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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Robert Sheppard: Empty Diary 1990 (number 2): Re: History or Sleep, Selected Poems

There are two 'Empty Diary 1990' poems, and one probably had to go from History or Sleep - and it would always be this one, because the other is also a 'coda' to all 90 poems of the sequence, and this one also is similar to others in the final decade. But that doesn't mean I think it's bad. On the contrary, it got in the original selection, and its deselection is a matter of context rather than content. Here it is.

Empty Diary 1990

for Adrian Clarke

HUMAN DUST against the
dark night This Degrades
now bleached into the
ecstasy of image she
holds a Bible filofax
steroid flare hoboes her
puppets blondes in the
sex shop coo into
vacant dummy leather militia
turned fan club she
wears his eyes tightly
fixed on sidewalk scripture
cocksucker choirs shit peckers
praise her ‘legendary guts’
her TV astrologer’s tattooed
fists so hard to
make a man weak
mannequin’s wig trails the
gutter (slave gang’s fetish


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Robert Sheppard: Schrage Musik and The Lores Book 2 (Re: Selected Poems: History or Sleep)

Two long narrative texts telling fragmentary tales of the 1930s and 1940s have been reluctantly de-selected from History or Sleep, my 'Selected Poems'. The first was the long poem 'Schrage Musik', which deals with both the RAF and POW situations, as well as addressing the utopianism of the New Apocalypse poets (or that generation). Even as I'm typing, I'm thinking it should be there but it's too long and doesn't work in excerpt at all well. It is, in the words of a wartime song, 'All or Nothing at All'. It is already posted on Pages though without italics, where it appeared i.m. my father, whose experiences very generally influenced the text. So that's here.

The second text is one of the 'books' of The Lores. This I call my haiku novel and I am pleased that this 1930s history of a fictional Blackshirt can be intuited from the 12 word verses. Something about it didn't work between two impacted pacey anti-fascist 'books'. (The voice of apologetic, self-admiring ex-fascists is unpleasant here, too, because it doesn't operate through irony.) Of course, I might change my mind about using it. But here's that one. Read it verse by verse. Slowly.

Book 2: Bolt Holes


They are bleeding this

country, secret Whitechapel gutter

rites. Bolshevik bolt holes



Terrors traversed autumnal ethics.

Our fresh Lordship negated

introspection over sherry decanters



Bronchial children cough, three

to a bed; crystal

voices from its frame



Protocols kicked, shattered Yiddish

on jagged glass. Mongols.

Tomorrow, our promised land



Marching between tramlines, tight-

necked blackshirts claw the

air. Lightning bolt salutes



Solutions, hands raised, stopping

stones. Your face, a

jewel, crowd-fleshed; crowned



You kiss my scars,

our struggle. Emotion retreats.

Anarchs copulate with Queens



Bolshevik jazz, jungle nights

in Pimlico. Jerusalem in

England’s green and pleasant



Old Gang rich bitches

stoke the engine for

the Empire’s last Plantation



Her blackshirt bit of

rough, I serve. Dismissed,

savage dynamo, corporate individual



Wife hanged like a

ghetto Jew – obsessive simile

knots her suicide note:



‘Chasing skirt for the

Party ... Suffragettes licked your

stamps ... Man and master!’



Worthing) the stab of

the crowd one slice

of zeitgeist (broken windows



Uniform mind fills Olympia.

Regulated hearts, public health.

Public Order, embodied ideals



Venerable cigarette card image:

Mosley’s staff car; razored

Red along running boards



Saluting crowd, prickles on

a pelt, policies brushed

to the Centre, Leaderfear....



The limp swastika; Rundfunkhaus.

Schnapps and bitch sensuality:

Southern England in flames



The World-Soul clears

his throat; his plans.

The poetics of propaganda



Bent wire slipped back

into pocket: Jew bent,

bleeds over yellow Star



Brutish airman, parachute caught

in charred Berlin tree;

the people almost decide



Last drunken broadcast: ‘Final

phase of European history ....

What you must become



Shot her – and our

curled child. My manly

bullets, one fact unswallowed



The Bűro’s leather chair,

my dead microphones, lovers

wired in delirious parallel



How quickly the airship

slipped – band still playing –

firestorm roared through Ambrose



With horror I realise

these prison uniforms have

come from the camps



To speak; by way

of silence. Eloquent statuary.

Race suicide; condemned Men



Gives the fascist salute;

a blood-stain on

the cleared gymnasium’s floor



As Joyce drops, his

street-fighter’s scars burst;

clocks stop, valves plume



heart stops) The broken

promise to follow your

pregnant decoy (sentence begins:



I search my mask

for a face to

redeem me) Collective guilt



Passion and hatred flicked

your curls. Memory’s bones,

your scattered clothes; disposal



My slogans – for history

books and marble plinths?

Eyes tethered on stalks



Leaves drip, leave no

measure. Hermetic hut, camouflaged

with endless autumn leaves



Stench of burnt coil

from overheated wireless. Cell

fills with burning bodies



Posthistorical thunderclap, limp lightning.

Administration without Men, time

drifts, creaks. Self-shipwreck



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

25 Edge Hill Poets: Dee McMahon


Baby sweet full frontal lyrics launches successive sound of high notes and holidays, high notes and holidays, zingera’d to slither pierce a spirit found in clear transparent spinning on pure crystalline edge

Each finds its way in, synchronising, harmonising to juxtapose its own recessive being.  In time the newly found flute pulls to the fore an image of skirt lifting arms tossing twirling cross caught upwards a continuity of pulsing rapture with a harshness of breath long after supporting instruments have opened their closure

An upturned inversion rolled over

Tracing the cordant discordant roll creating hard-listening-found strangeness, identifying a change in the energy of sameness and strumming a background solo held low against the water when strings take over and accordion basses, rooting it all in a wash of fluidity until wind erupts a difference, rising white flecks crested out, the contrary motion opposing but forwarding in constant height, rise hanging hung crashing into pale streaming blue, tumbling down whiteness bubbling through to soothing ripples on the shore

A difference now in something more staid sea forgotten, less jumpy less sliding less less.  More the separate expression of a thought gaining speed as it races ahead of itself, elongated as energy is spent before reaching this land locked state, and finality overtakes as it spreads from the thought less sure shades more fallow  in slowing strummm

Now and now the hometown slides on mandolin, half note up a half note down, growing awareness of recurring bloodrush, first ever motif, then later, another.  Country-side comfort in an air neatly sewn and cross stitched together by care painted bleached worn wood.  Sometimes jigged or juddered sweated off springs in marginal well held frame 

Now fiddle me do

Then sprung into action hand on machine ear turned to outpouring foot tapping systolsis influenced by all I’ve ever known sharped to a higher state.  The constant chord austrial polkaed then building through continents, before skudding to a vodkaed finale

Reeling in the salmon it jumps and turns, gasps the momentary lack of tension, regroups below the flow of a well known tune before being rewound.  Playing second fiddle to the main man while pulling out the estuary to see.  All gaps are complexity filled and it almost escapes but constraint is applied it belies reigning in a seeming refinement with only the tune, the rhythm, the fracture in the run up to heightened pitch where all join in resolving to always stay, to always play together intertwine each others surround sound all movement complicit in filial found fullness


My poetry has always focussed on using language and sound to mirror content. The above piece needs to be read aloud, I feel.

Meaning is less important than the flow of the piece; the flow of words, of thoughts almost captured, then disrupted, of tongue tripping vocals, of a language stream heard in a space where time ceases to exist, or ceases to matter.

 Streaming language reflects my consciousness, gathering materials from my Irish heritage, my childhood by the Atlantic sea, the wild winds of Donegal, traditional music festivals, and then, the encountering of many new cultures throughout my life. This has evolved into a poetry of storytelling in many cases

 Shape is important in my work. It offers a fullness on the page, or a terse sparseness, depending on the requirements of the poem. Rhyme is always present whether sound, meaning, or associative rhyme.

 My poetry offers movement, the promise of progression to another artifice, another consciousness, another concept, and sometimes it delivers.


At Edge Hill

 Edge Hill University was a fantastic place to study for my MA in Creative Writing. There were then, as now, the usual lectures, interesting assignments but also a variety of workshops, readings, and an opportunity to be with well established poets – Allen Fisher, Scott Thurston, Robert Sheppard - and authors. I remember specifically the time when I finally ‘got’ defamiliarisation, and when I, rather late in the day, realised that my understanding of others’ poetry was valid as anyone else's. As an Alumna of Edge Hill I was part of a poetry and poetics group for a long time, and continue to go to readings at the Rose Theatre.

Dee reading at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool
See another reading photo here. Read more work, 'Three Poems' here, one of the very posts, and 'Three Texts' from the same sequence as the one above, here,  and about a talk Dee gave at the Poetry and Poetics Research Group's tenth anniversary talks season, here, on Pages.

Recently updated details of the MA in Creative Writing may be read here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

25 Edge Hill Poets: Matt Fallaize

Partially recovered

Too slow morning starts
inaccurate my
state is shifting a
sudden occlusion before
partition obligatory sun
too bright tearing the
throat sliding intemperate
parchment for hide
recall recurrence monstrous
lineage parade of
gently stewing fossils
portraits settling
on the dark green
walls of the dark
green hall a
digestion too slow
the accretion of
a system tightly
packed congealing
the live studio
audience horned into
bucket seats if we
survive the day there’s
a shot at the grand prize
invoking memories
forty foot drops
parched bramble my
head too slow
inaccurate my
feeble morning and
dreadful maps
obscuring the timeline
killing the story
I thought I saw you
on TV
baying for blood
couldn’t be sure
doubting your steady
accretion of narrative
it’s unguent
impossible corrections
a steady balm of
too slow morningstarts
hello hello an
empty half I
thought I’d be like weather
seems better more
fitting come back
without you my
mouth is dry my
channels are scrambled
the air is ointment
too heavy with
blossom the grass
too soft to believe
afterwards you’d say
that’s what I call
direct treatment of the thing
swimming in out
too slow morning vision too
dry too

Matt wine tasting (in Source, his deli in Ormskirk. Do visit! See here.)

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say I owe a great deal of my working practices and the evolution of my poetics to my time at Edge Hill, both on the MA and further as a member of the Poetry and Poetics Research Group. The MA opened my eyes to some of the transformational practices which have become a part of my poetics, and simply spending time with dedicated and talented writers has driven my own writing further than I ever expected it to, and into some unexpected places.  It compelled me to take my own work seriously (not a lesson to be underestimated) and quietly nudged me in the direction of a little more intellectual rigour than I might otherwise have employed.
It gave me a permission to continue, and obligated me to take risks. It let me celebrate the mundane and then told me sternly to try harder, it tried hard not to roll its eyes when I got a bit too smug, and was always compassionate, warm and thoughtful. It also still owes me a fiver, but that’s another story.

Matt reading at the Walker Gallery, the Year of Culture
Two Books

Delete Recover Delete

Other web works

Some work in Stride


Recently updated details of the MA in Creative Writing at Edge Hill may be accessed here.

Matt reading at the Tate Liverpool

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

25 Edge Hill Poets; Carol Fenlon

Big Bill
Troublin’ Mind  ( Big Bill Broonzy)

Musical bruises punch your brain suck your gut in the hollows of your heart

valves clock counterpoint between a thumb and a hurt. Your liver plucks

music for fools to die to with the sound of the river running through dark

with tiny hopes and sailing dreams sad promises of someday sunshine and dim

almost drowning something that never quite gives up smouldering.

 Carol Fenlon

First published in Erbacce

On Musicality

It begins before any thought towards making a poem, never mind bringing it to be in written form. It begins with a listening and then attempts at playing and a puzzle forms between the experience of listening and the physical performance and rational language of notes and chords. How does the physicality of playing the instrument relate to the physical sensations produced in the listening? Is there another music in here somewhere? A felt but unrealised conversation between player and audience?

    I look up the song, the words, written in music books – another balancing act. The words, set out in rows are black on white and no way blue. Without the music and the musician they are flat clichés, repeated and reworked pastiches of other voices, other troubles. How do these sounds, strained through music systems never thought of in their time, hang together? – a packing of a life’s experience in a fragile skein of words and notes, so tangled that no one, the writer, the singer, the player, the listener, knows quite what is happening in the spaces between the threads.

     How much of what I hear and feel is intertextuality? – a grand word for all I bring to my listening, which I interpret through my own experiences of rage and pain, sadness and hope, mixed in with my love of place and location. But it is the beauty of the performance that makes me take pen to paper: to play with all the song (a paltry word for this multi-faceted creation) suggests: to try to catch the thing that Broonzy makes happen somewhere between the thumb and the string, the air and the vocal chord – and to see more clearly my own magical response.

The Edge Hill experience  At my age, doing a PhD was something  of a gamble. They say it is harder to learn and develop as you age but this just isn’t true. Yes, at the beginning I struggled with poetics and ethics and some other ics. I floundered in the miasma of masses of information as I began to research but structure and the courage to explore and play came and with it some beautiful experiences and a delicate nurturing of writing which has never left me in the four years since completing my thesis. Winning the Impress prize for my PhD novel was a terrific vindication of the work I put in and also of the advice and guidance of my supervisors, Robert Sheppard and Ailsa Cox. I think that to some extent writing is a given talent but I am indebted to the Creative Writing department at Edge Hill for helping me to draw out and develop that talent with the ongoing aim to become a better writer.

Carol Fenlon

Online links to sources

My website
My blog            www.CAROLFENLON.WORDPRESS.COM

Publisher Impress books
Updatred details of the MA in Creative Writing at Edge Hill may be accessed here.