Cris Cheek

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cris cheek (intentionally uncapitalized) is a multimodal poet, performance writer, and professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Born in London in 1955, he lived and worked in that capital until the early 1990s. An early influence was working alongside Bill Griffiths and Bob Cobbing at the Poetry Society printshop in London and the Writers Forum group of poets who met with regularity on the premises in Earls Court, such as Allen Fisher. In 1981 he was a co-founder of Chisenhale Dance Space and for much of that decade worked on diverse projects alongside musicians from the London Musicians Collective, choreographers and live artists. His music and sound collaborations include Slant (a trio with Philip Jeck and Sianed Jones). His radio program "Music of Madagascar" produced for BBC Radio 3 won a Sony Gold Specialist Award (now Radio Academy Awards) in 1995. Between 1994-2005 he and Sianed Jones were based in the most easterly English town of Lowestoft. He taught on the Performance Writing course from 1995 at Dartington College of Arts where he became a Research Fellow in interdisciplinary text (2000-2002). A large body of interdisciplinary performance writing was produced in collaboration with Kirsten Lavers under the author function Things Not Worth Keeping between 1999-2007. In 2005 he became a professor at Miami University in Ohio. He was Altman Fellow in The Humanities Center Miami University 2011-12, co-presenting the Networks and Power symposium and a conference on Network Archaeology from which an issue of the online journal Amodern, co-edited with Nicole Starosielski and Braxton Soderman, was published. He currently lives in Northside, Cincinnati with Dr. Erin Edwards.

Early life and work[edit]

cris cheek was born in Enfield, London and educated at Highgate School, graduating in 1972. He worked at the printshop of the Consortium of London Presses in the basement of the Earls Court premises of the National Poetry Centre between 1975-77. Initially he helped Bill Griffiths and Bob Cobbing to produce in-house volumes of Poetry Review there under the editorship of Eric Mottram and became print shop manager in 1977. He is among a wave of poets in London following the lead of the British Poetry Revival whose poetry integrates spatial, sonic and semantic performative concerns. His early live performance work was in duet with Clive Fencott and then a trio with the addition of Lawrence Upton as JGJGJJGJG (as long as you can say it that's our name). They were on occasion joined by Bill Griffiths and Jeremy Adler. He ran several little press imprints such as Bluff Books, Shabby Editions and the little worry interrupt as well as editing the short-lived magazine RAWZ. Through his work with Jacky Lansley and Fergus Early on their production I Giselle he became involved with X6 Dance Space and then Chisenhale Dance Space and subsequently made collaborations with influential New Dance choreographers such as Mary Prestidge, Kirstie Simson, Miranda Tufnell and Dennis Greenwood, Patricia Bardi, Michael Clark and Sue MacLennan between 1982-1986. In 1987 he and Sianed Jones traveled to Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar researching into social forms of music and dance.

Recent life and works[edit]

cris cheek lived in Hackney and Canning Town between 1981-1994. Whilst working for dance and performance artists and improvising music groups, he began writing songs with Sianed Jones, performing and recording with Philip Jeck as Slant. Slant released 3 albums, Hive (These Records, 1989), Slant (Sound & Language, 1993) and The Canning Town Chronicle (Sound & Language, 1994). Jones and cheek moved to Lowestoft as global internet networks bloomed. He was very active in poetics e-list communities for the following twenty years. During this time, he taught Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts, working alongside Caroline Bergvall as well as many others. cheek also made contemporary vaudeville shows with folk musician Chris Foster that toured to village halls and community centers around England.

While working at Dartington cris began teaching with and subsequently working with Kirsten Lavers to produce a substantial web of projects under the author function Thinks Not Worth Keeping, shortened to TNWK.


cheek's creative writing works include:

  • a present. London: Bluff Books, 1980
  • Mud. London: London: Spanner/Open Field, 1984
  • Cloud Eyes. London: Microbrigade, 1991
  • Skin upon skin. Lowestoft: CD, Sound & Language, 1996
  • Stranger. Lowestoft: Sound & Language, 1996
  • Songs from Navigation. Hastings: book+CD, Reality Street, 1998
  • the church, the school, the beer. Oxford, Ohio: Critical Documents, 2007
  • part: short life housing. Toronto: The Gig, 2009
  • Pickles & Jams. Buffalo: BlazeVOX, 2017

His works have been published in various magazines, literary miscellanies and anthologies, including:

  • Anthology of Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry.Oxford University Press, 2001
  • Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1999
  • The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book. Carbondale: Southern Indiana University, 1984
  • Conductors of Chaos. Picador: London, 1996
  • Floating Capital. Elmwood, Connecticut: Poets & Poets Press, 1991

MC, CD and CD-R[edit]

  • Crayon (NY), Widemouth (Baltimore)
  • Little Magazine (Albany)
  • Balsam Flex (London)

Critical articles[edit]

  • Bob Cobbing’s Performances: of Production and Circulation. Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, 2012. Canterbury: Gylphi, 2012. Volume 4. Number 2
  • Reading and Writing: the Sites of Performance. (
  • Giving Tongue. Assembling Alternatives: Reading Postmodern Poetries Transnationally Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003
  • Sky Tails: An Encryption of Dispersal. published in Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth, Toronto: The Gig, 2003
  • Implicit. Additional Apparitions: Poetry, Performance and Site Specificity Sheffield: The Cherry On the Top Press, 2002

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]