“What is the purpose of resisting corporate globalization if not to protect the obscure, the ineffable, the unmarketable, the unmanageable, the local, the poetic and the eccentric? So they need to be practiced, celebrated and studied too, right now.” Rebecca Solnit
I'm a UK-based writer, editor, educator and activist with a passionate commitment to arts and social justice. I publish with independent presses Arc, Lark Books, Salt, Shearsman, IB Tauris, and Wallflower. I am a member of queer feminist film curation collective Club des Femmes and feminist film activists Raising Films, a lecturer in film at LCC and Queen Mary University of London, and a film journalist for Sight & Sound and The F-Word, where I focus on independent, experimental, and feminist films and film culture.
In my critical work, I explore the political potential of experimental literature and cinema, with an emphasis on feminist artists like Sally Potter, who is the subject of my first critical book The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love. As well as teaching university courses on topics ranging from transgender cinema to Anne Carson, I've facilitated workshops for youth organisations like Leave Out Violence and taught creative writing at Anglia Ruskin University, King's College, London, and Middlesex University. I have worked with non-profit organisation English PEN and was the Poet in Residence at the Archive of the Now.
For workshops, creative consultancies, editorial or writing work, contact me at: sophie [at] sophiemayer [dot] net
I'm working with English PEN to collect poems, and translate them into Russian, to send to Pussy Riot. So far over 70 fantastic poets from around the world have contributed -- and their poems are appearing daily on English PEN's site, with an ebook to come. Read more about the project -- and my poem, Vagina.
Really! And I'm not alone, as you can read on I Don't Call Myself a Poet, a site of interviews with contemporary poets living and working in Britain and Ireland. The interviews were done by my students & the interviewees are a broad range of poets whose advice to young writers is, universally: READ!
And if you're looking for something to read, I can highly recommend The Great British Bard-Off (not just because I have a poem, 'Piece of Cake', on it) and Wordgathering magazine (again, featuring a familiar name -- with three new poems): they're both online labours of love creating fantastic literary community.
Three much-anticipated collective enterprises reached publication this month: the new-look Sight & Sound (complete with new digital archive subscription), wherein I contributed to the Greatest Films poll (only one of my picks, Meshes of the Afternoon, made the top 100), as well as reviews of Circumstance, Step Up 4, and the marvellous Tate Tanks; Sea Pie: A Shearsman Anthology of Oystercatcher Poetry, edited by Peter Hughes, with excerpts from my Oystercatcher chapbook Kiss Off; and The Cinema of Me: Self and Subjectivity in First-Person Documentary, edited by Alisa Lebow, which includes my essay " 'If I Am (Not) For Myself' " on Michelle Citron, which started as a conference paper way back in 2007… Thanks & congratulations to all the editors, publishers and contributors for keeping (it) going, and to readers for supporting small press and independent publishing.
from the Sisters in Verse symposium this spring can be heard here: Alex Pryce chairing a discussion between Jane Yeh, Kate Clanchy and myself about the politics of feminist poetry. For thoughts on my other favourite thing (sleep), check out the first issue of Establishment magazine, which can be read online via issuu here. My poem 'Sleep is a Skin' is on p.46. Forthcoming musings include a preview of the Jafar Panahi season at BFI Southbank for The F-Word blog, and an short essay about (un)writing fiction for The Place Between Stories. And check out the current (August) issue of Sight & Sound for my review of El Bullí: Cooking in Progress... not to a book review about my third favourite thing, Joss Whedon ;)
The new Poetry Consul at Joyland magazine, a rawlings, has issued residency papers to my poem Homeric Hymn to Artemis (subtitle: not a translation of the original Homeric Hymn to Artemis), sending it abroad in the world as a citizen of Joyland. And Sur l'escalier, from The Private Parts of Girls, has been translated into Dutch by Ko Kooman (who has also translated Christopher Hitchens and Cormac McCarthy into Dutch...), and performed by Sascha Aurora Akhtar at the Poetry International festival in the Netherlands. As I'm currently teaching Free Speech: Found in Translation for English PEN and Bishopsgate, this exciting first is doubly exciting (and makes me really want to learn Dutch ;).
Attention-grabbing headline for some books & projects worthy of the attention grab! First up, I have a couple of "drag sonnets" in Tom Chivers' madly ambitious Adventures in Form, which made No. 8 on the Independent's 50 Best Summer Reads list (just after Let It Come Down by Paul Bowles: magnificent company to be in), and a poem in Todd Swift's nifty anthology of YBPs, Lung Jazz (currently being tweet-reviewed by Andrew Oldham).
A brief snapshot of recent writing -- all over the field, as ever. Starting with pop culture, I've reviewed two films due out this Friday (26th April) for Sight & Sound (in the May & June issues respectively): documentary Being Elmo and superhero caper Avengers Assemble, which Muppet and Whedon (and me) fans will be unsurprised to hear are both an aesthetic and political cut above the mainstream. Getting more avant-garde, I celebrated New Queer Cinema turning 20 with a lecture (well, more a rambleture with jokes) on its history at the splendid Fringe! festival, at a screening programmed by Club des Femmes. And further still into alternative culture, a review-essay on John Kinsella's T.S. Eliot prize-nominated-and-withdrawn-from-for-sound-ethical-reasons-or-it-would-have-won-for-sure new collection Armour, in the magnificent Wolf magazine, which celebrates a decade in print this year. So cake all round!
A slightly belated, bemused and in-progress post on what the Occupy movement and Buffy the Vampire Slayer might learn with and from each other.
Sometimes it's hard to be a Slayer, what with the grinding anti-demonic activity, sense of isolation, and stains that never wash out. But if the BuffyVerse shows us one thing, it's why it's worth being a Slayer, or the friend/ally of a Slayer (henceforth: Scooby). Gaining knowledge (through research) of systemic injustice, and putting one's body on the line to stop it, may suck sometimes beyond the telling of it -- but returning to ignorance and passivity is null, even if a facade of ignorance and passivity earns you a culturally privileged position.
because events are springing up everywhere & it's time to come out and have fun. I've got three readings & a screening talk coming up:
Fri 30th March: Creative Writing programme, University of Greenwich
Weds 4th April, 6.30 pm: The Wolf magazine launch, Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, London. Readers will include Ruth Padel, Helen Moore, Alfred Corn, Sophie Mayer and Michael McKimm. This is a FREE event, but there is limited seating. Please arrive early.
Sat 14th April, 4 pm: New Queer Cinema 101 + screening of High Art, Fringe! LGBTQ film festival, Aubin Cinema, Shoreditch, London.
Sat 12th May: Surrey Poetry Festival, Guildhall, Guildford. (Events TBA here)
Maybe it's the influence of all those Xmas chocolate selection tins, but so far 2012 is all about variety (and trying not to eat chocolate). March's Sight & Sound, on newsstands next week, see me reviewing The Muppets and interviewing lesbian experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer (and this short intro for The F Word where you can win a season pass!), while in the wildlands of the internet, I've been shimmying to Wild Flag, talking with feminist porn filmmaker Mia Engberg and blogging about censorship in America (as an introduction to my upcoming evening class on Free Speech and Literature with English PEN and Bishopsgate: places still available!).