SJ Fowler

Edited by Dominic Jaeckle
Tenement #4 / ISBN: 978-1-8380200-6-4
153pp / 140 x 216mm
Designed and typeset by Traven T. Croves
Published June 28th 2022


A special four-part serialisation of SJ Fowler’s debut novella, as read by the author, and produced by Dominic J. Jaeckle and Milo Thesiger-Meacham for broadcast on Resonance Extra. Fowler’s MUEUM was recorded on location in Resonance’s Bermondsey chapel studios, London, in May and June, 2022.

A showcase, ransacked with horrid delight:
MUEUM presents the placid, lurid
violences of surveillance and exhibition
with startling and brutal stylishness.
A seething triumph.

Eley Williams

A book as powerful, monumental and strange
as Alasdair Gray's Lanark in miniature.

Joanna Walsh

 01/10/22          PART I          

 05/11/22           PART II        

 03/12/22          PART III       

 & 07/01/23       PART IV      


Deeply, beautifully unsettling, and somehow so complete that I have screwed up and rewritten this endorsement seventeen times. As a text, MUEUM seems to eat any potential response to it. Sometimes I called it a mesmerising, bravura meditation on work, power, and subjugation; sometimes I called it the psychopathology of the institution; sometimes I just made sub-animal noises. Initially I just felt awe at how compelling Fowler can make the sheer tedium of labour, in an environment terrifyingly regimented, curious (and intimate, like being let backstage behind existence itself), but this was gradually replaced by an increasing suspense and horror which got its claws into me for the whole last half of the novella. Anyway. It makes me very happy—and also insanely jealous—that works like this are being written.

Luke Kennard

Down in the mire of London's grimpen, above the drained marshlands and drift of the fatbergs, exist the cultural centres that shine like jewels in the mudcake of the greatest city on earth: London's museums. Their great domes are craniums through which pass the crazy, unbidden thoughts of a culture always moving closer to madness.

With the apocalyptic vision of Ballard and the acerbic attitude of Céline, MUEUM scatters human detritus over the shiny Perspex of our most dearly loved vitrines. Rimbaud's visits to the British Museum reading room come to mind: scratching himself down for lice as he flicked through the latest encyclopaedias. And Bataille, assembling curios so strange the Surrealists wouldn't touch them wearing gloves.

MUEUM is a novel of watchers and the watched, a testament to the fact that people are always more interesting—and far stranger—than things. And nothing is stranger than people's obsession with touching objects from the questionable past.

Prepare to travel the world, from Rome to Japan, with a travelling troupe of unforgettable characters who walk the world each day but never leave a building. SJ Fowler's MUEUM is an essential artefact for our troubled times, proving that travel of the mind is always more powerful than the real thing.

Chris McCabe

SJ Fowler is arguably the most influential, tirelessly generative and expansively generous English artist working in experimental literature today. No other contemporary writer is as comprehensively, and ambitiously, engaged with Europe’s histories of the avant-garde in addition to such vital participation in its present. Whether in poetry, essays, fiction, painting, scrawling, sculpting, film, performance, theatre, sound, or in happenings without definition, his art draws its volatile experience of language into the mobile and embodied possibility of language as experience. Emerging in feral exploration between the poetry of Tom Raworth and the prose of László Krasznahorkai, this is a shape-shifting and omnivorous body of writing; uncompromisingly alive in the playful, violent, oblique and confrontational. When language chases and inhabits the mess of living it cannot sit neatly, and only, in a book (though there are nearing 50 publications to date) there is always more. 

In addition to his own work, Fowler is endlessly and inventively supporting other writers. For a singular writer-as-artist-making to support and creatively involve so many others has a rare and historic momentum: from founding and organising the vast and inclusive European Poetry Festival (whilst also teaching, editing, curating, and collaborating) to fostering truly international communities and building events that have grown and changed a generation of UK avant-garde poetry. Returning in amidst such travelling energy to the page, the reader of such unique work will encounter the disarming gristle of being-as-struggle, but they will also find the resounding depths and laughter of a strange companionship in that struggle. No other contemporary UK writer is as comprehensively, and ambitiously, engaged with Europe’s histories of the avant-garde. Bracing challenge doubles mischievously as an embracing welcome within SJ Fowler’s experimentation that is, at its barbed and brilliant core, a language of extreme and unfamiliar honesty.

          David Spittle

Steven J Fowler is a writer and poet living in London. His collections include Fights (Veer Books, 2011), The Rottweiler’s Guide to the Dog Owner (Eyewear Books, 2014), {Enthusiasm} (Test Centre, 2015), The Guide to Being Bear Aware (Shearsman Books, 2017), I will show you the life of the mind (on prescription drugs) (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2020) and The Great Apes (Broken Sleep Books, 2022). His work has become known for its exploration of the potential of poetry, alongside collaboration, curation, asemic writing, sound poetry, concrete poetry, and performance. He has been commissioned by institutions such as the Tate Modern, The Photographer’s Gallery, Wellcome Collection and Southbank Centre, and he has presented his work at over fifty international festivals, including Hay Xalapa, Mexico; Dhaka Lit Fest; Hay Arequipa, Peru; and the Niniti Festival, Iraq. Fowler was nominated for the White Review Short Story Prize, 2014, and his short stories have appeared in anthologies, such as Isabel Waidner’s edited collection, Liberating the Canon (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018).

Incidentally, from December 2007 to November 2014,
Fowler was an employee of the British Museum.

Tenement Press
& Resonance Extra