks to everyone who was involved in these projects in 2011.  As Alison Ballance begins Other Gardens- Version 12:


Seeds were put into place to grow. Now they are sitting in a room above a garden with a radio on hum hum hum. An Eye sighs and cherry picks and gets lazy. A nudge please – I want to be lost please please carry on, look harder…





In Uncategorized on October 10, 2011 at 12:12 am

seekers of lice, creamy language, installation for I AM NOT A POET, Totalkunst Gallery, Edinburgh, 2011


VerySmallKitchen writes: Recent talks, exhibitions and workshops have lead VerySmallKitchen to consider its relationships to teaching and pedagogy, how its explorations of writing, language and art practice can create and unfold within a diverse array of learning situations…

The following document is a draft that will be revised as appropriate over the coming months, as well as supplemented with other materials (book lists, essays, notes…).

The STUDIO project is also part of VerySmallKitchen’s residency at London’s X Marks the Bokship, an outline of which is here.





VerySmallKitchen is currently exploring ways of teaching connections of writing, language, and art practice. The work emerges out of a number of projects over the last year, notably Art Criticism Now and Art/ Writing/ Talks in Ireland, as well as sessions devised for MA Dance Practice at Laban in London, A FRANCIS PONGE POETRY STUDIO for Cannon magazine, the SUMMER SCHOOL OF SILENCE at I AM NOT A POET, and Writing (The) Space at The Wild Pansy Press project space/ University of Leeds.

Ongoing involvement with Free School projects organised by Edward Dorrian/ Five Years Gallery has also been key…

Like the projects on this blog, this teaching concerns distinctions and overlaps in/ between histories of conceptual writing, experimental poetics, fiction, criticism and the essay, both the content and forms of such work, how it is distributed and published, and the practical and theoretical understanding of the practice of writing itself.

If the project has a hunch it is that this focus on writing practice – and various histories of literature –  produces something related to but different from the recent “educational turn” in art practice or the re-consideration of publishing and writing principally within frameworks of graphic design…

… A focus upon acts of reading and responding, how the individual nature of these acts can also become communal, public forms, or private, idiosyncratic forms, as necessary….




VerySmallKitchenSTUDIO has several strands. A basic outlining of bibliographies and materials, often in areas for which there are no readily available resources of materials; the development of STUDIOS’s of such materials that can be used in different teaching contexts; a practical and theoretical exploration of distinct forms of pedagogy that emerge from this work. If such forms promote particular histories, in an educational context they also  offer supports and techniques for studying and working more broadly…


nick e-melville's EDITORIAL for I AM NOT A POET invited public alteration of the day's news...


Studios have so far been developed and used for workshops in Art Writing and Criticism, focussed particularly around notions of “Essaying”; Minimal Poetries; Olson’s Projective Verse; Artist Talking/ Lecture Performance. Between now and December – as part of a residency at X Marks The Bökship I am developing a  studio around scripts, scores and the re-print in contemporary art writing…

Materials will be published on this site as the project develops. For more information contact David on Here is a brief outline of the various studios so far:





A consideration of how writing relates to/ as/ around/ on/ about/ with art practice. The studio proposes histories and practices of the “essay” as a linkage between these different practices, exploring tactics of “essaying” across criticism, performance, fiction and poetics. It explores how writing functions at different stages in the life cycle (of itself, the art work, the exhibition…).

A key source here is Richard Kostelanetz’s Essaying Essays anthology, both as an actual gathering of texts, and (given the texts unavailability) a proposition about a way of working between various writing and art practices. The introduction to the text is here.



Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez Xerox on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm for XALPHABET / 26 Xs by 26 Artists


Thomas Jeppe Xerox on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm for XALPHABET / 26 Xs by 26 Artists


As it unfolds, the studio moves towards an erratics of writing, as a way of conceptualising both acts of writing themselves and the uncertain contexts of commission and publication of a writing practice at all stages of its life cycle, informed also by a “Literature of the No” as formulated in Enrique Vila-Matas Bartleby and Co.

In this studio the prevalence of (post-) conceptual notions of site, institutional critique and document, are utilised but also placed alongside histories of New Journalism, experimental poetics and fiction, which offer different and conflicting priorities and methods. Different forms of paradox as a structural principle of the studio is articulated in the following quotation by Nathanael:


“my own need to very aggressively resist, or think through, what an essay is or might be and to find my own way to a text that isn’t one, that isn’t one that’s compliant with a particular form, right? That doesn’t interest me. I understand these forms viscerally. They’ve been inculcated right? But I don’t want that. So in a sense, the thing that’s internalized, the sense of having to be kicked out again, even though we can sort of agree that there’s no outside, but somehow there’s that tearing or rending that has to happen – or breach out of which might emerge this thing. That is this particular text.”

SOURCE: Kate Eichorn and Heather Milne, Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry & Poetics (Coach House Books, Toronto, 2009), 64-5.





This studio explores the histories and contemporary practice of minimal writing, both as a practice in itself and as a way of thinking about writing and art practice more broadly. Starting points include the poetry of Aram Saroyan, concrete poems, scores by Yoko Ono and Alison Knowles, the small ads of Dieter Roth, and the one word poem issue of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s POTH.


Yoko Ono, Cloud Piece, 1963


Seen as historical progression, the studio moves through diverse histories of poetry, music, fluxus and conceptual work, to such current practices as (the pwoermds of) Geof Huth and Jonathan Jones, James Davies, and Márton Koppány. A preliminary consideration of some of this work is the essay SMALL AD SWEETHEARTS OF THE IMAGE VIRUS DO-POETRY which can be read here.


Márton Koppány, Csend (Silence)

The studio also explores projects such as Coracle, where minimalism can be observed not just as a page based textual form but as a wider aesthetic, a form of architectural intervention and curatorial methodology… See Thomas A.Clark’s 1989 essay “The Gallery and the Book” reprinted on VerySmallKitchen here.

…Epigram, aphorism, pun, (anti-) haiku, also become forms of compression under consideration, contributing to a constellation of concerns around thought, language, instruction, score, condensery, application…



In a teaching context, what characterises this studio is how a wide range of work can be presented to participants in a short time period. Whilst this must not oversimplify the work, it does offer a particular teaching situation regarding the relationship of material and class time, readings and responses, that should be experimented with.

… This VerySmallKitchenSTUDIO is also useful for exploring the boundaries between literary and art practices (minimal poetry. conceptual art, musical score…) particularly the notion of what is expected of texts, how they are read, published, distributed, what responses they invite or refuse…

For example, how such texts explore a relationship of writing and sculpture through their focus on materials and presence in space, is one focus that has emerged, drawing on this quotation from Ian Hamilton Finlay, talking about the relation of title and word in his formulation of the One Word Poem:


“I am a little fascinated just now by the idea of one-word poems… My idea is, that the one-word poem should be composed of a title plus  one word. All (true) poems have form, and in this case one should see the title and the word as being 2 straight lines, which come together to forming a corner: the corner is the form of this poem. Only, these corners must be so constructed as to be open (opening) in all directions. That is the paradox.”

SOURCE: Ian Hamilton Finlay, A Model of Order: Selected Letters On Poetry and Making (Glasgow: WAX366, 2009), 39.





This double VerySmallKitchenSTUDIO began with a study of Charles Olson’s manifesto-diagram A CURRICULUM FOR THE SOUL (below) and a publication project after his death that saw words from the diagram allocated to different poets who wrote a chapbook with that title. The studio is interested in exploring the model of learning, publication, and economy that can be unfolded from this.


Subsequently, the studio has explored Olson’s teaching as demonstrated in texts such as “A Bibliography on American for Ed Dorn”, as well the implied and stated methodologies of numerous correspondence and poetics essays, principally “Projective Verse” (1950), an exploration that continues in collaboration with Open Dialogues Writing (The) Space project.

This studio involves lineages of writing and thinking which can be traced from Olson to 2011, considering, for example, the notion of a research-led practice, as well as gender focussed critques and readings of Olson by Susan Howe, Kathleen Fraser and Laura Mullen. It also considers related contemporary projects such as the Olson Now documents and the CHARLES OLSON: LANGUAGE AS PHYSICAL FACT section of EOAGH.

The studio has also sought to respond to a particular aspect of Olson’s practice – as it is distilled in a lexicon of “field poetics” or “projective verse” – by exploring the notion of a PHRASE POETICS.


Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker, re-. installation view, Wild Pansy Press Project Space, Leeds, 2010


… explores such lexicons and coinages alongside, for example, Brecht’s “alienation effect” and Artaud’s theatre of cruelty” or Harald Szeemann’s “self-institutionalisation” of himself as the Institute of Spiritual Guest Work. It explores how such working phrases function for their authors, as well as the independent life they then have, where they might be constructively misunderstood and reinterpreted…

Weaving between the two different aspects of this studio, we might ask how, for example, both methods relate to, for example, Jill Magi’s recent CADASTRAL MAP, which, whilst enacting an Olson-like research of place, also seems to start investigating from a position deliberately more defined, counter to, resistant of such a self-claiming expansionist poetics:


“The cadastral map is drawn as if from an aerial view, composed by surveyors to determine land ownership for the purpose of taxation. The cadastral map does not indicate where the land is fertile, swampy, or rocky. It does not indicate knolls, forests, valleys. Nor does it express the collaboration and exchange between farmers or those who move through the land. Its lines respect one purpose, one knowledge, state sponsored commoditization.


Jill Magi, installation for DEPARTMENT OF MICRO-POETICS, AC Institute, New York, 2010


“I enter as a writer, one kind of mapmaker, needing to ask, is traditional nature writing in English a cadastral map?… is “nature writing” still our flawed point of origin, creating ideas of the land and nature that tend to erase people and local knowledge as we go?” (108)


Magi’s essay offers an answer as its conclusion:


“At every turn, degrees of legibility, a focus that comes in and out, position-depending. Don’t look away. Listen, there is history. Earth and bones beneath your map give weight back with each authoring step.” (110)

SOURCE: Jill Magi, Cadastral Map (Bristol, Shearsman, 2011).





Finally, this studio begins with a focus upon presence of talking among contemporary arts and writing practice. It explores the reliance upon models of stand-up and storytelling, and how these have come to replace early reliance upon the format of the academic lecture.

The studio is currently in a more embryonic form than the others and emerges as a direct response to recent events in London, including electra’s Dirty Literature festival, and Performance as Publishing at the South London Gallery.

The studio explores the interrelation of the talk and the printed text, focussing on the work of Steve Benson and David Antin, whose very different forms of “talking” attain published form as “poetry.”

How such talking poetry constitutes a particular form of talking and thinking is explored in the work of Leslie Scalapino and John Cage. As with the minimal poetry studio, this can be then related to different forms of art practice, and to talked based forms of scenography and choreography, such as in the work of Guy de Cointet and Tino Sehgal.


nick-e melville reading of collated interventions at the conclusion of EDITORIAL


… consideration of talking within the learning situation brings focus to the forms by which we engage with such material, conceptualise and enact discussion upon our own practices.

… The question of how a practice might itself explore and involve talking on many different levels is of central concern to this studio. Hence an interest in the following quotation from Chris Cheek on his own practice:


“The talks attempt(ed) to perform a variety of strategies for public-private discourse. Titles of the texts and therefore some more general enframing were announced in advance of the series. Otherwise what occurred was utterly in the moment, though each day had a provisional series of talk strategies. For example, whilst each talk was improvised and responsive to the site on each occasion, ideas of: scale, perspective, contradiction, deliberate misunderstanding, anecdote, vernacular obsession, fictive quoting, imposed character, cartoon depiction, carnivalesque interpretation, historicising, demonising, sports commentary, theoretical exposition, emergences (and emergencies) of catchprase, listening to prerecorded texts or previous talks on headphones whilst talking (thereby mobilising conflict between listening and uttering), overhearing fragements of passing conversations… and so on were mobilised. Sometimes I toyed with direct address to those I could see participating as listening watchers in the window, Sometimes I imagined that there was a friend there, when in fact there might well have been nobody present at all. Sometimes I thought I was talking to the taxi cab call operators, sometimes passers by. My guess was that this work would offer a doubting interface.” (191)

SOURCE: Chris Cheek, THE CHURCH- THE SCHOOL- THE BEER (Oxford Ohio, Critical Documents 2007).


John Cage, Lecture on Nothing(thanks to Tim Griffin for drawing this to my attention)

Opening page of John Cage, Lecture on Nothing, from SILENCE: Lectures & Writings (1961)




If the STUDIO is a gathering of books, and a gathering of ideas and methods that come out of those books…

…I have been thinking about how to translate this into teaching situations in the broadest sense, both planned and unforeseen, both to convey information about histories that inform the present, and construct teaching structures where that which is not to do with information can unfold…


Mary Paterson leads a silent memory walk of Edinburgh as part of the Summer School of Silence at I AM NOT A POET


Below, then, are a series of tests that appear at present to be useful ways of questioning this material, both the individual studios and how each reverberates through the others, towards an active pedagogy and practice of reading and (art-) writing:


how each studio can re-figure itself over varying time lengths (say, 1o minutes to 10 weeks and more) and formats (talk, lecture, seminar, workshop, event, performance, blog…).

how each studio records a particular historical and  contemporary practice, whilst providing tools for thinking about writing and artistic practice more broadly…

how each studio is a distinctive set of materials yet also open to exchange and dialogue between (the nature of its modularity)…

how the studio balances individual and chora(l),  consensual and agonistic, thematic and grammatical…  defines a moment and commits to an (open) unfolding…





Thanks to Mirja Koponen, both for co-curating I AM NOT A POET and for taking the photographs of that event here. As this project takes shape I note it as one part of a broader conversation in which other colleagues and collaborators are also engaged. See, for example, some notes on Open Dialogues critical model, NOTA Workshop.


In Uncategorized on August 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm




Jennie Guy’s Selected Crônicas was screened in the Totalkunst Gallery, Edinburgh as part of I AM NOT A POET, on the 18th August 2011. It was projected as part of a joint event with Tamarin Norwood, on the 19th August, when it was also one starting point for a discussion on language and art practice involving Jennie, Tamarin, Magdalen Chua,  and Gerry Smith.

Jennie’s description of the film is as follows:

With as little vocal or physical direction as possible Jennie Guy uses video and sound recordings of a cast of willing readers set in a remote location to reenact the crônicas of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, originally published in the Jornal do Brasil between 1967 and 1973.


Jennie Guy, Selected Crônicas, film stills, 2011.


For I AM NOT A POET’s Assembling Publication, each artist was invited to contribute one sheet of A4, for a loose leaf publication assembled and distributed in the gallery on 21st August, the final day of the exhibition.

Jennie contributed the following text, footnoted with the observation that “This text is an informal postlude to Selected Crônicas, a video work which re-imagined several of Clarice Lispectors Crônicas, read in Italy July 2011.”


A Crônica

Two girls in a Japanese restaurant.

One in charge being more fluent with Sushi and such food. So she is trying to make sure the other is comfortable by explaining how nice this dish is and that dish you might not like, whilst still retaining sympathetic superiority.

When the waiter asks for their drinks order, two Sapporo rolls easily and fluently out of the girl in charge’s mouth.

Sorry, we have no Sapporo, we have Asahi and Kirin and Oron.

The friend, the one that isn’t in charge, casually asks the waiter, which one is better do you think?

Her friend, the one in charge looks a little upset but gathers back her momentum over lunch, nearly.



More about Jennie Guy’s work is hereA script that VerySmallKitchen provided for Jennie’s READING ENSEMBLE project at Galway Arts Centre, January 2011, is here.


In Uncategorized on August 18, 2011 at 11:17 am



Lines 44-45 of Guillaume Apollinaire’s poem Le Bestiaire (1911) read: Belles journées, souris du temps, Vous rongez peu à peu ma vie. (Beautiful days, time’s mice, gnawing little by little my life away.)




J.L. Austin’s lectures How to do Things with Words (1955) identify certain categories of utterance that affect rather than describe their context.




Doing Words with Things shares its title with my collaborative performance between a sculptor and a signer of British Sign Language, resulting in conversations made of wire. Performances at London Word Festival (Apr 2011) and Tate Britain (Oct 2011).



Peter Dreher’s painting series Tag um Tag ist Guter Tag (Day by Day is a Good Day, 1974-ongoing) comprises nearly 4,000 numbered paintings of the same empty glass.



Each to Each originated as a sculptural installation of the same name, created for the Citations Lifted Loose exhibition, part of the Concrete and Glass Festival (2008).


Tamarin Norwood’s THESE ARE NOT POEMS is at the Totalkunst Gallery, Edinburgh 17-19 August 2011 as part of I AM NOT A POET.








In Uncategorized on August 18, 2011 at 10:53 am



In the Totalkunst Gallery on August 12th, Gerry Smith led a haikuisation workshop. The notion of haikuisation had been the process behind one set of works in Gerry’s exhibition for I AM NOT A POET, about which he wrote:

12 Haikuisations. These reductive works demonstrate the simple writing strategy of haikuisation. These texts are based upon works by the following authors:Nicolas Evans, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Samantha Harvey. William Heiensen, M.R.James, A. L. Kennedy, Heinrich Von Kliest,Robert Maugham, William McIlvanney, Georges Simenon (twice) and Emma Smith.

For the workshop, Gerry brought along a number of books of short stories, and we added others from the The Forest’s book cabinet. He explained how the basic process was to take the first line of a story, then turn to the end of the story and add the last line.

Sometimes, of course, the process produces something felt to work, other times not. Gerry noticed that, as he explored this method, certain genres seemed to work whilst others did not, and it was interesting to map the structure of particular genres on to the micro-interventions and sampling of the process of marginalisation.

I noted that Smith’s use of structure also allowed a space for a more subjective “I think this works” or “this doesn’t work.” This didn’t lead the original restriction to be abandoned, but might encourage a repetition until something more satisfying is produced.

Gerry had earlier commented “I’m not a poet, I am an intermedia artist.” I wondered how much this judgment of produced texts was a literary one, concerned with grammatical and narrative coherence,  evocative and suggestive description, satisfying structural arc, even over its short duration.


The speed and simplicity of haikuisation means it is pleasurable and playful to enact. It  leaves space and time for considering what is produced, both the materiality and content of language. As “author” or “editor” texts feel like one’s own personal discovery, whilst also removed from self-expression.

Smith’s own examples in the exhibition seemed informed by a sense of coherence balanced against (and this was also a source cited by Gerry) a Shlovskian sense of “making strange.” For example –


Confronted by a whole book of short stories, I applied haikuisation to reading the whole book. The first line of the first story, then the last line of that story. If that didn’t work going to the next first or last, until finding a pairing that “resonates.” Then starting with whatever is the next beginning or ending…

Of course, the question arises where is the “haiku” in haikuisation (A: at the beginning). One other topic of our conversation before the workshop had been a Scottish history of concrete poetry and minimal poetry (from Edwin Morgan, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tom Leonard, through to Alec Finlay, Julie Johnstone’s Island magazine, Nick-e Melville and Smith’s own work, amongst others).

The haiku was a part of this (for example Alec Finlay’s renga platforms) but  perhaps better understood as informing a range of minimal forms, most notably (in different ways in IHF’s work and Smith’s own) one word poems, and the diverse procedures/ intentions of/ from Oulippo and Fluxus.


Smith’s own haikuisations (see above) suggest further proximities to prose poems. Haikuisation is perhaps best thought of as an alchemical process, in which the haiku’s structure, relation to nature, history, the seasons, the moment, and social custom, exist as a formative element of a “gestural poetry” that opens/mutates into the contemporary.

Although to very different ends, the re-writing of Journey to the Far North that is Andy Fitch and Jon Cotner’s Ten Walks/ Two Talks – a mapping of physical and verbal perambulations around Manhattan 2011 – also finds such contemporary (trans-) form for the haiku (and Basho).

Cotner and Fitch’s use of the dialogue form, their verbosity and humor, ask how such strategies relate to Smith’s haikuisation, whose appropriation does function in part as a kind of metaphysical jest, its resultant meanings a jokers twist on more long winded methods of composition, that is also a nod of reverence to what such forms make possible.



Some notes around Gerry’s I AM NOT A POET show are here.  His VSK project UNIVERSAL HISTORY III is here.


In Uncategorized on August 15, 2011 at 11:05 am


Magdalen Chua writes: At I AM NOT A POET’s Summer School of Silence on 9 August 2011, I facilitated Script doctor comprising a reading from an ongoing work, Scrapbook of a Marxist Conspirator, with a discussion on the complexities and subjectivities involved in writing, editing and presenting of history.

The session was framed in context of an event when 22 young activists accused of conspiring to establish a Marxist state in Singapore were detained in 1987. In 2010, Singapore’s National Library Board barred Vincent Cheng, an ex-detainee, as speaker at a seminar “Singapore History: Who Writes the Script”.


Reading during SCRIPT DOCTOR at The Summer School of Silence. Photo: Mirja Koponen


Taking the idea that silencing a key actor in a contested historical event presents the occasion for different voices to enter to write, edit and present the script, participants were given four sets of materials offering different accounts surrounding Vincent Cheng and his voice, for a discussion on sources, forms and channels in the production and distribution of history.

Passages of silence – justified right, flushed left is a work that responds to the discussion during Script doctor, as well as the conversations that occurred during the day on silence, how it functions and unfolds.

Drawing on the same four documents distributed in Script doctor, the work explores sources of authority with their imprints, the abstracted spaces between, and the irresolution between fiction and truth.



Magdalen Chua is curatorial worker at Studio 41 in Glasgow. More info here.


In Uncategorized on August 15, 2011 at 9:51 am


In Uncategorized on August 12, 2011 at 11:26 am


Alongside his joint show with Shandra Lamaute, Gerry Smith  is at the Totalkunst Gallery today for a conversation on reductive forms and mundane literalism, both terms he has coined for a practice whose website declares “” Following the talk Gerry will lead a Haikuisation workshop. Bring a book of short stories if you come to that one, or grab one from the bookcase in The Forest Cafe just outside.

I first came across Gerry’s work in 2010 through books  such as ESSENTIAL READING and I am a text based artist; Selected Words 1998-2008, and through The Universal History III, which Gerry contributed a selection of as a VSK Project. I enjoyed both the humor and detail of such work, its sense and mix of structure and story. It helped, too, with thinking through the legacy of, say,  Ian Hamilton Finlay and Yoko Ono’s minimal text forms, how contemporary forms of that work could be found through subtle changes of mood, tone and context.

It was Gerry’s insistence that he was NOT  a poet – and his text work was not poems – that partly  led to this exhibition’s title (along with the historical repetitions of such notions by, for example, Lawrence Weiner). Given Gerry’s texts could be fitted into a history of the minimalist poem I was interested in the space that was brought into being by that NOT A.

Also – I’m trying to articulate this more fully as I AM NOT A POET unfolds – what relationships are there between Smith and, for example, another I AM NOT A POET exhibitor nick-e melville’s  recently published STUFF (reviewed by Tom Jenks at 3AM here). Nick-e’s work is more usually framed within contexts of visual and experimental poetry, but both evidence a shared history and contemporary form of/for conceptual, concrete and fluxus writings.

Perhaps it’s a way of talking, with talking seen as intrinsic to writing and art practice (and also central to Colin Herd’s NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL, next up in the space). Gerry describes the works appearing in the gallery this week as follows:


Whilst Walking Past A Tall Building is a process piece in five articles and eight letters. I began the process by submitting a question to The Guardian’s Notes & Queries, and the piece consists of the answers that were published. Only structural edits were made, with no alteration to the contents. Hayley Jones, Graham Simpson, and Emily Streete provided the readings.

Breathe consists of three punctuation poems constructed from breves. The texts used are taken from Allan Kaprow’s Performing Life.

12 Haikuisations. These reductive works demonstrate the simple writing strategy of haikuisation. These texts are based upon works by the following authors:Nicolas Evans, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Samantha Harvey. William Heiensen, M.R.James, A. L. Kennedy, Heinrich Von Kliest,Robert Maugham, William McIlvanney, Georges Simenon (twice) and Emma Smith.




The images in this post document a number of recent projects. As Gerry writes:

… There are also photos of An Evening In Front Of The Box (2011) from the recent DOCument show (this piece brings together an instruction piece with a
punctuation poem (i.e. the white dot on the screen). The black and white photos give it a suitably retro feel. The final piece, also from DOCument, is Lost in
Translation: when re-translated – at least through Babelfish! – you end up with: What comes between fear and sex? Funf !

… I really like the last piece as it fails to work on so many levels…



Finally,  I include below the gallery information notice Gerry has provided for the piece currently on show (until 10PM August 13th) in I AM NOT POET. As Gerry observes, it is part of the work. I include it here, without the work, as an encouragement to come along, but also to give it a life of its own (not in the correct font), evidence of the particular attentions and tones informing his practice:



A gallery information label is hung alongside Two Poems in Response to François Le Lionnais. This label is part of the work, and contains the following text:


Two Poems in Response to François Le Lionnais


François Le Lionnais was a Dadaist poet and founder member of OULIPO (abbr. Fr. The Workshop for Potential Literature). In his article “Exercices de littérature potentielle” (1961), he proposed the creation of a reductive poetry, where each poem would consist of a single letter (he admitted that such a poetry “may lie on the far side of the acceptable limit”). Le Lionnais created the first of these poems, T, and left it for the rest of his colleagues in the OULIPO to complete the set of 26 Roman letters.

The Yogh (З) is a Middle Scots / Middle English letter; it is the “forgotten” 27th letter of the Scots alphabet. The yogh resembles a tailed “z” or the Arabic numeral “3”, and it’s one of those letters that tends to have a weird effect on those around it (which is why “Menzies” is pronounced ming-is or ming-iz, depending on your accent). Its most illustrious time was really in the glory days of handwriting, and its use went into sharp decline with the onset of print (there were typesets available which included the yogh, but printers tended to substitute for it the Manx cat of the letter “z”). Whilst the use of it had seriously declined by the 17th century, its cause wasn’t really helped by the Scottish intelligentsia’s headlong rush to adopt what they saw as the more “cultured” form of the new Standard English. Economic factors had nothing to do with this whatsoever.

The Scharfes s ( ß ) is a ligature of the “long s” and “s” or “z”. In the German alphabet the “sharp s” became a letter in its own right. It is also known as the “Eszett”. The letter has no upper case and, as a result, has never got above its station – and all the better for it! In the last few decades, reforms of the German language have sought to restrict the use of the Scharfes s. Furthermore, there have recently been calls from bureaucrats within the E.U. for the letter to be abandoned, as this would make easier the standardisation of computer keyboards in governmental departments across Europe. Economic factors have nothing to do with this whatsoever.


The Perspex label holder is the sort used by the National Galleries of Scotland. Likewise, the font used for the text.




More about Gerry Smith’s work is here.


In Uncategorized on August 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

Mary Paterson’s MEMORY EXCHANGE was part of I AM NOT A POET on 10th Aug 2011. Numerous conversations and encounters occupied the eight hours in which Mary was in residence (when Mary left the gallery the MEMORY EXCHANGE archive remained with instructions and several further contributions were added during the evening).

Here the project becomes a sequence of six photographs that each seem to hold back from the participatory and performance aspects of the event.  If the project is an event that needs to be noticed and engaged with as a social, public activity, it is also, for both artist and participant, based on private moments of reading, writing, and remembering.

That these become public and the significance of that is what MEMORY EXCHANGE articulates through its own structure, its mix of visible and invisible, chance and program, individual and group. The result is a tentative proposition about memory itself, that collapses back into the artist herself, her own memories and what she asks of them. This is one version of MEMORY EXCHANGE that I find in six photographs.

For more about Mary’s work see here. Her VSK Chapbook WORK IN PROGRESS is here.