Follow by Email

Saturday, January 16, 2021

John Clare's sonnet 'What a Night' transposed. It's now another night another temporary post another video

On this blog I’ve documented ‘The English Strain’ as work has progressed through to its current third book, British Standards, with which this temporary post will be mostly concerned: another transposition of a sonnet by John Clare. In short, the parts of ‘The English Strain’ are: 

1. The English Strain (Shearsman, forthcoming, I’ve proofread it, added the cover text, and it’s coming soonish)

2. Bad Idea (Knives, Forks and Spoons, available now; see below)

3. British Standards (work in progress, i.e., today’s poem!)

Here are two comprehensive posts to check out, the first that looks at Book One, The English Strain here (before it gained a title!)

There’s another post on Book Two, Bad Idea here . (The final part of Bad Idea is slightly different; called ‘Idea’s Mirror’; that’s described here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/12/my-last-ideas-mirror-post-election-poem.html ).

I am delighted to say that Book Two, Bad Idea is available from Knives Forks and Spoons, so you may buy it HERE and NOW:  https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages

 


I write about the book here too: Pages: A Well-Deserved Break/Bad Idea available/Brexit Christmas Past (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

 


Back to (or onto) Book Three. (More about the other books below). Here’s Clare poem 7. A lot of Clare poems begin, ‘I love to’ ‘wonder’ ‘wander’ ‘see’ or ‘walk’ and I thought I’d have one, even though the original begins with the lines I use as title (which are echoed later in the poem). I’ve been reading my diaries sequentially, and have reached 1976, a particular time, when I was twenty, that I nearly referred to in this poem, with the deleted lines

 

            as I read my journal for 1976 heeding

            Bonaparte’s words about one’s world at 20.

 

I’m also reading about Ernst Bloch and his utopianism (quite different from Adorno’s) that is creeping in her, despite The News. OK, let’s have a receptive hush for the poem and video.

 

What a night! The wind howls, hisses and but stops



I love to wander
the vacated Covid streets

as snow falls slow
on the breeze. A single

flake flukes my pocket,
pricks my bare hand. I

lift it out and smile.
What a night! was ever

said in the soft
safety of morning, sun

burning on snow
heaped by glistening tarmac:

escape for Triumph Heralds
with spinning tyres

and gasping engines.
Night allegorised so

that even pissing
at frozen bus stops drunk

prefigured the never-
believed in the un- (yet)-

known, as new
sensations flooded

old memories.
In the windows

of parallel streets: peeling
NHS rainbows from last spring,

BLM placards from
unthinkable summer.


16th January 2021

 


I began work on the book British Standards in pre-Covid 2020, but post-Brexit Independence Day. Both of those ‘issues’ are important to it. And the first remains so, even with the fact that several vaccines are on their way, though they now have to fight against a stronger strain of the virus, the ‘English Strain’ one might even call it, though I take no pleasure in that. The first section was finished late March, just after the (first) lockdown was belatedly, fatally for some, announced. For this, I transposed poems from Wordsworth’s ‘Poems Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty’, and retitled them ‘Poems of National Independence’, and even more cheekily subtitled them, ‘liberties with Wordsworth’. I write about that sequence here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-last-of-my-wordsworth-versions-in.html

Then followed ‘14 Standards’, the lockdown poems (some of those coming out in the States soon), and in turn, two additional ‘Double Standards’ about the now-departed Cum’s disgraceful lockdown infringements – I transposed a couple of Shelley’s sonnets – and his elitist refusal of apology and regret. See here for all 16 ‘standards’: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/05/robert-sheppard-14-standards-from.html . There are links to online publication of some of the poems too (as there are in many of these links). Shelley’s poems are threaded through British Standards. Another Shelley transposition, on ‘Ozymandias’ this time, may be read about here (this post is the hub post, as I call it, for these dispersed versions of Shelley, one out soon in Tears in the Fence, another proof I have just ‘read’):

https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-occasional-transposition-of-shelley.html

‘Tabitha and Thunderer’, interventions in the sonnet sequence ‘Sappho and Phaon’ by Mary Robinson, followed, and they may be read about (with video) here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-transpositions-of-mary-robinsons.html

Then I turned to Keats! I had some trouble getting going; you can read about that struggle here: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/an-overdub-understudy-version-of-keats.html

The Keats poems are called ‘Weird Syrup’. The first 7 are entitled ‘Contrafacts and Counterfactuals from Keats’, the last 7, ‘Curtal Song-Nets from Junkets’.

This post operates as a hub post about the Keats transpositions: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/11/weird-syrup-final-keats-variation.html

You can watch Andrew Kotting’s film about John Clare here (I enjoyed Iain Sinclair looking like he was about to rob a bank in his piggie mask): BY OUR SELVES MASTER STEREO on Vimeo

I’m interested in Clare’s music collecting. (Critics seem more interested in settings of his poems to his own music, not the same thing.) But here’s a beautiful and not much perused rendition: Two John Clare hornpipes - YouTube

John Clare’s poems aren’t proving as easy to transpose as I once imagined, since they are so unmetaphorically direct and sensually replete. Here is what I wrote in my journal (adapted a little) on 9th December 2020, to get me going:

Clare has posed problems. I have selected 15 possible sonnets (there are dozens of other possible sonnets, but needs must be) and they form a nice corona. But I can’t think of how I might utilise them, which is why I thought, again, last night, to return to Wordsworth (later political poems, even his dreadful ones on capital punishment, one of Brexit’s hidden prizes, I am sure). But it seems retrograde, an evasion of Clare, even though the Wordsworth poems are well-suited to the sudden last-ditch Brexit madness that has re-emerged with all the 2016 arguments intact… 

Clare, in the asylum, wrote ‘as’ Byron, in a text called ‘Don Juan’; at the same time, he also claimed not to be Byron, since the poem says: ‘I think myself as great a bard as Byron’. (He’s right.) He was the author of ‘Don Juan’, if we take the text he called ‘Don Juan’ to be ‘Don Juan’. Could I transpose the chosen sonnets into a mode that derives, not from Byron himself, but from Clare’s satirical mode in ‘Don Juan’, which is certainly consonant with my variations of EBB in Book One? 

I feel protective about Clare, even more so than in the case of Mary Robinson, (see here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-transpositions-of-mary-robinsons.html

) because Clare’s achievements are not yet recognised fully, and there is no consensus over the oeuvre, a corpus, a mini-canon, bar a few well-known poems. Hence very few of the sonnets I’ve selected from Bate’s anthology appear in the Major Works!...

Kövesi quotes Gadamer on the fusing of horizons in writers who ‘transpose’ (my term for what I’m up to) Clare into their own times and terms. This he thinks is fair game for the ‘creative’ writer, but he seems dead against it in the practice of critics who impose a method. (I remember teaching new historicism, which I thought was useful to understand Iain Sinclair’s work (see here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Everything Connects: The Social Poetics of Iain Sinclair )  but not so good to follow in its own right.)

I’ve not pursued the ‘Don Juan’ front in many of the poems, including today’s (which doesn’t mean that that won’t be returned to at a later stage, but it doesn’t mean I will; as I go on, it seems less likely, ‘and more and more unlikely’, he adds, with each posting!). I detourne myself.

Poetics works like this for me: I propose something, and immediately do something different, but I might have to return to it: the follies of Brexit and Bo’s abandoned ‘Gerontocidal Yuletide rules’ demand a satirical voice, rather than the poetics of dispersed subjectivities among people and animals. It will probably damage the ‘beauties’, as they would have said in the 1820s, of the originals. So far from ‘Clare’ taking the project’s final poems from Book Three into a post-Brexit (even post-virus?) world with a new tone, I may adopt his ‘Don Juan’ tone to deal with Bo and Go and their deals, and bring these capers to rest… OR [I find myself characteristically flim-flamming in poetics dialectics] the first x poems might be mainly one thing; the last x could be Sheppardian quennets (as I’d long planned for the end of this Project); that is still possible, and the decision to do so need not be decided until I’m x-1 poems in. We’ll see, as they say, and you’ll see, if you follow this blog at all regularly. Everything is fluid, though I am aware that these are the last poems of the project, and will need to accommodate that fact, somehow. (I am bothered by the temptation to do some ‘euro-sonnets’, Baudelaire – Mallarme – Rimbaud – Verlaine – but I might adhere to the ‘End your solo before you’re done’ ethos of Miles Davis. Though I’ve gone on so long, it’s more like Miles’ exasperated plea to Coltrane after a 45 minute solo; ‘Take the saxophone out of your mouth!’)

Resources so far

3 December 2020 — ‘Careless John Clare’, Dr Erin Lafford (University of Derby): EHU Nineteen - English, History and Creative Writing (edgehill.ac.uk), at https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/englishhistorycreativewriting/research/ehunineteen/?tab=events; accessed 10/12/2020.

Bate, Jonathan. John Clare: A Biography. London: Picador, 2004.

Clare, John. ed. Jonathan Bate. Selected Poems. London: Faber and Faber, 2004.

Clare, John.eds. Eric Robinson and David Powell. The Major Works. Oxford and New York: Oxford World Classics, 2004.

Kövesi, Simon, John Clare: Nature, Criticism and History. Palgrave Macmillan: London, 2017.

Kövesi, Simon, and Erin Lafford, eds. Palgrave Advances in John Clare Studies. Palgrave Macmillan: Cham, 2020.

Middleton, Christopher. Carminalenia. Manchester: Carcanet, 1980.

Zipes………………….. to add ……………….

As might be gathered from what I have said here, British Standards, as a whole, presents transpositions of admired sonnets of the Romantic period, from William Bowles to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Chronologically, they lie between those of Charlotte Smith, which I’ve already worked on here, https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/07/more-english-strain-poems-overdubs-of.html

and those of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, that I’ve also worked on, both of them in the final parts of Book One, The English Strain, soon to be published:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/09/robert-sheppard-non-disclosure.html

Sunday, January 10, 2021

John Clare's 'Black grows the southern sky' transposed (temporary post with video reading)

 On this blog, as I’m guessing most regular visitors to this place know, I’ve documented ‘The English Strain’ as work has progressed through to its current third book, British Standards, with which this temporary post will be mostly concerned: another transposition of a sonnet by John Clare. In short, the parts of ‘The English Strain’ are:

1. The English Strain (Shearsman, forthcoming, I’ve proofread it, and it’s coming soonish)

2. Bad Idea (Knives, Forks and Spoons, available now; see below)

3. British Standards (work in progress, I.e., today’s poem!)

Here are two comprehensive posts to check out, the first that looks at Book One, The English Strain here (before it gained a title!)

There’s another post on Book Two, Bad Idea here . (The final part of Bad Idea is slightly different; called ‘Idea’s Mirror’; that’s described here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/12/my-last-ideas-mirror-post-election-poem.html ).

I am delighted to say that Book Two, Bad Idea, dated 2021, is available from Knives Forks and Spoons, so you may buy it HERE and NOW:  https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages

 


I write about the book here too: Pages: A Well-Deserved Break/Bad Idea available/Brexit Christmas Past (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

 Back to (or onto) Book Three. (More about the other books, and this one, below). Here’s Clare poem 6. There’s not a lot to say about it. It alludes a bit to other Clare poems.



This one isn’t funny. But an attempted coup in the Capitol and a 1000 + UK Covid deaths doesn’t make for humour (though the first could: ‘We’re going to walk to the Capitol building…’ said Trump, who then went back to watch it on his not so-loyal TV channel, and then shafted the little people who he must so loathe). Back to the weather:

 

Black grows the southern sky betokening rain


You know how this ends: the driving rain
drives you home again. A murder of crows
in the rheumy treetops settles. They feel the
change, no unconscious flapping without will.

Before long, your legs will be denim wet. Trump’s
storm troopers stormed. The first drop drops.
Everything focusses from this: looking and hearing,
shunning and taking (rolling out a vaccine).

Bouncing in the mulch, the blackbird with
golden beak stops to look at you, stopped.
He blurts a curt ‘chup-chup’, hops where his
brown mate’s found thorny shelter from the storm.

No room for you. A thousand deaths a day.
Your best wishes are dreams without horizon.



10th January 2021

 


I began work on the book British Standards in pre-Covid 2020, but post-Brexit Independence Day. Both of those ‘issues’ are important to it. And the first will still remain so, even with the fact that several vaccines are on their way, though they now have to fight against a stronger strain of the virus, the ‘English Strain’ one might even call it, though I take no pleasure in that. The first section was finished late March, just after the (first) lockdown was belatedly, fatally for some, announced. For this, I transposed poems from Wordsworth’s ‘Poems Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty’, and retitled them ‘Poems of National Independence’, and even more cheekily subtitled them, ‘liberties with Wordsworth’. I write about that sequence here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-last-of-my-wordsworth-versions-in.html

Then followed ‘14 Standards’, the lockdown poems (some of those coming out in the States soon), and in turn, two additional ‘Double Standards’ about the now-departed Cum’s disgraceful lockdown infringements – I transposed a couple of Shelley’s sonnets – and his elitist refusal of apology and regret. See here for all 16 ‘standards’: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/05/robert-sheppard-14-standards-from.html . There are links to online publication of some of the poems too (as there are in many of these links). Shelley’s poems are threaded through British Standards. Another Shelley transposition, on ‘Ozymandias’ this time, may be read about here (this post is the hub post, as I call it, for these dispersed versions of Shelley):

https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-occasional-transposition-of-shelley.html

‘Tabitha and Thunderer’, interventions in the sonnet sequence ‘Sappho and Phaon’ by Mary Robinson, followed, and they may be read about (with video) here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-transpositions-of-mary-robinsons.html

Then I turned to Keats! I had some trouble getting going; you can read about that struggle here: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/an-overdub-understudy-version-of-keats.html

The Keats poems are called ‘Weird Syrup’. The first 7 are entitled ‘Contrafacts and Counterfactuals from Keats’, the last 7, ‘Curtal Song-Nets from Junkets’.

This post operates as a hub post about the Keats transpositions: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/11/weird-syrup-final-keats-variation.html

You can watch Andrew Kotting’s film about John Clare here (I haven’t had a chance yet, but will): BY OUR SELVES MASTER STEREO on Vimeo

 

I’m interested in Clare’s music collecting. (Critics seem more interested in settings of his poems to his own music, not the same thing.) But here’s a beautiful and not much perused rendition:



Two John Clare hornpipes - YouTube

John Clare’s poems aren’t proving as easy to work through as I once imagined. Here is what I wrote in my journal (adapted a little) on 9th December 2020, to get me going:

Clare has posed problems. I have selected 15 possible sonnets (there are dozens of other possible sonnets, but needs must be) and they form a nice corona. But I can’t think of how I might utilise them, which is why I thought, again, last night, to return to Wordsworth (later political poems, even his dreadful ones on capital punishment, one of Brexit’s hidden prizes, I am sure). But it seems retrograde, an evasion of Clare, even though the Wordsworth poems are well-suited to the sudden last-ditch Brexit madness that has re-emerged with all the 2016 arguments intact… 

Clare, in the asylum, wrote ‘as’ Byron, in a text called ‘Don Juan’; at the same time, he also claimed not to be Byron, since the poem says: ‘I think myself as great a bard as Byron’. (He’s right.) He was the author of ‘Don Juan’, if we take the text he called ‘Don Juan’ to be ‘Don Juan’. Could I transpose the chosen sonnets into a mode that derives, not from Byron himself, but from Clare’s satirical mode in ‘Don Juan’, which is certainly consonant with my variations of EBB in Book One? 

I feel protective about Clare, even more so than in the case of Mary Robinson, (see here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-transpositions-of-mary-robinsons.html

) because Clare’s achievements are not yet recognised fully, and there is no consensus over the oeuvre, a corpus, a mini-canon, bar a few well-known poems. Hence very few of the sonnets I’ve selected from Bate’s anthology appear in the Major Works!...

Kövesi quotes Gadamer on the fusing of horizons in writers who ‘transpose’ (my term for what I’m up to) Clare into their own times and terms. This he thinks is fair game for the ‘creative’ writer, but he seems dead against it in the practice of critics who impose a method. (I remember teaching new historicism, which I thought was useful to understand Iain Sinclair’s work (see here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Everything Connects: The Social Poetics of Iain Sinclair )  but not so good to follow in its own right.)

I’ve not pursued the ‘Don Juan’ front in many of the poems, including today’s (which doesn’t mean that that won’t be returned to at a later stage, but it doesn’t mean I will; as I go on, it seems less likely, ‘and more and more unlikely’, he adds, with each posting!). 

Poetics works like this for me: I propose something, and immediately do something different, but I might have to return to it: the follies of Brexit and Bo’s abandoned ‘Gerontocidal Yuletide rules’ demand a satirical voice, rather than the poetics of dispersed subjectivities among people and animals. It will probably damage the ‘beauties’, as they would have said in the 1820s, of the originals. So far from ‘Clare’ taking the project’s final poems from Book Three into a post-Brexit (even post-virus?) world with a new tone, I may adopt his ‘Don Juan’ tone to deal with Bo and Go and their deals, and bring these capers to rest… OR [I find myself characteristically flim-flamming in poetics dialectics] the first x poems might be mainly one thing; the last x could be Sheppardian quennets (as I’d long planned for the end of this Project); that is still possible, and the decision to do so need not be decided until I’m x-1 poems in. We’ll see, as they say, and you’ll see, if you follow this blog at all regularly. Everything is fluid, though I am aware that these are the last poems of the project, and will need to accommodate that fact, somehow. (I am bothered by the temptation to do some ‘euro-sonnets’, Baudelaire – Mallarme – Rimbaud – Verlaine – but I might adhere to the ‘End your solo before you’re done’ ethos of Miles Davis. Though I’ve gone on so long, it’s more like Miles’ exasperated plea to Coltrane after a 45 minute solo; ‘Take the saxophone out of your mouth!’)

Resources so far

3 December 2020 — ‘Careless John Clare’, Dr Erin Lafford (University of Derby): EHU Nineteen - English, History and Creative Writing (edgehill.ac.uk), at https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/englishhistorycreativewriting/research/ehunineteen/?tab=events; accessed 10/12/2020.

Bate, Jonathan. John Clare: A Biography. London: Picador, 2004.

Clare, John. ed. Jonathan Bate. Selected Poems. London: Faber and Faber, 2004.

Clare, John.eds. Eric Robinson and David Powell. The Major Works. Oxford and New York: Oxford World Classics, 2004.

Kövesi, Simon, John Clare: Nature, Criticism and History. Palgrave Macmillan: London, 2017.

Kövesi, Simon, and Erin Lafford, eds. Palgrave Advances in John Clare Studies. Palgrave Macmillan: Cham, 2020.

Middleton, Christopher. Carminalenia. Manchester: Carcanet, 1980.

As might be gathered from what I have said here, British Standards, as a whole, presents transpositions of admired sonnets of the Romantic period, from William Bowles to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Chronologically, they lie between those of Charlotte Smith, which I’ve already worked on here, https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/07/more-english-strain-poems-overdubs-of.html

and those of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, that I’ve also worked on, both of them in the final parts of Book One:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/09/robert-sheppard-non-disclosure.html 

Those poems will be made visible as whole sequences in The English Strain, out soonish from Shearsman.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Whatever happened to the book Charms and Glitter?

Some of you may have seen advertised a book, Charms and Glitter, carrying photographs by Trev Eales and poems by myself. Let me explain what happened to it. 

I’ve known Trev since we met at a Thin Lizzy concert at UEA in October 1974. In the intervening years, Trev had taken up photography, specalising in images of concerts and festivals, and of the Cumbrian landscape. See: Lomogon Stories: Trev Eales · Lomography. And:  treveales photos on Flickr | Flickr . I talk about how we came to collaborate in recent years, here Pages: Trev Eales - photography and friendship (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) and I outline some of our early plans (in a piece on my own relationship to photography, which is more extensive than I’d thought): Pages: Robert Sheppard: Talk for the Open Eye Gallery on Poetry and Photography December 2016 . In a weird prefiguration of the fate of the ‘Charms and Glitter’ project itself, I never actually delivered this ‘talk’; I was ill.

In the end, the ‘project’ resulted in a large lavish book, with 62 full page colour illustrations and 62 poems, also printed in a colour that derived from the photographs. This thing was to be sold at £50 hardback and £30 paperback. I joked to friends that if they didn’t have a coffee table, they’d have to acquire one before taking delivery of such a beauty. The publisher was pleased. The photographer was pleased. The poet was pleased. We communicated with The Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool about a possible launch for the book. Then the pandemic hit, engulfed the world (and, incidentally, engulfed the very world of music performance and spectacle that the book was trying to reflect and even celebrate).

This slowed things up. A handful of proof copies were produced for publisher, photographer and poet to approve. They approved. Then: meltdown. In July 2020, Trev discovered that, although he was the copyright holder, he was deemed to have licensed the rights to the photographs jointly to a festival organization and to the respective festivals he had attended, in exchange for a press card, although he had never signed a contract (which, in the circular logic of these things, was why he didn’t know of this arrangement); the non-signing (indeed, the non-offering) did not exonerate him from the effects of those transferred rights. This summary of the situation doesn't quite capture the piecemeal means by which we garnered this truth. All three of us realised that we could not proceed (and the gathering of rights from numerous festival organisations seemed too complex to contemplate). We are all still friends. No one made a mistake.

So, those of you who spotted an advert for the book have seen a phantom.

Of course, the poems exist (so do the photographs), but the book doesn’t. I looked again at the texts and I realised that many of the poems simply do not ‘work’ on their own (they were not designed to do so, and I didn’t want to see them in print without the photographs). But, me being me, I realised that there was a shorter set there, of revised, re-ordered, re-sequenced poems, and I have re-worked ‘Charms and Glitter’ into Sound on the Lip of Silence: from the photographs of Trev Eales. This consists of an introduction, ‘Driving the Spectacle’, which re-works some of the poems about performance generally (though they lose their identifications with particular performers), a main chunk, ‘The New Charm’, which identifies the artists, from Jack White to Debbie Harry, and a coda, called ‘Crowding it Out (for Trev)’, which is (now) a poem about Trev as the captor of these vanished spectral beasts. I have yet to publish any parts of this, as it still goes through the relentless revision-mill I reserve for my poems. Even today, in preparing this post, I restored ‘IAMDDB’ to this 20 pp sequence. Here are four poems that I’ve now removed, partly because they repeat points made already in the revised piece, but not because they only ‘work’ with their equivalent photographs. Let’s call these

Where Spots Funnel Beams


1 Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters


Mouth astonishment at
whatever descends through
the music from
the other side
of music silent
underbelly of delight

                 His hands
think a chord
only to turn it
inside out



2 Ray BLK


Her dreads flip
down her oil-swirl
jacket as she

cruciforms
a chorus into
icy air –

minute particulars
of joy squeeze
beneath her furrows

though her smile
is a mask

she is about to
burst through

                  drop
    of her shoulders
    would drop her
    into rhythm



3 Julia Cumming, Sunflower Bean

She keeps the sounds
and she keeps them low
Rickenbacker raw
hooking the thrill onto a lull

just a dip
into which

the tripping over
of leads amp
malfunctions gaffer tape
patchings

tip away like nerves

What looks like
abandon or abandonment
is concentration re-
calibrated
low


4 Anne-Marie

Watch
her breath – sharp intakes,
ecstatic out-
takes – shaking the daisies.

Ignore
their chains, stay
with the breathing. Let it

become visible
without trying to place
the words. Vibrate

with her vocal chords,
follow the
contour of melody;

lift yourself into
song, and back again,
into invisible audition.


*

You may have noticed that this isn’t exactly ‘my’ music, but that was the appeal of the project actually. I’m not even a festival goer, like Trev, though we did both go to the aborted Hope and Glory Festival in the centre of Liverpool, he to work, me to regard the overcrowding with horror. (On reflection, this trip was another prefiguration of the fate of the project.) 

In a recent interview I decided to list ten artists I’d been listening to. Only one is included in the original ‘Charms and Glitter’ project. Can you guess which one? They are: Ellen Andrea Wang, Byron Wallen, Harish Raghavan, Immanuel Wilkins, Mary Halvorson, Kurt Elling, Scott Walker, Richard Thompson, Tori Freestone, and Rudresh Mahanthappa.

Friday, January 08, 2021

A fifth poem transposing a sonnet by John Clare from British Standards (temporary post) with video

On this blog, as I’m guessing most regular visitors to this place know, I’ve documented ‘The English Strain’ as work has progressed through to its current third book, British Standards, with which this temporary post will be mostly concerned: another transposition of a sonnet by John Clare. In short, the parts of ‘The English Strain’ are: 

1. The English Strain (Shearsman, forthcoming, I’ve proofr-ead it, and that fact fed into today’s poem, I’m sure!)

2. Bad Idea (Knives, Forks and Spoons, available now, and also referenced in today’s outburst; see below)

3. British Standards (work in progress, now!)

 Here are two comprehensive posts to check out, the first that looks at Book One, The English Strain here (before it gained a title!)

There’s another post on Book Two, Bad Idea here . (The final part of Bad Idea is slightly different; called ‘Idea’s Mirror’; that’s described here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/12/my-last-ideas-mirror-post-election-poem.html ).

Today’s poem, as I said, seems to pick up on the fact that I’ve been proofreading The English Strain for publication

 A N D

I am delighted to say that Book Two, Bad Idea, dated 2021, is available from Knives Forks and Spoons, so you may buy it HERE and NOW:  https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages

I write about the book here too: Pages: A Well-Deserved Break/Bad Idea available/Brexit Christmas Past (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

 


Back to (or onto) Book Three. I began work on the book British Standards in pre-Covid 2020, but post-Brexit Independence Day. Both of those ‘issues’ are important to it. And the first will still remain so, even with the fact that several vaccines are on their way, though they now have to fight against a stronger strain of the virus, the ‘English Strain’ one might even call it, though I take no pleasure in that. The first section was finished late March, just after the (first) lockdown was belatedly, fatally for some, announced. For this, I transposed poems from Wordsworth’s ‘Poems Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty’, and retitled them ‘Poems of National Independence’, and even more cheekily subtitled them, ‘liberties with Wordsworth’. I write about that sequence here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-last-of-my-wordsworth-versions-in.html

 Then followed ‘14 Standards’, the lockdown poems, and in turn, two additional ‘Double Standards’ about the now-departed Cum’s disgraceful lockdown infringements – I transposed a couple of Shelley’s sonnets – and his elitist refusal of apology and regret. See here for all 16 ‘standards’: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/05/robert-sheppard-14-standards-from.html . There are links to online publication of some of the poems too (as there are in many of these links). Shelley’s poems are threaded through British Standards. Another Shelley transposition, on ‘Ozymandias’ this time, may be read about here (this post is the hub post, as I call it, for these dispersed versions of Shelley):

https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-occasional-transposition-of-shelley.html

‘Tabitha and Thunderer’, interventions in the sonnet sequence ‘Sappho and Phaon’ by Mary Robinson, followed, and they may be read about (with video) here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-transpositions-of-mary-robinsons.html

Then I turned to Keats! I had some trouble getting going; you can read about that struggle here: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/an-overdub-understudy-version-of-keats.html

The Keats poems are called ‘Weird Syrup’. The first 7 are entitled ‘Contrafacts and Counterfactuals from Keats’, the last 7, ‘Curtal Song-Nets from Junkets’.

This post operates as a hub post about the Keats transpositions: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/11/weird-syrup-final-keats-variation.html

 


Here’s Clare poem 5. De Wint was an interesting rural painter, who Clare knew (think Norwich school). It got me thinking about ‘transposition’ as a mode, and also Sefton Park on my daily walk, and about inoculation and my horrible fear that, just as Bo has fucked up everything else, he’ll fuck up the roll out of the vaccine. If he uses the term ‘ramping up’ we’re buggered. [NB: Between writing this and lining it up for posting, I have heard Bo on the news using the very phrase about the Oxford vaccine. I hope I’m wrong.]

 

De Wint! I would not flatter nor would I


Skill in critique isn’t flattery
(though Bo loves to be liked)

yet in rediffusion of
Petrarch I subtitled his subtle

sex scenes with smut and sleaze! I
painted deadly freaks on Surrey’s

coats of arms, left Drayton to fashion
his own out of his vegetable features.

Now I wake up inside romantic
sonnets. Yesterday, I found one

of Wordsworth’s on the death
penalty, a magistratic drone denying

mercy (that’s Petal Patel sorted
for Bressex Poetry Day). Today,

I scramble out, masked, voice muffled,
glasses steaming, to level

pastures to see how Clare’s spots
mark me see that shallow bowl

of field in Sefton Park, filling
with fog, floating scattered crows

in half-fading light, ghostly specks
of silent smoky grey, as Hope –

while commonsense sees nothing
but an image of social distancing.

Clare wrote to Dr Darling about
inoculation. (I’ll run out of poems

to twist into pricks before I get mine.)
A magpie skates down the freezing slates.

4th January 2021

 Dr Darling was Clare's doctor; he had been Keats's too. 



John Clare’s poems aren’t proving as easy to transpose as I once imagined. Here is what I wrote in my journal (adapted a little) on 9th December 2020, to get me going:

Clare has posed problems. I have selected 15 possible sonnets (there are dozens of other possible sonnets, but needs must be) and they form a nice corona (plus 1). But I can’t think of how I might utilise them, which is why I thought, again, last night, to return to Wordsworth (later political poems, even his dreadful ones on capital punishment, one of Brexit’s hidden prizes, I am sure). But it seems retrograde, an evasion of Clare, even though the Wordsworth poems are well-suited to the sudden last-ditch Brexit madness that has re-emerged with all the 2016 arguments intact…

Clare, in the asylum, wrote ‘as’ Byron, in a text called ‘Don Juan’; at the same time, he also claimed not to be Byron, since the poem says: ‘I think myself as great a bard as Byron’. (He’s right.) He was the author of ‘Don Juan’, if we take the text he called ‘Don Juan’ to be ‘Don Juan’. Could I transpose the chosen sonnets into a mode that derives, not from Byron himself, but from Clare’s satirical mode in ‘Don Juan’, which is certainly consonant with my variations of EBB in Book One?

I feel protective about Clare, even more so than in the case of Mary Robinson, (see here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-transpositions-of-mary-robinsons.html

) because Clare’s achievements are not yet recognised fully, and there is no consensus over the oeuvre, a corpus, a mini-canon, bar a few well-known poems. Hence very few of the sonnets I’ve selected from Bate’s anthology appear in the Major Works!...

Kövesi quotes Gadamer on the fusing of horizons in writers who ‘transpose’ (my term for what I’m up to) Clare into their own times and terms. This he thinks is fair game for the ‘creative’ writer, but he seems dead against it in the practice of critics who impose a method. (I remember teaching new historicism, which I thought was useful to understand Iain Sinclair’s work (see here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Everything Connects: The Social Poetics of Iain Sinclair )  but not so good to follow in its own right.)

I’ve not pursued the ‘Don Juan’ front in many of the poems, including today’s (which doesn’t mean that that won’t be returned to at a later stage, but it doesn’t mean I will; as I go on, it seems less likely).

Poetics works like this for me: I propose something, and immediately do something different, but I might have to return to it: the follies of Brexit and Bo’s abandoned ‘Gerontocidal Yuletide rules’ demand a satirical voice, rather than the poetics of dispersed subjectivities. It will probably damage the ‘beauties’, as they would have said in the 1820s, of the originals. So far from ‘Clare’ taking the project’s final poems from Book Three into a post-Brexit (even post-virus?) world with a new tone, I may adopt his ‘Don Juan’ tone to deal with Bo and Go and their deals, and bring these capers to rest… OR [I find myself characteristically flim-flamming in poetics dialectics] the first x poems might be mainly Clare-Byronic sonnets; the last x could be Sheppardian quennets (as I’d long planned for the end of this Project); that is still possible, and the decision to do so need not be decided until I’m x-1 poems in. We’ll see, as they say, and you’ll see, if you follow this blog at all regularly. Everything is fluid, though I am aware that these are the last poems of the project, and will need to accommodate that fact, somehow. (I am bothered by the temptation to do some ‘euro-sonnets’, but I might adhere to the ‘End your solo before you’re done’ ethos of Miles Davis.)

As might be gathered from what I have said here, British Standards as a whole presents transpositions of admired sonnets of the Romantic period, from William Bowles to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Chronologically, they lie between those of Charlotte Smith, which I’ve already worked on here, https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/07/more-english-strain-poems-overdubs-of.html

and those of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, that I’ve also worked on, both of them in the final parts of Book One:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/09/robert-sheppard-non-disclosure.html

 Those poems will be made visible as whole sequences in The English Strain. Which reminds me: I need to get back to writing a text for the cover, whose image combines the facial features of all the poets I’ve transposed in the book: Petrarch, Milton, Wyatt, Surrey, Smith, and Browning. Again, I think that fact got into the poem today.



Tuesday, January 05, 2021

BAD IDEA (versions of Michael Drayton's Idea) available now from KFS

I’m delighted to announce that Bad Idea is available NOW from Alec Newman’s excellent press Knives Forks and Spoons, with a cover design by Patricia Farrell. You may get it HERE:  https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages

Let me say a little about this book. There are two ways of seeing it. One: it is a homage to Michael Drayton’s 1619 sonnet sequence, Idea, transpositions into contemporary forms. Two: it tells the story of Brexit, as it passes through the body politic, the undigested cake and eat it of daily life. We read of the peccadillos and pet projects of the Brexiteers, the ineptitude of resistance. Expect comedy and chaos rather than analysis, ‘how not to get the blues while singing the blues’. You don’t need to know any more about Drayton than I’m telling you here to ‘get’ these poems. Drayton is both Renaissance man and man of resentment. His worshipped muse Idea is transformed into a tragic Scouse idealist caught in a satire nobody can quite control. ‘The English Strain’ of the sonnet tradition meets the dogging sites of post-Brexit Britain. You’ve got to laugh. You couldn’t make it up (though I did).    

You will notice that I call the poems ‘transpositions’. The term ‘expanded translation’ has been popular in some quarters, but I prefer my term to emphasise the process of transformation as I version my way through the English sonnet tradition. Bad Idea is a transposition of Idea for our times.

There are posts on my blog written during the writing of Bad Idea that may be accessed, with links to some of the poems, here .

A cluster of sonnets may also be read on the Knives Forks and Spoons Press site. (There are other books of mine at KFS too, my book of short stories, The Only Life, and my autobiography Words Out of Time.)

Here’s a post with a video of me reading one of the poems, celebrating the day my copies arrived: Pages: A Well-Deserved Break/Bad Idea available/Brexit Christmas Past (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)



And here's a quick video of me reading the 'Address to the Reader', a version of Drayton's Sonnet 28.

* 

Bad Idea is Book Two of a longer project, ‘The English Strain’, though it may be read on its own.

Check out Book One, The English Strain here and posts on Book Three, still in progress, probably to be called British Standards, may be caught in action here: Pages: Weird Syrup: The final Keats variation: a (premature) farewell to satire as a strand in British Standards (temporary post with video) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

In short, the parts of ‘The English Strain’ are:

1. The English Strain (Shearsman, forthcoming, 2021)

2. Bad Idea (Knives, Forks and Spoons, available now for 2021)

3. British Standards (work in progress)

Sunday, December 20, 2020

A Well-Deserved Break/Bad Idea available/Brexit Christmas Past

I’d like to wish everybody a merry Christmas and a happy New Year – but that’s so difficult this year. The febrile excitement among the over eighties (faint reverberations of what they must have felt when they got their bus passes two decades ago) for the forthcoming vaccine is a pretty good indication of how bad it has been. It's also clear that Boris (Bo in my mythology) is trying to wish us a Covid Christmas and a Brexit New Year: two blasts of unrelated, coincidental, chaos (even with his U-Turn on his 'Geronticidal Yuletide Rules'). These are the themes of my latest writings. 

My own shield, in a sense, has been the writing of Book Three of ‘The English Strain’ project, poems which started with the comedy of Brexit that quickly crashed into the tragedy of Covid. You can trace it in the poems, week by week, over the year, that I have been temporarily posting, and permanently commenting upon. At the moment I am writing the last part of the projected poems. Here’s one of my reports, a hub post as I call it, about Book Three (British Standards) in progress : https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/11/weird-syrup-final-keats-variation.html . You can see that I have been ‘versioning’ the Romantics’ sonnets.

What a pleasure then that book two, Bad Idea, versions of Michael Drayton’s 1619 sonnet sequence Idea, is now available, just what we need, a 2021 book (publication date April) today. ‘Bad Idea’ is a naughty version of Drayton’s muse, Idea, but also a sequence about a very bad idea, Brexit. Here’s me reading the only 'Christmassy' poem in the collection, from a copy that arrived the other day!

 


That poem was written two Christmasses ago, about the time that I wrote the following skit, Go’s message to the Dogging Community (the idea that all Britain will have left after Brexit is its native national sport has been a developing strain!). What a different world, where the once sacred dogging sites of the Kentish Yeomanry have been dug up to make a Brexit Lorry Park to deal with the congestion and chaos:  Pages: Christmas Message from the Right Hon M. Go, secretary of Rural Affairs, the post-Brexit Dogging Agency (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) 

Bad Idea, although dated 2021, is available now from Knives Forks and Spoons, and you may buy it HERE:  https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages

 

See also my subsequent post: 

Pages: BAD IDEA (versions of Michael Drayton's Idea) available now from KFS (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

The lurid cover by Patricia Farrell is just about right, and even more lurid in the flesh! (The cover, not Patricia, that is!) During composition, I wrote about Bad Idea here . (The final part of Bad Idea is slightly different; called ‘Idea’s Mirror’; that’s described here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/12/my-last-ideas-mirror-post-election-poem.html ).

Just before I sign off for my Christmas break, here’s a link to a post that describes Book One of the project, simply called The English Strain, whose proofs I have today sent back to Tony Frazer to correct for publication by Shearsman Books. Pages: Robert Sheppard: the Petrarch sonnet project finished with poem 100 In case you are confused, 'The English Strain' sonnet project consists of 

1. The English Strain (Shearsman, forthcoming)

2. Bad Idea (Knives, Forks and Spoons, available now for 2021)

3. British Standards (work in progress)

 If you are accessing this blog for the first time, here’s a post that lists the best stuff from the first 15 years of Pages:  https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/02/fifteen-years-of-blogging-hubpost-to.html



See you in 2021 after my winterval break...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Weird Syrup: The final Keats variation: a (premature) farewell to satire as a strand in British Standards

I've finished working on Keats' sonnets, though admittedly 200 years after Keats himself.  I want to reflect upon that a little, but not before I've given you a wider context for this part of the larger project. I began work on a book entitled British Standards in pre-Covid 2020, but post-Brexit Independence Day. Both of those ‘issues’ are important to it, as is the fact that all the poems are 'transpositions' of Romantic sonnets. And the first will still remain so, even with recent news (slipped into this poem at the time of writing, late November 2020, where news stays news) that now THREE vaccines are on their way. The first section was finished late March, just after the (first) lockdown was belatedly, fatally for some, announced. For this, I transposed poems from Wordsworth’s ‘Poems Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty’, and retitled them ‘Poems of National Independence’, and even more cheekily subtitled them, ‘liberties with Wordsworth’. I write about that sequence here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-last-of-my-wordsworth-versions-in.html

Then followed ‘14 Standards’, the lockdown poems, and in turn, two additional ‘Double Standards’ about the now-departed Cum’s disgraceful lockdown infringements – I transposed a couple of Shelley’s sonnets – and his elitist refusal of apology and regret. See here for all 16 ‘standards’: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/05/robert-sheppard-14-standards-from.html . There are links to online publication of some of the poems too (as there are in many of these links).

‘Tabitha and Thunderer’, interventions in the sonnet sequence ‘Sappho and Phaon’ by Mary Robinson, followed, and they may be read about (with video) here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-transpositions-of-mary-robinsons.html

Another Shelley transposition, on ‘Ozymandias’ this time, may be read about here (in a post that is the hubpost for my dispersed versions of Shelley):

https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-occasional-transposition-of-shelley.html

 


‘Ozymandias’ is positioned alone after my Robinson poems. Then I turned to Keats! I had some trouble getting going; you can read about that struggle here: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/an-overdub-understudy-version-of-keats.html

This post will operate as a hub post as I call it: listing any publications that may ensue, of
this Keats sequence ‘Weird Syrup’. The first 7 are entitled ‘Contrafacts and Counterfactuals from Keats’. These were composed of 14 couplets. Now I have finished a new group called ‘Curtal Song-Nets from Junkets’, and they are curtal sonnets, a weird (but unsyrupy) combination of the stanza developed from the sonnet by Keats for his Odes and from the curtal-sonnet invented by Hopkins, which I made a late decision to remode as 10 couplets with a tail/tale to trail/tell.

That last poem was displayed here for a week. It was almost a farewell to satire, almost (because I think the rest of British Standards might be less satirical, but I'm not sure).  I read the following piece the other month, and it struck me as important to the misgivings I have now and again about the socially referential aspects of this project, but then I realise and accept that satire has to thrive on those: ‘There’s something about satire which means that it oozes outwards quicker than other modes, it forces the reader to draw the text into relation with the social totality quicker, it is ecological insofar as it is always profoundly embedded in a wide contextual web and twangs those threads repeatedly.’ says Robert Kiely. I like the 'oozing' motion referred to there, and an ecological gloss on what might be thought purely logical, as it were.

Read it all at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1InkJ5BItS2XYkZ6UBaqTaL2qQhPgfjdb/view

 

Future publications from 'Weird Syrup' will be listed HERE. None has yet been submitted to magazines. 

What comes after Keats? I could write through another sonnet by Shelley (though I'm going off the idea of treating Shelley's 'Ode to the West Wind' as a sequence of 5 sonnets). Individual sonnets have been operating as 'interval' sonnets throughout the book. I've even thought of returning to Wordsworth, since he was so productive at the start of the year; I've read through his sequence to the River Duddon, his last important work, though I might check out the sonnets about capital punishment again. One of my running arguments about Brexit was that it was about re-introducing hanging once we were free of inconvenient human rights. Maybe. Eventually I see the book British Standards ending with versions of Clare's sonnets, probably as quennets (since I've largely superseded sonnet frames in the development of my larger project). But, as I had problems with Bad Idea (book two of the 'English Strain project), in that I ran out of poems to version before I'd reached Brexit, the same has happened in regards to the Brexit Transition Period and Covid-19! I have difficulties here (which are admittedly my problem and of little importance to you) which I will have to deal with. 

Next day: further readings and notes. The sonnets on capital punishment (in support of, by the way) end with the reassuring line: 'Cheered with the prospect of a brighter day'! Preposterous! I won't be working on these, but I might choose the sequence just before it in the old Oxford Wordsworth, the 14 poems of 'Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty and Order', a title that is often confused by critics with the 1802-3 poems that I used earlier in the year (see here).  These dried out fossils of verse were written (in a Urizen-like authoritative tone) in the 1830s and 1840s, and are just waiting for me; I know it. I can feel it in my prostate (which has been more or less cleared by my consultant after the biopsy, by the way, and possibly the reason these poems are starting to flow again). The abandonment of BOTH the 14 line frame AND the satirical voice may have to be delayed a bit. But then look at these two, pretending they are pulling a Christmas cracker: 


Looking back, I have a full post on my previous ‘Trump’ poems (he’s only on-stage now and then; this is the ‘ENGLISH strain’ after all), here:

https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/11/trump-and-his-appearances-in-english.html 

And I’ve left a residue about the fourth ‘Curtal Song Net’, and its references to Trump here:

https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/11/a-version-of-keats-when-i-have-fears.html

In writing these poems, I have been helped by Zuccato, Edoardo. Petrarch in Romantic England. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, a book I have read very quickly, having come across it reading (even more quickly) Translating Petrarch’s Poetry (a book I am in wrtiting about my earliest 'transposed sonnets' and you can read about that here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/practice-led-piece-on-petrarch-3-from.html )

Before we completely leave Keats, it's worth recording that I’ve made counterfactual use, as it were, of Keats before, in my volume of three short stories, The Only Life (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2011), in which I briefly describe Keats’ thoughts and actions on his eightieth birthday. Read about that here:  http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2012/01/only-life.html . Buy it here: https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/the-only-life-by-robert-sheppard-41-pages


Looking to the whole project (and in explanation) let me emphasise that British Standards is (or will be, when completed) book three of my ‘English Strain’ Project. My ghostly production of Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ turned the project (that will appear in the next Tears in the Fence), so that it could not turn back to the 14 line sonnet frame (see https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-occasional-transposition-of-shelley.html ).  I’d been looking at some poems of Robert Duncan, ‘derivative’ (his word) of Dante’s sonnets, which weren’t formally sonnets at all. (I mean they possessed none of the determinants of sonnethood; not even 14 lines.) That seemed like a necessary formal ‘volta’, or ‘turn’, as the sequence begins the long descent towards the runway. I have a determination (though not religiously so) to never write a 14 line poem, or a sonnet-approximate poem, again, once this project is completed.

On this blog, as I’m guessing most regular visitors know, I’ve documented ‘The English Strain’ as work has progressed through to its third book. Here are two comprehensive posts to check out, with lots of links to online excerpts and other ruminating blogposts, one that looks at Book One, The English Strain here and another at Book Two, Bad Idea here . (The final part of Bad Idea is slightly different; called ‘Idea’s Mirror’, it’s described here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/12/my-last-ideas-mirror-post-election-poem.html ).

I’m delighted to announce that Bad Idea is available NOW from Alec Newman’s excellent press Knives Forks and Spoons, with a cover design by Patricia Farrell. You may get it HERE:  https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages

 

 

Cover design: above, the cover; below, the original image, by Patricia Farrell 


There are two ways of seeing this book. One: it is a homage to Michael Drayton’s 1619 sonnet sequence, Idea, skilful transpositions into contemporary forms. Two: it tells the story of Brexit, as it passes through the body politic, the undigested cake and eat it of daily life. We read of the peccadillos and pet projects of the Brexiteers, the ineptitude of resistance. Expect comedy and chaos rather than analysis, ‘how not to get the blues while singing the blues’. Drayton is both Renaissance man and man of resentment. His worshipped muse Idea is a tragic Scouse idealist caught in a satire nobody can quite control. ‘The English Strain’ of the sonnet tradition meets the dogging sites of post-Brexit Britain. You’ve got to laugh.  

Parts of Book One of ‘The English Strain’ are still available in booklet form; look here for Hap:

https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/hap-understudies-of-thomas-wyatt-s-petrarch-by-robert-sheppard-26-pages

There are a number of reviews of Hap, but here’s a pretty new one: Prince, D.A. ‘Hap by Robert Sheppard’, on Sphinx: Poetry Pamphlet Reviews and Features: https://www.sphinxreview.co.uk/index.php/946-robert-sheppard-hap-understudies-of-thomas-wyatt-s-petrarch (2020) 



I have written in detail about the writing of Petrarch 3 (see https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/09/practice-led-piece-on-petrarch-3-from.html )

 Look here for Petrarch 3 in its wonderful fold-out map format.


As I've said in my opening remarks, British Standards presents transpositions of notable sonnets of the Romantic period, from those by William Bowles to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Chronologically, they lie between those of Charlotte Smith, which I’ve already worked on here, https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/07/more-english-strain-poems-overdubs-of.html

and those of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, that I’ve also worked on, both of them in the final parts of Book One:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/09/robert-sheppard-non-disclosure.html

 I’m posting these poems temporarily, so there is only ever one (or two) at a time on this blog, once a week at the moment. Jamie Toy wrote about this periodicity of mine in relation to Brexit  here, in Versopolis : https://www.versopolis.com/arts/to-read/792/moving-but-also-staying-the-same