The Rottweiler's Guide to the Dog Owner



A groundbreaking, aberrant but ever ebullient love letter to those who deserve it, The Rottweiler’s Guide to the Dog Owner refracts marriage, death, friendship, violence and love through SJ Fowler’s modernist poetic in an attempt to encapsulate the Poundian enterprise of all experience, no matter it’s grandiosity or banality, as feed for poetry. Utterly contemporary, rapid, concise, this collection of poetry suites is a massive, savage world of language and meaning miniaturised and recapitulated – this is a poetry of disjunctive affection, misshapen intimacy and the awkward music of our daily lives.

The Rottweiler's Guide to the Dog Owner is made up of 13 different sequences or commissions, including works written for VerySmallKitchen, Zimzalla, The Enemigos project, Lush and the Wortwedding gallery. The book also features works that call on, or celebrate, the poetry of Anselm Hollo, Tom Raworth & Jack Spicer.

SJ Fowler's poems deal with disjunctions and interjections. They present us with a world that moves fast and often violently, where the lyrical impulse flowers, breaks and flowers again, too briefly to assert its full syntactic argument. We have to trust our ears, both the music and the rush of fragments. Individual poems and sequences deal with personal feeling, with politics, and, are often engaged with other writers, other places. Fowler's poetics are an open space packed with brilliant intensities. The reader has to live among them not to get blown away. — George Szirtes


SJ Fowler high res

SJ Fowler is a poet, artist, martial artist and vanguardist. He has published six collections of poetry, been commissioned for original works of poetry, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance by the Tate, the London Sinfonietta and Mercy. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine and curator of the Maintenant series and the Enemies project. Gorse Magazine called him 'one of the most exciting you poets at work today'.

A recent review by 3:AM Magazine can be found here

Fowler reading 'wolves in chernobyl' from The Rottweiler's Guide to the Dog Owner:

today is nothing. the future won’t come
– Vasyl Stus

April 26th 1986


but even apart from our wood
I do not know how one should say
things in the dark have colour

will the wise do things,
things that are forbidden,
knowing it won’t be found out?
a simple answer isn’t easy to find
but freedom from trouble in the thing
and from pain in the thing
are still in the pleasure,
but joy in the thing, and exultation,
are considered, involving motion.


all the day
life in the town goes on as normal
families shop and walk their dogs
fisherman lug their tackle off to the Prypyat river
couples sunbath around the cooling ponds
football matches go ahead
as do sixteen outdoor weddings
sponsored by the communist youth league


how can an object be good if it withdraws the pleasures of taste,
(retreat for the cowardly)
and withdraws the pleasures of love…
and withdraws the pleasures of hearing…
the call of the button
and withdraws the pleasurable emotions caused to sight by beautiful form?
yet it can be, good,
giving, living in the goodness of our wood.
by stable condition, by well-being,
by the sure hope of its continuance,
Kyiv, it was good, rightly calculated
do not eat green vegetables
or milk.


the nature of the universe is things and void.
the nature of all existing things is body and space.
the nature of all space is things and colour.
if you wish to make me wealthy,
wish me not to make me glow,
but diminish my desire.

yet do not extinguish my desire,
allow me just enough left that I may not preach of being one,
or without desire, and above my peers,
but happy in the clutching of a ball
or an artist’s postcard.
or a parents plot of land.
I hold in my hand my most precious object
– one’s own pickled, cancerous appendix.


I am thrilled with pleasure in the thing’s body.
I spit black spit
on clear glass that is not somehow opaque
- or how we say ‘frosted’ – not for its own sake,
ancient armour, a gift from the basalt,
that blocks waves
because of the inconveniences that follow them.
With protection we may have a feast.

the schools debated whether or not to go ahead
with a planned ‘Health run’
and settled on outdoor gymnastics instead


this is not anxious to please the mob.
for what pleases them, it does not know,
and what it does know is far removed from their comprehension.
it knows that when flesh cries aloud,
not possessing flesh,
it is unnatural that the mind should cry aloud too.
a silent stomach communicates in sweeping thoughts


it is better to be a thing of wool
and rag
that provokes freedom from fear
than a golden couch that brings trouble and woe.

sweet is the simple memory of a dead thing,
a friend,
a flag
and how one would not mind so much the joining of you both.

more firemen came up
complaining of vomiting and acute headaches


if this wooden thing listened
to the prayers of all men,
all men would quickly have perished;
for they are forever praying death
against one another.

if the prayers of women were to come true…
of this i cannot speak, knowing not.

a foal had been born with eight legs
piglets without eyes
calves without heads or ribs.
deformities due to in breeding


vain is the thing that does not heal suffering in man
for there is nothing new happening in the universe,
the warp closes like a mouth,
always readied for opening.

If we consider the infinite time passed,
and thus there is no excuse for distractions.
dumb things are for drowning,
thus the sea is deep.

helped us understand we are a colony

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