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Monday, March 25, 2019

Robert Sheppard and Patricia Farrell: Collaborating as part of the Manchester European Camarade: April 2019

European Camarade : Manchester


April Saturday 13th 2019


7.30pm - Free Entry

The International Anthony Burgess Foundation 3 Cambridge St, Manchester M1 5BY, UK

The European Poetry Festival comes to Manchester with some of the finest modern poets of the thriving Manchester (and surrounding!) scene in collaborative pairs with writers visiting from across Europe, though some locals, like us, are working together. (As we have for over 30 years, though not like this!) New performances made for the night in this unique Camarade event. Featuring

Kim Campanello and Leonce Lupette
Harry Man and Krisjanis Zelgis
Scott Thurston and Simona Nastac
Tom Weir and Endre Ruset
Colin Herd and Morten Langeland
Martin Kratz and Inga Pizane
Sophie Carolin Wagner and Maria Sledmere
Robert Sheppard and Patricia Farrell
Nell Osborne and Vilde Valerie Bjerke Torset
Sarah-Clare Conlon and Jazmine Linklater
Tom Jenks and SJ Fowler
Tania Hershman and Christodoulos Makris

Patricia and I decided to work on Christopher Marlowe’s almost collaboration with Sir Walter Raleigh, their dialogues between Shepherd and Nymph. We are taking as vocabulary the pages of Anthony Burgess’ excellent novel Death in Deptford in which the two poets meet and talk. It all seems to fit together, particularly in terms of location. Then we undertook an antonymic translation of the poem to create the reply (like Walt and Kit in the 1590s). We discovered that this was not a mechanical exercise: what is the opposite of 'Aristotelian', for example? 

This year’s (and last year’s) information and full documentation may be found here

Last year's group picture

It’s always an interesting and varied evening. The last (2018) Manchester Euro reading was partly a launch for Twitters for a Lark


All the videos are to be found here: 




At the 2018 Manchester launch I was also collaborating with a real Lithuanian poet Rimas Uzgiris, https://www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/rimas-uzgiris

which I thought went well. You may also see that here. AND I posted the text itself, a lyrical piece called 'Unreadable Expressions', on this blog HERE

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

If you can't wait to see Patricia read, she's also on in Manchester before then:

Friday, March 22, 2019

Robert Sheppard: Four Burnt Journal poems published on Litter (links)

I’m pleased to say I have four of my ‘Burnt Journal’ poems published on Alan Baker’s intermittent but active blogzine Litter, published by his Leafe Press.

You may read them here.

‘Burnt Journals’, like ‘Empty Diaries’, which they superficially resemble, come with dates attached, in this case: 1968, 1977 (twice!) and 1978. The poems are written as birthday poems, and the largest group published is in my book Berlin Bursts. (Two of them are also on this blog, ‘Burnt Journal 1924’ (the earliest, as it were), written for my father, and ‘Burnt Journal 1939’ for Lee Harwood. See here and here.) I find the writing of ‘occasional’ poems quite demanding, but the technique and materials I have used for this (non-) sequence often produces good results. Not always though (as with any series). The rough aim is to create a mirage, rather than a description, of the particular year: after all, the recipients won't remember it!

Method: I take the person’s birth year and turn to the relevant pages of Tom Phillips’ anthology The Postcard Century (it's arranged chronologically, 1900-2000) and write through/from the images until I have  amassed enough material to process/collage/work through, in ways as I described in my non-delivered ‘talk’ about my use of photographs, here. In a sense, this domesticates the techniques I used to write ‘Empty Diaries’ where I collected notes made from multiple sources over a long period of time. Here I’m not ashamed to acknowledge that some of the selecting has been undertaken by Phillips before me. And usually, these poems have to be produced quickly for events (as is the case with three out of the four here), as well as simply for the deadline/birthday!

The four presented on Litter are all for men, but that’s a coincidence of availability, the ones I had free to send, since others are for Geraldine Monk, Frances Presley, Mary Prestege…

‘Burnt Journal 1968’ was written for Simon Perril, and you may read about the occasion here. There’s more about Simon here too. (There’s quite a lot of material about Simon as poet and critic on this blog, and there are additional links in these.) This will be appearing in my little book of little poems, Micro Event Space to be published by Red Ceilings Press later this year.

‘Burnt Journal 1977’ (or rather the first and second) were written for Chris McCabe (who held a birthday do in the Ship and Mitre) and for James Byrne (who I think was not around for his actual birthday). I found there were enough photographs in the Phillips book for two poems.

The same with ‘Burnt Journal 1978’, because I’d used the same materials to write a very different birthday poem a few years before for Eleanor Rees (see here or here: Burnt Journal 1978). This new one, ‘Parade’ was written for my colleague, the novelist, short story-writer and biographer Rodge Glass, as a request for his birthday ‘do’, which is described here. I like that line about ‘Calculated misreadings of Adorno’.

Other ‘Burnt Journals’ available online include one for Frances Presley here, and one for Patricia Farrell, here. (The last one is newly revised.)   
  
I know what you’re thinking: what will I do when I face the first millennial? Answer: I don’t know. Maybe that’s when I’ll start my other un-written (non)series ‘Drowned Books’ using different materials!


Thursday, March 21, 2019

This week's Brexit poem containing genuine arguments for May to extend Article 50 (temporary post this week's Drayton re-write)

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 second book of The English Strain is entitled Bad Idea and, instead of being made up of shorter sampled re-writings of classic sonnets, 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).  

Before I reveal today’s work – I’m posting the poems temporarily, so there is only ever one at a time on this blog – I’m pleased to say that the first three poems to be published from Bad Idea have now appeared in Monitor on Racism. Amid many important articles on the varieties and modes of racism, I hope my humble skits on Brexit still have something to say (in the limited, contextual way poetry can) about our world today. Patricia Farrell’s two images of Bo accompany them. Find them here. http://monitoracism.eu/from-bad-idea/

Watch Bo spaffing prejudice here:


I genuinely believe that today’s poem could help Theresa May in arguing her reasons for an extension of Article 50 (I thought that that was a pamphlet by Kelvin Corcoran: perhaps he should extend it to a full-length book?). I genuinely believe that Michael Drayton and I (how odd that Bercow names a statute of 1604 (a year Drayton didn’t issue an update of his poems: he did it in 1603 and 1605!!)) … I believe my poem has all the pleas she can make:

XXXVI

The PM, in blind faith, sticks to her sticks
but fails to stir leavers or believers
to a chorus of Land of Nope and Glory, flies,
like Time, to the EU, against it, to conjure more:
‘By hellish Bo, who swears against and spaffs upon,
By Gove, who thunders, horny Jove of the empty lorry park,
By the ERG’s little list of traitors, by Moggy’s little vow
that Ireland is just a little country (where he stashes dosh),
By little Berco with his statute as old as Drayton’s sonnets
(how dare he stop me asking again and again and again),
By all true leavers who march sodden without Farage,
By all wounds on the Remainer’s rearing remains,
I implore you to extend Article 50 by a quarter
or you’ll be named and shamed in Infernal Brexile!’

21st March 2019: but I'm revising it now. Return for updates FRIDAY morning (08.26):



XXXVI

The PM, in blind faith, sticks to her sticks
but fails to stir Leavers or believers
to a chorus of Land of Hype and Glory, flies,
like Time, to the EU, against it, to conjure more:
‘By hellish Bo, who swears against and spaffs upon,
By Gove, who thunders, Jove of the empty lorry park,
By the ERG’s little list of traitors, by Moggy’s notion
that Ireland is just a little nation (where he stashes dosh),
By little Berco with his statute as old as Drayton’s sonnets
(how dare he stop me asking again and again and again),
By all true Leavers who march sodden without Farage,
By all wounds on the Remainer’s rearing remains,
I implore you to extend Article 50 by a quarter
or you’ll be named and shamed in Infernal Brexile!’

21st March 2019



“We never thought a grown-up, stable, democratic, Western European society would use Article 50” - Lord Kerr

JESUS: it’s WORLD poetry day today!

We never
thought a
grown-up, stable,
democratic,

Western
European society
would use
Article 50

My joke in a previous poem:

Idea shifts her denim on a barstool, eyes the TV, thinks: 
I can see it all: he’ll eye up Daniel’s Delia next,
covet more sonnets to stockpile through this mess!

is prophetic. My Drayton’s sonnets are finite (64). And it’s true, that I covet other sequences, Daniel’s if we need them, but maybe Richard Barnfield’s shorter sequence, if there’s an extension of Article 50. But if it’s for TWO YEARS, what will I do? I don’t care about the economy! What about my poem?

Of course I’m only joking, but Graham Greene’s famous splinter of ice is lodged firmly in the heart of every artificer. As I also said in the poem I’ve quoted from above:

Our mutual minds see this heartless truth of poesis,
the craving of art, the carving of artifice.


Poor old artificer Drayton is somewhat out of print at the moment, though I have found a ‘Poly-Olberon’ project online, (the whole epic is online, which is refreshing), and his fine sonnet sequence ‘Idea’ is available online, including the one I’ve just translated above; 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:  http://www.luminarium.org/editions/idea.htm

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 now bought

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

a careful book that includes Idea entire (with original orthography) and has notes.

The English Strain (part one) is complete. The latest instalment of it, Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch is now available from Knives Forks and Spoons here:

https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/hap-understudies-of-thomas-wyatt-s-petrarch-by-robert-sheppard-26-pages


I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and see here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession, which ‘The English Strain’ project into motion.

There are more excerpts from The English Strain in the current Poetry Wales.  

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:


More older ‘English Strain’ may be found here:


I talk about my latest writing in my interview with rob mclennan; see here:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

My REF statement describing my Veer volume UNFINISH

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I may be retired from Edge Hill but they can still submit my publications from my period of employment in the (mostly-dreaded) REF process. Part of the process for those entering creative writing involves the writing of a 300 word introduction to the work. That’s four out of the five. I thought I’d put them on my blog. I don’t think I’ve perjured myself.
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But for Unfinish, these be the words; I’m not offering them as a model, but they might help somebody write their own. It might also – in this context – draw people’s attention to the book, persuade them to buy it, even. It’s one of my least-noticed books, but one of my favourites. This is what I say:

Unfinish. London: Veer Publications, 2015
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Unfinish is an attempt, in 7 prose pieces, in different styles, to test out some of the following theses, and to produce a variety of experimental forms in response to some of the axioms printed at the beginning of the miscellany: ‘Interruption is one of the fundamental devices of all structuring’ (Walter Benjamin). A poetics piece, in the form of a letter to the poet Sean Bonney, is an instrument of interruptions. As such it illustrates another of the axioms, ‘The main thing is how to think crudely’ (Brecht), but in its developed poetics it relates to one of the best definitions of poetics: ‘His judgement was always anchored in poetry, or in the very subtle thinking that surrounds it. (Alain Badiou on Mandelstam). This collection of contrasts also contains a writing-through of TASS photographs of Soviet history which attempts a surreal history of that social experiment, interwoven with a ghostly narrative of espionage; a performance piece in two parts (a conventional story and a fantasia upon its theme); and a piece of psychogeographical prose, ‘In Unadopted Space’, that relates to another two of the axioms: ‘Space is a part of our mental life’ (Roy Fisher) and ‘Space is as much a challenge as is time. Neither space nor place can provide a haven from the world.’ (Doreen Massey) Varieties of montage, de-montage, with interruption as structure, with transformation and transposition, formal resistance, creative linkage, ‘imperfect fit’, near-perfect fit, contribute to create all kinds of multi-form unfinish, to use the deliberate title of the book. As another of the quotations states: ‘As Picasso said about unfinish, alive and dangerous… I have a taste for unfinish. It’s one of the ways I want to live my life and art.’ (Ronald Kitaj)
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The two axioms I don’t quote are:

We listen to silence. We listen to fictitious music in our head. Think music. (Ralf Hutter)    
          
But for what we believe most we don’t have art at all. (Kenneth Koch);

I couldn’t quite see how to work them in! But what's not to like?   
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Buy Unfinish  here and read more of the text.
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I write more about it here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2016/03/robert-sheppard-new-book-out-unfinish.html

and I have another set of axioms that didn’t end up in the book here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2016/03/robert-sheppard-new-book-unfinish-de.html

Access the other REF statements on my 2014-2017 output via links accompanying the first one here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/03/writing-my-ref-300-word-statement-on.html

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

My REF description of my book Words Out of Time: autrebiographies and unwritings

As I said also recently, I may be retired from Edge Hill but they can still use my publications from my period of employment in the dreaded REF exercise. Part of the process for those entering creative writing involves the writing of a 300 word introduction to the work. I thought I’d put them on my blog. I don’t think I’ve perjured myself. In fact, I don't want to write anything for the process that I didn't make public.

But for Words Out of Time, these be the words; I’m not offering them as a model, but they might help somebody write their own. It might also – in this context – draw people’s attention to the book, persuade them to buy it even.




Words Out of Time: autrebiographies and unwritings. Newton-le-Willows: Knives Forks and Spoons, 2015

The first part of this work began as a project – out of an existential dilemma – to deal with particular MATERIALS: the piles of journals, diaries, and less categorisable autobiographical writings that I have accumulated since 1965 when they began, and that I have periodically attempted to use for writing. In its opting for PROCEDURE it is thus a conceptual project, but is perhaps not quite an example of ‘uncreative writing’ as that term has come to be used, but is a creative ‘unwriting’, to adapt a term I have used to describe my earlier texts refunctioned or re-moulded from others. Perhaps the work might be thought of as an ‘unwriting through’ of the MATERIALS, but such proliferation of terms is only useful if it assists a gloss on PROCEDURE. 

The result of the ‘coherent deformation’ of the materials is what I call an ‘autrebiography’, a shaped narrative that concentrates upon certain aspects of the diaries. The most anthologised piece, the opening ‘I Don’t Remember’, catalogues the incidents in my diary of which I have no recall. Thus the piece may be described as an anti-memoir. One part two of the work proceeded by interrogation: each sentence is a question. It also covers a short space of time. The second part, ‘Arrival’, features the voice of a near-imaginary female sibling, constructed from re-examining diaries in such of female utterance, actions and agency, and transforming it. The third part, ‘When’, is even more conceptual – hence the titles, ‘With’, ‘Words’ and ‘Work’ moving through writings, photographs and diaries (again with an asymmetrical relationship between account and chronology: more as each year passes). . As such it is an exploration of subjectivity in text. Indeed, since publishing the piece I have come across the articulations of creative memory in the work of Rosi Braidotti; she says: ‘Remembering is less about forgetting to forget than about retaking, as in refilming a sequence: it is about differing from oneself.’


(Part of this material may be seen this year, since I am blogging my 1969 Diary, daily, 50 years after the event(s).) But it's only a very small part of the material!

I wrote in detail about producing the first part of Words Out of Time, ‘The Given’, here.

Buy Words Out of Time here.


And there is a supplement to ‘Work’, here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/09/work-from-words-out-of-time-2017.html

I explain the writing of the supplement thus:


My book Words Out of Time: autrebiographies and unwritings (Knives Forks and Spoons) ends with a piece entitled ‘Work’. In that version it finishes not with a full stop but with ellipses. That’s because its focus, the world of work, acts of, commitments to, actions of labour, wasn’t over for me at that time (the book appeared in 2015). Formally, the text distends time, or slows it even (the original idea was 15 words for unwritings of diaries when I’m 15, 50 for when I was 50, and thus 61 words for when I was 61, etc, but that broke down to nevertheless leave the general effect). That means that the text covering 2011-17 is as long as that for 1965-2011! (I was reacting against the fact that most conventional (auto)biographies spend more time on their subjects’ early years, and I wanted this section to ‘do different’.) Here’s the end of the end.

There is an ‘outtake’ here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2013/12/robert-sheppard-say-when.html

Access the other REF statements on my 2014-2017 output via links accompanying the first one here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/03/writing-my-ref-300-word-statement-on.html