Astrid Alben is a poet, editor and translator. Astrid is the author of Ai! Ai! Pianissimo and Plainspeak. She has also edited and translated many poets from Dutch and Flemish, and she is the co-editor of three art/science anthologies: Findings on Light, Findings on Elasticity and Findings on Ice, all published by Lars Müller Publishers.

 

She has been described as ‘a new and original voice in English poetry, serious and uncompromising’ (R. V. Bailey) and she has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship, Rijksakademie Fellowship, Hosking Houses Fellowship, Arts Council Grant and Royal Society of Arts Fellowship. Her poems have been translated into many languages including Chinese, Maltese, Slovenian and Romanian and she has appeared at Literary Festivals throughout Europe.  

Alben is co-founder and artistic director of the arts and sciences initiative PARS; editor of the Findings on… series and curator of site-specific events that are a mixture of theatre, art installation and scientific experiment.

Astrid Alben is trustee (and acting CEO) of the Poetry Translation Centre.

 
 

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Plainspeak

 

Prototype Publishing, 2019

 

PLAINSPEAK LAUNCH EVENT:

21 November 2019

The poems in Plainspeak deal with place, ancestral ties, solitude, flight, insomnia and the embattled absurdities of daily life. In these startling poems, readers will experience Alben’s unorthodox alter-ego-thinking-out-louder approach with the same exhilaration as they might engage with art or jazz. Alben plays with formal boundaries, linguistic identity and the lyrical poetic voice, writing with rhythmic vitality and visual imagination. The poems tell multiple narratives whilst retaining the freedom of abstraction; they are supple and precise, each one an installation evoking different aspects of a particular theme.

 

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Ai! Ai! Pianissimo

 

Arc Publications, 2011

Intensely visual, erotically charged and linguistically adventurous, her poems explore love and life with deft humour and poise. Belonging is difficult but the impulse to connect remains as powerful as ever.

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Anthologies
Try to be better
 

Dead Little Rabbit

A multidisciplinary anthology foregrounding experiment and process. Try To Be Better (ed. Sam Buchan-Watts & Lavinia Singer) consists of original commissions from a diverse range of writers, artists and thinkers responding to prompts W. S. Graham left himself in notebooks and letters. Astrid's poem 'Dead Little Rabbit', with Zigmunds Lapsa on design.

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The Best British Poetry
 

One of the Guys

The Best British Poetry presents the finest and most engaging poems found in literary magazines and webzines over the past year. The material gathered represents the rich variety of current UK poetry. Each poem is accompanied by a note by the poet explaining the inspiration for the poem.

PROTOTYPE 1
 

Plainspeak, Collateral Damage, Happiness, Stormy Night

PROTOTYPE is an annual anthology of new work published in July each year. 

The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry
 

Once More

Prose poetry is at the cutting edge of contemporary writing, freeing words from the bounds of traditional poetic grammar and bringing the magic of verse to flash fiction. In this ambitious, ground-breaking anthology, Valley Press showcases new work from a diverse range of UK writers

Wretched Strangers
 

Five Ways of Belonging, The Other Country 

IN RESPONSE to surges of violent British nationalism and political paranoia around borders, and to related social and ethical crises, JT Welsch and Ágnes Lehóczky have assembled an anthology to mark the vital contribution of non-UK-born writers to this country’s poetry culture. Wretched Strangers brings together innovative writing from around the globe, celebrating the irreducible diversity such work brings to ‘British’ poetry. 

 

The book is published by Boiler House Press to commemorate the anniversary of the June 2016 EU Referendum and in solidarity through struggles ongoing and to come. Proceeds will be donated to charities fighting for the rights of refugees.

Original Plus Dub
 

Sash Windows

This is remix; destructive construction; it is, at times, a little bit mad. But there is a strange beauty that lies within the frenetic energy of it all – a beautiful madness within the random that reveals itself as you excavate further and more deeply into the material. Reading the collection, therefore, becomes an exploration there is little way to adequately do justice to how exciting reading the book is; partly because it seems we have been so worn down by the workings of a publishing industry so risk-averse that so many new books are essentially just copies of previously commercially successful ones. It’s refreshing, essentially, to read something that isn’t a prequel, sequel, reboot or celebrity memoir.

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Findings on Light

 

Light is one of the most essential elements for the existence of life on earth. It is the strongest and fastest form of energy. We all depend on it. But what is it when we see light? How do we see it and what can it do?

Findings on Light is an exploration of light featuring the work of more than fifty artists and scientists who shape the way we look at the world today. 

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Findings on Elasticity

Findings on Elasticity features the work of artists and scientists whose binding interest is elasticity. Their findings range from the quirky, humorous and beautiful, to the mind-bogglingly complex and disturbing. 

Elasticity is the sound of a piano string being struck hundreds of times without going out of tune, but also the movement of economic markets, a way of looking at how we build our urban environment, the suppleness of a dancer’s limbs or a trampoline in the back garden for a piglet to jump up and down on.

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Findings on Ice

Findings on Ice features the work of artists and scientists whose binding interest is ice. Their findings range from the quirky, humorous and beautiful, to the mind-bogglingly complex and disturbing. 

Ice is the greenhouse effect and rising sea levels, but also the cold stare across the aisle, the crux of a play, the muscles of a dancer before the first movement, the silence between the notes, a German railway company and a substance that holds no fossils. It absorbs sound, reflects heat, and we eat it with a little sugar and cream whisked in. 

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Gigs

Plainspeak launch event

Hatch, Homerton, London 21 November 2019

Prototype will be launching the first book in their new poetry list – and my 2nd collection, Plainspeak. There will be an amazing lineup of readers, with Kathryn Maris and Caroline Bergvall reading alongside me, plus screenings of three specially commissioned animations by filmmaker Zuzanna Pedrasik, based on poems in the book.

 

The launch is taking place at Hatch, a lovely cafe/bar in Homerton (about 30 seconds walk from the overground station). There will be food and drink and books for sale.

 

It would be wonderful to see you there to celebrate the book’s publication and launch the Prototype poetry list into the world.

Each November Ó Bhéal presents the Winter Warmer Poetry Festival, a weekend of poetry featuring around two dozen poets, some of whom perform to music. .

The festival includes readings, poetry-films from Ó Bhéal’s International poetry-film competition, and collaborations with other artists and artforms.

Days of Poetry and Wine

Putj, Slovenia 2014

Cheltenham Poetry Festival

Cheltenham, UK 2015

Poetry International Rotterdam Festival

Rotterdam, Netherlands 2013

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Talks, Videos & Essays

Eighteen Seconds to Impact: Observations From a Moving Train

The Times Literary Supplement, 2019

Last week I boarded an early morning Eurostar train to Brussels. I was on my way to Amsterdam. I reached King’s Cross St Pancras Station with plenty of time to spare. Even so, the queues for boarding trains to Lille, Brussels and Paris trailed into the main hall. I played an old guessing game to keep me distracted: is that migrant, tourist, commuter, day-tripper, long-distance lover, criminal on the run or runaway? We all shuffled and foot-nudged our baggage through customs to a loop of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. A teenager with a backpack strapped to her spine sat at one of the pianos that now grace so many railway stations around Europe, thumping the keys. Her polypropylene reusable Blue Dopper water bottle wobbled on the lid... [read more]

Astrid Alben explains how only art and science together can help us understand complicated phenomena like moonlight.

London Laser 21: Astrid Alben

Central Saint Martins, 2017

Astrid Alben reads from her poems and explores how science has influenced their construction.

 

London LASER is a program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience. Free of charge and open to the public, London LASER offers stimulating talks and encourages lively discussion in an informal academic setting.

 

London LASER is hosted by University of the Arts London (Central Saint Martins MA Art and Science and The Lens) and University of Westminster (Broad Vision art/science research and learning project), in association with Leonardo/ISAST (the International Society for Art, Science and Technology). LASER is a project of Leonardo® /ISAST.

 

Alben reads a selection from Plainspeak, shares a poem by Valérie Rouzeau – translated from the French by Susan Wicks – and discusses how her work as a translator and editor of the interdisciplinary journal Findings on… influences her own poems.

Moonlight in a Box

Animation, 2015

A collaboration with illustrator Eleni Kalorkoti.

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Translations

 

Coming Soon.

© 2019 By Astrid Alben.