The CFPR Printed Poetry Symposium, October 2021
Above image is of the winning poetry badges by (clockwise from top left of image): Derek Beaulieu (Canada), Julie Johnstone (UK), Matthew Robertson (UK), Sara Elgerot (Sweden), Josephine Corcoran (UK), Jim Young (UK).
The CFPR Printed Poetry symposium series of events, curated by Senior Research Fellow, Dr Angie Butler marked the culmination of her letterpress research project in collaboration with printer and publisher Pat Randle of Nomad Letterpress and poet, writer and artist, Steven J Fowler. The project and symposium promoted an inclusive approach to poetry, examining the relationship of the ‘poet’ (who could also be an artist, printer, publisher etc.) to the printed poem through their lived experience of creating words, images, performances etc. by using the process of printing letterpress.
In addition to SJ Fowler, nine creative practitioners who investigate the production of poetry through haptic practice were invited to present a series of online talks. The symposium presentations were followed by two in-person events. A drop-in at The Letterpress Collective where Nick Hand welcomed visitors to look around and see ‘live’ printing by Ellen Bills of the symposium keepsake, designed especially by artist-publisher Petra Schulze-Wollgast. We also convened around forty people at Arnolfini for a pop-up exhibition of letterpress printed poetry (the result of a call-out via social media platforms) and Q&A, followed by a lively roundtable discussion with symposium presenters Andrew Morrison, Rebecca Kosick, Maria Stadnicka, Ndukwe Onuoha, SJ Fowler and Pat Randle.
We used the ubiquitous symposium ‘goody bag’ as a vehicle to promote work by new and established practitioners with commissioned poetry-related contents: a bag screen-printed one side with a poem by SJ Fowler and a response on the other side by artist and UWE alumna, Sarah Bradicich, a notebook with a screen-printed visual poem by book artist Lina Nordenström, a poetry pencil by queer poet and artist Jeremy Dixon based on his new poetry collection A VOICE COMING FROM THEN published by Arachne Press, a risograph printed visual poem produced for the Printed Poetry Symposium by artist-poet and UWE alumni, Ben Jenner and a set of six poems selected by artist and UWE alumna Csilla Bíro and artist and UWE Dep. Head Art & Design, Tom Sowden from 148 submissions, made into 38 mm badges for the symposium. They are by (clockwise from top left of image): Derek Beaulieu (Canada), Julie Johnstone (UK), Matthew Robertson (UK), Sara Elgerot (Sweden), Josephine Corcoran (UK), Jim Young (UK).
Feedback from our symposium speakers, participants and audience evidenced that the series of CFPR events provided opportunities to introduce new audiences to poetry and publishing practices, to share work with those from all aspects of the poetry, print and publishing communities, to meet in-person and network, and to contribute to contemporary debate around contemporary printed poetry. We are pleased to report that the CFPR project and symposium has also enabled the formation of a university collaborative research cluster to plan future research events and activities, an CFPR artist/ poet-in-residence project and a forthcoming letterpress poetry event in partnership with Writers Centre at Kingston University, London.