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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