The Oldest Sport: a literary celebration of wrestling and boxing
June 30th 2018 at Rich Mix

Bringing together some of the UK’s finest novelists, poets and academics, this event celebrates the world’s oldest sports, wrestling and boxing, in literature. A perennial topic for writers throughout the 20th and now 21st century, this event, in innovative style, examines our ongoing fascination with combat sports, exploring their history, culture and paradoxes. With Oliver Goldstein, Declan Ryan, Anna Whitwham, Toby Litt, Simon Pomery, Iris Colomb, Joe Turrent, Stewart Home

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Pugilistica: a literary celebration of Boxing - November wednesday 4th 2015 at Apiary Studios

Held in the extraordinary environs of www.apiarystudios.org in Hackney, London, Pugilistica will brought together poets, academics, writers, artists and photographers to celebrate the sport of boxing through talks, readings, discussion and screenings. It featured Fiction from Anna Whitwham, Poetry from Tim Atkins, Ulli Freer, Stephen Mooney, Art History from Sarah Victoria Turner and Journalism from Oliver Goldstein and Don McRae, who presented his new book 'A Man's World: the Double Life of Emile Griffith.' The event saw the relaunch of Fights, by SJ Fowler, published by Veer Books in a revised second edition.


Fights is a book of modernist & experimental poems, broken into cycles, each celebrating / reflecting on the life of a 20th century boxer, from Jack Dempsey to Antonio Margarito, from Yuriorkis Gamboa to Edwin Valero. www.stevenjfowler.com/fights

Fights was named one of the top 20 British poetry collections published since the year 2000 by Lungfull magazine.

A dazzling, visceral, proficient, kinetic work. fights runs its combinations in formal excitement and trenchgut force. 
Maggie O’Sullivan

Boxing, and boxing language, has inspired poets for hundreds of years and in all sorts of ways. Not daunted by this tradition, Steven Fowler has managed to push its boundaries in an impressively varied collection of poems that finds inspiration both from rhythm and style within the ring and from the wider world that leans on its ropes. 
Kasia Boddy (author of Boxing: a Cultural History) 

Steven Fowler's Fights is a book of many, various, & rare excitements. At times I was reminded of Jack Spicer's Holy Grail poems, at others, of Reznikoff's Testimony: that's a strange & unusual combination. Much contemporary poetry can be accused of lacking ambition, but Fights--with its various forms & approaches-- reaches not for the single knockout punch, but for the variety & beauty of the stars. There are not many books of poetry where you turn the page not knowing what is coming next, but this is one of them. 
Tim Atkins

New functions for the jaw. Poetic histories from all possible angles, and then some. Its about time boxing - the basis of all sport - was understood from the viewpoint of the poetic mind. Slam it into your mouth and read it out LOUD
Sean Bonney


Art historian Sarah Victoria Turner will talk about the fascination of the boxing ring for a range of artists in the 20th century. From the edgy angles of William Robert's Whitechapel boxers to Laura Knight's Canadian boxers training for war in 1918, Sarah will examine why so many modern artists were drawn to the ring for artistic inspiration and subject matter.  Sarah is Deputy Director for Research at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. She worked on sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska's wrestlers, collaborating, with SJ Fowler to publish this work with Tate. When not thinking about matters of the mat, Sarah runs the research programme at the Paul Mellon Centre and is editor of the new open-access journal British Art Studies. She has published widely on ninetieth- and twentieth-century visual art. She is co-founder of the Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism and the Visual Arts, c. 1875-1960 research network. 

Tim Atkins is an internationally-published and reviewed poet and translator and he teaches on both the BA and MA programmes. He is the author of many books, including Folklore, To Repel Ghosts, Sonnets, and Horace. Folklore (published by Salt) was one of the Daily Telegraph’s poetry books of the year for 2008. His work has been anthologised in The Reality Street Book of Sonnets, Faber’s The Thunder Mutters, and Foil. Since 2000, he has been editor of the online poetry journal onedit, which was selected by The British Library as one of the key poetry websites in its poetry archive. His work has been studied at Harvard, and he has been a member of the summer faculty at The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. In 2014 he created a sound installation for the Science Museum’s Exponential Horn Installation: this was also broadcast on Resonance FM. His play The World's Furious Song Flows Through My Skirt was performed at the PolyPly Innovative Writing series in 2011 and was published by Stoma in June 2014. His 600-page Petrarch Collected Atkins was a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year for 2014, and was a selected book of the year on the widely-read American literary site Salon.com. A celebration of his work at which 24 writers read from Petrarch took place at The Rich Mix Arts Centre in East London in July 2014. A film collaboration with Graeme Maguire, Mother, is currently a finalist at the Rabbit Heart Poetry Festival. His work has been translated into Latvian, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, and Catalan. His next work, On Fathers < On Daughtyrs is currently appearing in numerous poetry journals in the USA & UK

Stephen Mooney is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey, where he was also the Poet in Residence in 2012/13. He is an associate member of the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre at Birkbeck, and co-runs the small poetry press, Veer Books. His poetry has appeared in various places and web-places, including as part of the performative poetry grouping ‘London Under Construction’. DCLP and Shuddered, the latter co-authored with Aodan McCardle and Piers Hugill, were published by Veer Books in 2008 and 2010 respectively, and The Cursory Epic by Contraband Books in 2014.

Donald McRae is a South African writer. McRae is noted as the only two-time winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award with Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing in 1996 and In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens in 2002.[1] His other works include Every Second Counts: the Race to Transplant the First Human Heart (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2006) and The Great Trials of Clarence Darrow: The Landmark Cases of Leopold and Loeb, John T. Scopes, and Ossian Sweet, published in 2009.