Material Poetries: Simone Fattal & Maggie O'Sullivan

  • Online event
  • Wednesday, 19 January 2022
  • Live discussion, starting at 6pm. Part of our Sculpture & Poetry Research Season, developed in partnership with Corridor8 and the University of Leeds.

Simone Fattal and Maggie O’Sullivan discuss the stories and echoes we excavate when using materials or languages that have complex histories.

Simone Fattal is an artist and ceramicist. Her work ranges from painting to stoneware. Her work explores symbols of home and displacement that span the personal and mythic via archaeology and figuration. Maggie O’Sullivan is a poet and artist. Her work ranges from experimental verse to textile sculptures. Her work explores connections between the visual and aural qualities of languages as they animate complex issues of voice, voicelessness and presence.

This event is the third in a four-part series that brings together two acclaimed practitioners from different backgrounds for artistic ‘blind dates’, where they discuss how their work combines a care for materiality with a desire to stretch language.

Chaired by Nick Thurston (Associate Professor in Fine Art, University of Leeds), the four events establish a series of new conversations. Our guests come from across four generations and five continents. They work with many languages and almost as many disciplines, including installation art, dance, performance poetry, ceramics, textiles and digital literature. All events will feature solo presentations and live conversations held online. Extra reference resources for each guest and an evolving package of engagement activities for schools and families will be available to access on the project microsite.

Preparatory listening & reading

Maggie O’Sullivan, this earth brought into and “all origins are lonely”

This reading is taken from this earth brought into, which is the opening section from Maggie’s current work-in-progress. This poem refines some of the earlier typographical experiments but explores a markedly different tone of thought about non-human animals, their sounds and behaviours, and how poetry can resist the pastoral imagination.

Download a transcript of this earth brought into (PDF, 0.3mb)


Maggie O’Sullivan reads the title poem from her 2003 book "all origins are lonely", a book full of colourful drawings and experiments with typography, and a period of work that Maggie discusses in detail with Dell Olsen in her ‘How 2 Work/Book’ interview from 2003. 

Download a transcript of all origins are lonely (PDF, 4.1mb)


‘History is a Continuous Movement’: An Interview with Simone Fattal

Simone Fattal talks to Negar Azimi about collage and sculpture in the run up to her retrospective exhibition Works and Days at MoMA PS1 in New York in 2019. The interview was published by Frieze magazine in Spring 2019.

Read the interview on

About the speakers

Simone Fattal was born in Damascus, Syria, and raised in Lebanon, where she studied philosophy at the École des Lettres in Beirut. She then moved to Paris, where she continued her philosophical pursuits at the Sorbonne. In 1969 she returned to Beirut and began working as a visual artist, exhibiting her paintings until the start of the Lebanese Civil War. She left Lebanon in 1980 and settled in California, where she founded the Post-Apollo Press, a publishing house dedicated to innovative and experimental literary work. In 1988 she enrolled at the Art Institute of San Francisco, which prompted a return to her artistic practice and a newfound dedication to sculpture and ceramics. Fattal currently lives in Paris. Her work is included in several public collections, including the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Yves Saint Laurent Foundation (Marrakech), Sursock Museum (Beirut), Sharja Art Foundation, and the National Museum of Qatar (Doha). Recent solo exhibitions of her work were held at MoMA PS1 (New York, 2019), Bergen Kunsthall (2019), Pinault Collection (Venice, 2019), Musée Yves Saint Laurent (Marrakech, 2018), and the Rochechouart Museum of Contemporary Art (2017).

Maggie O'Sullivan is a poet, artist, editor and publisher who lives in West Yorkshire. She has performed her work and published internationally since the late 1970s. Her many books include In the House of the Shaman (Reality Street, 1993), eXcLa with Bruce Andrews (Writers Forum, 1993), red shifts (etruscan, 2001), Palace of Reptiles (The Gig, 2003), all origins are lonely (Veer, 2003), Body of Work (Reality Street, 2006), ALTO (Veer, 2009), Murmur: Tasks of mourning (Veer, 2011), Waterfalls (Reality Street, 2012) and Courtship of Lapwings (if p then q, 2021). The Salt Companion to Maggie O'Sullivan (Salt Publishing, 2011) contains some of the extensive scholarship and criticism on her work. Her editorial work includes the anthology Out of Everywhere: Linguistically innovative poetry by women in North America and the UK (Reality Street, 1996).

Sculpture & Poetry Research Season

This six-month research season celebrates practitioners and scholars who explore the connections between poetry and sculpture and have developed critical or imaginative ways of turning our attention to them. It brings together two academic conferences and four public discussions between renowned artists and poets.

See all Sculpture & Poetry Research Season events

Sculpture & Poetry microsite

A free-to-access, dynamic microsite, developed with our media partner Corridor8, forms a digital archive for this season.

It serves as a searchable resource for the whole programme as it grows, creates connections between content and themes, and includes comprehensive bios and reference material.

Venue details

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