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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Bulgaria's Ivaylo Dimitrov says Don't Leave the EUOIA

Bulgaria’s Ivaylo Dimitrov (1979-), created with Patricia Farrell, says: 'Don't Leave the EUOIA or the EU!'

Ivaylo Dimitrov lives in Bergen, Norway. 

If Britain votes to leave the EUOIA (European Union Of Imaginary Authors) on 23rd June, Robert Sheppard, the British representative of British imaginary authors, will have to be excluded from his own anthology, EUOIA, which he is conducting and collaboratively writing with other writers; at the very least he will be moved to the Appendices with Frisland’s Hróbjartur Ríkeyjarson af Dvala (whom he created with Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl). To find out more or less about the EUOIA check the EUOIA website which is still live at http://euoia.weebly.com, and there are multiple posts on the subject of the EUOIA on this blog (use the keyword EUOIA to see them all displayed, and then check). 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Paul Coppens says Don't Leave the EUOIA


Belgium’s  Paul Coppens (1980-), created with Philip Terry, who does exist, says, 'Don't Leave the EUOIA' (European Union Of Imaginary Authors).
Paul Coppens’ books include his masterpiece The Fainting Goats of Moon Spot Farm. His essay, ‘Henri Lefebvre and Van Valckenborch’s Poetics of Space’ appears in Canderlinck and De Zoute’s The Transliterated Man. He is the son of the film maker Paul Coppens, about whom René Van Valckenborch has written an essay, ‘Frozen Cuts of Light: The Scratch Cinema of Paul Coppens’, published in Chosement 1 (2010) but available in English in Junction Box at http://glasfrynproject.org.uk/w/655/robert-sheppard-frozen-cuts-of-light-the-scratch-cinema-of-paul-coppens/.


If Britain votes to leave the EUOIA on 23rd June, Robert Sheppard, the British representative of British imaginary authors, will have to be excluded from his own anthology, EUOIA, which he is conducting and collaboratively writing with other writers; at the very least he will be moved to the Appendices with Frisland’s Hróbjartur Ríkeyjarson af Dvala (whom he created with Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl). To find out more or less about the EUOIA check the EUOIA website which is still live at http://euoia.weebly.com, and there are multiple posts on the subject of the EUOIA on this blog (use the keyword EUOIA to see them all displayed, and then scroll).


Filip Dujardin's photomonages inspired work by Coppens

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sophie Poppmeier says Don't Leave the EUOIA


Austria’s  Sophie Poppmeier (1981-), created with Jason Argleton, who also doesn't exist, says 'Don't Leave the EUOIA!' (European Union Of Imaginary Authors).
 
Sophie Poppmeier’s poetry includes Book One (2002), Book Two (2003), and Book Four (2015). She has lived in Vienna and Bratislava, but currently resides in Berlin. A neo-burlesque dancer, Poppmeier performed as Minnie Minerva (but occasionally as Polly or Poppy Polidori or – in Berlin – Angela Merkin, although that was not to disrespect the EU). Her best acts include the ‘Ute Lemper Trilogy’, based on Punishing Kiss, a 15 minute piece combining the swirling silk sea-waves and bejewelled seashell bodice-work of ‘Little Water Song’; ‘Streets of Berlin’, a mimed drag-king boylesque; and ‘You Were Meant for Me’, in which she confronted the audience with ‘unbridled displays of female desire’, to quote a programme of the time. Her later ‘Narcotango’ used the hypnotic grooves of Carlos Libedinsky’s new tango for her exploration of intoxication, obsession and trance. In contrast, the energetic ‘Neveen’s Levee’ involved Oriental and belly dancing, and the accompanying poem is a lipogram. ‘Madame Mallarmé’s Fan Dance’ was the most literary (and least appreciated) of her acts, and the accompanying poem rhymes! Her memoir Minnie Minerva’s Book of Marvels has been forthcoming for some years. Despite its title, it is a theoretical defence of burlesque, and has been compared to Augusto de Campos’ work on bossa nova. In it, she argues that burlesque is an enabling and safe but public way of exploring and asserting various conflicting models of female body-awareness (not just beauty) and female fantasy and sexuality (auto-, homo-, hetero- and trans-), and draws on her experience of facilitating workshops for disabled people and running the annual pan-European Ugly Bug’s Burlesque in Bratislava. Poems from her controversial sexually explicit Book Two, which abandoned the ‘corsetry’ of her characteristic four line stanza, have been excluded from this anthology. Perhaps in reaction to the criticism of this book, she is said to have given up poetry and burlesque (on the brink of considerable success at the Berlin Burlesque Festival), but the truth may be less dramatic, since she studied Art History in Vienna, gaining a PhD in 2010 and it is not clear that she didn’t continue writing, while teaching and theorising performance (and she is rumoured to have ventured out under cover of several new alter-egos when impecunious). She is also rumoured to be collaborating with Trine Krugelund, the EUOIA representative from Denmark. (JA)

One of her poems may be read at http://tonyfrazer.weebly.com/robert-sheppard.html

Other posts about this poet and performer include:


One of Sophie's uncollected poems below:

Book 3 Poem 5

‘My thighs bulge like chicken drumsticks
but I’m still shooting behind my mask. Its face
became punched by a streak of white before its starry eyes.
My wife shares these swellings, though sexier.

She makes foreign policy with giraffes, social theory
with foxes, traffic regulations with natterjacks.
These bulges could be testicles and the students laugh,
setting fire to the fleet. I couldn’t move to help them.’

Jason Argleton was a student at Edge Hill University where his final dissertation was a comparative study of the poetry of Ern Malley and Bob McCorkle. He is pursuing practice-led graduate studies on Ossianism. Poems have appeared in various magazines, including Pages, and he translated Sophie Poppmeier’s notorious Book Two into English. Argelton is co-curating an anthology of fictional poets, the United Nations Platform of Poetry (UNPOP) drawn from the approximately 200 nations (and disputed territories) of the world, from Afghanistan’s Hamida Sulemankhel to Zimbabwe’s Pakuramunhumashokoanowanda Nevermore.

More on Jas here:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/25-edge-hill-poets-jason-argleton.html

If Britain votes to leave the EUOIA on 23rd June, Robert Sheppard, the British representative of British imaginary authors, will have to be excluded from his own anthology, EUOIA, which he is conducting and collaboratively writing with other writers; at the very least he will be moved to the Appendices with Frisland’s Hróbjartur Ríkeyjarson af Dvala (whom he created with Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl). To find out more or less about the EUOIA check the EUOIA website which is still live at http://euoia.weebly.com, and there are multiple posts on the subject of the EUOIA on this blog (use the keyword EUOIA to see them all displayed, and then check).  


Monday, May 23, 2016

Croatia's Martina Markovic says Don't leave the EUOIA

Croatia’s  Martina Marković (1982-) created with James Byrne (and with a little back-translating help from Damir Sodan), says 'Don't Leave the European Union Of Imaginary Authors.'

Martina eschews publicity, but she was born in Serbia and attended both the University of Belgrade, where she was expelled under mysterious circumstances (involving mushrooms that the authorities claimed were ‘magic’ and she pleaded were ‘organic’) and the University of Zagreb, where she studied history and politics. 

If Britain votes to leave the EUOIA on 23rd June, Robert Sheppard, the British representative of British imaginary authors, will have to be excluded from his own anthology, EUOIA, which he is conducting and collaboratively writing with other writers; at the very least he will be moved to the Appendices with Frisland’s Hróbjartur Ríkeyjarson af Dvala (whom he created with Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl). To find out more or less about the EUOIA check the EUOIA website which is still live at http://euoia.weebly.com, and there are multiple posts on the subject of the EUOIA on this blog (use the keyword EUOIA to see them all displayed, and then scroll). 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Robert Sheppard: Sudley (remode of Sudley House)


Sudley
                                                                   for Scott Thurston

Suddenly. You are inside the house. Standing in the old entrance. The garden hall or vestibule. The little Corot landscape’s here. All pictures domestic scale. The Holman Hunt propped on an easel. A magnifying glass swinging on its string. One painting shifted a little to the left to fit another in. The nightmare of George Holt’s handyman. Trade with Brazil. Florentine swelter. Crackling through the horse chestnut leaves. Crisp. Liquid electricity. Doric columns rise either side of the fireplace. The faint tinkle a chime. A tintinnabulation of the silence out of which a painting may be conjured. Into which it might disappear for the ambulant solitary in performance for a group walking far from the Paris Commune. A tornado of options. Poplars. As though time has ceased. Moments stretched. A loose bowelled cow flaps its flanks:  chiaroscuro whisper. We pick up. Each other’s senseless sense and fly with it. Rough of a sensibility. Bull’s spittle dribbles on stones. A rumour a promise. Unconfirmed broken. Autumn shiver. Beasts dung the tilled field. Fecund chill. Enter. Gainsborough over the fireplace. The latest purchase. Perspective distorts the carpet’s intention. Poems were written at this desk. Liberty spelt out. The tomb long open and the trees crouching for a peep. Tall windows: granite melody in a haze. The channel. Silt bank. Catches light from over the water. Wish for mist. On the distant Welsh hills. Or mountains. The single hammering at 1 o’clock you mistake for the butcher boy’s sharp bell. In the name of God silence pierced her side high and plaintive as a silken moth. Posed but never poised. A dreamy girl with a creamy neck. Ready for a ball or bell. Who has no servant to call remove the dying flowers their odour sickens. She should know these things you don’t. She’s designed to be merely cherished. After death, bookmarks mark. Wisdom, a crumple of promises clutched in sweat. The cobbler bangs out his unspoken love for her on the soles of her broken shoes. Byron might have imagined her. Shelley would have mirrored her. But she’s tucked away that unique thing a fake. Insert her into the language of which she is composed. Trees weave. Time is a turning page, every quarter of an hour. A slow three-decker telling of empty dandy chairs lusting the wrong way round. Chime. How do tall shelves of books become a Library? At the sarcophagus your writing will be prophetic. What will be. When it is done: Unitarian, Liberal, Philanthropic. Someone will slouch in your creaking armchair and frown at your words. Its marbled blanks. Desiccated edition of Cowper’s Poems. Dropping brown powder from its spine. Into your lap as you turn the pages. Curtained secrets. Of quiet decay. Exposed to light, crumples. Breathless wind-chimes. You were looking for a remarkable symbol. Trudging the green lane. To the front doors you have already forgotten. A silver glow behind the nets. Illumines the desk upon which the bills were once paid. Archive of illegible documents preserved in paint. Ribs blush over a riverine council. Of peasants. The drought. So perfect that any blemish would turn the day septic. The title sprinkled from this book. Tinkling. Angel dust flaking from the walls of a fresco. During a riot, something. To be something. Must be darker than darkness. Viol burns its madrigal. Out into a room which is not a room. The unseen inhabits the scene. Dwarfs the people. Undiminished not quite vulnerable. In the oil sketch. Measured chimes of human anthems. Weirs crash upon Venetian thoughts. She’s suddenly seen you. From the new entrance. Entranced fascination. Opening your hatch you admit such pleasure. Delirium soaks the tedium, etiolated and brittle. Bristles of genre. Lavender alive with bees swaying after the storm. Amber glow rises from polished boards soaked into scarlet walls. Somebody watches you from the balcony.  A flicker of interest in your lack of interest. Your room a tumbling red cube for his pitching vertigo. The window at this diagonal. Nine more steps. The morning room saw the child stamping and stamping on the ants. Trees, the slate-grey Mersey. Industry at its shore ‘ruralised by distance’ in the Romantic conceit. That other blue distance. Welsh mountains. Or hills. Slit the morning post beneath the woodblock variegations, the Pre-Raphaelite dazzle. The tinfoil-crackle tones of Tennyson and Browning. Play them this morning’s lesson: the dust that rises from a beaten carpet. A knocked up bit of greatness. A hand on a keyboard, too many naturals. A fantasia in black and white, the temple (again). Without even a Fra Fillipo Lippo wink at you. A startling eye looms in the magnifying lens. A falcon dives. Rips into the neck of the dove, this premature Transfiguration. Bays picked to shreds. She threads beads. Roses, the tiles at her bare feet. As though a wish could fall true on this marble. Breasts ghosted through thin robes. Poised as a sponge of poison squeezed into your limpid pool. Past the Italianate marble fireplace with the Holt crest, Schloss Rosenau. It’s an isle, an aisle of light. Sufficient to allow divinity or human majesty its approach. The radiance of patronage. A smeared palette. Or the palpitating shade which you cannot penetrate. They are not human enough: boy tensing his fishing rod, girl floating on collapse. Their scattered picnic. Crouching mendicants at some filthy game. Fawning before an oblivious consort, they scratch away the cracked sky to find Margate sun. The ‘lighthouse’ is a white-hot brushstroke a blemish on the skin of night. With what confidence could you mount those steps to the promise of a quayside? It comes out with a whitened misty sky and a double rainbow. Spectral retribution. Painted over. Not over. When it returns the painting has darkened. Less lightning burst than rainbow. Obliterate the eye’s asperities. Look close Cousin George in the magnifying glass. The eye looms. The beginning of his interest in Surrealism. Reading to yourself. Reading yourself. A monstrous porthole. This rectangle, no larger than a servant’s mirror. Black is a shade of white. Clouds, sails, sea-crest. Black-tipped gull comes to rest. In the rest. Say you are rendered. Wordless the memory of a memory of men. Loading a ship dreamt about, stark. Bonington’s moment for as long as you dare. Look away. Listen. Tear the image as though it were rotten canvas. An old painting a dead sail. Part the net. Curtains. If anyone is watching. A triangle. With both your hands, either side. Watch yourself from behind. This is the view they built here. The sloped lawn, the billowing trees. Afar: the same hills or mountains without features. A study, a framed tangle of light.


2004/2012/2016


Note
This text is the latest 'remode' of a piece that has had a long life (and a life largely online since its first enactment). ‘Sudley House’, as it was originally entitled, was realised as a guided tour/performance at Sudley House, Mossley Hill, Liverpool, in four shows on 6th and 12th November 2004, with Scott Thurston as second voice and presence. Props included recordings of Tennyson (1890) and my 1793 edition of Cowper’s Poems (Vol I). I would like to thank Scott; and Jane Duffy and Alex Kidson of the National Galleries of Merseyside for allowing me to act as Visiting Scholar to Sudley House, and to the latter for his whistle-stop private tour of the Emma Holt bequest. Thanks to all the staff at the House for making my writing visits so pleasant, and for the smooth running of the performances. I readily acknowledge monies from the (then) Edge Hill College of Higher Education School of Humanities and Arts Research Development Fund to enable this work to be developed in its original form. The full performance text is available on Great Works at http://www.greatworks.org.uk/poems/sh/rs1.html. Many thanks for Peter Philpott for publishing it. The first remode was largely prompted by the re-hanging of the works and thus the rendering fictive of my movement instructions and narrative. It was omitted from my Unfinish (Veer Books: 2016.) This version may be read here: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/sudley-house-for-scott-thurston.html. The second remode – this third version – was made in March 2016. ‘Cousin George’ is George Melly. There are several quotations melted and re-formed in the text, particularly Ruskin on Turner, but also Turner’s detractors.

Photos of the first performances (c) Andrew Taylor, 2004

Friday, May 13, 2016

Robert Sheppard; poetic response to Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Poetic Artifice is at last back in print. (See here for my response to that event). Here is an account my creative interaction with the work (which underlines the impact her criticism had on my critical thinking AND poetics, which is not a necessary connection). My poem‘Parody and Pastoral’ is what I called at the time of writing my response (March 2002) a ‘text and commentary’ upon Forrest-Thomson’s poem ‘Pastoral’ (and a homage to her). By such designation I meant to suggest that the poem could be read in its own terms (as text) as well as being considered as intertextual correlative of ‘Pastoral’ (as commentary). (It's worth mentioning that Forrest-Thomsom uses 'Pastoral' as an exhibit in Poetic Artifice which is both an interesting but dangerous strategy.)Whether my conceit works in practice, I believe, is not for me to say. The poem embodies the conceit as best as I am able. I retreat from interpretation of my work just as much as Forrest-Thomson seems to advance towards her own, doomed to some degree of failure or blindness, as I have said. In its commenting aspect my poem may be seen as parodic, in the general sense of reaching out towards another text to assimilate and re-direct its meanings, and in its transformations (‘clover’ becomes ‘clever’ for example), though I would be happier to think of it as benign pastiche, but I am not sure that it directs its energies towards the conventional level, as Alison Mark would expect of parody. My prosody is quite different, for one. It alludes not only to her poem, and her critical (ab)use of it, but to Prynne’s comments about the poem (in the elegaic afterword to On the Periphery). It is perhaps only a version of pastoral in that it follows the contours of Forrest-Thomson’s poem of that title, though it swaps rural simplicities for urban ones to negotiate the complexities of the vocal but non-verbal world, at the thematic level. The ‘plot’ of my poem follows hers and deliberately invites a parallel reading:

They may not be clever
creatures but they leave us
to iron sensation melted                       
on a deadly breeze

Rough beasts and rough
boys both relieve us, unloved;
we pay up responsible
for what they call themselves

Invade another language
to be invaded by it:
the burglar alarm
perforates the morning’s shell

They stitch up our loves
our lives to a violation that
believes inviolate dwelling
open like all ears

Wails as a headache a
screen of pain that the
window flashes
in migraine streaks

Door slams then ignition coughs
up to voice our twinned words
entwined
where barbed wire bleeds

((Robert Sheppard, ‘Parody and Pastoral’, Hymns to the God in Which My Typewriter Believes  (Exeter: Stride, 2006), pp. 41-2. But it's also in the recent volume History or Sleep: Selected Poems Bristol: Shearsman: 2015.) The act of homage cannot, of course be divorced from one’s sense of regret, my act of elegy, at Forrest-Thomson’s early death at 27 in 1975.))

I wanted to question the dilemma posed by what she called her ‘intolerable theme’ – are words twinned with the non-verbal in some way or hopelessly entwined only with one another? – and also to echo the violent emotions hinted at in Forrest-Thomson’s poem. To say even this is to stray too far into interpretive terrain where I feel, creatively speaking, alien. I wanted to respond to her poem in the form of a poem, not because she had commented upon it herself (which I may have forgotten when I wrote it) but because I wished to pay homage to her through her finest poem and to field some ‘ideas’ about poetics in creative form. That she had attempted to deal with it in her own scholarship – her brazen ‘affrontery’ – did, of course, attract me to utilising it in the writing of this essay, since it spoke to me of the relationship of scholarship to its dark twin poetics.

A theory of poetry is not a poetics, perhaps, unless it is mediated through particular poems. If I mediate her vital and valuable theory through my own poetics and my poem its function becomes part of an ever-changing practice of reflection and speculation, creation and further creation. When Forrest-Thomson submits her own poems to her theory she risks the danger of forcing them to work in complicity with it, which keeps self-commentary rigid rather, than, as in the best poetics, conjectural and provocative, speculative or mercurial; it forces her to act as though unaware of creative excess. By attempting to cross the divide between poem and theory she paradoxically strengthens the negative hold of her intolerable theme, that we might be imprisoned within language. She is a brilliant scholar and a fine creative writer and her poetics actually lies between her two practices, in an elastic and dynamic tension between conceptual elaboration and the concentration of her own poetic artifice, and surfaces in occasional asides rather than in her self-analyses. The relationship between creativity and scholarship is exacting but eternally unstable, a theme I return to in The Meaning of Form.

Veronica Forrest-Thomson adjusts the artifice


A similar response appears in ‘Linguistically Wounded: The Poetical Scholarship of Veronica Forrest-Thomson’ in ed. Turley, Richard Margraf, The Writer in the Academy: Creative Interfrictions, Essays and Studies 2011. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, for the English Association. See details of the new edition of Poetic Artifice here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Robert Sheppard: Response to Veronica Forrest-Thomson's Poetic Artifice back in print at last


A major influence on my early turn to form and my recent return to form, expressed in my forthcoming volume The Meaning of Form, (see here) and which is revisited in detail in its current Chapter Two, is an old one: Veronica Forrest-Thomson’s Poetic Artifice (1978). It is a sheer delight to see that Gareth Farmer’s new edition of the book is out from Shearsman. (See here.)I first encountered the book in 1979 at a crucial time in my PhD studies. I regret most deeply that at an administrative stage it was decided that her methodology was ‘not strong enough’ to be used in it, by some committee or other. (They meant ‘unknown’ and wanted me to read Bloom instead.) The book had been reviewed by my tutor Helen McNeil in The New Statesman. However the lesson remained and it is indeed a book that changed my (poetry) life. (And it changed others: like Alison Mark, to whom I introduced the work).

Forrest-Thomson valorises what she calls the non-meaningful devices of poetry; meaning can be read only as torqued by artifice in defiance of a method of reading called ‘naturalisation,’ which she defines as the ‘attempt to reduce the strangeness of poetic language and poetic organisation by making it intelligible, by translating it into a statement about the non-verbal external world, by making the Artifice appear natural’. Our best reading occurs when this process is resisted almost successfully and artifice shines most artificially.

This axiomatic sense that an unexamined form is not worth reading naturally opposes instrumental readings that temper textuality with social naturalisations. Writing about what is sometimes called ‘linguistically innovative’ poetry that works by defamiliarisation, undecidability or through structural and linguistic complexity, means that I take form to be unavoidable as an issue, though it seems not to be in other areas of literary (or cultural) studies, though even to say so should seem odd. My critical and poetic commitment to the discourse of writerly poetics also necessarily focuses upon form.

Even the most casual reader of her book will glean the central notion that Bad Naturalisation (to ‘set aside’ ‘the non-meaningful devices’ of poetry ‘in an unseemly rush from word to world’) is a betrayal of poetry’s specificity, since it involves the ‘attempt to reduce the strangeness of poetic language and poetic organisation by making it intelligible, by translating it into a statement about the non-verbal world, by making the Artifice appear natural’.  This is the process many exegetes of a poem seem content with, to talk away the poetry in prose paraphrase (and many of us are ‘guilty’ of this) while we pay lip service to the autonomy of the literary work. What Forrest-Thomson demands is a system of delaying this (inevitable) process in order that a poem’s formal features may be fully registered as an integral part of the poem’s total effect, not as a mere vehicle of, or supplement to, meaning.

A process of ‘external expansion’ of the words of the text into the world and then an ‘external limitation’ back into it characterises bad naturalisation. Meaning is sought beyond the poem (perhaps in social and literary contexts) and dragged back into it. ‘The attempt to relate the poem to the external world limits our attention to those formal features which can be made to contribute to this extended meaning.’ 9 A bad reading, for example, will relate a free verse poem to the fractured state of society it is assumed to ‘reflect’, while other aspects, say its harmonious alliteration, which contradict the poem’s supposed message, are conveniently ignored. On the other hand, ‘Good naturalisation dwells on the non-meaningful levels of poetic language, such as phonetic and prosodic patterning and spatial organisation, and tries to state their relationship to other levels of organisation rather than set them aside in an attempt to produce a statement about the world.’ 10 More precisely good naturalisation ‘dwells at length’ (delaying the forces of naturalisation for as long as possible) ‘on the play of formal features and structure of relations internal to a poem’:11 for example, on ‘all the rhythmic, phonetic, verbal and logical devices which make poetry different from prose’.12 

Naturalisation – both good and bad – constructs intelligibility by reaching out to the non-verbal, and is inevitable, we must remember, in any reading.

Her work is fundamental to my The Poetry of Saying. (See here.) In The Meaning of Form and in ‘Linguistically Wounded: The Poetical Scholarship of Veronica Forrest-Thomson’ in ed. Turley, Richard Margraf, The Writer in the Academy: Creative Interfrictions, Essays and Studies 2011. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, for the English Association, I take issue with some of her methodology (I don’t believe poetic artifice is non-meaningful, and it’s possible neither did VFT (as the secret society that has read this work hitherto often calls her) by the end of her short – far too short – life. But this is not the place to extend those critiques.

For a creative response to her work as a theorist and poet, read here.