“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
For your first opportunity to hear Private Parts poems, come along to Interrobang?! on Tuesday 3rd May at The Book Club on Leonard Street (Old Street tube). Music, comedy, short films and short stories will abound, as well as poems from me and John McCullough. What better way to mark surviving the apocalypse (aka that wedding thing) and unite for (a belated) May Day?!
Peony Moon has a choice selection of poems from my new collection, which you can now pre-order from Amazon. Alternately (or additionally ;) you can hear me read from it and buy a copy at these exciting (and excitingly free) events -- multiple launch stages, like a space shuttle:
17 May, 8pm: Launch for John McCullough's The Frost Fairs, Phoenix Arts Club (off Charing Cross Road)
23 May, 7pm: Gay's the Word, 66 Marchmont Street (nearest tube: Russell Square)
25 May, 6.30pm: Poetry@King's, Council Room, King's College London
16 June (Bloomsday), 6pm: Wurm in Apfel, Cat and Cage, 74 Drumcondra Road Upper, Dublin 9
24 June, 7pm: Queer Writing South, Iambic Arts Centre, Brighton
I hope I'll see you at one (or more)!
First up, my thoughts on Bird's Eye View's Sound and Silents event and the excitingness of live scores for silent films, for the excellent Sound and Music site. And then me doing the poetry sound thing for the ever-intriguing Archive of the Now... Live readings news for The Private Parts of Girls coming soon!
Oh yes, a new collection from Salt coming this May with a generous sprinkling of events (London, Bristol, Brighton, and beyond!) to be announced soon. It's not available to pre-order yet, but you can whet your appetite with a sample pdf of the opening poems.
Yes, it's Women's History Month (the long tail attached to International Women's Day), an opportunity for magazines and festivals to draw attention to women artists and visionaries -- and to write about them. Mystic, composer, teacher and poet Hildegard von Bingen appears courtesy of Margarethe von Trotta, doyenne of the New German Cinema whose filmmaking spans five decades. You can catch up with her films about Hildegard and Rosa Luxemburg at the Bird's Eye View festival, or virtually via my von Trotta survey for Sight & Sound. Also at BEV, Imogen Heap, Micachu, Tara Jane Busch and Seaming all made amazing music for silent shorts by female film pioneers, and I'll be writing about that for Sound and Music's excellent Sound on Film project (to whcih I contributed a piece on feeling film sound). If you like the sound of that, look out for The Lighthouse by Maria Saakyan, coming soon on DVD from the indefatigable Second Run.
It's not often you get to turn the tables on an editor... but Jacqueline Downs, who edited The Cinema of Sally Potter, asked if I would workshop a poem with her for For Books' Sake -- and the result of what was an amazing experience is articulated in her brilliant, and very brave, article here (complete with workshopped poem!). Also turning the tables (in a sense) was the opportunity to review (and praise to the skies) Jo Shapcott's Of Mutability, which engages with ecology from the level of the cell to the level of the cosmos, for Hand+Star: Jo was the judge for the Eric Gregory award the year I won, which was particularly exciting as I was a huge fan of her work.
I'm sharing the bill with some outstanding poets at two events this week, so if Valentine's Day has inclined you to poetry of the romantic/totally anti-romantic kind, come down to the Betsey Trotwood (Tues 15th, 7.30 pm) and/or The Bell (Weds 16th, 7 pm) for the love of language (if not the language of love)… Love to see you there.
Tues 15th Feb, 7.30 pm:
@ The Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, nearest tubes: King's X / Angel / Farringdon
Weds 16th Feb, 7 pm:
@ The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street E1 7EX, nearest tubes: Liverpool Street / Aldgate / Aldgate East
It's been a November of writing, mainly for far-distant book projects (an essay for _Screening Nature_, edited by Anat Pick; an introduction for The Personal is Political collection mentioned in my previous post) so it feels great to finish a review that's been haunting me for months, of Anne Carson's Nox for the ever-wonderful Hand + Star. No less deathly in its hallows (however different in its execution...) was Harry Potter 7.1, which I reviewed for Sight & Sound. 'Tis the season.
For the last eight months, I've been working with Elena Oroz, the editor of Blogs&Docs, to curate the first-ever retrospective of feminist documentary to take place in Spain, for Punto de Vista film festival in Spain. The programme is finally public -- and the festival, which includes a range of unconventional documentaries in competition, as well as Naomi Uman's four year project Ukrainian Time Machine -- takes place 22-27 February 2011 in Pamplona. If you can't make it, there will also be an anthology of essays on feminist documentary, which I've edited and introduced with Elena. More news about that soon.
Written for the Boardwalk: Eric Gregory Awards event on Friday 12th November 2010. I won a Gregory in 2004 (which enabled me to go to Iceland, where I peed wild on the moss, as per the poem), hence the year commemorated.
Pissing into the Wind: 2004
‘This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. … A storm is blowing from Paradise: it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them… This storm is what we call progress.’ Walter Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’
pissing into the wind
pissing into relief, into the release of the detrusor muscle and the midbrain’s periaqueductal gray
pissing into lichen, which is fjallagrasa, which is sphaerophorus fragilis, into lava and lady’s bedstraw
pissing into bare ass, into the hiss of the moss, into mosquito larvae
pissing into basalt, black obsidian, rolling thufur
pissing into geysirs, into Gulfoss, into oxidised calderas