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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form; the first footnote and the Last Word

These notes bring together the work on form that I am finishing and the thesis of The Poetry of Saying (and work in previous book and articles, and on this blog) in a subterranian thread.

Introduction, footnote one: In Far Language, my adoption of the otherwise historicising term ‘linguistically innovative’ to encapsulate the poetry I studied throughout may be seen in the context of the poetics expressed in ‘Linking the Unlinkable’: 54-55. The Poetry of Saying offers a tripartite model of levels of analysis of the text: the technical, the sociolinguistic and the ethical (the last of which uses Levinas’ distinction between the saying and the said as ethical discrimination within technical and linguistic poetic practice.): 2-19. In those pages I make use of some earlier thoughts of Derek Attridge, which might be thought of as the lynchpin between that book and this. (See chapter 11, footnote 9.) When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry offers lightly theorised historical readings of ‘episodes’ in British poetry which I hope respect both the nature of poetry and poetics, while using Bourdieu’s sociological schema of fields of literary production, to outline a history of British poetry. For poetics, see most episodes of When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry; my 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; and my blogzine Pages (, which carries a serial catalogue of poetics under the title ‘The History of Poetics’, posted August-November 2009. (See links below.)

Chapter 11, the last footnote: See footnote 1 of my ‘Introduction’. In The Poetry of the Saying (2005) the ‘saying’ is contrasted to the ‘said’ as a positive quality of eternal utterance as against the fixity of saidness, not in a simple and judgmental binary, but in the full acknowledgment that a formally investigative poem (though I did not then use that term) would need to concretise its eternality in fixed readings (which could range from the simple need to print a poem in a definitive form through to the sense that interpretation of necessity involves an act of violence to settle a reading long enough to re-articulate it). Reading for form rather neatly works to allow the saying to sound ever on while any particular forming of the text for an occasion is necessarily acknowledged as a provisional realisation, a product of the process, a said. 

The History of Poetics posts: ‘Part One: Poetics and Proto-Poetics’
(; ‘Part Two: Through and after Modernism’
Part Three: North American Poetics’
(; ‘Part Four: Some British Poetics’

See the rest of The Meaning of Form project here. I shall be posting chapters from Far Language in the autumn and winter of 2015. See here

For those who can buy The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry, or order it for libraries, here are the places

Here is some book data:

eBook ISBN
Hardcover ISBN