Friday, 28 September 2012

Holly Pester at Stort Poetry Group, October 3

Stort Poetry Group’s first public event of the autumn is a performance and workshop by visiting poet Holly Pester, on Wednesday October 3, at 7.30 in Bishops Stortford’s Coffee Corner cafe. Holly Pester will combine a reading/performance of her work with a talk and a workshop. This is a rare opportunity for Bishops Stortford to experience one of this country’s leading performance artists, working between poetry, art and vocal performance.

Holly is a sound poet, artist and researcher based in London. She regularly performs at text, art and poetry events such as the international Serpentine Poetry Marathon 2009 and Text Festival 2011. She has also had sound installations in galleries including the Cartel Gallery for the ‘Word of Mouth’ exhibition, a sound piece at St. Andrews poetry festival and this year the prestigious international art exhibition Documenta at Kassel, Germany. She is currently in her final year of a practice-led PhD researching ‘Speech Matter: Sound Poetry and its Intermedial Field’, at Birkbeck, University of London. She teaches English on Birkbeck’s BA programme, and assists on the Voiceworks project aiding collaborating poets, singers and composers. Holly Pester’s collection, Hoofs was released with if p then q press in 2011, followed by KatrinaSequence (IntercapillaryEditions, 2012). Her work experiments in frequencies of speech, song and articulated noise – it’s also extremely funny and unpredictable.
Holly has a website,, which has on it a lot of material by her. It probably looks all rather arty and avant-garde and weird: she is a very compelling and engaging performer, appealingly down to earth while doing some extraordinary things. She is in many ways quite far from conventional ideas of poetry - but equally is experimenting & playing with sound qualities of language which are absolutely basic to poetry. I await eagerly both her performance and her workshop (which is likely I suspect to be oral rather than written - when I have any more information I'll communicate it.)

From Interview with SJ Fowler

3:AM: Performativity seems to be at the root of much of what you are doing. Was it natural for you to give speech preference over the page, if you are doing that at all?

HP: Yes that’s my medium, over language or page. I’m experimenting in the sound and shape of speech; its noise and its parasitic qualities. I work very much on the level of the everyday, and the throw away aspects of spoken language. I like the hilariousness in mundane speech acts and the comedy in performative speech. Any political violence that reveals itself behind the word is quickly offset by incongruity, banality, silliness. Maybe that’s because I’m not bold enough yet, or maybe because I’m audacious enough to make that my playground.

3:AM: Your work forces the audience to re-establish their focus continually throughout your reading. The variability and specificity of pitch, diction, volume conveys so much and yet the words you utilise are disarmingly immediate. Is this something you have tailored closely, or experimented with?

HP: That’s absolutely something I’m experimenting with – the aural colouring of speech and how that affects meaning or poetic operation. Maybe that’s my contribution to Sound Poetry. It’s also about the event of speech and the eventing of the score. That aspect of live performance is important to me. It’s a lot to do with sacrifice, you have to sacrifice poetry to a persona, which is potentially ‘bad’, you sacrifice yourself in the same way a clown might, and – on a more ontological level – you sacrifice textual meaning to present sound.

Holly Pester Online

Maintenant#46: Holly Pester  (“Danger Scale” – an interview with Holly Pester by SJ Fowler)             

See (& hear) her website: Holly Pester: sound poetry, performance texts and writing                             

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