Thursday, March 21, 2024

Scott Thurston's Inaugural Lecture: KINEPOETICS March 2024 (video + my introduction)

 

Diary 19 Tuesday March Week 12 2024

 I did some light proof-reading [breaking news: the book The Necessity of Poetics (which contains my inaugural) will be published by Shearsman] though I was largely keeping my powder dry. Patricia came thru’, en route to ‘town’, a sunny day.

          I journeyed to Manchester, battled with the Metro, and emerged unscathed at MediaCity UK, which gleamed over the Blue Peter Garden. Inside the lobby of Salford University, a giant Thurston-head announced, with Ozymandian pretensions, the evening event. A large screen showed the film Scott had made a while back. I found the model for these exhibits flexing his dancing muscles in the studio. There was a bit of technical flannel to be negotiated.

          Eventually, a large crowd filled the auditorium – some people I knew, of course – and we commenced, my introduction, and Scott’s inaugural ‘lecture’. Dividing the piece into 5 ‘rhythms’, he nevertheless retold his career chronologically, which sounds like a very standard inaugural strategy – BUT he moved throughout (about 45 minutes, I’m guessing) and spoke a rehearsed ‘text’, and included improvised passages, of both speech and movement. Fortunately, it was filmed, by the University and by Joanna.

          I chaired the Q and A, I handed Scott a present from the University of Salford, and a note he’d made of people to thank. Which he did.

          Scott said it, and did it, with panache, passion and conviction.

          Patricia watched it online. And here it is again, for anyone who missed it. (It runs for a couple of minutes before the 'show' begins!)



And this is my introduction: 

Good evening, everybody, both here at Salford University, and those of you watching online. My name is Professor Robert Sheppard and it is my great pleasure tonight to introduce Scott Thurston on his elevation to the professoriate as Professor of Poetry and Innovative Creative Practice as he presents his inaugural ‘lecture’, ‘Kinepoetics: an embodied journey through poetry, dance and therapy.’

Scott is going to speak and demonstrate that ‘journey’ himself, so I am not going to offer a resume or assessment of that progress. In any case, I can speak for poetry and innovation, but not for dance and therapy. But I do have the perspective of having known Scott – as a good friend, excellent student, supportive colleague, experimental fellow-poet and enthusiastic collaborator – over a long period of time. I know of no other case where somebody has studied both A Level and been supervised for a PhD by the same person. But I do know of the robust processes that are used by universities to elevate professors, and the necessary past successes and achievements that are essential to meet the rigorous criteria adopted. I also know that some of Scott’s achievements are highly visible – what could be more visible than dance? – but some are quite invisible. I’m thinking of the work Scott does day to day as a teacher, lecturer, research supervisor, coordinator and administrator, and his work as an editor of the academic periodical he and I co-founded the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry. To take just one, what might be thought minor, part of that: as a writer of references for students for courses and colleagues for teaching posts, Scott’s work is exemplary. Never have I come across such detailed advocacy on behalf of candidates, written with obvious care and time-consuming attention. And I know that that care and attention is replicated in his marking and supervision of research. As editor of the journal, I also know that he really does get down with the nitty-gritty of responding to articles in preparation for publication. Hardly anyone sees this work, invisible labour at its most important to the visible life of the university and the visible viability of an academic journal, and of academia itself. Somewhere within and between these professional commitments, his scholarly work on poetry and poetics, his pedagogic innovations in the still-evolving subject area of Creative Writing, and most importantly, his own creative practice, which includes poetry and movement, gets done. And now, don’t forget, the extension of this work – working with Joanna and others – into therapeutic practice. How he manages still to be one of the nicest human beings I know is a mystery, perhaps even a miracle. After all, academics as a tribe do have a bit of a reputation!! I’ll move on.

Move on to a compelling concluding anecdote. Many years ago, (as Noel Coward used to say) so-last century, long before all I’ve just mentioned, Scott and I were sitting in the Alexandra pub in Wimbledon, chewing over the poetic fat, perhaps trying to foster literary techniques or strategies for what would suffice. I turned to Scott and asked, ‘What are we going to do about the poetic revolution, then?’ Before he could answer, before he could begin to gather the thoughts to answer, a fellow poet (who shall remain nameless) burst into the pub, bursting the bubble of our concentration, and proceeded to commit ‘conversational nuisance’, as Samuel Beckett once put it, all over us, long enough for the question to die a death. We’ve often wondered what we might have discussed, decided or even plotted that evening if we hadn’t had been interrupted – and whether it would have mattered. One answer to that question – though perhaps we are dealing more with poetic evolution than revolution – lies in what we are about to receive: Scott’s ‘embodied journey through poetry, dance and therapy’: ‘Kinepoetics’.

I write about Scott’s recent Turning: Selected Poems here: Pages: Scott Thurston's TURNING ; my endorsement and a link (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) and there’s an interview I conducted with Scott in 2019, as part of my guest editing of Stride: Guest editor Robert Sheppard: 8 | Stride magazine

My inaugural lecture may be read here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Inaugural Lecture PART 1: Poetics as Conjecture and Provocation

Friday, March 08, 2024

Online reading for the Runnymede International Literature Festival (set list)

Runnymede International Literature Festival 13–22 March 2024


This year’s festival began with an online event curated by Robert Hampson, with readings by Cat Chong, and the Liverpool-based poets  Sarah Crewe and Robert Sheppard on Wednesday 13 March.


I enjoyed reading, and enjoyed Cat's and Sarah's reading, but I would have enjoyed a live reading more, and missed people, books and drinks - but no matter. Here's some notes I made for my bit of the reading.


I have been working on transpositions of canonical English sonnets for some years (I’ve finished now) and they have been published as The English Strain (See here: Robert Sheppard - The English Strain (shearsman.com) and Bad Idea. A third volume of versions of Romantic sonnets (see here: Pages: ‘An overdub of The Dancing Girl by Letitia Elizabeth Landon’ from British Standards is published online in The Nest issue of A) Glimpse) Of) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) will be published by Shearsman (that's breaking news by the way), but I going to read from the middle book BAD Idea where I took Michael Drayton’s 1619 sonnet sequence Idea (Idea is the ideal woman of the sequence) and used it to pay homage to Drayton, but also to tell the parliamentary story of brexit. Here’s Drayton’s most famous sonnet undone and redone by me! Bo is Johnson and The Cum is Cummings… 

I then read 'Since there’s no help…'

As you can hear (I continued) I was in danger of running out of poems, so I added a coda. Written in a different mode, but now spoken by Idea herself, 'Idea’s Mirror' utilizes some of the sonnets Drayton dumped along his way to his final version. There’s 14 of them, written around and during the 2019 election, 'Idea’s Mirror' (These are both from Bad Idea which I wrote about here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: links to all SIX Bad Idea poems (Drayton versions) on Stride (with Drayton's originals) and you may buy here: 'Bad Idea' by Robert Sheppard (102 pages) | Knives Forks and Spo (knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk))

 


 

Now for more recent work, I said. This is a poem I wrote in November: I read 'Pretend-sleep'.

Here’s another short one, a response to a wartime photograph by Lee Miller. Both photograph and poem are called ‘Revenge on Culture’.

Staying with photographs: this long poem was published in The Long Poem Magazine and is based on the photographs that Tricia Porter took of ‘the area’ called then Liverpool 8. I’ve since been in touch with Tricia Porter and was interested that when the photos were originally exhibited, they were accompanied by poetic prose texts (which she sent me). I saw them in an exhibition at the Bluecoat. And I’ve used the catalogue… 

I write about this piece in some detail, with one of the photos, here: Pages: My poem THE AREA is published in The Long Poem Magazine number 30 (background and links) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

I'm going to finish with something different. I’m assembling poems about music and this is a new one. It came out of the experience of having radiotherapy to the accompaniment of a music radio station. This piece of music was a surprise! I read the poem 'Radio Therapy' (two words, I emphasised, since the audience could not see the text.)

*


The rest of the festival featured poets from Royal Holloway’s Poetic Practice programme and Poetics Research Centre and themes related to the Words from the Wild exhibition





There were also two in-person events at Royal Holloway’s Egham campus, curated by Caroline Harris and Briony Hughes . An evening of poetry film and sound art on Monday 18 March in the Event Space (next to the Exhibition Gallery in the Davison Building) featured premieres from Susie Campbell and Hen Campbell and Tanicia Pratt, sound from Rowan Evans and Will Montgomery, plus Zakia Carpenter-Hall and Hannah Harding.  

 

On Friday 22 March, there were readings in the exhibition itself, linked to its different sections, including by Camilla Nelson and Caroline Harris. That would look to be the photograph above.

 


Monday, February 26, 2024

Robert Sheppard: an 'Empty Diary' poem in the Broken Sleep MASCULINITY anthology

I’m pleased to say that I have a poem in the new Broken Sleep anthology, Masculinity, edited by Rick Dove, Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson, to whom, many thanks. It is one of the more egregious examples from the egregious ‘sequence’, ‘Empty Diaries’, ‘Gooner, Going, Gone: Empty Diary 2022’.  I read it at my recent Peter Barlow’s Cigarette reading (See here for the reaction to it: Pages: Robert Sheppard and two others at Peter Barlow's Cigarette 24th October 2023 (set list)) Usually narrated from the point of view of a woman, each of these now-annual 'Empty Diary' poems focusses on sexual politics (though sometimes just sex and sometimes just politics, occasionally neither), I write about the sequence (1901-1990, which first appeared in a 1992 book of that title, and later as the ‘spine’ of Twentieth Century Blues) here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: The last two Empty Diary poems are published on Stride : and I include links to earlier poems, and videos of the 2019 and 2020 poems which precede this one. This poem is unusual in being narrated by a man. And what a man, a gooner no less.


This anthology (there are too many contributors to list here, may be purchased at:

Masculinity, an anthology of modern voices | Broken Sleep Books

 

Masculinity: an anthology of modern voices’, the publisher says, ‘is a book of poetry which aims to showcase the diversity of what it means to be a man and what it means to embrace its multitudes. These poems emphasise that masculinity is not a monolithic concept, but a dynamic, evolving force that can be shaped by culture, society, and personal experiences. Including poetry from Andrew McMillan, Ian Duhig, Michael Pedersen, Andre Bagoo, Pádraig Ó Tuama and [many] more, [and it's good to see friends like Andrew, Daniele Pantano, David Ward, Gregory Woods and others there] this is a powerful, visceral reminder that masculinity is so much more than the sum of its parts, and a call to open up a dialogue about masculinity that is inclusive, progressive, and affirming.’

I approve of this, though I’m pretty sure my poem, which is about super-toxic incel masculinity, which I (suppose I) satirise, is not at all 'affirming', and shouldn't be. My narrator rather literally plays with the ‘sum of his parts’! (The 'Empty Diary' for 2023 is about a conspiracy theorist; what shall I ‘do’ this year? No answers on a postcard please: something will offer itself, I don’t doubt!)

If you are wondering about the 2021 'Empty Diary', it was published in Tears in the Fence: Pages: Two new poems published in Tears In the Fence 78 (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

Thursday, February 15, 2024

19 Years of Blogging: links to the last year's best posts and comments on the year

I’ve been blogging for 19 years (today). In recent years, on this anniversary, I have looked back at the posts that have enlivened me, have been looked at a lot, and (even) have not been looked at all! I started this mode of reviewing on the tenth anniversary, and all those posts (and the annual posts in the last ten years of blogging) were presented as links, in last year’s 18th year post. I think this year, I’ll simply point to that post as a guide to all the others. Do have a look, but don’t get lost in the labyrinth.

Here: Pages: Eighteen Years of Blogging today! (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)


Blogging is meant to be a posting of the instant, but I’ve never thought of Pages as ephemeral, as Twitter or X are, for example. As those posts will indicate I set this blog up in 2005 as an attempt to continue my print magazine Pages as a ‘blogzine’, but gradually it turned into a blog, but with the proviso that I see many of the posts as of permanent import (I can’t say ‘importance’, for only others may judge that). But the various posts on Iain Sinclair, for example, add up to something, critically speaking. Or those that led up to my book The Meaning of Form. Some posts are essays, some a spattering of links to other posts, and (during the writing and temporary blogging of the poems of ‘The English Strain’) I learnt to delete posts or to edit them after posting for a short time only. The writing of those poems (but not of others, note) was very public (because the poems were public, and demanded an immediate audience).   

Nineteen is an odd number, in all sorts of ways. Maybe the 20th year will be an occasion of looking back at the WHOLE blog, so I am going to limit myself to this past year to point out posts I would suggest readers re-visit or visit for the first time.

This blog (and some other blogspot blogs) seem not to be favoured by my Norton security. I look at my own blog and it warns me: ‘Dangerous Web Page Blocked!’ I just ignore it, because it doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve not noted interference or strange changes – except via the strange bot hits that catapult random posts into thousands of supposed ‘hits’; I suspect they are Russian, because of the sheer number of hits that derived from there (though Blogger no longer provides that sort of geographical information). I’ve always suspected my mention of Pussy Riot started that off. But that’s a different animal to the Norton warning. Clearly it doesn’t stop people looking at the blog, and people with other security systems are not affected. One friend said he received the warning on his phone but not on his laptop. If anyone can explain this (in simple terms) do let me know!

I intend to pick out the best of last year’s posts, but first I should say a few things about the last year. Last year’s post mentions the radiotherapy and hormone treatment I’d been receiving, the one intense and quick, the second distributive and slow. It’s gone pretty well, and I’m as active as I used to be. The following posts will confirm readings, music performances, and some travel. If you meet me you’ll note that I’m often wearing the little Man of Men design that Prostate UK sports. (I think it is a design masterpiece: I’ve even got the socks and beanie!) See here for their work and their warnings and their wonders: Prostate Cancer UK | Prostate Cancer UK. Men, here’s the Risk Checker: Check your risk in 30 seconds | Prostate Cancer UK. 

 


In the last year I published a book, Doubly Stolen Fire, and, of course, I posted about it, Pages: Doubly Stolen Fire (a new book of hybrid texts) is now OUT (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) and about its two launches (so far), Pages: Launch of Doubly Stolen Fire at the Lowry Lounge 2023, Liverpool (set list) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) and Pages: Performance of the Ern Malley Orchestra and launch of Doubly Stolen Fire (robertsheppard.blogspot.com). One of the texts from the book ‘Circling the City’ was published online, close to the publication of the book, so it served as an advert:  Pages: Circle of the City published now on Osmosis/New book coming soon (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) Here's the first review: Pages: Reviews of my book DOUBLY STOLEN FIRE (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

I looked back at my other published books and found most of them still in print (Pages: Robert Sheppard: seeing what's in print and what's not!) and in the process found that my poetics piece, The Anti-Orpheus , is available as a download (Pages: Robert Sheppard The Anti-Orpheus (pdf available online).

Here's a bit from an unpublished book, my 'verse-novel', Elle published in Shuddhashar 37 in Norway: Pages: My Verse Novel ELLE is excerpted in Shuddhashar 37: Surrealist Poetry edition (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

 


In the last year, I looked back only a little to consider the New Collected Poems of Lee Harwood, that I co-edited with Kelvin Corcoran, and noted a couple of online reviews: Pages: Two online reviews of New Collected Poems by Lee Harwood: links and comments (robertsheppard.blogspot.com).

 As soon as the Harwood book was finished I moved on to the very different editing required for a Selected Poems of Mary Robinson, and there are a number of posts about the process of editing that book, beginning with the first and hub post, here: Pages: Selecting for a Selected: The Poems of Mary Robinson 1 (robertsheppard.blogspot.com).

I like to indicate recent creative publications, and where that has been online it means I can link directly to the poem(s)/prose. Two poems in Stride also get the short video treatment too: Pages: Two new poems published on Stride (robertsheppard.blogspot.com). Four in Shearsman (one video this time): Pages: Four poems from British Standards published in Shearsman 137/138 (robertsheppard.blogspot.com). My long poem ‘The Area’ appeared in The Long Poem Magazine and I posted about it (too long for a short video!): Pages: My poem THE AREA is published in The Long Poem Magazine number 30 (background and links) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com). Two more in Tears in the Fence: Pages: Two new poems published in Tears In the Fence 78 (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) Two poems on Anthropocene (short enough for vids): Pages: Two British Standard sonnets are published in Anthropocene - notes, links and a video (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) My collaboration with Sarah-Clare Conlon appeared in Blackbox Manifold and I predictably blogged: Pages: UNTITLED by Sarah-Clare Conlon and Robert Sheppard is published in Blackbox Manifold 31.

That last poem came about via a reading, and I have listed readings on the blog: Pages: The Liverpool Camarade at Open Eye Gallery : May 2023: the videos of my collaboration with Sarah-Clare Conlon (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) and  Pages: Robert Sheppard and two others at Peter Barlow's Cigarette 24th October 2023 (set list). (This doesn’t include the launches, listed above!)

 


I published a poem for Iain Sinclair’s 80th birthday, Pages: I'm in IS80 a book for Iain Sinclair at Eighty (robertsheppard.blogspot.com), and an essay on Caroline Bergvall’s work (my only critical piece this year; in the post, I partly explain why; of course, I’m also editing more these days than critiquing). Pages: My essay 'Inventive Re-workings' included in 'Caroline Bergvall's Medievalist Poetics' (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

However, I did rise to the challenge of writing a new POETICS of my work, ‘My Own Crisis’, which was published by FUTCH: Pages: My poetics piece 'My Own Crisis' is published by Futch (robertsheppard.blogspot.com), possibly my most important piece this year!

MUSIC. I wrote about performing with the Ern Malley Orchestra (duo): Pages: Performance of the Ern Malley Orchestra and launch of Doubly Stolen Fire (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) and about more fun music (with thoughts about writing about music, too; I’ve plans for a book of poem on music, or round and about music):  Pages: More returns of Little Albert - the music I play, the music I listen to, the music I write about (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

‘Cocaine Hippos’ was a Stride project that I documented with a kind of index: Pages: Cocaine Hippos Project (and my part in it): posts and updates (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) My contribution, ‘A Kink in the Anthropocene’, possibly my only ‘animal poem’, may be read here: Cocaine Hippos 11: A Kink in the Anthropocene | Stride magazine.

Three poems from the 1980s were recovered over Christmas 2022, and the (3) posts of them begin here: Pages: Recovered poems from the 1980s - part one (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

This year, and sadly, I remembered the late Gavin Selerie and his laugh:  Pages: Remembering Gavin Selerie and his laugh (robertsheppard.blogspot.com). And I remembered my UEA friend Colin Scott in a long and 'linky' post: Pages: A Positive Virtue: memories of Colin Scott, a friend from UEA days rediscovered (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

*

Locating Robert Sheppard: email: robertsheppard39@gmail.com  (don’t use the Edge Hill email); website: www.robertsheppard.weebly.com Follow on Twitter (or X): Robert Sheppard (@microbius) / Twitter ; latest blogpost: www.robertsheppard.blogspot.com

 

 

Saturday, February 03, 2024

My Verse Novel ELLE is excerpted in Shuddhashar 37: Surrealist Poetry edition

I am pleased to say that guest editor David Spittle has selected some work of mine for the special ‘Surrealist’ edition of the Bangladeshi magazine Shuddhashar. Or is it called FreeVoice - one word, like that?


Explore this issue, number 37 in full: Surrealist Poetry. Or follow the links below.  
  

It is a long time since I’ve thought about surrealism, but then again it isn’t. By that, I mean that, although I haven’t pronounced on the subject much, it’s never gone away. (Not quite true either, see Poetics, Robert Sheppard (lincolnreview.org) In any case, it came back with a mighty thud, when I started to write Elle. 

Anyway, the first four chapters of Elle may be read HERE: Elle:  a verse novel

Other contributors include a brief description of their allegiance/connection to surrealism and I thought that my ‘introduction’ to my excerpt (it’s a long excerpt) which I’d sent would suffice (it is a long introduction!). It’s not there on the magazine. In fact, it is the intended ‘afterward’ of the verse-novel. Here’s a shortened version of it:


Sharp gas lips under her flesh suddenly white in the hallway 

Watching the early films of Jeff Keen, see Jeff Keen aka Dr Gaz | Jeff Keen. I noted the repeated appearance of what I thought of as ‘the pink auto’; I had read somewhere that this Pontiac Parisienne belonged to a nightclub owner in Brighton in the UK. Keen continued to use footage of this automobile throughout the 1960s, though I think he only borrowed its gangsterish gleam for an afternoon’s shoot, to make the 11-minute black and white silent 8 mm film Breakout (1962). (This isn’t it, but is a useful sample of Keen's approach:

 


Jeff Keen: Instant Cinema (1962/2007) - YouTube

 )The incongruity of seeing this mammoth American car on film squeezing past the familiar Clock Tower in Brighton (my local South Coast city as I remember it vaguely from the early 1960s) was most impressive, if uncanny. It was not until I read Richard Davenport Hines’ An English Affair (2013), about the nefarious goings-on of cabinet minister John Profumo, that I linked the car, which was mentioned in passing, and the films of Jeff Keen, which I knew, with a precursor scandal of the Profumo debacle, and its Brighton setting. It was a sordid story concerning a Conservative MP and washing machine importer, John Bloom, and Christine Holford, the wife of the nightclub and Pontiac owner. The result was that, in 1963, a jealous and taunted Harvey Holford murdered Christine Holford, spitefully shooting her in the genitals. The subsequent trial and the minimal sentence Holford received – before an all-male jury – leaves a bad taste in any aesthetic appetite that desires to utilise this material.

But I did want to utilise this material and I did want to make the link to the extraordinary films made by Jeff Keen, who I met on a couple of occasions, even visiting his Brighton flat with Lee Harwood; I remember a column – no other word for it, it reached the high ceiling – of Marvel comics, which he used as raw material in his later Blatz! movies. I felt that my raw material would have to include Keen’s work, the car, its murderous owner, his victim wife, as well as a favourite and iconic film of the era, Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967), presented here in visual summary, as it were:


Belle de Jour - official rerelease trailer (youtube.com)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnYA6mj9hDU

Notably, this surrealist masterpiece of the sixties is based upon realist pulp from 1928: Buñuel hated Joseph Kessel’s moralistic and misogynist novel of that title, in which a woman is condemned for her secret sexual desires (as was Christine Holford with her more public affairs and flirtations). The film is not a parody or pastiche of its model; it’s perversely faithful to its twisted but conventional morality. The novel was perfect material for post-surrealist transformation. In 1969, an English translation by Geoffrey Wagner from 1962 was rushed into a second paperback edition with a picture of a simpering Catherine Deneuve on the cover, a 75p charity shop purchase.  

Uncertain how I would approach and proceed with these materials, I decided to work on my copy of the novel with an analogous disrespect to that shown by Buñuel: I treated Belle de Jour using the technique I have always called ‘Tom Phillipsing’, finding new linguistic content in this old novel, as Phillips had with A Human Monument, as he transformed it into the bubble texts of The Humument (ignoring for a moment the brilliant visual side of the work!). There is something of gentle gathering, enclosing, about the method, which is absent from the tearing violations of the superficially similar cut-up technique. Both are versions of collage, or montage, of course. 'Here's the book, and here's the method,' as I say on this 5 second video!  

At some point during this slow process (one page Tom Phillipsed a day, 140 pages), I watched Daniel Farson’s British ATV television programme Living for Kicks (1960) which partly took as its theme the teenage clientele of the Whiskey a Go-Go milk bar (such pre-Clockwork Orange innocence!) near The Clock Tower in Brighton. Watch it here:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvA1MSk3K2A

I already knew that this establishment was part of the entertainment complex run by Harvey Holford: upstairs lay the more exclusive Blue Gardenia and Calypso clubs (where alcohol was served). Farson’s documentary (the old Soho soak feigns shock at teenagers snogging and disdaining marriage) features an intelligent and knowing interview with a proto-Beat poet called Royston Ellis, whose name was familiar to me, but not from my knowledge of British underground poetry of the 1960s, which I’d foolishly thought comprehensive. In fact, the name was literally floating before me in Ye Cracke pub where, after lockdown, I regularly met a group of Liverpool friends (the informal 1955 Committee). On the mirror under which we often sat is an engraved commemoration of a joint poetry-music gig by Royston Ellis and John Lennon in Liverpool in 1960.

One afternoon I suddenly noticed the memorial to this performance, seen above. (It's disputed whether Ellis is the 'Paperback Writer' of the song, but he did write books on pre-Beatles music.) Something was happening here, I felt, to speed this project along; I conceived of superimposing the shadowy Brighton reality upon my distorted version of Buñuel’s Ur-text. Both narratives involve a jealous murderer. I replaced Kessel’s names, Buñuel’s dramatis personae, with the names of the participants in the Brighton tragedy: acquaintances and lovers of the fatal couple (Thatcher, Hatcher, Bloom, Cresteef), and employees and habitués of the night clubs (Corvell and Bubbles and Squeak), with the addition of the artist figures Jeff Keen and Royston Ellis, and a few necessary others. (Not all of them appear in this first extract, of course.) ‘Elle’ was the Tom Phillipsed ‘Belle’ persona of Kessel’s anti-heroine, the titular haunting (but who is ‘she’?). I transposed place names from Paris to Brighton without irony. The text passed through many stages of transformation (‘states’ an engraver might have called them), both mechanical – I made use of the ‘dictate’ and ‘read as’ functions on my laptop – and deliberative: my choices were quite conscious, though guided by procedure. The process was my old friend, the stochastic. Then I revised the text in an intuitive way, unrecognisable in this latest (and perhaps not yet completed) form on Shuddhashar

I did not want to repeat the grim and ghastly scenarios that documentary sources had laid before me; (e.g www.pulpinternational.com/pulp/entry/Cover-of-the-National-Insider-with-Harvey-and-Christine-Holford.html

 Falling from grace | The Argus

 https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10458357.falling-from-grace/

 Crime Murder Christine Holford April 1963 Her husband Harvey Holford their baby and Heather Thatcher taken the summer before she died Stock Photo - Alamy

https://www.shutterstock.com/editorial/image-editorial/peter-corvell-manager-of-the-blue-gardenia-club-brighton-owned-by-harvey-holford-holford-is-charged-with-the-murder-of-his-wife-christine-which-was-reduced-to-a-verdict-of-manslaughter-box-760-530051713-ajpg-9130220a

 Memories of 1950s Brighton | 1950s personal memories | My Brighton and Hove

 https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/topics/1950s/1950s-personal-memories/where-to-go-for-a-good-time

https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/places/clubs/clubs-3) I sought to introduce the main actors into a drama not quite theirs, and not quite mine, either. I wished to liberate them, albeit imaginatively, from history. I like to think that Keen and Ellis become the positive creative energies to transform this loathsome narrative towards different endings – or none. Those transformations are not just a matter of form, but of a forming of its matters, its matters of fact, and its matters of fiction.

The turn to the ‘verse-novel’, however ironical, reflects yet another, late, act of transformation, the sudden switch to ‘verse’, a term I seldom use…

So back to today. Just as Bunuel hated Kessel’s work I think I disapprove of the ‘verse-novel' – and, like Bunuel using Kessel, that’s just why I’ve 'written' one. I was somewhat relieved, when I witnessed Jen Calleja reading Vehicle: a verse novel to discover that it wasn’t, in fact, a ‘verse-novel’. (I did enjoy, though, Bernadine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe, so maybe it’s the idea of the verse-novel that trips me up; I don’t like the term ‘prose-poetry’ either, but I'm a big fan of Ian Seed!).

Here’s a full list of the articles/poems/prose/images in this wonderful edition, with links to each: 

1.Note from Guest Editor Note from Guest Editor
2.Simon Perril 
Sun  Deck  Set  Cogitation
3.Lisa Samuels 
lodge in the zing of
4.Ali Graham 
My appetite wears metallic facepaint
5.James Byrne 
Apparitions
6.Geraldine Monk 
Let fly the unquiet tongue
7.Will Alexander 
The Sand Genie
8.Aase Berg 
Monday in the Mariana Trench
9.Tom Jenks 
Broccoli and chunky relish
10.Julia Rose Lewis 
through and through and through and through
11.Harry Man 
The Airborne Gooseberry Boy
12.Sascha Akther 
Anatomy of a Car Crash
13.Robert Sheppard: from 
Elle:  a verse novel
14.SJ Fowler The Parts of the Body that Stink
15.Lila Matsumoto 
the saws and hammers
16.Aaron Kent 
It is the most natural thing in the world to leave
17.David Spittle  
from HALLUCIGENIA
18.Stephen Sunderland 
Notes for a Revolution
19.James Knight 
Disappearing Subject
20.Joseph Turrnt 
In the fifteenth year I bought you crystals
21.Vik Shirley 
https://shuddhashar.com/hmm-sweetie/
22.W.N. Herbert 
A Dream of Vending Machines
23.David Spittle 
Seeing the Unseen: The Occult and Surrealism

Thanks to David and thanks to all at Shuddhashar. Shuddhashar is an exiled Bangladeshi publishing house with this magazine, and is currently based in Norway. Shuddhashar received the 2016 Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award, given to publishers outside the United States who demonstrate courage despite restrictions on freedom of expression. They are brave people indeed, if you follow their publishing history, which is really a testament to their activism.  

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Locating Robert Sheppard: books: Pages: Robert Sheppard: seeing what's in print and what's not!; email: robertsheppard39@gmail.com; website: www.robertsheppard.weebly.com Follow on Twitter (or X): Robert Sheppard (@microbius) / Twitter ; latest blogpost: www.robertsheppard.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Reviews of my book DOUBLY STOLEN FIRE

 If I found it difficult to describe my latest book, Doubly Stolen Fire, hiding behind the word ‘hybrid’, have a thought for poor reviewers (a trade I’ve indulged in to excess in the past: see bibliography: Full Bibliography - Robert Sheppard (weebly.com)). I eventually managed to find ways of doing it (for example, Pages: Doubly Stolen Fire (a new book of hybrid texts) is now OUT (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)), but it was always easier to deal with one part of it at a time (the bit about Malcolm Lowry, here: Pages: Launch of Doubly Stolen Fire at the Lowry Lounge 2023, Liverpool (set list) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com); or the bit about the Ern Malley Hoax, there: Pages: Performance of the Ern Malley Orchestra and launch of Doubly Stolen Fire (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)). Tellingly, I seem to be launching it, chapter by chapter.

 


Buy the book straight from the publisher: HERE: Robert Sheppard: Doubly Stolen Fire – Glasfryn Project.

 


Billy Mills is the first off the blocks, as so often, on his excellent blog. I link to it on my blog roll (whoever thought of that term?); see to the right of this post.

Beginning, and offering links (you may have noticed how much I like links, a habit from the days of assembling Twentieth Century Blues), he notes ‘Robert Sheppard’s Doubly Spoken Fire is, in part at least, the third and final part of his ‘fictional poetry project’, the first two parts of which I reviewed here and here (In hindsight, I was far too dismissive of this book at the time).’ I liked his harsh treatment of those volumes, and I like his ‘in part at least’, which is true: this may have run the ‘fictional poetry project’ into the ground (or it may not, I’ll cheekily hint, perhaps falsely) but there are lots of other bits. Billy is forced to be descriptive as well as evaluative. I’ll say no more about it, but simply thank Billy (I know how much work is involved in reviewing, which may be the reason I do less of it), and give you the link to it:

Recent Reading January 2024: A Review – Elliptical Movements (wordpress.com)

I’ll add some more reviews, if there are any. In the meantime, here’s an X feed tweeting the sayings of a talking mongoose, highly relevant to my ‘Rectophonic Monologue’! Billy found this too. I guess I’ll have to follow: (4) Gef the Mongoose (@gefbot) / X (twitter.com)

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Locating Robert Sheppard: books: Pages: Robert Sheppard: seeing what's in print and what's not!; email: robertsheppard39@gmail.com; website: www.robertsheppard.weebly.com Follow on Twitter (or X): Robert Sheppard (@microbius) / Twitter ; latest blogpost: www.robertsheppard.blogspot.com