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 as a writer and editor. 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 things, connected by a theme. 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 marks a kind of joining. A reaching across, or closing of the gap. A resistance to the separation of everything, into niche pursuits, subjects, specialisms, disciplines, demographics, genres, the trivial and the non-trivial, yours and mine. When I try to picture the audience I’m writing for, I cycle restlessly between all the different kinds of people I know, all their different passions, looking for the connective tissue.

So the work itself has a stitched-together-ness to it. I would say that even in individual short pieces, I liberate items from different contexts and jingle them about in a bag together. And then I join these individual pieces up into larger assemblages. This can sometimes seem like trespassing on sacred ground, and tramping in the mud of other sacred grounds I’ve cut across, but I do have a genuine attachment to everything I incorporate, and to every field I muddy.

The downside, of course, is never comfortably fitting into any slot, not being the precise thing that anyone is looking for, having no home turf 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-up 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 like sets of collectible figures, to be discovered in no particular order, their elements repurposed from other toy chests. The idea is that there’s something there you might like, whoever you are, and that playing with it will lead you to notice and play with all those other things placed nearby.

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, is 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

Headbooks

Scarecrows

Hybardrids

Tomboys

Birdbooks

Super Treasure
Arcade

Death Daydream
Season

Sidekick Books

Core Samples

The
Mechamorphoses

site by jon