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Saturday, July 14, 2018

France's National Day and EUOIA poet Carte-Vitale (presented by Sandeep Parmar and myself)



How Paris looks to Carte-Vitale

Remember France's National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Carte-Vitale. With Sandeep Parmar I created the poem of Carde-Vitale for Twitters for a Lark: Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors. Nothing is known about this writer except that that he/she/e/they resides in Paris. The reader should investigate the poem, not consult the biographies, of course.

Sandeep reads the whole poem on a video of the Manchester launch of Twitters. You can read about the evening  here. But the video is here:


Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

All the poets are collected in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman. 


More on Twitters here and here.


I have posited a possible continuing fiction here, but I am unsure how I shall carry the plot forwards. Or even (as I think of it now) if I will. I have plans, but nothing I want to pursue. However, the whole project is a series of fragments, not in the sense that nothing is finished, but in the sense that the little that is offered to the reader (Carte-Vitale's single poem, for example) suggests all the other potential poems that the individual fictional poets might have written. 

Monday, July 02, 2018

Robert Sheppard: Petrarch 3: the semiotic translation removed from my sequence!

I have been revising (quite lightly) my translations of Petrarch's third sonnet (and the subsequent sonnets that will form a book, as yet, untititled) and have decided to remove the semiotic translation which I had placed as a 'semiotic fringe' at the bottom of my 'Semantic Poetry Translation' of the sonnet. (I think it detracts from my homage to Stefan Themerson's 'semantic poetry' method.) This is the sonnet, which describes the day he first saw Laura (depicted above).


Era 'l giorno ch'al sol si scoloraro
per la pietà del suo Factore i rai,
quando i' fui preso, et non me ne guardai,
ché i be' vostr'occhi, Donna, mi legaro.

Tempo non mi parea da far riparo
contra colpi d'Amor; però n'andai
secur, senza sospetto: onde i mei guai
nel comune dolor s'incominciaro.

Trovommi Amor del tutto disarmato,
et aperta la via per gli occhi al core,
che di lagrime son fatti uscio et varco.

Però, al mio parer, non li fu honore
ferir me de saetta in quello stato,
a voi armata non mostrar pur l'arco.

Here is the semiotic fringe translation, as a strip.

☼♂♂♀♂♥?♂         ↑♂♂↓♂█ ♂♂        →♀♂ !†♂         ♂†♂♂◙ !

But really it should not be a fringe but a sonnet in its own right:

☼♂♂♀♂♥?♂          

↑♂♂↓♂█ ♂♂        

 →♀♂ !†♂          

♂†♂♂◙ !


Read my first 'straight' translation and the Scouse doggie version here.


I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and see here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession/project, including how to purchase Petrarch 3 from Crater press in its 'map' edition.

The first review of Petrarch 3 by Alan Baker may be read on Litterbug, here. The second response, by Martin Palmer here. The third is by Peter Riley. My response to it here includes a few remarks about the whole project with links to other parts:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/03/peter-riley-on-my-petrarch-3-and-other.html

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Robert Sheppard: Actual Poetics: Roy Fisher and the Field of Literary Production

I want to address the radicalness of Roy Fisher. But first one has to deal with an assumption that pervades accounts of the work.

It seems he has been absorbed (or nearly absorbed) into a mainstream narrative about British Poetry. It’s one you see played out in the cases of Ken Smith or Denise Riley, as well. They are lifted out of the periphery into the mainstream. Almost.

I am accused of a certain kind of adversarial criticism, which pits a perceived mainstream (‘The Movement Orthodoxy’ that certainly existed until at least 2000, when I lost interest) against its Other (for which we have contested names, and, although I’m uninterested in that contest, I’ll accept, with responsibility, the imperfect notion of innovation). But then if the Mainstream is reading this work (let’s return to Fisher) it will read it in a certain way, extracting the anecdotal and the humorous rather than the distanciating and the formal, which is partly a self-fulfilling prophecy. To read it as radical may also be, but at least it is a minority view, in contention. All of this (which I’m finding hard to articulate, even to myself) is best illustrated by looking at a quotation from Roy himself.

(Note: would it be interesting to write a book on Roy and deliberately NOT quote him, since he is still, in some ways, the best commentator, or the most authoritative, on his work, not an ideal situation, critically speaking?)

He writes to Paul Lester (who had written a pamphlet on his work some time in the 1970s, but was delayed by some years in publication (I think I have it somewhere)). (Those who don’t remember these years will perhaps wonder why Lester self-published his critical piece. At that time, it was not easy to write much in established (if not establishment) journals about a poet like Fisher, certainly not before OUP published his Poems 1955-1980 in 1980. My 2005 book The Poetry of Saying was based on my 1979-87 work on a PhD: it took 25 years to be able to be able to publish such a book: thank you LUP!)

Roy was clearly replying to Lester in the early 1980s, given the references to Ash and to appointments of Poets Laureate, by which time the binary ‘underground’/establishment had been replaced by the binary of innovative/mainstream, with which it is not completely identical. It is also odd that the passage is clearly raising a question that is not broached in Lester’s (if I remember, politicised) reading of Fisher’s work. But I’m running ahead of myself here. The piece is reprinted in the Shearsman book An Easily Bewildered Child: Occasional Prose 1963-2013 and here’s the apposite passage:

It’s not part of your purpose to examine the relationship between ‘underground’ and establishment poetic activity, but it’s a question I seem to have raised merely by existing. The two forms of activity seem to me to be demarcated not by a division of substantive issues but behaviourally, by the centripetal effect of a pair of rather turgid whirlpools in different parts of the pond. What distinguishes one from the other is a difference in the conception of how the group and its activities relate, ethically and functionally, to the society. In these terms of allegiance and operation, although I’m obviously much more interested in the actual poetics current in the ‘underground’ group, I don’t feel drawn by the gravitational pull of either. For me, to ‘go underground’ and remain there would seem pretentious and academic, just as to ‘go’ in the other direction in the hope of finding a location would seem fatuous. As a result, I get used as a between-worlds counter in reviewers’ debates, as in Peter Porter’s recent discussion of John Ash’s experimentalism, where I’m the excellent Roy Fisher, whom nobody suggested should be Poet Laureate. (p. 160)

I propose to analyse this sentence by sentence. (Wouldn’t I rather be writing poems? What about that book on Frank Sinatra and me?)

As I said, Fisher raises a question, here presented existentially, that Lester doesn’t ask (which is why I will not consider his, Lester's, piece further, but stick to Fisher’s argument): ‘It’s not part of your purpose to examine the relationship between ‘underground’ and establishment poetic activity, but it’s a question I seem to have raised merely by existing.’

As I’ve said, this uses two terms that were already outmoded by the time Fisher was making (or, at least, publishing) his response. The terms are political in origin (just as ‘avant-garde’ is military: the demon of analogy leads us into strange back alleys and mugs us). But Fisher is thinking of the term ‘underground’ as used by the 1960s counterculture generally and more specifically as it is used by Michael Horovitz in Children of Albion (a 1969 anthology Fisher shares with other members of the British Poetry Revival, as I would prefer to say, and others; so Andrew Crozier is ‘in’, but Ted Milton is ‘other’ in my reading). The ‘establishment’ is a word that has a particular period stink: one thinks of Peter Cook lambasting the House of Lords or the complicit judiciary (say, in the Jeremy Thorpe trial), but the term was used of publishing to mean the big publishing houses (Cape, Faber, etc) which carried lists of mainstream writers, metrically decorous and rhetorically restrained (largely; there were always exceptions, a built-in ‘Get out of jail card’ the establishment always reserved for a rainy day; in Thorpe’s case, quite literally, of course.)  

So we can update the binary (The Poetry of Saying in dealing with this period favours The British Poetry Revival and the Mainstream Orthodoxy, which doesn’t mean that I favour these terms, but I’m going to need to adopt some such for this analysis). But we broadly know what we mean, socially and aesthetically.

‘It’s a question I seem to have raised merely by existing.’ The passive stance here attempts to drain agency from this positioning. He didn’t join either side in his writing, if these camps are regarded as matters of aesthetics or poetics. Indeed, ‘The two forms of activity seem to me to be demarcated not by a division of substantive issues,’ we are told. Not by ideas. ‘The two forms of activity seem … to be demarcated … behaviourally, by the centripetal effect of a pair of rather turgid whirlpools in different parts of the pond.’ Here, the emphasis on behaviour takes us away from aesthetics, perhaps into politics, but he is not yet clear at this point. It is perhaps about groups and belonging, Mods and Rockers rather than Beats and Academic Poets (though even that US binary involves a distinction between certain kinds of sexual and social decadence and decorum, as it were).

More importantly, we have the introduction of the central conceit of the passage: the spatial. This is appropriate for the author of City – but it is also strangely congruent with the spatialisation of cultural groups and affiliations in the work of Bourdieu: the field of cultural production as a plot colonised by those groups. (Let’s use that later.) What Fisher posits is more dynamic and fluid: ‘the centripetal effect of a pair of rather turgid whirlpools in different parts of the pond’. Each turgid (sluggish, slow) involuting force, ‘moving or tending to move towards a centre’, away from each other, is self-involved. Similar in motion, of course, but with a ‘difference in the conception of how the group and its activities relate, ethically and functionally, to the society’, a formulation that implies that the ‘underground’ is oppositional, while the other is normative: the never-meeting worlds of the commune and the family, the peace march and the military, anarchy and ‘culture’, very different societal ethics. Even: free verse and free love against conventional metrics and conventional marriage. These are essentially ‘terms of allegiance and operation’, in Fisher’s words, of social belonging and doing, behaviour (or habitus, to reintroduce Bourdieu for a moment). ‘I don’t feel drawn by the gravitational pull of either,’ Fisher says, slightly complicating his image of the two whirlpools, in that gravitational pull isn’t really a matter of choice. But the word ‘drawn’ (as in ‘I was very much drawn to the piano playing of Lux Meade’) does imply volition, although the state of not being drawn is ambiguous: is that resistance, or simply non-attraction? The context implies the latter, although the qualifying subordinate clause of this sentence is, for me, the clincher: ‘although I’m obviously much more interested in the actual poetics current in the “underground” group.’

Let’s repeat that: ‘I’m obviously much more interested in the actual poetics current in the “underground” group.’

The use of the word ‘poetics’ animates me, of course. (I take it in the sense I use it as the speculative discourse about how one makes art, the structural principles behind it, though even if Fisher is adopting it as in the stylistics that he used in his MA thesis on Mailer (yes! true!) it is instructive. ‘Actual poetics’ means the principles behind, or beyond, the apparent (or surface) beliefs of the ‘underground’. He is, in short, expressing an affiliation (however nonchalantly expressed as ‘interest’) with the modernism and American poetics that underpin the best of the ‘underground’ work: again, a broadly shared set with Lee Harwood, Tom Raworth, John James, and Gael Turnbull, rather than with the work of the more socially-identifying writers in Children of Albion. (Let’s spare naming them, because some of them changed later.) He could not go all the way (I repeat the spatial metaphor for a reason): ‘For me, to “go underground” and remain there would seem pretentious and academic,’ Fisher says. The spatial metaphor ‘under’ ‘ground’ suggests invisibility, being buried, as well as subversion, but Fisher (no child of the sixties) could not become a senior Timothy Leary figure (or better, closer to home and also of poetic pedigree, an Alex Comfort figure). (Christ! Roy would have laughed his head off at that! But Comfort was the budding (wrong word), up and coming (worse!), poet of the 1940s, according to Francis Scarfe.) Roy was jazz, not rock ‘n roll, and not even modern jazz, let alone free jazz. ‘Academic’ is an odd word to use of that possible choice.

In any case, that form of invisibility was rejected, yet so was visibility, expressed in his last spatial metaphor: ‘Just as to “go” in the other direction’ to the mainstream (my spatial metaphor) or the (literary), ‘in the hope of finding a location would seem fatuous.’ A location sounds like a place to operate from, a base camp, an institution even. Centred on a pedestal. What Fisher doesn’t ask, at this point, is whether they would have had him, allowed him location in their domain. Certainly not at the height of the Movement, as Fisher acknowledges later. ‘I owe CM a debt of understanding,’ Fisher wrote of Christopher Middleton in around 2012, in a short note:

At a time when the Sunday broadsheets still carried reviews of new poetry there appeared a review of his book Torse #3. [sic] The piece was by its own standards civilised: but it was patronising, ignorant, insular and weary. I had at that time virtually no contacts and no prospect of getting a book published; but I was working tentatively in a distant corner of the same territory, and the review showed me in an instant how the cards were stacked. It freed me from setting any store by opinions that might come from such a quarter. (Fisher 2014: 196)

Another spatial metaphor, note, in that ‘corner’, and one that suggests distance (from both Middleton and the Movement, the note implies). ‘It freed me’ is important, in acknowledging a liberating invisibility, as opposed to the ‘academic’ burial of the counter-cultural underground. This itself should be some sort of a riposte to those who see Fisher as ‘absorbed’ by the mainstream and ‘its standards’ (neatly summarised by Fisher as ‘patronising, ignorant, insular and weary’).

But by 1980 or so he was aware that he was a ‘counter’ in an argument about the field of literary production, again a passive party, when he declares, ‘ I get used as a between-worlds counter in reviewers’ debates,’ and I suppose I have been one of those reviewers. (See my reviews of Fisher for the Times Literary Supplement:  'Timeless Identities' (Roy Fisher) here.  And my 'Commitment to Openness' (on Roy Fisher, Lee Harwood, Tom Raworth) here.) But at the time (and Fisher refers to this review several times, though it is not of himself, but of John Ash, he states: ‘In Peter Porter’s recent discussion of John Ash’s experimentalism … I’m the excellent Roy Fisher, whom nobody suggested should be Poet Laureate. (p. 160) Well, I would never have made that suggestion either (though somebody at his funeral told me that when his domestic phone rang the day Ted Hughes died, Fisher leapt to his feet and cried, ‘It’s the Palace!’ but devotees of Fisher’s humour will recognise the self-deprecatory tone here!). The humour deflects from the point that he would not be appointed as an establishment stooge – and nobody expected him to be. He’s not on that list. Neither would he be crowned hippie King of the May, like Ginsberg in May 1965, in Prague. (See my PN Review review of Ash here, at a time I was turning away from his work and finding less of the ‘experimental’ in it than I had hitherto.)

BUT the clause ‘although I’m obviously much more interested in the actual poetics current in the “underground” group’ brings us back to poetics as a speculative, writerly discourse, and the word ‘obviously’ suggests that his relationship to the ‘underground’ was palpable to all who might choose to see it. But even Porter’s review suggests he won’t fit into the mainstream, even if he had tried to locate himself there. He never was a half-way house and his interest in the avant-garde poetics demonstrates that (at the very least) he was not looking both ways, but looking chiefly towards the underground for poetics and poetic analogues and homologies. (But he’d not be averse to being published in mainstream contexts: I suppose such a refusal would be ‘academic’: he isn’t J.H. Prynne.)

If I write a book on Fisher, I would write about that ‘actual poetics’ in relation to Roy Fisher’s poetry – but also about the actual poetics of his own poetry. For I take the point of his social and behavioural resistance to the pull of the underground seriously (as I do the terms of his exclusion from, and wariness towards, the mainstream). But he is not a lone wolf (anymore than Barry MacSweeney was) but he’s no card-carrier. He’s also (and this also should be obvious) in possession of his own poetics that would be the main focus of the book.

Trial and Error: the underground as trial; the establishment as error.

Robert Sheppard

June 2018


Other Links

See also

for my account of Fisher’s ‘Untitled Note’ in ‘Tributes to CM’, in
http://www.bowwowshop.org.uk/page10.htm in which Fisher’s is one of a number of fine tributes to Christopher Middleton.

The Note (and his reply to Paul Lester) is also published in Fisher, Roy. An Easily Bewildered Child: Occasional Prose 1963-2013. ed. Peter Robinson. Bristol: Shearsman, 2014: 196. Buy the book here.

I have more on Roy Fisher here:
See also my own take on Christopher Middleton, published in The Wolf, which kicks off with the same Fisher 'note', here. (There is more on Middleton on this blog here and here and here.)
Finally there’s more on the British Poetry Revival, both socially speaking and as a repository of a poetics, here, a recent piece,


and here, as I write of it in The Poetry of Saying:


And definitions of poetics here:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Robert Sheppard: Basho’s Famous Haiku and three variations

An ancient pond, yes!
The frog then leaping into
its own rippled splash.

*

old viscous cesspit:
frog leaps into dead tadpoles –

gulf, gloop! he’s sinking!


*

stuffed frog on the shelf
flops to the floor in a heap –
soft friend on the rum

*

Fool rules IKEA:
Car was Zuton bike on moon.
My zone yoyos too!

These poems come from a diary I kept between January and April 2018. The Basho variations (the first of which I wrote some years ago for teaching) appear in my prose haibun Three White Ducks in Mud, which is now safely in a brown envelope in a drawer for a month.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Celebrate Slovenia’s National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet ABC Remic

Celebrate Slovenia’s National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet ABC Remic who was co-created by myself and Alan Baker.

See Twitters for a Lark for more on ABC Remic, and here for more on Alan Baker. 

As nearly everybody who reads this blog regularly knows, I worked in collaboration, over a number of years, with a team of real writers, Alan being one of them, to create a lively and entertaining body of work of fictional European poets.

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grew in vividness until they seemed to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman.   

More on Twitters here and here

This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ).

Alan took part in The Other Room reading for the EUOIA here.

Alan Baker blogs here, and runs the  magazine: LITTER here. And the press Leafe, whose most recent publication is Patricia Farrell's High Cut: My Model of No Criteria.

 I have posited a possible continuation of the fictional poets project here, but I am unsure which way this will go now. After two (I think) successful parts, the third part would have to be really good. But maybe, like Iain Sinclair's novels of the North and East, they will remain unwritten.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Celebrate Luxembourg's National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Georg Bleinstein





Celebrate Luxembourg's National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Georg Bleinstein who was co-created by myself and Tom Jenks. 

See here for more on Tom Jenks.

Georg Bleinstein has the longest biographical details in Twitters for a Lark: Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors. You can read more abouthim here.

I DO implore you to check out this link because the monstrously long biographical note that we wrote together (in effect, the real collaboration), appears in full and I’ve embedded some surreal and wonderful photographs and videos to illustrate a life that is (literally) not over yet! It's a work of web art in its own right, according to Georg's agent, General Knaphausen, pictured above. I think it takes about an hour (if you can bear Eurovision clips, sausage videos, the late Dale Winton, Group Captain Carol Vorderman and Sabrina Salerno, also pictured above).

After that, read more about the other European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here. Most of those are real.

Twitters for a Lark is published by Shearsman. More on Twitters here and here

In short, this collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ). 'On this evidence, Robert Sheppard is now as Belgian as moules-frites and Herman Van Rompuy,' commented Tom Jenks... Tom is now as Luxembourgish as Jean-Claude Juncker!

I have posited a possible continuing fiction here, but I am unsure which way this will go now. Georg Bleinstein himself is perhaps an illustrative fiction about the madness of pursuing the fictional poetry project to its ultimate ends. We'll see (whoever 'we' turn out to be, or to have been).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Patricia Farrell's High Cut: My Model of No Criteria published by Leafe




Dedicated to the poet's mother, this single long poem uses the terminology of art, design and fashion to portray a character and to investigate both its own language and the process of writing poetry. The poetry is sensuous, playful, funny and dynamic, taking the reader along on a dizzying ride through the pleasures of language.

£6.50
  • Paperback: 18 pages
  • Publisher: Leafe Press
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1999945123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1999945121
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.1 x 21.6 cm
Buy it HERE

Or from Amazon here.

You can read its first review, by Clark Allison, here.

Read more about Patricia's work here and on her website, here. She is also an artist: the cover design of her book is hers.

See a list of Patricia's publications here. And an account of the publication of her Shearsman volume The Zechstein Sea here. Some thoughts on the publication of her Veer score A Space Completely Filled with Matter here.

See here for 'Travelling on one Ticket', from this blog.

Hear her reading at The Other Room (Manchester) here. And here you may access her British Library recordings on the Archive of the Now.

See Patricia's 6 readings as part of the 2017 Enemies collaborative project here. And reading at Edge Hill University 2017 here!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Celebrate Portugal’s National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Ana Cristina Pessao

Celebrate Portugal’s National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Ana Cristina Pessao who was co-created by myself and Jessica Pujol i Duran.

Jessica with Richard Parker, Amsterdam 2011, the day I first met them both (and the pirate elephant behind them)
See here for more on Jessica and here for more on Pessao (who is a footnote to one of Pessoa's footnotes, the great-niece of one of his lesser-known heteronyms, though we don't say so).

I worked in collaboration, over a number of years, with a team of real writers, to create a lively and entertaining body of work of fictional European poets. Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors, as I called them, here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman.   

More on Twitters here and here. Billy Mills reviews it here.

This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ).

I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy. I have posited a possible continuing fiction here, but I am not sure I will pursue it, or this might be present in the background of some other scheme. In other words, I don't know.  


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Lee Harwood's birthday : some thoughts

Yesterday I pondered whether I should attempt a lightly-revised second edition of the (Salt as was) Companion to Lee Harwood. I was surprised that the book was published in 2007, so long ago, it seemed. I like the book very much and think that it is an important collection on the works of a writer then happily still alive. I regret it being out of print, but I'm not sure it needs republishing. Perhaps one of the (younger? one hopes?) scholars who contact me as Lee's literary executor for permissions will thrust forward with a monograph soon. I have plans to co-edit Lee's prose, but this has been shelved, for a while.

I was surprised by my decision, because I thought it would be a positive one. I might, however, try to obtain some more copies.

I know, of course, that today would have been Lee's 79th birthday.

I don't want to just refer to obituaries on the day of his birth (remember 'Birthday Boy' in Dream Quilt?). Let's have an early photo of him,

and let's point to some writing by others. OK. These are good pieces, John Yau as a member of the Lee Fan Club (I guess i must be the secretary of that august body!) HERE, and (from this side of the pond), Ian Davidson's review of the 2004 Collected here.

My review of Collected Poems in two parts here and here. On later works here; on recent works here. And an earlier gift to him here. A later 'Laugh' with Lee Harwood may be read here.

And news of the developing British Library Harwood Archive here.

Celebrate Sweden’s National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Kasja Bergstrom (plus full bibliography and a new poem)

Yesterday was the Danish day. (See here.) Today celebrate Sweden’s National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Kasja Bergstrom, who was co-created by myself and SJ Fowler.

See here for more on Kasja (more than appears in Twitters) and here for more on SJ Fowler. We (actually it was Steve) concocted a longer biography than was finally published, so it seems the appropriate day to present that AND another of our works by Bergstrom that I had to omit from Twitters on length grounds. It follows on from the last sentences of the biography well:


Kajsa Bergstrom is one of the finest of modern, modest Northern European poets. Born into a gentrified family in 1956, in Ornskoldsvik, she is one of the last to follow the ecstatic revolution in Scandinavian literature, after the likes of Ibsen, Hamsun, Garborg and Strindberg, and on then from Ekelöf, Martinson, Tranströmer. The outpouring of reflective, burdened personal emotion, of self-analysis, of the destructive power of civilised discourse, marks out the early poetry, as though she were living the works of those who had come before her. Bergstrom is indelibly marked by her father’s death while she was a child. Her mother, a member of the petty nobility, still retained the Bergmanesque protestant hardness of her forebears, and seems to have been indifferent to her daughter and, as had happened with Schopenhauer, this emotional isolation surrounded by wealth produced a superlative gift for the imagination for the young poet. Like Schopenhauer too, this became directed toward the Oriental, the Eastern mode, in her turning away from Christianity and European parochialism.

After brief periods studying in London and Uppsala, Bergstrom became a student of music in Paris and became familiar with the work of the Tel Quel group. She forever maintained their influence on her was limited. Her first collection Flak (1977) was not received with any particular fanfare. She described its writing as suicidal, a process of poetry amidst emotional upheaval, and indeed her use of cryptic linguistic constructions, etymological tracings, repetitions, seems to hark to the best of European experimental movements and yet, almost by design, seem utterly impersonal, impenetrable to the reader.

As her work transformed, she returned to Stockholm, and her esoteric embracing of the poetic medium began to become tempered by more direct images in the text work that appeared to be increasingly offset by the remarkable use of typography, as though she were literally breaking apart the limitations of the Swedish language to express direct thoughts and images. The high experimentation left its trace in her use of materials and the ever present relentlessness of her images. By the time of Songbook (1996) and Noli Me Tangere (2005), when she had moved to Malmø, her oscillation between obtuse mysticism and deeply personal intellectualism had won her great acclaim.

from Noli Me Tangere

Elva

I     Manuskriptet

a write
             on her thought
       a flesh-filled  boka
                blue if we think differently and look
        taught then             one of them whistles they aren’t
essential seats are not guaranteed she sits on
        the bus and thinks her eye rests where she nests

lost grass as uniform as baize and three
     Jämthunds scrabble and bolt and the Asian horde
hunched with hair        thinks about our boka

           writing looking at her lips soft continually but her eyes are the softened
inviting him so horst        scarred up coiled
             towards them trained and savage in a film
       on her farm which seems neither mobile nor dark
                        she imagines writing            thinks there’s nothing
                      in rolls then the rolls are equal
                            measures you turn to notice and pray

           her hard drive next to her she imagines writing sorg
                     of this later she’ll say or write uncoiled
      and cut into neat squares to concentrate upon
                    crossing the road or covering the last vacant
feat of the journey



II   träsk

  Water and sand pillowing her advance past
                  its return in a way she’s returned and sold in multiples
             by the square you’re not sure which version
           of events in Master Johansgatan   a silent restaurant of sand
s          hut words past language into  
            with studium fat laws elsewhere today a pheasant                you
              prefer one
then tw
o the
n fou
r the
n unl
it clu
bs the a
ir fresh e
mpty
your interiority the woman in the suit processionally
                   detailed sunlight hops across the temporary
sward four rats swim the algae nod towards t          he




III            Imperium

Emporia
staggering ove
r to th
e sleepi
ng vagrant
wrapped in
fallen gold Harolden le
aves putting at the corner
they scuttle across the short g
rass but nothing impresses more
talk more get up you and sa
ndy buildings
redden though
walking alone
Hyllie Boulevard which has er
upted from below
the surface of the day da
mp cobbles dipping in
to countries  

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman.   

More on Twitters here and here

This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ).

I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy. I have posited a possible continuing fiction here, but I am unsure which way this will go now.I talked about that yesterday too, on the Danish post.


SJ Fowler at the centre of the Manchester European Poets reading, with some EUOIA collaborators there too: Patricia Farrell, Scott Thurston, Tom Jenks - and me

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

The Meaning of Form reviewed by Gareth Farmer in Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry



I’m pleased to say there is a thorough review of my The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) by Gareth Farmer in the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry (the journal Scott Thurston and I dreamt up a few years back and which Gareth now co-edits with Scott). Read it here. He ends:

The Meaning of Form is a noble and necessary part of the enterprise of taking us closer to the complex dynamics of the characteristics and operations of poetic form. There is, in Jacques Rancière’s phrase, an ‘aesthetic revolution’ going on, and many critics are joining the party. If, as Sheppard contends in his final chapter, ‘paraphrase […] is amnesia of form’, this book offers powerful smelling salts to jolt us back to a present of attentive concentration on form.

The book was largely sketched out on this blog: here’s a hub-post leading to a summary and links to relevant posts.

For those who can buy the book, or order it for libraries, here are the places to go to (raw links):

There’s also a review, on that page, of a fraternal book, Poetry and Performance During the British Poetry Revival 1960–1980: Event and Effect by Juha Virtanen, by Sally-Shakti Willow.

Check out the whole online journal here.

You can read Joey Francis’ account of the Sheppard Symposium here.

When I was co-editor the journal was hard copy. I left at the right point really because the change of technology signalled change more generally. It had always been my intention to leave the journal to younger souls (even before I started it) and I saw my role in life as setting up ‘provisional institutions’ for the innovative poetries. After I left I became involved with Storm and Golden Sky, the Liverpool reading series, which I proudly catalogue here. That took up nearly 3 years of the impulse. Then I suppose I was very busy with the book reviewed here! So now? About two days ago I decided I would no longer think of myself as ‘retired’ but as a 'full-time writer and Emeritus Professor of Poetry and Poetics'. I don’t see myself writing another critical book like the one reviewed, though being reviewed reminds me of the worth of my long endevours. Such work had never been part of an academic ‘career’, but part of my critical and creative attempt to re-configure the national poetic culture. What next? Well, I have a ‘treatise on metre’, called Pulse: All a Rhythm.  

Celebrate Denmark’s Constitution Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Trine Krugelund

Celebrate Denmark’s Constitution Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors conceptual poet Trine Krugelund who was created by myself. I mean: without a collaborator, since I mostly worked with others in this project, to create the volume Twitters for a Lark which is my most recent book. Collaboration was what made it enjoyable.

Krugelund in a rare photograph at the Louisiana, Denmark

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

More on Twitters for a Lark here and here. This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my first solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ). 

Trine is one of the 5 fictional poets who actually appear in ATranslated Man and in (again) Twitters. That’s also why she has a page here on the EUOIA website. This quintet of poets forms the link between the books, and could be the link to a third part.


Denmark looking towards Sweden
Because I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy. (A trilogy never flew on two wings!) Indeed, Trine Krugelund has an important part in the post EUOIA poetry group, EUGE (The European Union of Generative Experimentalists) that I describe here. As a conceptual writer she clearly has a central role in putting their work together. Of course, the equally fictional 'Robert Sheppard' (the one featured in Twitters) might never translate that project into English (though Krugeland often writes in what she calls 'Google English'). My description of her as 'depositing on several platforms' was not just to express polymedialness, but to suggest her essential fellowship with the pigeon. Occupied as I am by other projects, it's difficult to project another project, as it were, at this time, but the way I work is by slowly drawing nearer to the right idea. When I get it it will be reported here (but so will all the interesting stages - even castoffs - on the way). Tomorrow is Sweden's National Day and I have a left-over collaboration from the book to share).

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Celebrate Italy’s Republic Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Lucia Cianglini

Celebrate Italy’s Republic Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Lucia Cianglini who was created by myself. What I mean by that is that she is one of the 5 fictional poets who actually appear in ATranslated Man as one of the 'fictional poets' of the fictional poet Rene Van Valckenborch: Belgian dolls, as I put it. That’s why she has a page here on the EUOIA website. This site was put together before I embarked on Twitters for a Lark which was mainly collaboratively written, except for the five poets.  This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through Van Valckenborch in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ).

But the best place outside of my two books to read Cianglini is here.

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.


More on Twitters here and here

I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy. One possible plan I have is to get the remaining 4 fictional poets in A Translated Man to continue Cianglini's epic poem &. I outlined that plan here, in a piece in which I intimate the existence of EUGE: The European Union of Generative Experimentalists is better. Euge! is German for well, well done.  Here’s an example from Cianglini's ‘Poem 5’, about the ampersand spotted in Cork that set her poem (and mine) off:

& an ampersand ghosted on the wall over from the coffee shop
is a hollow in a headlock with nothing to say to us
& there’s too much for the mind to do each second...
 
But maybe I won't do anything to follow up on the glories of the two 'fictional poetry' books. Perhaps that plan will be like a phantom limb sticking up numb and unfeeling from the corpse of the EUOIA. But documented in all its potentiality (which would be perfectly in keeping with the notion of 'genereative experimentation', wouldn't it?). The ideas here would be then part of the elaborate background to some other fiction, as yet undreamt... Billy Mills thinks I should walk away from these fictions. He might be right. See his review of Twitters here.