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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Updated Websites! Both the EUOIA and my own

I have updated my two websites. Do have a look. One is for me; the other for the European Union of Imaginary Authors. I did both in preparation for the publication of Twitters for a Lark


https://robertsheppard.weebly.com/

https://euoia.weebly.com/


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Robert Sheppard: two poems excerpted from Twitters for a Lark

Here are two poems excerpted from Twitters for a Lark, not because I thought there was anything wrong with them but because I needed to cut the size of the manuscript: poems I had written on my own, rather than in collaboration, were obviously the first victims. The first poem was originally the epigraph of the book, the work of Erwin Wertheim, who crops up as one of the possible creations of the Luxembougish poet George Bleinstein. He is inexplicably described as ‘a vampire poet and Schnitzel champion’ (I have no idea what that means!).See here for a hub post about Twitters for a Lark.

            Voices 

One voice torn into two.
Or two sewn into one?  Two
turning into themselves. Itself.
One torn atwain, and again
the breaking down/building up: into
series, consequent, like the genome,
a trail of blood between the raw and the roasted. Or
a rained off vacation somewhere in ‘Europe’
in a leaky caravan, reading Paris-Match to one another,
hiding from our own others
behind the fridge next to the mousetrap.

                                                            Erwin Wertheim (1997)


The second poem is the second collaboration between myself and a cut up engine, God’s Rude Wireless, but it had to go because the other poem was the one into which I put the lines Rene Van Valckenborch quoted in A Translated Man – I wanted some continuity between the volumes. But I like the poem just as much and, as you can see, this one alludes to Rene.


Walk On Part

                        for René Van Valckenborch

walk off it’s a pretty flat song

to play the carousal and wingèd Pegasus
its painted rôle could be sung forever

you would like to have crooned torch songs
in Watteau the Musical with strings and swings
and some kitsch at the most

walk on
you would still like to
in a revival against the busy backdrop

you would like bouquets the only play in your self
that’s no bel canto no dipthong poignant verse

whereas this walk off is a pretty flat song

the hero has an exacting rôle
that a singer could sing
to a shy lover who’s tossed aside
by the song our old hero played to death

Maarten DeZoute

Twitters for a Lark: The Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors
is published by Shearsman Books at £9.99 and in available here:

It strikes me that these two poems may have something to do with the potential third part of the Fictional Poets Trilogy (I’ve never put it like that before, but it’s what I’m thinking of doing.)

Atlantic Drift Launch: Zoe Skoulding, Trevor Joyce and Chris McCabe




Launch of Atlantic Drift: An Anthology of Poetry and Poetics

Published by Arc Publications &Edge Hill University Press 
November 23rd , 7.30pm

Arts Theatre
Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, L39 4QP

Featuring Chris McCabe, Trevor Joyce and Zoë Skoulding 

Introduced by the books' editors, Professor Robert Sheppard and Dr James Byrne and with remarks from Pro-Vice Chancellor Mark Allanson
This event is FREE, though please sign up in advance for tickets 

Refreshments will be provided
This reading will feature three poets from a new and groundbreaking publication of poetry and poetics published by Edge Hill University Press.

www.edgehill.ac.uk/events/2017/11/23/atlantic-drift/



TICKETS FREE, but booking required
do that here:
https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/events/2017/11/23/atlantic-drift/
or by phone: please call the Box Office on 01695 584480.


7.00pm – Light Refreshments
7.30pm – Atlantic Drift Book Launch

Introduced by the books’ editors, Professor Robert Sheppard and Dr James Byrne

This reading will feature three poets, Zoë Skoulding, Chris McCabe & Trevor Joyce, from a new and groundbreaking publication of poetry and poetics and a brief Q&A.

Atlantic Drift publishes 24 poets from the UK, Ireland, USA and Canada in partnership with Arc Publications. This anthology seeks to highlight new and existing writing and to define/redefine the discussions between poets from both sides of ‘the pond’. By developing a dialogue between English-speaking traditions, Atlantic Drift will include some of the most exceptional poetry and poetics written in the 21st century.


But also visit this page HERE for the various posts I've made concerning the book, its editing, including videos and photos.
 


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Robert Sheppard: reading at Doped in Stunned Mirages: poems in response to Captain Beefheart (set list)

Sat 11 November 2017: 5 - 6.30pm

Bluecoat, Liverpool

Doped in Stunned Mirages: poems in response to Captain Beefheart

Poets: Patience Agbabi, Vahni Capildeo, Sarah Crewe, Patricia Farrell, Peter Finch, Libby Houston, Tom Jenks, Chris McCabe, me, Zoë Skoulding, Matthew Smith, Helen Tookey and Jeff Young.

Each responded to a Beefheart album, not in that order but in the chronological order of the albums they were assigned, Jenks to Tookey. 

This event took place between 5-6.30pm, but the day began with the Beefheart symposium and a chance to see an archive display and films that will run at Bluecoat. There was music in the evening, but we didn't get to that.

Devised by independent curator Kyle Percy, working in collaboration with
Chris McCabe and Bluecoat’s Artistic Director Bryan Biggs. My thanks to all three!

My diary: A rush to Bluecoat for the Beefheart symposium. Highlights: Lucy Cullen's film about the 1972 Bluecoat exhibition,

Graham Crowley nailing Beefheart's painting, Alan Dunn's film (with Edgar Jones, who we'd caught at the Handyman a couple of weeks ago), and Patricia Farrell, Sarah McCabe and Peter Finch examining the poetry, Gary Lucas' memories (we bought his new album that received a good review in The Wire)...

John Hyatt, Gary Lucas, and Alan the trumpeter: who played the last post at 11.00
Then the poets read: Vanhi was the real surprise, amongst a good set. Not heard her before. Or met. It sold out. Sorry? A poetry reading sold out. Well done, everybody involved...

I read my poem 'Beefore and Never' (which, with the others is published in the zine Click Clack, so I'm not going to quote much of it, but before I read (or beefore I read) I said:

My assigned album was Strictly Personal, a record that was made under adverse conditions and subject to post-production treatments that threatened to impose the trappings of psychedelia - fazing and so on - onto an album that was steeped in the blues. I knew some of the tracks on the album, but not all - and not the first track, whose first meoments delivered a 'strictly personal' surprise to me that coloured my active listening. The Captain was singing and playing harp on a surreal version of a song by his - and my - favourite country blues singer, Son House. The song, in Son House's version, is called 'My Black Woman', and the shock of it was that it was a song I used to sing with Tony Parsons. It was inevitable therefore that my poem, while picking up cluses and echoes from the album, is also a skip through the blues tradition.


Then I read the poems: 'blow in the sunset threading/ bones legs entwined/ swell/ into a cough cut huff' etc...

I decided not to sing a bit of the song and play the harp, though I could have. I found no way to transition from the music to the poem, from my singing voice to my reading voice. I thought the song might obscure the poem.

Patricia read with Rita:

A tan is addressed in her poem. Again, you'll need to consult the zine!

See Chris McCabe's blog for photos of all the poetry events: here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

More Petrarchan sonnets: Charlotte Smith's Elegiac Sonnets

I made a habit of posting my sonnets earlier in the year as they were written. I write about the Earl of Surrey ones here , where I explain that the poems were temporarily posted, partly because I was often commenting on contemporary events, like Boris' gaffes, and I wanted to get an immediate audience. See here for one reference to this latest sequence, feeding off of the sonnets of Charlotte Smith, and featuring Boris' last gaffe.  The new poem has a reference to his more serious one.(And Pretti Patel's.)

I left it up a week, but now it's gone. Sorry. Let's hope you'll read it in print one day.... 

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Robert Sheppard: New long poem, 'The Accordion book' published in Adjacent Pineapple 2

A long six part poem (or is it a long poem, I’m not sure) appears in the second issue of the vital magazine edited by Colin Herd, Adjacent Pineapple. Dig that name, dig my poem, here;

‘The Accordion Book’ is a long and deliberately involuted poem, dealing with perception, art and (in places) cognitive extension…. 
 
It begins:

Form becomes reform on this stretch
of paintbox limbs. Destruction is con-
structivist shivering, a black box with
unruly wires, splats! on grids. We

lean over our futures: white on black,
we silhouette our capering. One of us
faces the tank (we’ve learnt this pose from
YouTube footage) as they pounce to the beat....


 And then dig the work of the others:
    
       Amy Gerstler
       Joey Frances
    Eva Ferry
      Iain Britton
    Calum Rodger
     Clive Gresswell
      Medbh  McGuckian   
Denise Bonetti      
Paula Claire         
Claire Potter            
Rachel Grande      
Laura Tansley    
   Jonty Tiplady        

Thanks to Colin Herd for taking this work.  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Minilaunch of Twitters for a Lark/Earl of Surrey poems at EDGE POETICS November 4th November 2017 (set list)

There was a mini-launch of Twitters for a Lark as part of the Edge Poetics symposium, details here: https://www.beds.ac.uk/edgepoetics

4th November 2017

10.00-17.30, with a public reading at 18.00 (that's where we'll launch)

Venue: University of Bedfordshire, Luton Campus

I read with Nicholas Royle,  Helen Marshall and Tim Jarvis.

I read the section 'The Unfortunate Fellow Traveller' from 'Surrey with the Fringe on Top', my irreverent takes on the Earl of Surrey's Petrarch poems, his 'Europoems' as the poems themselves call it. See here for more (or less) on the sequence.

Then I launched Twitters for a Lark by asking Simon Perrill to read our collaborative poem, the works of the Latvian poet Janis Raups. Then I finished off with the works of Lucia Cianglini.

Tim, Helen and Tim read marvellously unnerving short stories!

Twitters for a Lark: The Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors
is published by Shearsman Books at £9.99 and in available here:

Working in collaboration with a team of real writers, Robert Sheppard has created a lively and entertaining anthology of fictional European poets.

This collection marks a continuation of the work Sheppard ventriloquised through his creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (also available from Shearsman here: http://www.shearsman.com/ws-shop/product/4328-robert-sheppard-a-translated-man ). Nicholas Royle is credited with having stoked upo the necessary Belgiophilia to invent him (see Nick's novel Antwerp.)

Although devised before the neologism ‘Brexit’ was spat across the bitter political divide, this sample of 28 poets of the EUOIA (European Union of Imaginary Authors) takes on new meanings in our contemporary world that is far from fictive, ‘fake news’ or not.

Read more about the European Union (of Imaginary Authors) here and here. and here:

Monday, November 06, 2017

Edge Poetics: My Keynote and Other events

Edge Poetics


A Symposium on Innovative and Speculative Creative Writing Practices in Higher Education


Me, with 'blogpost 5' on show

4th November 2017


10.00-17.30, with a public reading at 18.00


Venue: University of Bedfordshire, Luton Campus


With keynotes from Professor Robert Sheppard (Edge Hill University) and Nicholas Royle (Manchester Metropolitan University), and contributions from Dr Helen Marshall (Anglia Ruskin University). In the evening we all read, along with Tim Jarvis. I launched Twitters for a Lark with delegate Simon Perril.


Just back from Edge Poetics: A great day: good company: lots of energy; plenty of ideas: everybody moaning about the tension between trying to nurture creativity and the obstructive nature of university research culture + empty but burgeoning administration. But also a recognition of the joys of what we do (well). 
You can read all parts of my drafts of a keynote but I didn't use them all. The material at the end of post four ('The Formal Splinter') below was (wisely I think) substituted by a different text. (Hopefully a final piece will be published in a polished form in a publication, so I'll leave the revisions until then.) It seemed to go down well. 



Keynote Part one here:




Keynote Part two here:




Keynote Part three:  




Keynote Part four:




Keynote Part five:



                Till relatively recently, Creative Writing in Higher Education has been dominated by a set of techniques and tropes derived from realism, and also by the expectations of mainstream literary fiction. Increasingly, however, aspects of innovative and speculative poetics are finding their way into the classroom.


                This one-day symposium will ask: what are the benefits for the pedagogy of Creative Writing of writing practices drawn from experimental and fantastic traditions; and what does it mean to be a writer interested in such traditions who also teaches Creative Writing in academe? 

Nicholas Royle's keynote (like mine) was a reflection upon teaching, in his case through a structural miming of BS Johnson's The Unfortunates. I'd wondered who'd bought that copy in the Bold St Oxfam. Now I know. Nick. Marvellous Liverpool detail from this excellent Manchester writer. I'd been away less than 24 hours and I was already nostalgic.  
Nick reading his speech

Thanks to Conference organisers Tim Jarvis, Keith Jebb, and Lesley McKenna (University of Bedfordshire) 

The Necessity of Poetics was a text produced over some years, in different editions from Ship of Fools, but it is serialised, in one version, here:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/robert-sheppard-necessity-of-poetics-1.html

Keith's students told me I was 'notorious' for it! They have to study it. I felt scowls in my direction!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Robert Sheppard with Others: Twitters for a Lark: the poetry of the EUOIA PUBLISHED

If the right poets for the times don’t exist, then they have to be invented. 

Twitters for a Lark: The Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors

is published by Shearsman Books at £9.99 and in available here:


Working in collaboration with a team of real writers, Robert Sheppard has created a lively and entertaining anthology of fictional European poets. There is no resultant ‘Europoem’, but a variety of styles that reflects the collaborative nature of the poems’ production, the richness of a continent. The works range from the comedic to the political, from the imaginatively sincere to the faux-autobiographical, from traditional lyricism to the experimental. Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own.

This collection marks a continuation of the work Sheppard ventriloquised through his creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (also available from Shearsman here: http://www.shearsman.com/ws-shop/product/4328-robert-sheppard-a-translated-man )

Although devised before the neologism ‘Brexit’ was spat across the bitter political divide, this sample of 28 poets of the EUOIA (European Union of Imaginary Authors) takes on new meanings in our contemporary world that is far from fictive, ‘fake news’ or not.

The collaborators are: Joanne Ashcroft, Alan Baker, James Byrne, Alys Conran, Kelvin Corcoran, Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Patricia Farrell, Allen Fisher, S. J. Fowler, Robert Hampson, Jeff Hilson, Tom Jenks, Frances Kruk, Rupert Loydell, Steve McCaffery, Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Sandeep Parmar, Simon Perril, Jèssica Pujol i Duran, Zoë Skoulding, Damir Šodan, Philip Terry, Scott Thurston.


Twitters for a Lark heralds a new movement: the European Poetry Revival. It is a book that arrives like a new channel forged by collaborative poets, with all past ideals of state rolled up in an old five pound note. This illuminated sect of future Rimbauds lightens the island’s burden, the lights on their vessels burning like the tips of duty free cigarettes.
                                                                                    Chris McCabe

Hub post

Read more about the European Union (of Imaginary Authors) here and here
Read about the August 2017 reading of the EUOIA poets (pre-launch of Twitters) here
Read about the November 2017 mini-launch here.
Read about two de-selected poems from the anthology here



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Robert Sheppard: The Working Week micro-publication now out!

My latest micro-publication has just been micro-published by Smallminded Books. It missed the 2107 batch Rupert Loydell was putting together – and so is even further micro-micro-published on its own.

It actually consists of seven short poems, and it is entitled The Working Week. Here’s a topical little number:


The sun roof in the miniature
sedan is
just right (they
say) for the two Klansmen’s
pointy head gear.

As they pass, their hats,
pinnacles of a big top,
alert the pale children
who laugh at this sartorial
convenience.

Gasoline in the boot. 


Let me know if you want one, or, I believe, the whole batch may be obtained from Rupert. Martin Stannard reviewed the batch before mine was added, here , and he adds:


For the price of sending your email address to Stride (http://stridemagazine.co.uk/) these little booklets, and I assume the other dozen or so that were published last year, can each be yours as a PDF to print and fold. The folding is easy and fun – a child could do it. But be careful: at one point in the process you will need scissors. Mind those pointy bits and sharp edges! Anyway, if I can do it, it must be easy. There is a good instruction video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21qi9ZcQVto

If you are in the UK and would like to avoid the downloading, the printing, and the folding (in other words, a lot of the fun) a stamped and self-addressed envelope to Stride’s earthbound address will do the trick: 4B Tremayne Close, Devoran, Cornwall TR3 6QE. Mark your envelope “In praise of the Smallminded” and tell the publisher which publications you want. A normal stamp will get you up to four booklets.


Billy Mills reviewed the batch, now including mine, here.Thanks Rupert: keep folding!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Wolf 35 (poem included but also refelctions of this last issue)

I am pleased to say that I have a poem, ‘Hap 2’ in The Wolf 35, one of my takes on the Petrarch translations of Sir Thomas Wyatt.

See here and here and here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession/project, including how to purchase Petrarch 3 from Crater Press. Read a doggie version of Petrarch's third poem here. But these, of course, come before the Wyatt poems in what is a sequence of sequences. I do read the first 8 or so 'Haps' here on video at the Sheppard Symposium, including the poem published in The Wolf, up to and including the ones just then completed.


It’s sad to say this is the last issue of the magazine but it is good to share it with Patricia Farrell, Chris McCabe, John Wilkinson, Robert Hampson, Antony Rowland, Ilya Kaminsky, Geraldine Monk, along with many other writers I’ve not met, AND a large number of students and former students who co-editor James Byrne have taught over the years at Edge Hill: Adam Hampton, Joanne Ashcroft, Jessica Tillings, Brendan Quinn, and Susan Comer (that's her art work on the cover above).

I’m also sad because I’ve appeared in The Wolf a number of times, and it's become a regular shelter, if not a home. I’ve written two reviews, one of Rosmarie Waldrop (not overlapping in any way with the chapter on her work in The Meaning of Form). That may be accessed here

And one of Christopher Middleton (which is a missing chapter from The Meaning of Form – the reader wanted it removed). I wrote about his poetry of the 1970s, and his poetics piece 'Reflections on a Viking Prow', but revised it for The Wolf; that can be accessed here and here

(Oliver Dixon has some nice things to say about it here. An introduction to The Meaning of Form and links to its formative pieces are found here.)

I have had a number of poems published, including the collaborative EUOIA poem written with Kelvin Corcoran,  the work of Eua Ionnou, (read her biography here.) in Issue 33, that also had a review of my History or Sleep: Selected Poems, by Nikolai Duffy. I write about that issue here.

A Wolf interview with me, conducted by Chris Madden still may be read here. In an earlier Wolf Chris had reviewed Berlin Bursts and gave an account of my reading at Bluecoat.This is the best and most searching interview with me!

So, all in all a long association with an even longer-running magazine, ably edited by James Byrne and by Sandeep Parmar, who has a review of Amali Rodrigo in this issue. Best wishes to them both!

James, in his editorial, promises further activity under the sign of THE WOLF, online. Watch that cyberspace!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Robert Sheppard: more (or less) of the Keynote about Creative Writing for Edge Poetics part 5 (end?)

Blogpost 5

I’m not as stupid I look. I know that many will have to re-visit what I’ve just spoken but, at least, these demonstrably written words are on my blog, Pages. But I find I can’t say it any other way. (I may leave it out: it's too much, probably.) It isn’t poetics exactly, but it’s a teasing document for my poetics which has an important question for myself: what is the relationship between my critical writing, which provoked it, and the poetics which provokes my own creative practice? It’s not one I know how to answer, but there is a ‘bleed’ between the two, quite interesting for myself alone, I’d guess, but it opens up a general question for the subject of Creative Writing: what is the relationship between literary criticism and poetics? For our undergraduate students this becomes: what is the relationship between their ‘reading as a writer’ exercises and their ‘commentaries’ or ‘reflection’? To this (since I am going to conclude not with answers, but questions) I’ll add: How much of a literary critical perspective do we expect postgraduate candidates to have, when they sometimes find themselves examined with the intellectual instruments of a subject they haven’t sometimes studied, i.e. English Literature? Can poetics suffice? 

I interrupted Blogpost 1 some minutes back, because I wanted to delay its transmission until the end, because it transpired to become a list of similar questions. Ones which have washed around my head for some time and in the busy-ness of modern academic life (I am no ‘slow professor’, to be sure) I had no time to ask. I have time to ask them now, at least.

Blogpost 1 resumed: 

Please find the post here and the second part of it where it begins: ‘I was one of the only poets I knew in say 1980 who had studied Creative Writing. But now, it’s almost a given and there are problems I think; are they building individual careers rather than communities of writers? Do they only read each other?’ Etc. See what I mean: it’s a barrage of questions!

Of course, I will tidy this up, refine discriminations, hone the language, en-wave its rhythms and perhaps sharpen its arguments... Or dump the lot and start again. As I've said before.



Read all parts of this draft of a keynote (or is it a Key Chord?):

Keynote Part one here:

Keynote Part two here:

Keynote Part three:  

Keynote Part four:
  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Alan Baker: Not the EUOIA: J.A. Torres Gutierrez (1925-1996)

J.A. Torres Gutierrez (1925-1996)



Gutierrez was overlooked for membership of The European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) in favour of the Catalan poet Cristòfol Subira, and maintained a bitter feud with Subira for the rest of his life. (More on Subira here)

Alan Baker has brought Gutierrez’ poetry to life, and, actually, the man too. Support your unlocal fictional poets! See information on the EUOIA here and here.

Gutierrez Select Bibliography
Canciones / Songs (1947)
Música de cinco / Music at Five (1955)
El legado / The Legacy (1962)
A Las Cinco de la Tarde / At Five O'Clock in the Afternoon (1968)
Medina Ramirez y El Diablo / Medina Ramirez and the Devil (1970)
El árbol marchito / The Withered Tree (1972)
Caminos que andan / Walking Roads (1975)
Rimas y Ritmos / Rhymes and Rhythms (1980)
Vigencia Lejanía / Validity Distance (1983)
Últimos Poemas / Last Poems (1991)


As for the anthology he does not appear in, Twitters for a Lark, my collection of co-authored fictional poets, will be published by Shearsman soon. Another set of proofs have just been read.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Robert Sheppard: More notes towards that keynote at Edge Poetics

I’m now not so sure that I shall simply read these blogposts at the symposium, but I have synthecised a piece on poetics for it, perhaps (I hope, please please please) my last post (ha-ha) on the topic. I need to temper my need to define poetics (but it’s a real need, when we as a practice-led subject have to keep re-inventing the wheel for the powers that be). I’ve nothing to add, really, though I am glad I have co-edited Atlantic Drift as an anthology showcasing poetry and poetics, some of it new, and I would like to present some of that (possibly Zoe Skoulding’s piece) and even my own poetics, but I doubt if that’s entirely possible at the symposium, time-wise, but it might be. What I said I would do is this: speak ‘about why we teach innovative modes of writing’, rather than ‘how’. (I have a piece on how to start writing poems (haiku-imagism-objectivism); and I’ve written a chapter on experimental writing called ‘Taking Form’, but this is really just me writing up my lessons plans, and I hope they have been useful to the profession). Perhaps most teachers of Creative Writing teach what they like (and perhaps find more of what they like through teaching) and it is true that this curious passion (or passionate curiosity) must be the biggest driver in dealing with the basic problem of Creative Writing pedagogy: that our students do not read enough or widely. Our own passions (or our own editing: Atlantic Drift as James Byrne says in the introduction is partly the book we want to teach; and he is) will enhance that. Possibly we’ve never tried to teach reading through writing because we insist that reading should be primary. I’m sure I read most of the poets I first read I did so because I was already writing poetry, but I’ve never said so before. Perhaps there is a virtuous feedback loop encircling reading, writing and poetics that may be initially engaged at any point, should we allow it, even starting with poetics. The important thing is that the energy gets round the entire loop (and then continues). So that’s another potential avenue for this keynote that I can but raise!
            I mentioned earlier that a lot of mainstream poetry writing makes me feel ill, and I mean it viscerally: there are moments in poetry readings when I lose the will to breath, feel a leaden burden upon my genial spirits, as I listen to poetry so rhetorically constricting of its subject matter, so batteringly apposite in its battery of figurative language, so formally consistent and self-confirming, so air-tight as to be suffocating. The lyric tradition, for me, contains enough of such self-regarding artefacts (although they claim not to be artefacts). Yet it is also full of its opposite. As Christopher Middleton wrote decades ago:

To recapture poetic reality in a tottering world, we may have to revise, once more, the idea of a poem as an expression of the “contents” of a subjectivity. Some poems, at least, and some types of poetic language, constitute structures of a singularly radiant kind, where “self-expression” has undergone a profound change of function. We experience these structures, if not as revelations of being, then as apertures upon being. We experience them as we experience nothing else. (Middleton 1990: 283)

Muriel Rukeyser, in her poetics-poem, ‘Poem White Page White Page Poem’ announces that

            something is streaming out of the body in waves
            something is beginning from the fingertips

which asserts poetic rhythm as energy, waves, pulses, surges, which engender life: 

            the small waves bringing themselves to white paper
            something like light stands up and is alive (Rukeyser 1995: 268)

‘Announcing with the poem that we are about to change,’ as she says, might be a way to stay with the feeling of it; its fluidity becomes our fluidity. Its rhythms become our rhythms. (Rukeyser 1995or 4: XXX) The thing is, as Robert Kaufman puts it in an aphorism that I have quoted before in The Meaning of Form: ‘To make thought sing and to make song think,’ (Kaufman 2005: 212) as I believe Maggie O’Sullivan, Allen Fisher, Zoe Skoulding, Sean Bonney, Frances Kruk, Tom Jenks, Geraldine Monk, Peter Hughes, Cathy Weedon and Jeff Hilson, to name ten very different poets do, in their work, some of which I’ve written about critically, others I haven’t. What I’m not doing is identifying the elements of poetic artifice that cause these effects, as I would do, and as I have done, in critical discourse.
My most recent (possibly my last) critical book The Meaning of Form opens with an aphorism of its own. I say: ‘Poetry is the investigation of complex contemporary realities through the means (meanings) of form.’ (Sheppard 2016: ?) I continue:

The pun upon ‘means’ is intended to enact the supposition that if poetry does anything it does it chiefly through its formal power and less through its content, though it also carries the further suggestion that form is a modality of meaning in its own right. If we use the term ‘formally investigative’ of this poetry, we are also suggesting that the investigation of reality and the investigation of, experimentation with, form and forms, are coterminous, equivalent, perhaps not, in the final analysis, to be determined apart. (Sheppard 2016: ?)

I had best not pursue the formalist trajectory of that book as it traces the way forms, and acts of forming (and of losing form) operate in actual poems, following the careful lead of Derek Attridge’s The Singularity of Literature (a book I think all postgraduate students of Creative Writing should read). My identification of poetic forms (technique-spotting!) grounds my apprehension of processes of forming and meaning-formation, as they meet in an aesthetic response which is a material engagement of reader and text, another act of forming which is undertaken by the engaged reader. If there’s minimal engagement it’s not reading (as we might tell our students). 
I am going to read a 500 word statement of intent that may be a statement of poetics, or may be a theory of poetry, I’m not sure. I will display the 200 word version of the statement as I read it.

Read the 200 word version of 'The Formal Splinter' here or here

Read the 500 word version here.

All the thinking of The Meaning of Form may be accessed at the hub-post, one of the most accessed on this blog, HERE.



Read all parts of this draft of a keynote (or is it a Key Chord?):

Keynote Part one here:

Keynote Part two here:

Keynote Part three:  

Keynote Part four:

Keynote Part five: