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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Robert Sheppard: Petrarch 3 poems in Card Alpha 1 JUST OUT

The first issue of the online journal CARD ALPHA is available. Here.

Poet and editor Adam Hampton writes:

As editor, I took the
decision to begin this project in
order to bring together some of the
most exciting and ground-breaking
poetic works being produced by
both emerging and established
poets in the UK and around the
world today. This first issue has
been, on a personal level, at least,
a steep and forbidding scramble,
taken from the genesis of an
editorial idea, to the summit, which
is represented by the online
publication of this, the inaugural
issue. The magazine is to become,
I hope, a stronghold for the most
innovative and experimental poetry.

The contributors are

William Bulloch
Andrew Taylor
Iain Britton
John Seed
Gordon Gibson
Chris McCabe
Robert Sheppard
Sydney McNeill
Tom Jenks
Luke Thurogood

I am represented by ‘The Symboliste Quartet’ which is a set of 4 of my Petrarch 3 translations. More about those here. All 14 variations will be published by Crater Press, but these are the ones are chimerae, as the Oulipeans say, of Petrarch and Baudelaire, Mallarme, Rimbaud and Verlaine!

Please also see my notes on Petrarch variations by Peter Hughes and Tim Atkins here, which is how my project, a 'derivative derive', began its life. It's the most looked at page on this blog. You can read the original translation and my 'doggie' translation, 'Pet', here! And you can watch me read some of my 'Petrarch' variations here. Including the Jimmy Savile one.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nerve Damage ed Rupert Loydell now out (responses to Witkin)

Nerve Damage, edited by Rupert Loydell, an anthology of poems in response to Joel-Peter Witkin’s photograph “The Poet.”  
Poets include Sheila E Murphy, Carrie Etter, Peter Finch, Alan Halsey, Ian Seed, and Rupert Loydell. Paul Sutton's poem may be read here on Harvey L. Hix' website. Oh, he's in it too, as are many others. Including me.
(Rupert and I have just finished working on the latest EUIOA fictional poet, Hermes, from Estonia. Something of this project may have rubbed off on our depiction of this abomination! More on the EUOIA here.) 
Ordering information for the anthology:
UK: £5.00 per copy, cheques payable to ‘R.M. Loydell’  USA; $10 bill per copy, to include postage 
available from: Stride, 4B Tremayne Close, Devoran, Cornwall TR3 6QE, England
A first review appears here
Thanks for the invite, Rupert!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Robert Sheppard: A Guide to my new books and pamphlets 2015-16

Recent Publications by Robert Sheppard

3 New books

History or Sleep: Selected Poems

Details here.

A wide selection of work from 1982-2015, it is reviewed by Steve Waling here. And by Clark here. By Ian Brinton here.

Words Out of Time


an ‘autrebiography’, an anti-memoir, mainly in prose, including the popular ‘I don’t remember…’ Details here

7 prose pieces that range from fable to conceptual writing, narrative to unnarrative, political address to text for an image; features the psychogeographical exploration of space, 'In Adopted Space'. Details here.No reviews yet: just out!

1 Pamphlet

The Drop

an elegy to my father, details here.

It's reviewed here by Ian Brinton, and by Alan Baker, here.

1 Tribute

An Educated Desire: Robert Sheppard at 60.

This very pleasant surprise is available here, along with the list of its contributors

Friday, April 15, 2016

Storm and Golden Sky 29th April: Sarah Crewe and Nathan Jones

Storm and Golden Sky at the Caledonia FRIDAY 29th April 2016

Up the stairs (at the back of the barroom, above the pub name, above) at the Caledonia pub, Catharine Street, in the Georgian Quarter, Liverpool, £5, 7.30 pm spot-on start!

Up the stairs (at the back of the barroom) at the Caledonia pub, Catharine Street, in the Georgian Quarter, Liverpool, £5, 7.30 pm spot-on start!

Nathan Jones is a poet and writer based in Liverpool. His current work mixes technological forms of composition and production with autobiographical subject matter.  He is currently PhD student at Royal Holloway University of London exploring the concept of "Glitch Poetics" and the impact of technology on contemporary poetry. He is also co-editor of mind-language-technology publisher Torque, and director of literature and performance agency Mercy 2003. His book length poem Noah's Ark was published by Henningham Family Press. He also writes criticism for new media blog Furtherfield and Art Monthly. He is co-host of Storm and Golden Sky!

Sarah Crewe is from the Port of Liverpool. Her work focuses largely on working class feminist psychogeography. Her latest publication is urchin (dancing girl press 2016.) Previous chapbooks include RWF/RAF,a collaboration with Pascal O'Loughlin,(Stinky Bear Press 2015) sea witch (Leafe Press,2014) and flick invicta (Oystercatcher,2012.) She collaborates frequently with Sophie Mayer and her work can be heard at the Archive of the Now website. She will be starting a Masters in Poetry:Innovative Practice and Research at the University of Kent in September.

and warm up act by American poet Abigail Goodhart 
Licensee Laura before the bar

Storm is run by Nathan Jones, Eleanor Rees, Michael Egan and Robert Sheppard.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Robert Sheppard: de-selected bossa nova epigraph to It's Nothing

The latest 'row' of 14 sonnets called 'It's Nothing', from the developing project, Song Nets, is suffused with echoes and hearings of bossa nova music, and I even wanted to use this quotation as epigraph. I thought I'd post it, as I like it's irony, even though ultimately it doesn't fit the mood:

Gilberto: Look at the wind shaving the trees.
Psychologist: But trees have no hair, João.
Gilberto: And some people have no poetry.

Watch Gilberto in concert in 1980. Notice the subtle use of the orchestra.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

EUOIA: Cristòfol Subira by Alys Conran and Robert Sheppard in Poetry Wales

The collaborations between Alys and myself have just been published in Poetry Wales Spring 2016, Volume 51: Number 3.

Cristòfol Subira was born in 1957 in Barcelona. He worked for many years as a street performer and living statue in the tourist districts of the city. Between 1980 and 2007, Subira produced four collections of poetry, alternately in Catalan and Spanish, but since then, his poetry has not appeared in print except for several unattributed poems inscribed on the paving of cul-de-sacs in Barcelona, recently acknowledged as his work. There was one doubtful sighting in Brussels in the summer of 2010, i.e. at the end of A Translated Man, where he appears.

It was fun working with Alys because we’d not met and she was game for my strange collaborative project. She is a very tight writer and she kept me in order. We did meet in 2015 and read the poems in Bangor. See my account of that here, and watch the embedded videos of us reading the two poems.

See also an account of the EUOIA’s previous appearance in Poetry Wales here.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Robert Sheppard; The Necessity of Poetics: Conclusions and Notes

Credo of a Writing Studies Coordinator (Abridged Version)

(The longer version of the 'credo', a document aimed at teachers of Creative Writing, appears here.)
I believe all students of creative writing should be inaugurated in the activity of poetics, since it is, of necessity, a self-sustaining part of all writerly process, born of the critical need to change practice. I believe the higher education student should be enabled to make this discourse in its most explicit forms and, to some degree, to study it.

If students are taught explicitly what poetics is and does, and to situate themselves in a field of cultural production, through critical exercises like Reading as a Writer, and even to study a particular writer’s poetics, if they are asked to use and feed these activities into a writer’s journal and in the self-assessment process, and if this has a more pronounced role in the explicit recording and developing of poetics, any ‘commentary’ or ‘reflection’ that results will be automatically poetics-oriented, and of more use to the writer.

The hybrid and intermittent nature of poetics outside of the pedagogic environment suggests new possibilities for the making of hybrid texts within it, particularly for the production of works which heal the creative writing-literary theory divide. In producing poetics, one always speaks as a writer, explicitly identifies oneself as a maker of literary works. It is itself an act of self-definition embedded in a process of self-organisation, that makes a permanent mark upon the page.

 Some Conclusions

I have glossed over many works of poetics in this piece; it has been less my desire to evaluate Sidney, Eliot, DuPlessis or Joris, than to situate them in a continuous, continuing discourse, that may be both studied in its own right and developed in terms of writing practice (inside and outside the academy). It would be easy to take issue here and there: but that seems almost beside the point, if we fail to read those ideas doubly. We must recognise, as Mays did of TS Eliot, for example, the relation of poetics to writing inherent in what are still too willingly taken to be literary critical constructs. Read in this new way these ideas lose nothing of their power – a discourse is a power construct, of course – but neither do they achieve a measure of invulnerability. They simply need to be discussed in the spirit of poetics, where use and permission, experiment and play, are as important as philosophical cogency or the (mis)matching of concept and product. Finally, I hope that any study of poetics is concerned not just with furthering the study of poetics, but with the active production of poetics as a speculative discourse for writers in order to further the arts of writing.

February-March 1999/August 2000/April 2002/revised March 2011


Return to part one (and an index to all parts of The Necessity of Poetics) here.

Notes to all parts of The Necessity of Poetics

1. ‘Poiesis’, writes Gerald F. Else, of Aristotle’s Poetics, ‘is the actual process of composition ... is the activation, the putting to work of poietike.’ (Aristotle 1970: p 79)

Poetics is not Aesthetics. Aesthetics is a contemplative analytic of art: what is art? what is beauty? what is the sublime?

Poetics is not Rhetoric. Rhetoric is to do with the laws of composition, not with the lore (or lure) of writing.

2. Poetics within literary studies is used by structuralists like Todorov, (Introduction to Poetics) or by Bakhtin (The Problem of Dostoyevsky’s Poetics) or even Harold Bloom, to speak of a theory of making that properly belongs to literary criticism. (It is common to read of the poetics of the novel, or of feminist biography, in this sense.) Poetics has also found many uses to describe various non-literary or even non-artistic kinds of making: in psychiatry to describe the making of self (autopoesis); in musicology to describe the compositional (poietic) dimension of music. Titles like Bachelard’s The Poetics of Fire adorn philosophy shelves.

3. Bernstein writes: ‘Equally at play in the context of poetics is the political and social situation, including the social configuration of poetry [writing] in terms of distribution, publishing, capitalization, jobs, awards, reviews.’ (Bernstein 1992: 157)

4. Looking for a book to put the slips of paper containing the above ‘definitions’ of poetics safely in, I took down one containing some uncollected essays by Robert Duncan. One, entitled ‘The Poetics of Music: Stravinsky’ (1948) begins with a slightly overpassive definition but one which reminds us of the term’s use in the other arts: ‘Poetics is the contemplation of the meaning of form: it is what is common to painting, music, sculpture and poetry. Poiein, Stravinsky reminds us, means to make. We might keep in mind that in the days of William Dunbar the poets were the Makaris.’ (Faas 1983: 335)

5. Poetics at one limit is apoetics, formulations that deconstruct poetics, as the continuous lower case typography on the extra titlepage of Bernstein’s A Poetics suggests: ‘ a p o e t i c s’. (Bernstein 1992: vii). In this sense, poetics must eat itself!  At another limit is anti-poetics, a discourse that accompanies the practice of not, or no longer, writing, as in the pronouncements of Laura Riding (see Seymour Smith 1970) or John Hall’s ‘Writing and Not Writing’ (in Riley 1992:41-49). See may essay on the latter in Sheppard 2011, ‘The Price of Houses the Cost of Food: The Poetics of Not Writing’: 55-67. Other essays in this volume treat the poetics of Ken Edwards and Maggie O’Sullivan, as well as the communal poetics of the Poetry Society 1976 and the cultural poetics of Iain Sinclair. Also of note is: Poetics as Conjecture and Provocation: an inaugural lecture delivered on 13 March 2007 at Edge Hill University’, New Writing. Vol 5: 1 (2008): 3-26.

6. MacGann argues that ‘Literary criticism too often likes to transform the critical illusions of poetry into the worshipped truths of cultures’. (MacGann 1983: 135) In poetry ‘we can to a degree, observe as well our own ways of thinking and feeling from an alien point of view. That alienated vantage, which is poetry’s critical gift to every future age, permits us a brief glimpse at our world and our selves.’ (MacGann 1983: 66) Perhaps a similar critical function for the writer of contemporary poetics might reside in the historical poetics outlined above.

7. My blogzine Pages ( carries a serial catalogue of hundreds of examples of historical and contemporary poetics under the title ‘The History of Poetics’: Part One: Poetics and Proto-Poetics
Part Two: Through and after Modernism
Part Three: North American Poetics
Part Four: Some British Poetics

8. Loydell (2009) contains a number of pieces that derive from creative writing research at Edge Hill University. Cliff Yates’ piece ‘Flying: A Poetics’ (28-38) and Andrew Taylor’s piece ‘The Poetry of Absence’ (4-17)  – both fragmentary aphorisms and quotations – come directly from PhDs writing there. Scott Thurston’s piece ‘Acrreted Statement (Notes)’ (123-131) was written after such study. My own ‘A Voice Without’, ‘Not Another Poem’ there are in reprinted in Berlin Bursts, Exeter: Shearsman Books (2011), which also contains the poetics piece ‘Rattling the Bones (for Adrian Clarke)’. Some of my poetics may be read as parts of my creative project Complete Twentieth Century Blues. Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2007; in Far Language, poetics and linguistically innovative poetry 1978-1997, Exeter: Stride Research Documents, 1999; and in net/(k)not/-work(s), London: Ship of Fools, 1993, as well as in ‘Poetics as Conjecture and Provocation: an inaugural lecture delivered on 13 March 2007 at Edge Hill University’, New Writing. Vol 5: 1 (2008): 3-26. See my ‘Experiment in Practice and Speculation in Poetics’ in Teaching Modernist Poetry, ed. by Peter Middleton and Nicky Marsh (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) 158-69 for statements about how pedagogy, practice and poetics relate to one another.

Works Cited across these posts

Allen, D., and Tallman, W., (eds.), 1973, Poetics of the New American Poetry, New York: Grove Books.

Allen, Tim and Duncan, Andrew. Eds. Don’t Start Me Talking: Interviews with Contemporary Poets. Cambridge: Salt, 2006.

Aristotle, (trans. Else, G.F.), 1970, Poetics: Michigan: The University of Michigan.

Bernstein, C. 1992, A Poetics, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Bradbury, M. 1977,The Novel Today, Glasgow: Collins/Fontana.

Danaher, Geoff, Tony Schirato, and Jen Webb. Understanding Foucault. London, Thousand Oaks, Delhi: Sage, 2000

DuPlessis, R.B., 1990, The Pink Guitar, Writing as Feminist Practice, New York and London: Routledge.

Eliot, T.S., 1975, Selected Prose, London: Faber and Faber.

Esslin, M. (ed.) 1965, Samuel Beckett, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Faas, E.,1983, Young Robert Duncan, Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow  Press.

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge London and New York: Routledge Classics, 2002.

Fisher, A. 1985, Necessary Business, London: Spanner.

Fisher, Roy. Interviews Through Time and Selected Prose. Kentisbeare: Shearman Books, 2000. 

Golding, Alan, ‘Experimental Poetics and/as Pedagogy in eds. Retallack, J. and Spahr, J. Poetry and Pedagogy. New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Joris, P., 1999, Notes Towards a Nomadic Poetics, Spanner 38.

CJ Jung, quoted by Ezra Pound in Foreword to Selected Cantos of Ezra Pound, p. 9

Lowry, M. Selected Letters of Malcolm Lowry, Capricorn Books, New York, 1969)

Loydell, R. (ed.) 2009, Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: Manifestos and Unmanifestos, Cambridge: Salt.

MacDiarmid, Hugh. 1985. The Complete Poems (Volumes 1 and 2). Harmondsworth: Penguin.

MacGann, J, 1983, The Romantic Ideology, Chicago:University of Chicago Press

Mays, JCC, ‘The Early Poems’ in Moody, AD, 1994, The Cambridge Companion to TS Eliot, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

‘Poetics’: ‘Poetics at Buffalo’, hhttp://wings. accessed 1 March 1999.

Riley, D. (ed.) 1992, Poets on Writing, Basingstoke and London: Macmillan.

Rabinow, P. (ed.) 1984, The Foucault Reader, London: Penguin.

Romer, S. 1982, ‘Correctives’, PN Review 27: p 63-64

Rothenberg, Jerome. Pre-Faces and Other Writings. New York: New Directions, 1981.

Rothenberg, J., and Joris, P. (eds.)  1995, Poems for the Millennium, Volume One from Fin-de-Siecle to Negritude, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Rothenberg, J., and Joris, P. (eds.) 1998, Poems for the Millennium, Volume Two from Postwar to Millennium, Berkeley and Los Angles: University of California Press.

Rushdie, S. 1990. Is Nothing Sacred: The Herbert Read Memorial Lecture: 6 February 1990. Granta: First American Edition. No place of publication.

Seymour Smith, M.,1970, ‘Laura Riding’s ‘Rejection of Poetry’’, The Review , no. 23. 

Sheppard, R., 1999a, Far Language, poetics and linguistically innovative poetry 1978-1997, Exeter: Stride Research Documents.

Sheppard, R. 1999b. ‘The Poetics of Poetics: Charles Bernstein, Allen Fisher and the poetic thinking that results’, Symbiosis, 3:4. 

Sheppard, R. 2002, The End of the Twentieth Century: Twentieth Century Blues 63, Liverpool: Ship of Fools, re-published in Complete Twentieth Century Blues. Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2007.

Note. The earliest, pedagogically oriented, version of this text was delivered as a paper at the Creative Writing Conference 1999 at Sheffield Hallam University, and was first published in the Proceedings of the conference. A shorter version, emphasising practical uses for students, was published by Ship of Fools in 1999 solely for distribution amongst Writing Studies MA students at Edge Hill College of Higher Education, Ormskirk, Lancashire, UK. Another – emphasising poetry – was published in Pores, A Ship of Fools booklet was published in 2002 and was re-printed a number of times. This updated version has been amended, expanded and abridged in various ways, but the chief addition is the section ‘Poetics as Discourse’ which was written in 2009. This is a re-presentation (in part) of the 2011 publication.