The Start of Sentences

James Davies’ experiences of reading Robert Grenier’s Sentences in Bury’s Text Art Archive:

I don’t want to go into individual poems so much here as to explain the joy of reading Sentences as archived material, in the archive, and the processes of reading the poems in accordance with the way Sentences is catalogued. The copy of Sentences at Bury, “The Bury Sentences” as I now call it, is a like a “bootleg” record — just as cool as the original but with minor differences to interest the aficionado. I’ll explain why.

LINK for more.

Knives Forks and Spoons at The Text Festival

Met Arts Centre, Market St., Bury. Saturday 3rd May 3pm – 4.30pm.

The Knives Forks and Spoons Press has developed the biggest avant garde poetry list in the UK since its launch in 2009. KFS is a forum for an extraordinary range of diversity and risk-taking artistic experiment publishing seminal international figures in experimental poetry like Ed Baker, Geraldine Monk, and Robert Sheppard together with many young poets and ‘outsider’ practitioners. Performers from this great publisher celebrate experiment in readings from Ann Mathews, Lucy Harvest Clarke, Tim Allen, Tom Jenks, Richard Barrett, Bobby Parker, Rhys Trimble & Debbie Walsh.


Text Festival opening

Bury Art Museum and Bury Sculpture Centre, Moss St., Bury, BL9 0DF.

Friday 2nd May 2014 / 7.00pm.

A first chance to see the Text Festival exhibitions and experience the new Bury Sculpture Centre in the company of many of the Festival artists.

The Text Festival in Bury is an internationally recognised event investigating contemporary language art (poetry, text art, sound and media text, live art), curated by Tony Trehy.

Sound and Dark: Geraldine Monk, Adeena Karasick, bill bissett, Iris Garrelf

The Text Festival rounds off its performance series with Sound and Dark (2)
Featuring Geraldine Monk (UK), Adeena Karasick (USA), bill bissett (CAN), Iris Garrelf (UK)

@ The Met Arts Centre
Market Street,
Bury, BL9 0BW

3rd June 2011 / 7.30pm

Continuing the Festival’s unique mix of sound and poetry with an evening:

Adeena Karasick is a poet, media-artist and the award-winning author of seven books of poetry and poetic theory. Marked with an urban, Jewish, feminist aesthetic that continually challenges normative modes of meaning production, and engaged with the art of combination and turbulence of thought, her work is a testament to the creative and regenerative power of language and its infinite possibilities for pushing meaning to the limits of its semantic boundaries. She is Professor of Global Literature at St. John’sUniversityin New York.

Geraldine Monk is one of the most exciting and provocative writer-performers on the British scene. Her readings a witty, warm and dynamic drawing on a prolific career which has spawned fourteen major works in the last twenty five years.

bill bissett is a famously anti-conventional Canadian poet with more than 60 books to his (uncapitalised) name immediately identifiable by the incorporation of his artwork and his consistently phonetic (funetik) spelling. As an energetic “man-child mystic,” bill bissett is living proof of William Blake’s adage “the spirit of sweet delight can never be defiled.” His idealistic and ecstatic stances frequently obscure his critical-mindedness, humour and craftmanship.

Iris Garrelf is a composer/performer intrigued by change, fascinated with voices and definitely enamoured by technology. She often uses her voice as raw material, which she transmuted into machine noises, choral works or pulverised “into granules of electroacoustic babble and glitch, generating animated dialogues between innate human expressiveness and the overt artifice of digital processing” as the Wire Magzine put it.

A vital part of her work, be it using voice or other sound material, is improvisation and the use of random elements, the ephemeral fragility and risk implied in giving up control to me moment, a sonic singularity.

Ticket Prices:
£8 / £4

The Text Festival: Rainer Ganahl

Via Tony Trehy:

Guest curators Helen Kaplinsky & Maurice Carlin of Reading for Reading’s Sake bring New York based Rainer Ganahl to the Transport Museum. Ganahl, who represented Austria in the 1999 Venice Biennale, arrives on Wednesday though installation of his exhibition at the Bury Transport Museum starts on Monday. Ganahl has ambitious plans to create various works this week including two films. The show is called Engels…Engels…Engels and is an investigation through videos, assemblage, photos and prints of “The Condition of the Working Class in England” (1844).

As part of the project Ganahl will facilitate Engels seminars on the 18th (6:30-8:30pm), 19th (2-4pm) and 20th (6:30-8:30pm) May at Bury Transport Museum. No prior reading required but to book email The artist will also present a talk on Thurs 19th May 6pm at Islington Mill.

More here.

A Map of You

Homeless people in Manchester are writing themselves into the public eye, creating ‘customised’ tourist postcards of Manchester, in collaboration with arts organisation arthur+martha. The postcards are currently exhibited in Bury Transport Museum as part of Bury Text Festival and can also be viewed at BBC Online website. Poems from the project will be shown on the BBC Big Screen in Manchester city centre and tweeted by advertising company LOVE.

a map of you postcards carry tiny stories, little snatches of homeless people’s lives. In the white space between the buildings, the stories appear, some stencilled, some handwritten, some self-explanatory, funny, dour, elusive. The cards are designed to bring attention to a group in society who are often overlooked, but have much to offer.

L, a homeless person in Bury, said: ‘People who suffer have knowledge.’ The skin of these writers is thin; through it they feel the world intensely and report with great vividness.  

The arthur+martha experimental arts organization works with people who are often pushed to the margins of society – older people in hospital, excluded school pupils, children with special needs and many others. The Bury Text Festival pioneers unusual and radical use of language – in this case, helping homeless people find opportunities for self-expression. International poets Geof Huth (USA) Steve Gaisson and Derek Beaulieu (both from Canada) are involved in the project, leading sessions as guest artists and helping to edit work. 

a map of you has been supported by Arts Council England, Bury MBC and The Lowry – and is working in partnership with The Big Issue in the North, The Red Door Housing Concern Centre, Brighter Futures at Bury Adult Learning Service, The Booth Centre and LOVE Creative.


Notes for Editors

A slideshow featuring a map of you is at BBC online:

A BBC Radio Manchester feature can be listened to at The a map of you postcards are exhibited as part of the Bury Text Festival at Bury Transport Museum until 26 May 2011.

To read more about the project please visit

For more information and to obtain free copies of limited edition concertina postcard packs of a map of you- contact project organiser Philip Davenport on 07951 233953 /

Ursonate in Bury reviewed

And what a remarkable piece it is: full of rolling ‘r’s’, labial ‘l’s’, ‘k’s’ and in amongst this the structure of a sonata, including a rondo, a scherzo, a beautiful largo and a cadenza. The readers included Christian Bok, himself a remarkable experimental poet whose pieces in the Text Festival include a poem programmed into the DNA of a bacillus, and Jaap Blonk, himself a sound poet and musician of considerable achievement.

More from Steven Waling on Brando’s Hat.

Wonder Rooms

@ Bury Art Gallery
Preview: 30th April 2011 / 11.00am
30th April – 2nd July 2011

The history of the word as image, the visual poem, stretches back to ancient times, but in the last hundred years has been punctuated by seminal moments allied to breakthroughs across artforms, such as Constructivism, Dada, Fluxus. In the 21st Century the availability and ease of new technologies for design and production of visual poems has created a global practice. An almost infinite variety of forms and procedures from 3-dimensional constructions, classical shaped poems, hand-written, concrete, graphic, and digital, poets reinvent the alphabet and the language in the visual.

In surveying the best in contemporary practice from around the world the exhibition also poses two questions: does the global phenomenon of visual poetry represent a new artistic language? Or is this international practice a dialogue between differing national styles or ‘dialects’?

Artists confirmed:  Alan Halsey, Stephen Nelson, Helen White, Amaranth Borsuk, John MAlan Halsey, Stephen Nelson, Helen White, Amaranth Borsuk, John Moore Williams, Karri Kokko, Matt Dalby, Andrew Topel, Christian Bök, Grzegorz Wróblewski, Marco Giovenale, Márton Koppány, Geof Huth, Nico Vassilakis, Derek Beaulieu, Satu Kaikkonen, Aysegül Tözeren, Steve Dalachinsky, Mike Cannell, Eric M. Zboya, Stephen Butler, Alexander Jorgensen, Zeynep Cansu Baseren, Sheila Murphy and many more…

The picture shows the installation of Andrew Topel’s zimZalla object Blueprints. Read more about Wonder Rooms and The Text Festival here.

Text Festival 2011 begins this Saturday

The Text Festival weekend launches in Bury on Saturday morning – details of the exhibitions attached – opening performances by

11.00 am Marco Giovenale (from Italy)

11.20 Helen White and Moniek Darge (from Belgium)

11.45 Márton Koppány (from Hungary)

Sarah Sanders will do a spontaneous performance sometime in the morning (when the moment is right)

Helmut Lemke and Hans Specht will perform a durational conversational artwork from about 11.15 am for 4 hours.

LINK to rest of programme

Christian Bök – The Xenotext

“Many artists seek to attain immortality through their art, but few would expect their work to outlast the human race and live on for billions of years. As Canadian poet Christian Bök has realised, it all comes down to the durability of your materials. Bök has written a poem, “The Xenotext”, which he is inserting into the DNA of a particularly resilient form of bacteria, Deinococcus radiodurans. This extremophile bacterium can survive exposure to cold, dehydration, acid and vacuums, meaning it could live on in outer space should the Earth cease to exist.”

More about Bök’s Text Festival project in The Observer, here.

Matt Dalby reviews The Language Moment

“The Language Moment started in a more sombre and insurrectionary mood than might have been expected. And it felt like different time-periods collided.

There was the bad news that day that after 28 years the greenroom will close at the end of May. Add this to Castlefield Gallery’s loss of Arts Council funding and artists might very well feel besieged.

It also seems perversely apt that a centre born during the previous Tory administration should end during another. Albeit in coalition with Lib Dems.”

More here.

The Language Moment – tonight

Last minute reminder for this excellent event tonight at The Green Room in Manchester:

Featuring Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Maggie O’Sullivan, Phil Minton and Ben Gwilliam & Phil Davenport, Sarah Sander, and Sarah Boothroyd

@ The Green Room, Manchester

Friday 15 April 2011

In a pre-festival partnership event with the Green Room, Manchester, the Text Festival presents an evening of virtuoso vocal performance and groundbreaking sound art.

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl is an Icelandic poet and author of three novels. He works with performance and sound-poetry, and regularly appears at poetry and music festivals, as well as dabbling in the dark arts of the concrete. In the recent years he has explored the possibilities inherent in the European and North-American avant-garde traditions, and focused on disassembling language into its visual, social and linguistic units. Nothing can prepare you for the power and dexterity of his performance, the sonically richness of his sound poems, and his amazing control of his material. His huge contortions twist his mouth to stun the audience.

Phil Minton is a dramatic baritone with a free-form style of “extended techniques” that are extremely unsettling. His vocals often include the sounds of retching, burping, screaming, and gasping, as well as childlike muttering, whining, crying and deep-throated drones; he also has an ability to distort his vocal cords to produce two notes at once. Phil Minton’s voice occupies a category apart, as joyously accessible as it is radical.

For over thirty years, Maggie O’Sullivan has been one of the leading figures of British innovative poetry. An international performer and visual artist, she is committed to excavating language in all its multiple voices and tongues, known and unknown, in visceral gestures that collage and pulverization at the service of a rhythmic vortex.

Phil Davenport & Ben Gwilliam are artists engaged in collaborative practice across different artforms: Davenportthe poet and Gwilliam the sound artist merge experimental language through the infrathin processing of the silence between sounds.

The event will also feature specially commissioned sound art interventions in various Green Room Spaces.

More here.

Third Text Festival – Calls For Submissions

The third international Text Festival in Bury, Manchester, UK, will open on 29 April 2011.

Project proposals and submissions are invited – in any artform (sound, media, poetry, visual art, etc) using language in innovative ways. As I have mentioned over the last few months the shape of the next festival has been forming, with some great things in place already. There are more venues and new approaches. In addition to the open call, you can submit ideas in response to 4 projected exhibition themes:

3.Visual Poetry
4.Artists’ Books

Electronic submission (preferred) to

or by mail to

Text Festival
Bury Art Gallery
Moss St

Via Tony Trehy