Created in response to the Interesting Conference’s cancellation, on 9th May 2015 the Boring Conference will mark its fifth anniversary with organiser James Ward once again ‘[celebrating] the mundane, the ordinary, the obvious and the overlooked – subjects often considered trivial and pointless, but when examined more closely reveal themselves to be deeply fascinating’.
Past audience members have been treated to tantalisingly damp-squibbish topics – yellow lines on the road, the Comic Sans font and Eric Clapton’s bookshelf just some examples – from a roster of speakers including Jon Ronson, Adam Curtis, Helen Zaltzman and John Grindrod.
I’ll be appearing briefly to speak about fictitious entries in dictionaries; playing to a sold-out audience of 400 seats, as reported in The Independent you may expect talks about the Casio watch favoured by Osama bin Laden, gasometers and a taxonomy of British earthquakes.
I popped up on the excellent fortnightly podcast The Allusionist this week to muckrake dictionaries and spread dissent. Many thanks to producer and presenter Helen Zaltzman for providing an opportunity to chat about my PhD research (and for her decision that Fleetwood Mac and poodles should feature in the segment). You can hear my quavering, surreptitious tones by clicking the image below:
The Allusionist, available on iTunes and elsewhere as part of Radiotopia from PRX, is a great resource for all things language and etymology-related with previous episodes featuring the history of the bra, the Finnish radio station that broadcasts bulletins in Latin and the various hierarchies of swearing: recommended listening.
Alongside poets and practioners Jen Calleja, Rebecca Perry, Jörg Piringer, Max Höfler, Ann Cotten, Esther Strauss, James Wilkes and Robert Herbert McClean, I’ll be reading work with Feinde as part of SJ Fowler‘s ongoing Enemies project.
It’ll all be taking place on May 12th 2015 in the Austrian Cultural Forum by Hyde Park. Do come along for the evening to hear the visiting Austrian poets before they head up to Edinbugh for the UNESCO European Literature Night.
Video and image courtesy of the Enemies Project.
Just a quick mention that the film ‘126’, mentioned here, was recently featured as part of the V&A’s most recent Friday Late series ‘Queer and Now’. As per the Victorian and Albert museum’s dedicated Lates page, ‘from the fringes of the underground to the drag divas taking over the mainstream, this is a world where pretty much anything can be “queered”. Join us as we turn a queer eye on the Museum; challenging traditional gender roles and exploring the diverse worlds of alternative history, art, design, performance and politics.’
A pleasure to pop up, however virtually and fleetingly, during this programme of music, performance, debate and on-site midst-the-statues haircuts in one of my favourite museums: thanks to curator Sean Curran for organising. Photos of the event, featured above, all taken from the Friday Lates’ dedicated Flickr stream.
Having attended and enjoyed the 2013 conference, it was a privilege to return and present a paper for this year’s international Lesbian Lives: ‘Lesbian Feminism/s Now’ hosted by University of Brighton’s LGBT and Queer Life Research Hub in conjunction with Women’s Studies Centre, University College Dublin. I was part of a panel titled “‘Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this?’ – Considering Lesbian Poetry as Feminist Activism” alongside practice-based researchers and academics Prudence Chamberlain and Isabel Waidner, chaired by Dr. Rachel O’Connell; the title of my presentation was ‘cf. CYPRINE (n.): Queer dictionaries as tender activism in Wittig and Zeig’s Lesbian Peoples: Material For A Dictionary (1979)’, and played about with utopian lexicons, French dandelion clocks and kiss-ins. Thanks to the fascinating and kaleidoscopic work of my fellow panel members, and a vocal, engaged audience, we were also able to touch on affective queer feminisms, subversive dictionaries, leaky vessels versus truck-stops, and radical camp poetics as part of the discussion.
Many thanks to the organizers of the conference for a wide-ranging and packed couple of days, with lectures, talks, film screenings, book and local outreach stalls, workshops and performances: the full book of abstracts and timetables can be found here. Personal highlights included a presentation about the role of British lesbians in the history of the Rorschach test from Katherine Hubbard, Val Brown on the figure of tennis-fencer Toupie Lowther and her part in the ‘Hackett-Lowther Unit’ of WW1 ambulance drivers, and the ever-brilliant Prof. Sara Ahmed’s speech, which served as an introduction to her forthcoming book Living a Feminist Life and was exactly the kind of rousing, lyrical, cogent, blistering tonic that one would ever want from a keynote. Arms and wilfulness and walls.
I’ll be appearing with the Generative Constraints collective as part of Vault Festival 2015, a six-week exhibition of performance, music, workshops and panels beneath the railway arches near Waterloo.
Our show’s blurb doesn’t give much away: Nik Wakefield, Prue Chamberlain, Kate Potts, Nisha Ramayya, Diana Damian Martin and I will be offering a brash, immersive and finickity exploration of what the term ‘Anti-Body’ means in terms of practice-based research. From the site:
Anti-Body is a performance at the meeting point between poetic practice and live art. Six writers and artists work together and against each other through a series of predetermined processes. We ask questions about our individual and shared positions, disagreement and exchange, and commitment and difference, through investigations of material, social, and critical/creative bodies. The performance involves queer troublemaking, disembodied writing, voice drawing, Tantric rituals, time-specificity, and mountweazels.
On 25th January, I’ll be performing with the Written and Composed collective for their ‘Native Tourist’ night at the Hackney Attic. With live readings, performances and music from members of the collective, do come for collaborations, bangs and whistles inspired by the idea of finding home.
£6/4, starting at 8pm. The other events at the Attic during January look great too: do give them a look while you’re there.
I’m playing a small part in ‘126’, an audiovisual exhibition taking place as part of ‘Queer Season’ at Sutton House throughout February and March 2015. The exhibition features all 126 of Shakespeare’s Fair Youth sonnets as read by members of the LGBTQ community.
Kakania is a series of events, commissions and publications curated to address the world of Habsburg Vienna. Supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum , Pushkin Press and design agency Polimekanos, a number of artists and writers responded to certain figures who came to prominence or emerged during this time: on the 22nd January as part of this series, the Freud Museum will host an evening of poetry and performance featuring Emily Berry responding to Sigmund Freud, Esther Strauss on Anna Freud, Tom Jenks on Otto Gross, Jeff Hilson on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Phil Minton on Carl Jung.
Tickets for the reading can be bought here, £7 for 7pm. The evening also marks the launch for Kakania: an anthology of new works that sees over 40 writers and artists work brought together. I have a small piece there concerning Broncia Koller-Pinell; often overlooked, this article nods to her work amongst the salons of Vienna. My thanks to SJ Fowler for the commission and for the opportunity.
The other stories presented during the week included wonderful pieces by Matthew De Abaitua and Martin MacInnes, also illustrated by Carrie Crow. All the images are from a larger body of work by Crow, Observatorio, that uses views from pay-per-use telescopes throughout the world.
Many thanks to the editors at 3:AM for finding a place for the piece in such great company.