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Monday, July 15, 2019

My Guest Editing of STRIDE magazine Summer 2019

I have guest-edited a fortnight of posts for STRIDE magazine. I thought it might absorb some of the energy I still had in reserve for a poetry magazine that I was thinking of starting myself, called 3 famous aviators, and which, like a number of other assumed ‘ambitions’ waiting for ‘retirement’ (that which is not one), passed me by.
Rupert Loydell at work
Rising to editor Rupert Loydell’s kind invitation to guest-edit for a couple of weeks over the summer, I decided not to cast my net out widely into the world, but to call upon the local resources of the Poetry and Poetics Research Group at Edge Hill University, which I started 20 years ago this autumn, and which is now coordinated by poet and poetry organiser Joanne Ashcroft. This wide-ranging body of writers presents work in poetry and poetics (and occasionally criticism), but isn’t a workshop. (It has also published its own ‘Journal’ which will be available soon.)
Here I call upon current members and, although I received an overwhelmingly male (and white) response from its mixed membership, and that was a disappointment, at least one of the two reviews I freely commissioned is of the work of a woman writer.

My own contribution was an interview with a former member of the group, so that seems appropriate.
Why has Rupert done this? He explains: ‘I am hoping it will introduce some new writers and readers to Stride.’ I hope so too, although former members Andrew Taylor and former and present member Matt Fallaize (neither represented here) are frequent contributors as poets and reviewers for Stride. (So am I, as it happens.) There's more about Andrew here from a decade ago, and here from earlier posts on this blog(zine), and a post about Matt here.

I haven’t set out to prove anything by my selection. I hope you like it. It’s probably cured me of wanting to run a magazine full time, but doing the interview (short, focussed on one issue) has stirred a desire to continue this avenue of talking poetics, as it were. It is a bit of a shock that I’ve only conducted four interviews (for publication), and so long ago: With Robert Creeley: ‘Stories: Being an Information: An Interview,’ in 1984; with Roy Fisher: Turning the Prism (Toad’s Damp Press, 1985) (those two were conducted within a fortnight of one another!); Lee Harwood: ‘So It Shifts’, in The Salt Companion to Lee Harwood ed. Robert Sheppard, Cambridge: Salt, 2007; and now this one with Scott Thurston, 2019! There are huge gaps of time there. Here's an old (but not the oldest) post about Scott.

I shall post a link to each contribution as it is posted. But of course they may all be found on Stride, here.

Monday 15th: Adam Hampton, 'Tongue': here. (And an earlier Pages post here.)
Tuesday 16th: Hampton again, 'Atom', here. Someone else tomorrow!

Wednesday 17th:
Thursday 18th: (more on Joanne here).
Friday 19th:
Saturday 20th:
Sunday 21st:
Monday 22nd:
Tuesday 23rd:
Wednesday 24th:
Thursday 25th:
Friday 26th:
Saturday 27th:
Sunday 28th: 

Andrew Taylor and Angela Keaton from the early years

These links take you to earlier PPRG activities, particularly the Going Public talk series we organised to celebrate ten years of literary activism in 2009:

This post celebrates 25 years of writing at Edge Hill (now 30 by the way) and features 25 Edge Hill poets:

Below here: links in waiting:

Eventually, I'll add these links too. Until then, ignore them. 


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Thursday, July 11, 2019

This week's Drayton overdub: as Bo gets nastier the 'Bad Idea' poems get serious

The second book of my The English Strain project (see below for the first and for more details) is entitled Bad Idea and it is a re-working of the whole of Michael Drayton’s sequence Idea; that’s 64 poems (with the addition of its ‘Address to the Reader of these Sonnets’). I’ve been at it since July 2018, one a week (more or less).  

I’m posting the poems temporarily, so there is only ever one at a time on this blog. Here’s the latest (11 syllable line by the way). Wood, James. ‘Diary, London Review of Books, 4th July 2019: 36-7 came in rather useful: the quote from the Eton boat song and the thumbs up on Britannia Unchained which was also spotted (by The Sun) in Bo’s car. Rather cheekily, I changed the title of the Tin Tin book they also found there amongst the detritus. I watched the TV debate and I saw that Bo will trample on anyone and anything to get into power, that he is in hock to Trump (refusing to support diplomats, a very bad move), and refusing to rule out prorouging Parliament. The Nazis came to power because of a weakness in the constitution. This is ours, though the last time it set off a Civil War.

'I am pleased to welcome Sir Kim to Washington!'


Bo! Will you cheat us of our vote, to take (back)
everything and never give us voice? Your eyes
charm the few to grant what you’ll ever retain!
Try Trump-like tyrannical tirades against
Sir Kim before you’re anointed: show
Eton’s ‘effortless superiority’, this
chain that is round us now. I’m trying to laugh
but you’re a piece of work! No talk of pity
in your optimistic phallic energy.
No proof of no-deal’s no-strings-attached reward.
No one boasts now of the Brexit dividend.
Crank up your car strewn with old crackers, crisps, Tin
Tin in the Congo and Britannia Unchained.
            Kick your can do down the rolling English road.

11th July 2019 (slight update) 

Sir Kim and the President

Other ‘Bad Idea’ Poems may be read online: I’m pleased to say three poems from Bad Idea have now appeared in Monitor on Racism. Patricia Farrell’s two images of Bo (now he’s an important figure again, he was still in the political wilderness then, but: when you decide to be PM at 5 you really are going to achieve it, aren’t you?! Especially with your Etonian ‘effortless superiority) accompany them. Find the poems here.

Four consecutive poems from Bad Idea (XLV-XLVIII) are published together recently in International Times. Thanks poetry editor Rupert Loydell. They read well with today’s outing. HERE
I write about them here:  

If you ‘do the math’ you can see that I’d run out of the poems at this rate of progress, in September, but the Flexibretension (and Bo’s and Hunt’s extremist ‘do or die’ deadline) runs to 31st October. I need to call a summit of Drayton’s ‘thrice-three Muses’ to discuss possibilities. Another sequence? Or a sort of standing still by producing multiple versions of a particular sonnet on the way? Or have a summer recess, like the MPs will: ‘time for a last visa-free Euro recess: British disdain amongst the scattered hegemonies,’ as one of the poems says!

Musing on the train last month, and in the pub, waiting for Scott Thurston, I settled upon some sonnets of Wordsworth. The idea of Bad Idea originally was that it would pass through Brexitday and onto the other side, where it might gather some positivities. There seems dying chance of that, and Wordsworth won’t help (although there are poems about Kent, where the Dogging Sites of Brexit Britain, and Farage, come from! Potential?).

But I have also located more of Drayton’s ‘Idea’ poems not included in the 1619 edition, 12 of them, and I might use them as an appendix to ‘Bad Idea’.

Poor old Drayton is somewhat out of print at the moment, though I have found a ‘Poly-Olbion’ project online, (the whole epic is online, which is refreshing), and his fine sonnet sequence ‘Idea’ (the 1619 version) is available online, including the one I’ve just translated above; have a look at both, the latter being:

Drayton, Michael. ‘Idea.’ in Arundell Esdaile, ed. Daniel’s Delia and Drayton’s Idea.
London: Chatto and Windus: 1908. 67-141; online at Luminarium:

This is also the source ( for much more of Drayton’s poetry, including the ‘extra’ sonnets I have located for possible further transpositions, as I think of them:

Although I am using

Tuley, Mark. ed. Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles: Five Major Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles: by Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser. Crescent Moon Publishing, Maidstone: Kent, 2010,

a careless book that even misses one sonnet out! 

In fact, I’ve now bought

Evans, Maurice, ed. Revised by Roy J. Booth. Eizabethan Sonnets. London and North Clarendon: Phoenix Paperback, 2003,

a careful book that includes the 1619 Idea entire (with original orthography) and has notes. BUT not so careful that it doesn’t have the typo I have made use of: ‘This anthology mistypes my chosen verb ‘eternize’./ A new word enters the language as I enternize you!’

You know, if you’ve seen these temporary posts before, that you may read about the whole ‘English Strain’ project in a post that has links to some other accounts, and earlier parts, of this work: hereThat was 100 poems long. But I didn’t stop there though. The most recent instalment of it, Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch is now available from Knives Forks and Spoons here:

I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and see here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession, which ‘The English Strain’ project into motion.

There are more excerpts from The English Strain in The Robert Sheppard Companion:

I am pleased to say I have six poems published in BlazeVOX 19, edited by Geoffrey Gatza, four of them poems from ‘The English Strain’ project, versions of the Sussex sonneteer Charlotte Smith, called Elegaic Sonnets. You may get straight to the pages here:

Another from this part, another Charlotte Smith variation may be read in Smithereens 2, on page 15:

Links to a number of the published poems from Non Disclosure Agreement (the last part of the proposed book of The English Strain) may be accessed here:

Some older ‘English Strain’ poems may be found here:

Jamie Toy writes about the periodicity of these weekly posts here, in Versopolis :

All that is true, very true, but it is also part of my method to date the poems, and to (temporarily) blog them, using the rhythm of posting and uploading to break from writing the poem (usually accomplished in the morning, started (say) at 9.00 and being finished usually by 12.00. Reading the poem to Patricia when she comes in (from work in the old days, from volunteering in the current days) is also part of the ritual, one that goes back to the writing of the transposed sonnets in Hap.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Pete Clarke and Robert Sheppard: 'Area Arena' collaboration and Sheppard's Micro Event Space

Here are some of the small canvases made by Pete Clarke from the text of (very) small poems I wrote following our walk around Liverpool in January 2018. There are about 24 of them, and almost as many small poems. Like:


the jud
These photos were possible covers for my forthcoming book Micro Event Space from Red Ceilings Press, containing these poems, 'Arena Area' (along with other short and very short poems, including the 'twittersonnet' anthologised recently and written about HERE). They give a good idea of the collaboration from which they are drawn.

Pete was recently a runner-up in the John Moores Painting Prize and here he is standing in front of the painting (now on show in the Walker Gallery Liverpool, part of its permanent collection).

Pete Clarke has collaborated with me (I have collaborated with him) on making a number of prints over the last few years and I posted images from our Edge Hill exhibition here and here. A later work for the Print Bienniel in Krakow may be viewed here and in Dusseldorf here:

James Bryne and I also used a painting of Pete's for the cover of Atlantic Drift: See HERE. 

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Robert Sheppard: 4 new BAD IDEA poems published in International Times (link)

Four consecutive poems from Bad Idea (XLV-XLVIII) are published together in International Times. Thanks poetry editor Rupert Loydell. HERE!

They come from my current ‘English Strain’ project of overdub sonnets, ‘Bad Idea’ which is working through Michael Drayton’s 1619 text Idea. They take Brexit as theme, one might say. 

You can check out these versions’ models here: Drayton, Michael. ‘Idea.’ in Arundell Esdaile, ed. Daniel’s Delia and Drayton’s Idea. London: Chatto and Windus: 1908. 67-141; online at Luminarium:

I’m pleased to say three other poems from Bad Idea have now appeared online in Monitor on Racism. Patricia Farrell’s two images of Bo (now he’s an important figure again!) accompany them. Find those here.

You may read about the whole ‘English Strain’ project in a post that has links to some other accounts, and earlier parts, of this work: hereThat was 100 poems long. But I didn’t stop there though. The most recent instalment of it, Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch (the title describes how it is like Bad Idea) is available from Knives Forks and Spoons here:

'Last Look', from The English Strain, also appeared in The International Times: here.

See a previous sonnet in International Times here:
(‘Avenge’, another sonnet, a contrafact on Milton’s ‘Avenge O Lord…’, and featuring elements concerning the (female) Yasidi resistance to IS, belongs to a connected sequence, 'Overdubs'.)

(I am also posting a new poem weekly, and temporarily, on this blog. There will be one in an adjacent post. Click onto ‘home’ and then scroll!)

Victor Merriman - dedicatee of one of the quartet of poems in International Times

Monday, July 01, 2019

Tuesday July 1st 1969:

In the afternoon, we saw an antiquated film and the investiture of Prince of Wales.