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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Robert Sheppard: My review of Adrian Clarke's Austerity Measures on Stride plus further notes, thoughts and links

My review of Adrian Clarke’s new book Austerity Measures is now up on Stride and I hope you will read it now. It is here.

On a personal note, this is the first piece of critical writing I’ve produced since finishing the grand slog of The Meaning of Form (see here for more on that volume of critical writing). That is, with the exception of the floating prose of Pulse, a sort of ‘treatise on metre’ that I am hoping will be published soon.

On another personal note, I have a poem dedicated to me in Adrian’s book and, by rights, I shouldn’t review the book, but I wanted to; I don’t know who else might and I regard Clarke as important (and somewhat neglected, though I don’t know why).  I simply ignored the poem in my account (though I like its references to 'C21 Blues'). I also ignored the poem dedicated to Patricia, which indeed is published on this blog here! Have a look: it gives an idea about how ‘austere’ Adrian's ‘measures’ are. There were plenty of other poems to deal with in their obdurately material insistence (along with their concomitant teasing indeterminacy)!

I have all of Adrian’s books on my desk at the moment and I’m surprised how many there are. Apart from the book reviewed, (see here) I’d check out the VEER website and look for Drastic Measures and Possession as starters. Or Excess Measures. If you don’t know the work. Here and here.

But there is one more example on Pages, from Adrian's 'Muzzle' here.

My earlier article on Adrian, ‘Colossal Fragments’ from Pages (as a print journal, 219-238, April 1994). Pages has been digitalised (see here) but I’ve also re-published that piece on this blog here. It was reprinted in my short critical volume Far Language here. But I also write about Clarke’s ‘creative linkage’ in The Poetry of Saying. See here.

But I haven’t written about his work recently (though there is a poetics piece dedicated to him in Berlin Bursts and I was surprised to find it still online in  the Singaporean magazine Softblow, here).

In the Stride review I wanted to present the work in its demanding delight without intervening critical discourse. (My one ‘reference’ to Guattari, whom I am currently re-reading, is heavily muted!)

So there are lots of places you can go to search out this work if you don’t know it, and plenty of books to buy (in addition to the new one). And there is one more link that will help you: I deal with Adrian’s poetics (in contrast to Pierre Joris’) here.

When I say in my review

Recently, I’ve read a lot of descriptions of rather mild excursions beyond the poetic normative as ‘experimental’, ‘innovative’, or ‘radical’, but very little measures up to Clarke’s excessive, austere, ghostly and (even) drastic measures…

I had a specific example in mind: a call for submissions for a magazine on Twitter that asked for collage work, cut-ups, surrealist writing, without irony! What we need, in Ranciere’s phrase, is something that will put the disruption back into montage! Adrian Clarke's work does that.

There is a second review, on Stride too, by Clark Allison, HERE.

Friday 24th January 1969:

Received QSL from Radio Denmark.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Thursday 23rd January 1969:

Number One: Albatross, Fleetwood Mac.

Sent QSL to Kuwait Broadcasting Service.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A second review of HAP by Clark Allison on Stride

A second review of HAP has appeared on Stride. You may read it here. It is by Clark Allison: he says:

Sheppard is taking his cue from the tumultuous and indeed dangerous days of Henry VIII’s Tudor regime with Thomas Cromwell acting as Chamberlain or chief minister until he met his untimely demise. Wyatt was rumoured to have had an affair with Anne Boleyn and endured a spell of detention in the Tower of London for alleged treason and died young though seemingly not suspiciously.
What the reader of this perceptive review doesn't know is that Clark has fallen into the routine of emailling me about nearly all of my temporary postings (on this blog) of the latest poems from 'The English Strain' project, so that we are in a kind of loose dialogue about its progress. It's nice to see him taking stock of an earlier part of the project. Thanks Clark!

See here about how to purchase the book HAP: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch  Knives, Forks and Spoons Press   23 pages   £6.50, December 2018, from KFS:

You can read about the whole ‘English Strain’ project in a post that has links to some other accounts, and earlier parts, of this work: here

Clark's own poetry appeared on this blog when it was more of a blogzine. See here for his
'Mind’s Eye' :

Steve Spence has reviewed the book on Litter.
here. And there's a third review from The Journal here.

Monday 20th January 1969:

Changed pictures on my wall. Radio info on door.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Friday, January 18, 2019

Saturday 18th January 1969:

John and I hope to make tape for Radio Veronica, the first Pirate.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Robert Sheppard: Old and New poems published in Molly Bloom 18 (and MB2!)

is out (so is Issue 2 again!) Let the editor Aidan Semmens, explain this conundrum:

Since its inception as an online magazine in 2013, Molly Bloom has been living a lie, at least an implicit one. The implication, if not the overt statement, was that Molly as a printed magazine was born and died with the first issue, in November 1980. Recently, however, going through a box of old pamphlets and magazines left more or less forgotten in the attic, I came across the hard evidence that this was not the case. For there was a surely rare copy of Molly Bloom no.2, a duplicated, hand-stapled issue put together in May 1982 by my good friend Ged Lawson.

As I’ve explained to Aidan (who I met with Ged, who was also a friend of mine in Norwich at the time), I thought it odd, when I looked at the first issue online, because I had clear memories of being in it. I was wrong; for I was in this mysterious Issue 2, and I too came across a copy of it recently, assembling the bibliography with Chris Madden, for the Robert Sheppard Companion. As Aidan continues to explain:

Having launched Molly Bloom online with a reappearance of most of the contents of the first print issue, it seems only right now to bring the work from the second to the light of the online world, where most if not all of it now appears for the first time. Peter Riley's ‘Weekend’ is newly edited by him; the rest appears here exactly as it did in 1982, while some of the poets included then also provide new work exclusive to this online issue.

As I do. ‘Of Appearances: Of a Naked World’ was a 1981 collision between phenomenology (which I have recently returned to in my critical-creative piece Pulse) and objectivism, which as a critic has also re-occupied me recently (see my piece on John Seed, who is also a contributor to the new Molly Bloom here). See here:

For my own new invited contribution to the new Molly I decided to send my recent condensing (into prose, like a haibun, but with a desire to juxtapose the three 17 syllable sentences into a paragraph) the best of the haiku I was writing about a year ago. (I write about three of them here.)This piece seems somehow to be consonant with the earlier poems. Read them here:

I will reprint here, the slightly-revised version ‘Of Appearances: of a Naked World’ to demonstrate how I edited it for publication in Returns (published in 1985). And also because the text was a near-candidate for inclusion in my selected poems History or Sleep. I hope you enjoy either or both versions.


                        (pub: Returns. Southsea: Textures, 1985)

                & deep pink
along the ridge of dusk

                                & below
                the ranked squares of latticed
                factory windows, each lit

                The hard exterior
of appearances


                The flesh of night

it may well be
this obvious, but can never be



Men singing in the factory
its blocks of light
fractured upon the river's surface

its lesser light also there

                in fluid uncertainty,

full. Men singing

in the factory: unseen voices
under the waste of the sky
& its slow moon


The brittle
transformations of
settled snow

affirm, deny

a river glazed
with ice

shattered light

frozen steam
on opaque glass
in the bathroom

spiked nebula



moving upon a body

clothed in a way of
being looked at


the pulse
under the skin


something in the speechless
coming across the horizon

of a naked world


black touching




empty streets, emptied


mouth place

dirty snow


Black tyres
hissing strips
from the wet road

The shift
exchange places
bolting to
safety, risk

from the other
a pair of amphibious
​blind eyes


Monday, January 14, 2019

Tuesday 14th January 1969:

Did propaganda raid in our class.

[Note: I've no idea what that means.]

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Statement of a Friend in An Academic Appeal

This is my statement in support of X in his/her appeal against the decision to allow him/her to correct his/her thesis for the degree of MPhil in 12 months (and is therefore in support of his/her request to correct his/her thesis for the degree of PhD in 6 months). I was the supervisor of that project, and I witnessed both vivas that I will shortly refer to, but I am speaking today in my role as a friend of X and as a party to the documentation that he/she has resourcefully obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. In doing so he/she has revealed that a complex situation with a clear way forward was turned into an omni-shambles.
This complex situation was the unfortunate result of the original external examiner being unable to return to examine the re-examination that s/he himself had set up and spoke of being happy to return to conduct in twelve months. There was a set of conditions and corrections that the external and internal agreed, and explained clearly and X attended to these (to a certain extent) in her/his re-submission.
The re-examination took on the nature of a fresh examination (although the internal provided some continuity and, of course, provides evidence of the unsatisfactory nature of that examination in relation to the first, in her report, which I hope has been re-read). The two examiners did not agree: the external saying the work would, with corrections, be an MPhil if successful, the internal indicating that she thought it worthy of a PhD, with certain, different, corrections. This fact is important. X has some other things to say about these events which I think are relevant, though I want to pursue the core of this problem.
The [appropriate] Board was left with what the philosopher Lyotard calls a ‘differend’: a disagreement to which there is no higher court that can adjudicate on the matter. Their clear way forward with this complex situation was to sensibly send all the documentation to an experienced, internationally renowned external authority on research who issued a long and complex report which we have read (excepting some redacted passages). This authority seems to me, as a former member of the Board, to have offered a quite plausible way forward, on grounds which I assume this panel has absorbed. This is an important assumption, because it is clear that the Board did not read the judgement in any great detail and perhaps did not read the papers which were forwarded to the adjudicator, including examiners’ reports.
The adjudication recommended, on grounds of ‘natural justice’, that X be allowed to submit for the PhD in 6 months and that the internal (who by now is an external, having left), be allowed to sign the corrections off, as is customary with thesis revisions.
My appeal, as it were, is on the basis of the anonymous response to X from the Board. It says: ‘Since this was a second attempt at examination and neither examiner considered the thesis or its defence to be of the standard for the award of PhD, the options open to the Board was to fail the student entirely or to offer the option of the MPhil submission within twelve months.’ This is untrue: the internal examiner clearly expresses the view that the thesis could be revised to be of PhD standard (and she makes categorical references to QAA definitions and standards). The external adjudicator also points out that 2 out of 3 of the examiners involved in the two examinations agreed with this view. Why did the Board see fit to ignore this advice that it had itself requested? Perhaps they were playing safe, in thinking that an MPhil would be the best chance of retrieving something from the complex situation. Unfortunately, they repeat their misreading that ‘the fact that neither examiner considered the thesis to be of the standard meant that’ the PhD option ‘was not possible’. It was possible because the examiners did not agree about the thesis, as I’ve explained twice now. The Board brushed aside the adjudicator’s report and his plea for them to consider the results of the first examination.
There’s more I could add, about the hurt to X, about the behaviour of the second external examiner, about the diligence of the internal on two occasions, about the detail and subtle discriminations of the external adjudicator, but I feel that my main point is that the Board in its response seems not to have read the documents correctly and has come to the wrong decision from faulty premises. The Board could have reasonably taken a different line, one that could have resolved the situation, in this sense: X has a right to attempt to re-submit for a PhD. It may be odd to put it this way, but she or he also has the right to fail. She or he knows this.

Note: The Appeal was unsuccessful. The 'friend' could do no more.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Sunday 5th January 1969:

Number One: Scaffold: Lily the Pink.

(See here for more fiftieth anniversary stuff, in this case the 50 years since the Mersey Sound collection in 2017)

Friday, January 04, 2019

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Robert Sheppard and Thomas Ingmire (with others) exhibition video of the books

As posted here, one of my poems, ‘Synovial Joints’ has been … I was almost going to say ‘set to music’, which is both true and untrue. It has been calligraphed (if there is such a term) by Thomas Ingmire. I sent Thomas my poem 'Synovial Joints' (named after the Steve Coleman album) and it may be read here. It is one of my 'Overdubs of Milton' which I talk about here.The poem (and one page of Thomas' calligraphy) appears across a folio of the San Francisco magazine AMBUSH, issue 6 (They have a website here.)

And the exhibition this work is in is on display NOW. Part of the poster giving the details is from that collaboration, but that may be seen on this (as far as I can tell, silent) gallery video (ours is the first book here to have its pages turned, but I’m followed by Geraldine Monk and others). Do have a look.

The poetry readings that were a part of the exhibition opening may also be accessed here:

You can also see our previous collaboration: both poem ('Afghanistan') and image/text here

And, again, the video link.

Friday 3rd January 1969:

Went down John’s. We did an OB (outside broadcast) in the graveyard.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019