cris cheek is a documentary performance writer, sound composer and photographer. He worked alongside Bob Cobbing and Bill Griffiths with the Consortium of London Presses in the mid 1970s to run a thriving open access print shop for little press poets. In 1981 he co-founded a collective movement-based performance resource in the east end of London at Chisenhale Dance Space, working with choreographers, musicians and performance artists to make collaborations based in embodied movement. cris taught Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts (1995- 2002), played music with Sianed Jones and Philip Jeck as Slant, collaborated on site-responsive works about value and recycling with Things Not Worth Keeping and has been a professor at Miami University in Ohio since 2005, currently living in Cincinnati.

The usefulness of this biographical note about cheek (b. 1955), taken from his most recent book, to an extent masks the fact that most of his publications, or even information about them, are far from readily available. (Pages 322- 341 (below) and the catalogue of the Eric Mottram collection at King’s College London offer ways in.) And just as cheek’s work defies easy categorisation, the formats in which it is presented are often deliberately difficult, so that it is not always comfortable to call a publication a book, or even to call an item a publication. That is once cheek has been identified as the ‘author’ in the first place.

All of this complicates a book catalogue, of course, and one has to assume that for every handmade or unusual production here, there might be another one not here, but a high proportion of this collection is extremely rare.


CHEEK, cris. Abstract n Cumbersome. [London]: Bluff Books, nd (1976). 1st edition. 4to. Stab-stapled and glue bound. Unpaginated (32pp. printed on rectos only). His first book, described as ‘an invitation t disect found texts and transformational navigations’, namely Captain Starlight by Percy F. Westerman and The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler.

CHEEK, cris. Lardhead. Np: Bluff Books, 1976. 1st edition. 8vo. Stapled wrappers. Unpaginated (24pp.). ‘THE FIRST BOOK of LARDHEAD / being CROSS FRAGMENTS from a journal / the first vision of / father son holy ghost / power property the law / and also a journey along the river Yare / from its emergence at Shipham to Yarmouth’.

CHEEK, cris and FENCOTT, P.C. Chencott and Feek 101. London: Bluff Books and El Uel Uel U, 1976. 1st edition. 4to. Wrappers with title label affixed to the upper wrapper. Unpaginated (56pp.). The ‘result of over six months collaboration working with and improvising from each other’s work’, although the book’s production had ‘only three weeks between conception and release’. Some of the pieces remain solo contributions, ‘but the majority are as divorced as possible into common ground’: ‘the effect is, we hope, to come as close as we can at present to the way that we appear in full flight during performance’.

CHEEK, cris. Sundance Kids of the Sickle Harvest Smile. London: Bluff Books, 1976. 1st edition. 4to. Wrappers. Unpaginated (98pp. mostly printed on rectos only, of which 56pp. are half-pages). ‘ALL THE POEMS ARE TO BE READ ALOUD : WITH VIGOUR’.

CHEEK, cris and FENCOTT, P.C. Chencott and Feek 202: Domino Section. London: np (Bluff Books and El Uel Uel U), 1976. 1st edition. Narrow 8vo. Stapled wrappers. Unpaginated (36pp.). Being ‘the second in an ongoing series of collaborations, designed each as a new project both from the point of view of construction and printed appearance’. Very Good, the head edge a little spotted, and with a couple of small bumps around the spine.

CHEEK, cris. Bouquet. Np: Shabby Editions, nd (1976). 1st edition.

(CHEEK, cris.) BURKE, Herbert. Soundings with Blue. [London]: Bluff Books and Alphabox Press, 1976. 1st edition. 8vo. Stapled wrappers. Unpaginated (28pp.). Printed (in blue) by cheek, with a cover by Jeremy Adler, and published jointly by them. The work ‘was presented as a kind of freely improvised happening in June 1974 at the 7th International Festival of Sound Poetry at the National Poetry Centre’.

CHEEK, cris. short story in sound. London: Bluff Books, 1977. 1st edition. One of 140 copies. Oblong 8vo. Stab- stapled. Unpaginated (26pp. mostly printed on rectos only). Described as ‘only to be used for quotes and conversation’.

(CHEEK, cris.) WITHERS, Rose. the bald head comes of age. Np: np, [1977?]. 1st edition. Single sheet of card folded once into 4pp., square 64mo. An adaptation by cheek of an old-fashioned, found greetings card (itself dated 1977).

CHEEK, cris. first body of work. Np: Bluff Books, 1978. 1st edition. One of 150 copies. 4to. Brad bound. Unpaginated (18pp. mostly printed on one side only). With a concession to ‘all those who like to see both a name and a title on the cover of a book’. The work has its origins in December 1975.

CHEEK, cris. ANTIRRHINUM. Cambridge: Lobby Press, 1978. 1st edition. 8vo. Wrappers. Unpaginated (24pp.). Being ‘a written record of a performance given at Trinity College Cambridge, 9th March 1978… the text presented here should not be considered as fixed’.

CHEEK, cris. crossing. Np: np (Bluff gift), nd (1978). 1st edition. Oblong 16mo. Stab-stapled. Unpaginated (28pp. mostly on rectos only). Presented entirely in cheek’s holograph.

CHEEK, cris and UPTON, Lawrence. Service The Pleading A Touch of The Guillotine. London: Bluff Books and Good Elf Publications, 1978. 1st edition. 4to.

CHEEK, cris. A5 Momenta nos. 3, 7, 8. Np: Bluff Books, 1978. 1st edition. 8vo. Stapled wrappers. Unpaginated (38pp. often printed on rectos only).

CHEEK, cris and UPTON, Lawrence. IN THAT SAME VANE. Np: Bluff Books and Good Elf Publications, 1978. 1st edition. Oblong 32mo. Stab-stapled. Unpaginated (54pp. printed on rectos only). Duplicated on blue stock and interspersed with pink card dividing sheets, the whole trimmed and gathered with an appealing roughness.

[CHEEK, cris, VONNA-MICHELL, EE, and UPTON, Lawrence]. Bang Crash Catalogue Wallopp. Np: Balsam Flex, nd (1978). 1st edition. 4to. Stab-stapled at the head edge. Unpaginated (16pp.). Relating to their group, which released a handful of cassettes on Vonna-Michell’s label (here the publisher).

(CHEEK, cris.) BURKE, Herbert. Soweto: Soweto Suite, a sound elegy for several voices. London: Zimmer Zimmer Press, 1978. 1st edition. 4to. Wrappers. Unpaginated (24pp.). With a cover by cheek.

(CHEEK, cris.) BURKE, Herbert. Short Short Story, shortened from a crazy quilt. London: Bluff Books, 1978/1979. 1st edition. One of 150 copies. Oblong 8vo. Stab-stapled and tape bound. Unpaginated (72pp. printed on rectos only). Or (on the cover), Crazy Quilt Short Story.

[CHEEK, cris]. a cris mess rose. Np: np, 1979. 1st edition. 16mo contents in oblong 24mo stapled wrappers, the whole 12pp. Apparently a Christmas card, formed of stamped, stencilled, and handwritten text, with the centrespread hinting at the phrase ‘many happy returns’. Of the three stencilled letters on the cover, beneath/among the stamped words ‘a cris mess rose’, the identity of the central letter (between ‘b’ and ‘d’) is not obvious. Is it an ‘e’, to suggest a rose bed?

[CHEEK, cris]. UNOFFICIAL DIVERSION. Np: np, nd. 1st edition. Oblong narrow 8vo. Stab-stapled. Unpaginated (44pp. on rectos only). Handwritten and (predominantly) stencilled text, the latter usually just one letter per page, presented in portrait format (rather than the landscape of the hand-titled front cover).

CHEEK, cris. the potential sparing the moment. Np: a little worry interrupt, 1979. 1st edition. Oblong 4to. Stab- stapled, with unprinted A5 sheets acting as bookends. Unpaginated (40pp. printed on rectos only). ‘let’s get on with it’.

CHEEK, cris. the projects. Baltimore, MD: please forward press, 1979. 1st edition. Oblong folio. Single sheet, printed on one side only. A poster poem, typeset (mostly) but with the text errant.

CHEEK, cris. I dsplacement. Np: Shabby Editions, 1979. 1st edition. One of 50 copies. 4to. Stab-stapled. Unpaginated (24pp.). Visual work, ‘TOTAL ANTI COPYRIGHT’.

CHEEK, cris. this is a precious object, please do not bend it. Np: np, 1979. 1st edition. 4to sheet folded horizontally towards the head edge, with a near-A5 sheet stapled to the smaller panel. A playful, tricky piece, more of an art object than a publication. When the larger sheet is folded, the smaller sheet (which is unprinted) covers an image, printed in red, demonstrating how to open a carton of milk. Above the image (which seems to have been cut, from its original source, into a vague shape of much of the United States) are the words ‘openen’ and ‘ouvrir’ on the left, ‘se conserve’ on the right; when the object is itself opened (i.e. unfolded), along with the found material words in cheek’s facsimile holograph are revealed: ‘HELLO book’. These words could equally be the title, if there is one. The warning about this precious object has been handwritten by cheek on the reverse of the printed side, with crossings-out which continue the joke: ‘this is a precious object, please do not bend it’. The bend, or fold, is of course a key component. As a final peculiarity, one edge of the smaller sheet has a staple which attaches it to nothing.

[CHEEK, cris]. Spinal Fluid. Np: np, nd. 1st edition. 4to. Stab-stapled. Unpaginated (20pp.). Visual work in many colours.

CHEEK, cris. the other side of Steve Benson. Baltimore, MD: Widemouth Tapes, [1979 or 1980]. 1st edition. Widemouth # 8608. Cassette tape, with cheek’s contribution being on ‘the other side’ to Steve Benson on his own.

CHEEK, cris. A flyer for the other side of Steve Benson, consisting of cheek’s side of the cassette’s insert (uncorrected), without Benson’s on the reverse.

CHEEK, cris. 1! 2! 3! 4!. London: Shabby Editions, 1980. 1st edition. 16mo. Stapled wrappers. Unpaginated (24pp.).

CHEEK, cris. a present. London: Bluff Books, 1980. 1st edition. 4to. Wrappers. Unpaginated (196pp.). The first substantial sampling, and a suitably striking production. As Ken Edwards and Peter Middleton both outline in Pages 322-341, the book’s title suggests cheek’s description of small press books as ‘social gifts’ as well as (in Edwards’ words) ‘a writing that’s present always’. cheek’s introduction speaks of ‘these works written in cars at traffic lights, improvised onto tape and transcribed, read against music “song” ie. mahler or stockhausen ie. slowly onto tape and transcribed. or exist in their original perception ie. root and flight. moving word by phrase by letter almost, a good definition of narrative is reading order, if you need to call that linear go ahead… it’s not mechanical, it’s desire, the objective view is only a relative after all. the jolts.’

CHEEK, cris. advertisement / ‘construction of cottage’. London: Bluff Books, nd. 1st edition. Single sheet folded once into 4pp., 8vo. Prints a poem across the centrespread, with the upper and lower panels advertising a present, including with visual work.

CHEEK, cris. The Hill: a science fiction of sorts. London: Bluff Books, 1980. 1st edition. Oblong 8vo. Stab-stapled. Unpaginated (44pp.).

[CHEEK, cris]. Shape Speaks. Np: np, 1980. 1st edition. 4to. Sixty loose sheets, printed on one side only, held in an obi. ‘Instantprints’, which word might equally be the title (or part of it), if there is one.

(CHEEK, cris.) GOWNS, etta and WHITEY-GREEN. the ruts. Baltimore, MD: please forward press, 1980. 1st edition. Oblong folio. Single sheet, printed on one side only. A poster by cheek and Patty Karl, with found and facsimile holograph material in numerous amorphous shapes.

(CHEEK, cris.) REALITY, Chuck. Chloride Granley. Np: please forward press, 1981. 1st edition. Folio. Single sheet, printed on one side only. A poster by cheek, with blocks of text in facsimile holograph laid over a background of newspaper cuttings. The apparent title refers to a security systems company (a provider of burglar alarms, for example).

CHEEK, cris. Balance Wipes. Np: Shabby Editions, 1982. 1st edition. 4to. Stab-stapled at the right-hand side. Unpaginated (36pp. mostly printed on rectos only). Or balance (tears) wipes: a sense of actt action made by watt water wipes on paper plates. between the Rotaprint Offset Litho machine ‘shape’ and cris cheek: ‘framing. movement of hands in given space defining as much by what is as what isn’t here. much love.’

CHEEK, cris. performed in private. Paris, France: [Pressed Curtains], nd. 1st edition. 4to. Stapled at top corner. Unpaginated (12pp.). A work from early 1977 reproduced here in facsimile holograph, published by Paul Buck as Twisted Wrist 8. Fine.

[CHEEK, cris]. Chisenhale Project: an interim declaration of intention issued during May 1983. [London]: [Chisenhale collective], 1983. 1st edition. 4to. Stapled at top corner. Unpaginated (10pp. printed on rectos only). A duplicated document by cheek, who was a co-founder of Chisenhale Dance Space in East London. He writes of the collective, for example: ‘A capacity for questioning and analysis as well as participation is what we are specifically involved in developing with regard to received notions of sports, fashion and sexuality.’

(CHEEK, cris.) SLANT. Hive. UK: These Records, 1989. 1st pressing. THESE 5. LP record (33 1/3 rpm). The debut album by Slant, which consisted primarily of cheek, Sianed Jones, and Philip Jeck.

CHEEK, cris. Cloud Eyes (version). London: Microbrigade, 1991. 1st edition. 8vo. Stapled wrappers. Unpaginated (10pp.).

(CHEEK, cris.) SLANT. Slant. Lowestoft: Sound & Language, 1993. 1st edition. SLCD0001. CD.

(CHEEK, cris.) SLANT. the canning town chronicle… Lowestoft: Sound & Language, 1994. 1st edition. SLCD0020. CD.

CHEEK, cris. attributes ATTRIBUTES. London, June 1995. 1st edition. 4to. Stab-stapled. [40pp. printed on rectos only]. Published as Pages 322-341, edited by Robert Sheppard, with a response by Ken Edwards, an essay by Peter Middleton, and a bibliography.

CHEEK, cris. skin upon skin. Np: Sound & Language, 1996. 1st edition. SLCD0300. CD also including Sianed Jones, plus liner collages by Ulli Freer.

CHEEK, cris and JONES, Sianed. Songs From Navigation. London: Reality Street Editions, 1997. 1st edition. Oblong 16mo. Wrappers. 72pp. With a 60-minute audio CD affixed inside the lower wrapper, the work ‘integrates and addresses our collaborative practices across publishing formats for the first time’.

CHEEK, cris. the church – the school – the beer. Oxford, OH: Critical Documents, 2007. 1st edition. One of 500 copies. 24mo. Wrappers. 200pp. ‘The title comes from a phrase used by some Inuit people to describe a tawdry journey that they feel is mapped out for them to make into modernity, from a child to an adult’. Published as Plantarchy 3 edited by Justin Katko, and with photographs by Sianed Jones.

CHEEK, cris. part: short life housing. Toronto, ON, Canada: The Gig, 2009. 1st edition. 8vo. Wrappers. xii, 260pp. Poems ‘performing thematic extraction’, a selection across two decades ‘intended to perform models of poetic writing practice drawn out of engagement with demotic tensions between self, community, neighborhood and the public sphere’. With back cover quotations by Caroline Bergvall, Carla Harryman, and Peter Manson.

CHEEK, cris. Pickles & Jams. Kenmore, NY: BlazeVOX [books], 2017. 1st edition. 8vo. Wrappers. 120pp. Described by cheek as ‘occasional poems, born out a desire [sic] to respond to events in the wake of the Fukushima earthquake and Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, as well as to the subsequent occupy and post-occupy poetics of later that same year’.

CHEEK, cris. Fukc All the King’s Men: The Tower and a Few Beasts Living in Its Rubble. La Farge, WI: Xexoxial Editions, 2018. 1st edition. 4to. Wrappers. 30pp. Published as Xerolage 70, edited by mIEKAL aND: ‘Consider this book a drill into morphological sequence, an edit from corral to distinction.’