bio

Jon is a writer and editor who specialises in hybrid forms, sequences and collaborations, a “poet of fantastic inversions” (Poetry London). His work has been published in The Sunday Times and performed on BBC Radio 4, as well as appearing in a number of British and international journals. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2012 and the Poetry London prize in 2014 and 2016. He has been researching the interplay of poetry and digital games at UWE in Bristol since 2015.

“Voraciously experimental, precociously accomplished.” Poetry International

“Multifaceted, mega-fabricated, louche architecture.” Magma

On Toys
(A general introduction)


. . .

There are three main characteristics to my output. The first is hybridity – I like to make things that are not quite one thing or the other. The second is sequencing – I like to make sets of interconnected things, and then to make these sets part of larger sets. And the third is collaboration – working with or in conversation with others, either by remixing or remaking existing material, or commissioning and arranging new work, or working back-and-fourth or side-by-side with someone else.

I would say each of these characteristics has to do with joining. Reaching across, closing the gap. My instinct is to resist the modularisation of culture, wherein divisions are maintained between pursuits, subjects, specialisms, disciplines, demographics, the trivial and the non-trivial, what’s yours and what is mine. When I think of an audience, I cycle restlessly between all the different kinds of people I know, all their different passions, looking for the makings of some sort of connective tissue.

As a result, the work itself has a stitched-together-ness to it. I would say that even in individual short pieces, my practice is to take items from different contexts and jingle them about in a bag together. Then I join these individual pieces up into more sprawling assemblages. Not, I hope, in a way that is grossly insensitive or ignorant. I do my homework, I tune in. I don’t consider that everything is mine for the taking. But there are parallels and pathways across form and genre that are impossible to ignore.

The underside, of course, is trouble fitting in, is never being the precise thing that anyone is looking for, having no home ground or fixed starting point. Being so thoroughly in between, and outskirty. So naturally, I have a particular affinity for impersonators, the disgraced, those who are in over their head, and for wreckage.

But the other intended effect of hybrids, combinations and collaborations is that it all amounts to a playset. A tipped-over toy chest. Instead of positioning myself as the authority at the center of a work, and the reader as a receiver of information and instruction, I like as much as possible to make myself one minor character amongst many intimately tangled persons and forms – the better to encourage rummaging. So a lot of my sequences, let’s say, are designed like sets of collectible figures, to be come upon in no particular order. The idea is that whoever you are, you find something in there that once belonged to you, or that made an impression on you, and that in reaching for it, you see that it has some close and puzzling relationship to other items in the set. Then you go on uncovering more connections, and finding the trail goes on and on.

Play leads to discovery. To play is to make a laboratory of one’s surroundings. Play is disruptive, endlessly reordering the world. So of course I want to make literary artefacts that are also toys, that are for readers to toy with. And the key to that, it seems to me at least, is many, many intermeshing pieces.

By the way, this site contains some secret rooms. Not everything is accessible through the main menu of projects below. Keep your eyes out for hidden doorways.

Past Commissions

Photo: Lynton Pepper

Giant Strange
april 2015
For Roulade #2, a one-night-only live walk-through magazine, I recruited three other poets to create a tableu of a city under seige from Japanese kaiju. The kaiju were giant calligrams, or concrete poems. Read ‘Mothra’ here. I also mixed various sound samples from films together to create a sonic backdrop to the exhibition, which you can listen to here.


Warning Notice in the Key of B Minor
april 2014
Poem commissioned by the Southbank Centre as part of The Breathing of the Bellows, a project celebrating the refurbishment of the Centre's 7,866 pipe organ. If you are registered with the BBC website, you can listen to the poem being performed here.


Staring Into Space
december 2010 — february 2011
A sequence of poems and images recording daydreams, accompanied by a book for visitors to use to describe their own daydreams, for About a Minute, the inaugural exhibition at The Gopher Hole in Shoreditch. The pieces were later developed into the sequence Death Daydream Season.

Some other projects

On Toys

Games & Poems

School of Forgery

I could kiss, say,

Headbooks

Scarecrows

Hybardrids

Tomboys

Birdbooks

Super Treasure
Arcade

Death Daydream
Season

Sidekick Books

Core Samples

Riotous

Superminis

The
Mechamorphoses

site by jon