Simon Jenner Portrait

Born Cuckfield Sussex 1959. After Leeds, Jenner took his Cambridge PhD ’Oxford Poetry of the 1940s’.

Reviews appear in Stride, Tears in the Fence, PN Review, Dundee Review. Received a South East Arts Bursary, Royal Literary Fund grants and Fellowships (UEL, Chichester Universities, 2008-10) and broadcast on the BBC. Director of Survivors' Poetry since 2003.

His debuts were bi-lingual volumes in Germany, (1996/97). About Bloody Time followed with Waterloo in 2006.

Wrong Evenings appeared 2011. Two for Joy (2013) was featured in the PBS in an overview of Jenner's work in Tears in the Fence (Winter, 2013) as is an Agenda Edition of poems about composers in April 2014, Airs to Another Planet.

Simon Jenner’s third collection Two For Joy establishes him as an emerging major poet. This collection ranges over a wider period (2005-13), sharpens perspectives on new achievements and almost casually evinces what a multi-valent, exasperating poet he is.

Jenner’s Two For Joy:- ‘Poetry to be read aloud, and heard – a rewarding and beautiful collection. Rhythmic, musical, and precisely crafted… which open on the senses but will continue to play with the mind... There is death, suicide even, and yet this is a joyous collection, in love with language. Daringly, provocatively and damningly funny. So here is a poet, unashamedly intellectual, difficult, modern… unafraid of fun, who is witty, structured, and does not run from pun or rhyme should the occasion demand it. A virtuoso. He has courage. Be brave. Read him. You will not regret it.’ Beth McDonagh’s review of Jenner’s Two for Joy: (Dundee University Review of the Arts)

Following his launch of Pessoa (Perdika, 2009) at the Portuguese Embassy in 2010 by Poet in the City, he’s taken up their first Residency programme in 2014 alongside Mario Petrucci, David Harsent, Fiona Sampson Joe Shapcott and Andrew Motion.

Poetry/articles appear in e.g. Agenda, Angel Exhaust, PN Review. Perdika are also bringing out his line-for-line translation of Propertius Elegies Book I, the famous Monobiblios. 'Cynthia snared me first, disastering with her eyes,/a fool who’d never fleered to lust’s palsy....' Yes, that about sums it up.

Bookmark and Share

Please tell others

Forward by Simon Jenner

Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore

Don is a physical actor, Morris dancer, marathon runner and a painter whose work has inspired the forward by Julian Bell. He can fairly be described as post-neo-Romantic, taking a few bearings from the 1940s schools but too vividly individual and various to be typecast. He ranges from mimetic portraits of e.g. Dennis Healey and the late Patrick Moore to neo-abstraction. Particularly fine is a hyper-naturalist portrait of the late potter Ursula Mommens, great-great-grand-daughter of Charles Darwin and Josiah Wedgewood. This astonishing pencil portrait answers Faulkner’s own need to both analyse and express through the same medium.

Julian Bell in a neatly riddling strapline announces ‘Don Faulkner's work is about time and against time...’ Up to a point. Bell extrapolates the nub of this extraordinary artist in time as well:

‘If there is a tradition that Faulkner's oeuvre cleaves to, it is that headed by Samuel Palmer and revived in the 1940s by 'Neo-Romantics' such as Cecil Collins and the early Graham Sutherland’


Where There is Life There is Hope

You only have to see the (often yellow-backed) protean spikes of early Sutherland, the flatter reliefs of Collins (figures less Gordian, more decorative) and the impasto'd pastorals of Palmer - froths of hallucinatory light - to see that Faulkner swerves wildly from the 1940s, just as say Lucian Freud takes from Michael Ayrton and John Minton then thickens into his hyper-realist self. We owe the neo-Romantics far more than we know.

First up, an early Faulkner roots here an expressionist handling of a hanging man's cry ('Where there is life there is hope'). The rest is as good.

Simon Jenner Portrait

Artists from other media have attested to the way Faulkner encapsulates their activity. Actor/Director/Playwright Jack Shepherd is one such:

‘I first met Don at an actor’s workshop at Lewes Little Theatre in 2008. Impressed by his passion for acting, his willingness to experiment and his skills in physical acting, I cast him in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, an epic production where he played a variety of roles – opium addict, unwelcome guest at the opera, excelling as the flamboyant Jewish theatre manager, an important role which he carried off with ant like glee.’

Another, John Illsley, (Dire Straits bassist) attests Faulkner’s early influence:

‘I had a very good art teacher Don Faulkner whose radical approach to how art is perceived turned out to be quite a role model for me. He inspired a love of the energy in art. I’ve kept that thread in all my work – how you can contain that energy – he taught me that.’

brightly coloured design incorporating fish

Sussex Downland Under Cresent Moon

His portrait of myself – reproduced on my latest volume of poetry (Two for Joy, Waterloo 2013), might also help pique interest in this superb artist.

Faulkner’s batik work ( drawing with hot fluent wax on silk against several dyes ) as well as his printmaking and lino-work, invests a range of handling similar images. It also heightens or flattens typified expression in the prints, lends acid-bright primaries an edge in the batik work. Thus there are several palettes in Faulkner one grows accustomed to, after a dizzying spell in front of any representative sample of his work - he owns a press from 1850, a retirement present from his College.

Sussex Downland under Waxing Moon

Sussex Downland under Waxing Moon

There’s an ‘If’: Faulkner’s range makes him less predictable, though his sheer character coheres in elegant variations: realist portraits, feathering and flaking (‘Arthur and Victoria’); pointillist care in the drawings too (e.g. of Ursula Mommens); vibrant pastorals responding to the above pressures, live in a kind of amniotic fluid, images swirl in levels like a sunset seen through a block of ice (‘Sussex Under Crescent Moon' and 'Sussex Downland under Waxing Moon’). These anchor landscape as if it’s a seabed: never quite scraping it. What Faulkner extrapolates is ‘inscape’ (Gerard Manley Hopkins’ term) of things. Eschewing caricature in portraits, the essential Faulkner does though manipulate paint and landscape more ruthlessly to a pained ecstasy. Bell suggests:

‘In Faulkner's reaching towards pattern and towards what he calls 'the essential character' of living things, he hits on a kind of visual answer to his questions about time. And in his exemplary good craftsmanship, he is building, moreover, to last.’

Faulkner, like other descendants of this great movement, ranges far beyond it. Asking the dangerous question of what contemporary painting is, he becomes contemporary forever.'

Page up...