Follow by Email

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Sunday 21st September 1969:

Reading: HMS Ulysses, Alisdair McLean.

Recorded our tape service for Funnell and George. Sun Radio has put up their power. Going off air for 10 weeks.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019

This week's Drayton poem about Bo, Father of Lies (temporary post)

The second book of my The English Strain project (see below for the first and for more details) is entitled Bad Idea and it is a re-working of the whole of Michael Drayton’s sequence Idea; that’s 64 poems (with the addition of its ‘Address to the Reader of these Sonnets’). I’ve been at it since July 2018, one a week (more or less), now for over a year. I’ve got only one left to ‘do’ now.

I’m posting the poems temporarily, so there is only ever one at a time on this blog.

Here’s today’s. Drayton’s original (in a couple of senses: it also dates back to the first version of Idea, 1595) is a Petrarchan sonnet (in a couple of senses too: its use of paradox for one). Wyatt plays around with the borrowed Petrarchan image of burning in ice, etc, that Drayton also deploys: I use it (as the only autobiographical bit of the poem) to describe the icepack that is really on my knee as I type. I can’t march against Un-Boostered Bo at the moment (he’s hiding and lying anyway; he gives a new meaning to the term ‘lying in wait’). I did go to a rally the other week though, in Liverpool. I merely stood. They also stand who only stand and wait! Dryden has moles and creeping in his poem by the way. Read it out loud with a wee pause before the last two words.

LXII (with revisions)

As Bo begins, he mostly ends:
his best show is non-appearance. Where
he is most deficient, votes, he mostly vetoes:
his best plans are silence. I dream of
marching against him, but my knee collapses;
the ice pack burns: I drown in dry despair.
Ravished by Idea, I can think it through
but cannot write it down – without her touch.
All I desire is embedded in her body,
but her social imaginary is a project not a product.
I build my hopes a world above her utopic sky:
down below, her rabbit creeps into my mole hole.
The press films Bo saying, ‘The press isn’t here!’
The Father of Lies is fucking his Mother of Parliaments.

19th September 2019

The Father of Lies

Fortunately some other ‘Bad Idea’ poems may be read online. I’m pleased to say three poems appear in Monitor on Racism. Patricia Farrell’s two images of Bo accompany them. Thanks to Monica at Monitor. Find the poems and images here:

Four consecutive poems from Bad Idea (XLV-XLVIII) are published together in International Times. Thanks to poetry editor Rupert Loydell. HERE

I write about those here:  

Not the sort of rabbit mentioned in the poem

If you ‘do the math’ you can see that I will run out of the poems at this rate of progress, soon, at the end of September 2019, next week, to be precise, but the Flexibretension (and Bo’s extremist ‘do or die in a ditch’ deadline) runs to 31st October (‘the eve of the Day of the Dead’ as one of my poems notes, Lowryesquely). And now it looks like an election will follow in November or December. After the dreadful proroguing: ‘for those rogues have prorogued the no-deal clock’, as I put it in poem 61.

I have called a summit of Drayton’s ‘thrice-three Muses’ to discuss possibilities but they didn’t show. I’ll have to think it through myself.

Musing on the train a while back, and in the pub, waiting for Scott Thurston, I settled upon some post-revolutionary reactionary sonnets of Wordsworth, 1802-3. The idea of Bad Idea originally was that it would pass through Brexitday and onto the other side, where it might gather some positivities. (I’m not even hinting here that post-Brexit will have any positive effects itself.) There’s no chance of that timetable now, and Wordsworth won’t help (although there are poems about Kent, where the Dogging Sites of Brexit Britain, and Farage, come from! There’s potential in that. Lie back and think of Nigel! ‘After Brexit the only meat we’ll get is each others’ bodies,’ she purred: ‘Let’s go dogging!’).

Too early at the Dogging Site? Why not have a little relax?
But I have also located more of Drayton’s ‘Idea’ poems not included in the 1619 edition, 12 of them, and I thought I might use them as a now neccessary appendix to ‘Bad Idea’ itself, and also use however many I need of the 1595 edition’s poems (the ones not preserved in the 1619, obviously). I’ve sorted them but I’m not satisfied with them. Too many of them are dedicatory sonnets. Or text-book Petrarchan exercises. They are, by nature, not as good as the ones in the 1619 edition. Scholars agree. (I might post this selection on this blog at some point.)

Instead, I think I will move back reflectively through the sequence I have written as befits the title Idea’s Broken Mirror (derived from Drayton’s original title for the sonnets, Ideas Mirrour). I shall make use of both my versions of Drayton’s poems and his originals, as we move backwards, as week by week models. (The precedessor of this lies at the beginning of The English Strain: the multiple versions of Petrarch in Petrarch 3, published by Crater. See here.) The mirror is broken so it will offer a more fragmentary view (not necessarily textually, but possibly) and it will not be necessary to progress from 63 back to 1 in its entirety. So when would the break off point be? It could be anywhere I wanted it, or where history dictates: perhaps at Brexit or some other crux point, an election maybe. The sequence might be only 4 poems or 63. This personal flexi(br)extension is useful to the uncertain progression, to the need to respond to national chaos, and to the need (simply) to stop at some point.

At the moment, I see them more like my 100 word sonnets (I might even take up that form again, which I invented in the 1990s, actually, my diary tells me, 25 years ago today, and which I talk about here) in that they might be impacted, unpunctuated, multiply coherent rather than unitarily narrative. On the other hand, they are also going to be narrated from the point of view of Idea herself, obviously stripped of her Platonic and Petrarchan idealism. The Charlotte Smith versions (see below) represented my comic ‘becoming-female’ as a narrator. Perhaps here it will not be so comic. They need to reflect BACK on the poems as they already exist (the Drayton-Sheppard pairings, as it were) but they need to absorb the developing political epic of Brexit, and they should project forwards. Throughout Bad Idea she has been trying to get a word in, and when she does, she’s often quoting Rosi Braidotti, though she has developed certain human traits also (a certain plumpness and a love of gin). Perhaps she has no need of them now. As ever, of course, these thumbnails (one definition of poetics) are not blueprints. (See here on the nature of poetics as a speculative writerly discourse: 

Nevertheless, Wordsworth is potentially waiting for a new turn for the third book of The English Strain – though that thought is unthinkable in two senses: both of the post-Brexit world with which it would deal, and the thought of writing a third book of transposed sonnets! Somewhere the sonnets of John Clare lurk as final possibilities. Or quennets rising out of them like sparrows from the nest. Then it’s done…. Though I’d have my homework to do, as I have had with Petrarch, Milton, Wyatt, Surrey, Smith, Barrett Browning and Drayton. And currently Shelley. Why Shelley?

My latest thought: Perhaps use might be made of Shelley’s ‘England in 1819’ (particularly as it is alluded to in one of the Bad Idea sonnets). Perhaps the lens through which to reflect back through events (to mix and muddle optical metaphors).  

Of course, I am working on other creative projects; I just don’t NEED to post them weekly. Jamie Toy writes about the periodicity of these weekly posts in relation to the temporal progression of Brexit here, in Versopolis :

Back to touchy Micky (he was very grumpy about his lack of visibility and patronage as a poet), and this current sequence reflects that now and then. Recent research has rather revised the Victorian view of him (only a paragon of virtue could write Drayton’s verse). Here he is in court:

(Source: Capp, Bernard. “The Poet and the Bawdy Court: Michael Drayton and the Lodging-House World in Early Stuart London.” Seventeenth Century 10 (1995): 27–37.)


Poor old misunderstood Drayton is somewhat out of print at the moment, though I have found a ‘Poly-Olbion’ project online (the whole epic is online, which is refreshing), and his fine sonnet sequence ‘Idea’ (the 1619 version) is also available online; have a look at both, the latter being:

Drayton, Michael. ‘Idea.’ in Arundell Esdaile, ed. Daniel’s Delia and Drayton’s Idea.
London: Chatto and Windus: 1908. 67-141; online at Luminarium:

This is also the source ( for much more of Drayton’s poetry, including the ‘extra’ sonnets I located for possible further transpositions.

Although I am using

Tuley, Mark. ed. Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles: Five Major Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles: by Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser. Crescent Moon Publishing, Maidstone: Kent, 2010,

a careless book that even misses one sonnet out! 

In fact, I’ve also bought

Evans, Maurice, ed. Revised by Roy J. Booth. Eizabethan Sonnets. London and North Clarendon: Phoenix Paperback, 2003,

a careful book that includes the 1619 Idea entire (with original orthography) and has some notes. BUT not so careful that it doesn’t have the typo I have made use of: ‘This anthology mistypes my chosen verb ‘eternize’./ A new word enters the language as I enternize you!’

Brink, Jean R. Michael Drayton Revisited. Boston: Twayne, 1990, has also proved extremely useful in giving an overview of Drayton’s career and voluminous works.  

You know, if you’ve seen these temporary posts before, that you may read about the whole ‘English Strain’ project in a post that has links to some other accounts, and earlier parts, of this work: hereThat was 100 poems long. But I didn’t stop there though. The most recent instalment of it, Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch is now available from Knives Forks and Spoons here:

I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and see here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession (Petrarch 3 is still available from Crater) which kicked ‘The English Strain’ project into motion.

There are more excerpts from The English Strain in The Robert Sheppard Companion:

Three more overdubs of the Sussex poems of Charlotte Smith have been published at Anthropocene, an online platform run by Charlie Baylis. The first, ‘To the River Adur’ features a line or two from a letter from Lee Harwood. The second, ‘Written at a Church-yard in Middleton in Sussex’ is an overdub of Smith’s most famous poem (of that title), and ‘The sea-view’ which is a fully gender-bending Brexit-madness poem from later in the 14 part sequence.

You can go straight to them, here:

I am pleased to say I have six poems published in BlazeVOX 19, edited by Geoffrey Gatza, four of them poems from ‘The English Strain’ project, also transpositions of Charlotte Smith sonnets. You may get straight to the pages here:

Another from this part, another Charlotte Smith variation may be read in Smithereens 2, on page 15:

I read one of these at Roy Bayfield’s leaving do. More about that here:

Links to a number of the published poems from Non Disclosure Agreement (the last part of the proposed book of The English Strain) may be accessed here:

Some older ‘English Strain’ poems (from the first ‘book’) may be found here:

Ravished by Idea...

Friday 19th September 1969:

This week we have had a lot of home-work.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

First Review of Micro Event Space by Alan Baker on Litter

Hot on the foot of Andrew Taylor’s account of the Poetry and Poetics Research group on Litter, here, there appears the first review of Micro Event Space by Litter editor Alan Baker, which pretty much gets to the point of its attempted minimalism: short poems about little things in a small short run book in the neat Red Ceilings series. Alan’s final words are ‘This is a much bigger book than is apparent from its physical appearance.’ Thanks for the review Alan. Read it HERE.

Details of the book here (and lots of links to some of the (micro) events and collaborations and publications included therein):

Micro Event Space Book Launch
There’s also a review by Steve Spence of the anthology Noon: An Anthology of Short Poems, edited by Philip Rowland, that one of my short ‘twittersonnets’ in the book was published in.

My last poetry in Litter was four ‘Burnt Journal’ poems, birthday poems for poet friends:

Micro Event reader

Thursday 18th September 1969:

Number One: In the Year 2525, Zager and Evans.

Chris George gave me his small tape.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Monday, September 16, 2019

Andrew Taylor: Robert Sheppard and the Edge Hill Poetry and Poetics Research Group on Litter

Up on Litter now is ‘“Isn't it time somebody wrote all this down”: Robert Sheppard and The Edge Hill Poetry and Poetics Research Group, 1999-2013.’ This is a generous account of the PPRG, focussing on the years the author Andrew Taylor was a member, but nevertheless acknowledging that this poetics anti-workshop is still going (strong: there is a new publication on its way). There are some nice photos too, of our meetings and publications. Thanks for the article Andy.

Read it here.
Cliff Yates and Andrew Taylor talking at the 'Going Public' open meetings of the PPRG 2009

It is a detailed piece on its history, much of it I'd forgotten, and my only concerns are that it might mythologise what should remain historicised: the attempts we made to define the nature of poetics (see here) were crucial, both in terms of defining the discourse and defining OUR discourses. It is good to recall that the PPRG is still operative. There's a meeting next week!
Andrew Taylor and others at the Symposium
A version of this article was presented at the Robert Sheppard Symposium at Edge Hill University, 8th March 2017. (More about that here.)

Details of The Robert Sheppard Companion which came out of the symposium may be read here:

Pages goes back almost as far as the PPRG. Here’s an early post about it with some links:

Here’s some thoughts on the group here, which I think I posted after including the thoughts in an email to Andy; he quotes some of it:

And don’t forget that this summer I guest-edited Stride and exclusively featured the current members of the PPRG. See here for an account of that with links to all the items.

In a nice neat symmetry, there are also four new poems by original PPRG member Cliff Yates in Litter too: here:

My last appearance in Litter was four ‘Burnt Journal’ poems, birthday poems for poet friends:

Litter also carries the first review of my Micro Event Space here.

Tuesday 16th September 1969:

First tape given to me by Funnell for a comedy show.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Monday 15th September 1969:

The few have accepted my tape idea. Voted as president of the 3A Debating Society.