Friday, October 30, 2009

Dee McMahon and Robert Sheppard

Photos courtesy Scott Thurston and Andrew Taylor

A sanp of part of the audience, plus Dee McMahon and Robert Sheppard answering questions after their presentations to the Poetry and Poetics Research Group meeting in the GOING PUBLIC series. Dee was talking about her sequence of prose pieces that springboard from quotations 'Stories of a Line', in which - Klee-like - she takes a 'line' for a walk. Robert was talking about his latest sequence, the poems of Rene Van Valckenborch, and the double fictional poetics by which they are permitted.

Next week the last in the series: Daniele Pantano and Michael Egan.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Robert Sheppard: Sudley House

Here are two shots – the bottom one by Andrew Taylor and the top one by Tim Power – of Robert Sheppard performing his ambulatory/site-specific text Sudley House at Sudley House in November 2004. The performance text may be read at:

Click at the top from the page you find here to Preamble to Instructions before you reach the First Room (and continue until the Ninth). Then read the Notes.

There is also a (later) 'reading' copy of the poem, which may be read here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Introducing Dee McMahon

Dee McMahon is a former student of the MA at Edge Hill University and she has a CD of her work published, which she will be selling at the Poetry and Poetics session tomorrow night (I’m on too). She is currently working in the Library at Edge Hill, where I saw her about half an hour ago, but she didn’t see me, scuttling in to return the CD of Jerome Rothenberg that I was playing to this year’s MA full timers. Previous work on Pages may be seen at (link and then scroll a long way down to Page 451):

Robert Sheppard
Photos above coutesy Andrew Taylor; Dee at the Neon Highway reading in the Walker Gallery and Dee waiting in the recording studio.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Introducing Patricia Farrell

Photograph of Patricia with her friends in Neumarkt Square, Amsterdam; Robert Sheppard, and reading in the Tate, coutesy Andrew Taylor

Patricia Farrell is a visual artist, art historian, writer and student of philosophy, and has taught philosophy and creative writing. Published in New Tonal Language from Reality Street. The Zechstein Sea is available from Ship of Fools. She lives in Liverpool with two fools.


pointing shifters
another object
previously verbal
a finger towards
and says
also denoting
pointed out something to it

“It will be better” –
and when I say that
a finger can live
without people
she means

all right is plain and heavy
a care-lined face
a heavy face
want her
used to beauty

“I think you are like a painting” –
this time takes it from her purse
and leaning out she talks simply

how such columns these heads might be
copying an older maxim not properly understanding
a series of heads and the spaces between

in the case of a butterfly less decomposed
he invented the image
as it were
with the viewer

the connection whatever the argument
and the manuscript of hybrid monsters
characteristics of initial capitals

this sentence is a possible
central theme now
romantics of structure
that’s what mountains are
a winter’s summer’s Christ fulfils itself

hinted at an orchestral piece,
a superb current falls into the irretrievable
and that’s just gentle by the inclusion

to seep in you a first time
a diversity of closes with
will leave you in the wind

idea of resurrection
but from the angular sinister

with a stiff-backed
trying to get any you can see why this intelligent saved the sexed-up but nasty chivalry

a difficult word being
recalling not a little
disrupts or myths
worked out
several versions interested
in the form updating on
by those peaceably involved.

levels broad units
in what coup
would reference guarantee
operated by
or at least
some sense its typographical space

to lead them out
that we are bound to fail
just counterfactual
precious as confirmation
or two things
to make a company evidence of
what the weight of
for example
gone on longer
desperation advanced by years
by design of it
of it in the areas
worst is much more
have turned
there were clear signs

frightening again
pure incarnation
done in usual panic
our ethic unique enough

there is no object
purpose behind
unpersonal purpose
intimately fade all this
but to make the world
indeed for no other reason
to argue
for to do so
if at all lasting
without reward

playing became
visit the house
the window that she missed
options locked
when with her arm

reach the window
iron bars are up
turned his back on
turned himself
from that day on
- “I am your enemy”

were out and relied on
who turned framed by rivers
of those converging
nevertheless convinced
that the judgement
who reads the left in any document
indeed questions convention’s epidemic
a number who at a time
from them to invite
so that witnesses come forward
for all that although


Hear her reading at The Other Room (Manchester) at

Her website is here:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Introducing René Van Valckenborch

This is an incredible story.

In the autumn of 2002 two youthful translators met at a conference I organised on Translational Spaces held at Heidelberg, not in itself an auspicious thing to happen. When it is revealed that one of the translators’ specialisms was to translate from the Dutch language group and that the other was a specialist in Francophone literatures, it might have been expected that, other than the theory of translation, there would be nothing to hold them together. They were both participating on a panel on the literary translation strand themed with contemporary poetry and a remarkable thing happened, as I knew it would, having read their detailed abstracts in advance and paired them. Martin Krol, who was from South Africa, and who was an authority on Flemish poetry, and Annemie Dupuis from Quebec, and who was interested in Walloon literature, discovered not only that they were speaking about translating the poetic work of that most linguistically and bitterly divided of modern European nations, Belgium, but that they were speaking about the work of the same poet, René Van Valckenborch. This, again, is not in itself unusual, but what they discovered – and what had apparently been kept hidden from the literary schools of that country, separated as they are not just by language but by culture and regional autonomy – was that Van Valckenborch had written in both languages and had published two distinct bodies of work, one initially in Canada and the other partly in South Africa, as well as in Europe, Rouen and Amsterdam, as well as in Belgium.

Both translators had imagined that they were the first to apply themselves to Van Valckenborch’s small output. There was surprise and laughter for, after Krol had delivered his paper ‘Aprosody as Cognitive Mapping’, Dupuis declared herself unwilling to read her original paper, ‘The Return of the Mind to Things’, and extemporised a series of fascinating challenges to herself and Krol about this extraordinary circumstance. After initial mutual suspicion, and diplomatic manoeuvres on my part during a coffee break, they agreed to work together to solve what they regarded as the central mystery: how could, and why would, one writer produce two discrete oeuvres? Their initial answers required them to engage in further translations, email exchanges across continents, and occasional meetings over the next few months. This is not the place to enquire further into their liaisons, but after Martin took up a post in Brussels, interpreting for the EU, Annemie moved there too, to work as freelance translator. They lived together, and married in 2006 (but separated in 2010, about the same time this story unravels).

One of the delights – but occasionally one of the disappointments – of translating contemporary works, is meeting their author. As soon as the couple settled in Brussels, they insist, they set about searching for Van Valckenborch. It had not been unusual for his publishers abroad and at home to only deal with him by email and post – but neither cybernetic nor street addresses yielded a reply, nor did ringing on suggested doors reveal the man. Stalking the noisy dope-hazed bars in rue de Flandre – a ‘clue’ from one of the poems Krol explained – asking crag-faced bikers after a man of whom they had not even the vaguest description proved fruitless, as did hushed enquiries at the Poeziecentrum, located at a forlorn corner of a forgotten square in Ghent. The man had vanished, or as in one of those Magritte paintings that seem to encapsulate Belgian surreality, his figure offers his back to us, as does his reflection in the mirror beyond him: an appropriate image also for his double oeuvre. For not only did the man – his traces – disappear, his work stopped appearing. The bookshop at Ghent was to furnish the last substantial chunk of his work in Flemish, A Hundred and Eight Odes, and a final Walloon fascicle, emoticon, was reportedly picked up by Dupuis in a sale in a sunny bilingual shop in rue Antoine Dansaert in Brussels, not far from their apartment. A website, no sooner clicked onto by me then deleted, left an address without host, a single link to his last Twitter stream of enigmatic condensation. There was, about that time, some controversy about the existence of a few poems in German, Belgium’s third language, which purported to be by Van Valckenborch – they circulated privately under the title The Salad in the Wardrobe – but these are considered apocryphal if not fraudulent.

The idea that this extraordinary body of work was a hoax naturally arose. Perhaps it was a counter-hoax, some commentators suggested, to the one perpetrated by RTBF when it broadcast spoof reports of Flanders’ declaration of independence from Belgium in December 2006, and which caused a reaction of an Orson Welles magnitude. (Incidentally, this occurred four days after our translators were married and the processions of monarchists in the capital interrupted their extended festivities, to which I had been invited!) The existence of a genuinely bilingual contemporary poet in Belgium seems too good, or bad, depending on one’s perspective, to be true. However, someone had to compose these verses and although suspicion has fallen upon the two translators – critics speculate that the confrontation in Heidelberg was staged, the original poems written backwards from their double ‘translations’, charges I refute as Byzantine absurdity – the fact remains that the poems exist, and demand to be read. (Of course, suspicion has fallen upon myself also, particularly since Dupuis and Krol seem not to answer calls or reply to letters, indeed seem to have left Brussels, if not Belgium, if not Europe….) I am not denying that the poems’ ontological status is unchanged by questions of what would once have been called ‘authenticity’, but it remains a truth that these poems face us uncertainly with this lack of facts – again, not unlike Magritte’s canvasses, which often offer us monumental but obscured central enigmas. The unease which this situation evokes, cannot be willed away by transferring these texts into Gerald Bruns’ convenient category of ‘fictional poems': ‘To be sure, the difference between a poem in a novel and a poem in an anthology is apt to be empirically indiscernible. To speak strictly, a fictional poem would be a poem held in place less by literary history than by one of the categories that the logical world keeps in supply: conceptual models, possible worlds, speculative systems, hypothetical constructions in all their infinite variation – or maybe just whatever finds itself caught between quotation marks, as (what we call) “reality” often is.’ (Bruns, Gerald L. The Material of Poetry. Athens and London: The University of Georgia Press, 2005: 105-6.)

Erik Canderlinck
Institute of Literary Translation, Leuven.

Read the update as part of the introduction to A Translated Man.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Alice Lenkiewicz and Neon Highway

Currently busy with her own art projects Alice is editor of the poetry magazine Neon Highway and is the author of Men Hate Blondes. Above, she is performing at the Neon Highway 'Credit Crunch' reading at the Tate Gallery in January 2009. Read her earlier work in Pages here (scroll through the month's postings).

Neon Highway
Avant-garde literary journal


Submissions of innovative poetry to be sent to the editor:
Alice Lenkiewicz: 37, Grinshill Close, Liverpool, L8 8LD

Neon Highway is available bi-annually, with 2 issues costing £5.50, or a single Issue available at £3.00. Order your next issue by sending a cheque made out to Alice Lenkiewicz.

Subscription details and further information can also be found on:


Men Hate Blondes
Alice Lenkiewicz
ISBN 978-0-9562433-4-8 £8.00

original plus


‘Alice Lenkiewicz's inaugural collection of poems, Men
Hate Blondes, is a tight exploration of the political as
seen through the personal. Her frequent line
enjambments, startling images and sometimes
deceptively nonsensical-seeming word combinations
will make this book a challenge for some readers, but
what makes these poems worth reading is the author's
refreshing trust in her audience, that they do not need
to be led by the hand.’ Joanne Merriam

‘Alice Lenkiewicz, a modern alchemist, effects the
transmutation of lived experience via the intimate
crucible of her rare, poetic imagination – informed by
an artist’s visual sensibility. ‘ A C Evans

‘Men Hate Blondes is a kind of poetic bildungsroman,
it offers up its insights in a savvy use of montage,
dreamscapes, cityscapes and fantasias all matched
with Lenkiewicz’s dispassionate itinerant observation;
this is a refreshing, developing new voice testing out its
boundaries in a world still forming and reforming
around us.’ Chris Hamilton-Emery

If you would like to order an advance copy before November, you can send Alice £8.00 via paypal to

Angela Keaton performing and constructing

Angela Keaton (top left) performing at the Walker Gallery as part of the Neon Highway reading, Angela reading at the Rose Theatre (Ormskirk), Angela displaying some of her 'object poems' to the Poetry and Poetics Group (Dee MacMahon reading the object).

Introducing Neil Addison

Neil -pictured her as he is now - lives in Berlin.

See his web presence at

and at

and at

New Jack Fling


Am in the employ of apple.

They instruct me

To visit café nero with my sony vaio

And pretend to be a shit

Who harbours choice.

In the snow-globe of hyperbole

The bearded despot pumps his fist

Hand in glove like a dreary valve

And death rains down

Like the only way is up.

It is raining clowns

on the brain. They

are wearing out

Their insolence. I am

writing up Their

fridge poems

I repeat after me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Talks: Cliff Yates and Andrew Taylor

Photograph of Cliff (left) and Andy (right) answering audience questions courtesy of Scott Thurston

Andrew Taylor spoke of how a poetics is never finished just because a document of poetics is complete, but continues to evolve, in his case developing his sense of a topologiocally-inscribed 'Poetics of Absence' (a formal presentation of which is contained in Rupert Loydell's excellent Salt poetics anthology Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh, which we were also launching).
Cliff Yates outlined his development from a poet who writes about experiences to a poet who allowed the writing of the poem, in the act of writing, to become the experience. (Again, see his contribution to the Salt anthology.) More recent pieces explore a translatorese-ish estrangement of language, refracted through broken forms such as pseudo-pantoums.

Both are founder members of the group, which first met on 21st October 1999.

Details of the next two talks evenings may be found here.

Read Cliff's review of The Poetry of Saying by Robert Sheppard here.

posted by Robert Sheppard @ 5:45 AM

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Introducing Cliff Yates

Cliff Yates is the author of Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop) which won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Poetry Business competition, and Jumpstart Poetry in the Secondary School (Poetry Society). He currently teaches at Maharishi School, where his students are renowned for winning poetry competitions, and runs courses and workshops in the UK and abroad. His latest collection is Frank Freeman’s Dancing School (Salt). He is a founder member of the Edge Hill University Poetry and Poetics Research Group.

See his website at

More on Frank Freeman’s Dancing School:

Read his Guardian interview

More online poems may be read at

including his review of The Poetry of Saying here:


No, I don’t read French.
Do you have a translation?
I’m from Birmingham.
Let’s go for a walk in the woods. It’s raining.

Bring the billiard table.
I have the balls in my trouser pockets.
Can you manage?
Here, let me hold the door.

Yes I agree, the rain. Did I mention
the importance of parks in the black country?
It’s not that interesting. Mind
the rosa rugosas, their thorns,
and the climber with the orange hips.

All the other woods are memories
preparing us for this one.

If I tell anyone she’ll kill me.
No, really – a dart through the forehead.
Look at my hands – people call it stigmata
but really it’s darts.

We quarrelled in the autumn.
We quarrelled about the milk.
In the morning she left, took the bed with her.


head back, a single drop of blood from its beak
on the concrete like a red coin. Dead eyes
white feathers. It flew into the window and life left it.

I keep doing that. I’m covered in bruises
but amazingly still alive...

Vittel’s autumn gold and red. Strange
after the mountains, the pines, snow,
the sky’s unbelievable blue
from the train crossing the border…

Drums, drums for the bird in flight.
A different sound when it hits the window.


He unzips his jacket, freeing first one head,
then the other. Three necks stretch this way
and that, eyes squint in the glow from the fire.

Rain hisses on the brazier. I pull up my hood,
take off my gloves, rub my hands together.
He looks at me. ‘Why’d you come back?’

‘Curiosity. Time for a change.’
Earth beckoned. A speck of dust
in the eye of the sky.

‘Where are the others?’ ‘Early yet.’
They’ll come with their bottles
and stories. There are no secrets here.

The noise of the city. Orange fog
across the waste. No clouds. Stars.
Kevin dreams of pond weed and fish

the hollow drumming of a heart
the sky through a few feet of water.


Everyone watches the child walk
through security and spread out her arms.
Today she’ll fly. You can always tell an Italian.
The Cuban landlady sings ‘when you’ve had black
there’s no going back.’
Her Slovakian cleaner has no papers.
We have an appointment, remember?

My hearing went and my head exploded I’ve never had that before.
Remember Klaus? He sent a postcard, hey British how you doing.

We missed the headlines on that day
man with backpack on CCTV.

In Hintersee Gasthof the framed cartoon
the king, the farmer, the bishop, the worker
and top of the pyramid the man in black
‘Der Jude - er nimmt das Geld’.

Where does the roof end and the wall start?

She said she found herself joining in
throwing flowers at Hitler. When he’d gone
she rushed into church, feeling
she’d slept with someone she shouldn’t have.

Anna went to collect her rabbit
‘that’s not my rabbit’ she said.
He held it by the ears, back legs spread-eagled
and put his hand around its balls.

This is my second favourite café in Vienna.

Cliff will be reading at the Rose Theatre, Edge Hill University on 11 November 2009. Tonight he is speaking with Andrew Taylor at the PPRG Tenth Aniiversary series Going Public.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Scott Thurston at the Poetry and Poetics Research Group

At Edge Hill last night, Scott Thurston launched our series of talks with a glimpse of the working processes behind Internal Rhyme, his book-length sequence of poems which can be read horizontally as well as vertically. After reading some of these poems (some in both ways) there followed a general discussion of this method, questioning how and why the poems manipulate temporal and spatial relations, or whether there is an assumed simultaneity in the method. The Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry enjoyed its first launch, the special edition of Erbacce featuring work by Scott and members of the group was launched, and many group publications were on sale.

(photo: courtesy of Scott Thurston (camera) and Patricia Farrell (photographer))

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Scott Thurston and Cliff Yates at the Tate

(photo: Andrew Taylor)

Scott Thurston, and (right to left) Cliff Yates, Ailsa Cox, Matt Fallaize, Patricia Farrell... as far as the eye can see, at the Neon Highway reading at the Tate Liverpool, January 2009, organised by Alice Lenkiewicz.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Introducing Scott Thurston

Photo of Scott Thurston in New York courtesy of Scott and the unfortunate traveller who was accosted to take it! Hold on there author of Hold!


My creative practice as a writer attempts to steer a course between an awareness of the material nature of language whilst acknowledging its capacity to communicate directly or indirectly. I tend to work in an improvisational fashion, often writing short poems which respond to experience and memory in spontaneous ways. These poems build up into sequences which become records of processes of thinking and development over time. I am fascinated by how thought and language move, and the capacity of the poem to track and trace this subtle energy.

I did my PhD in Poetics at Edge Hill 1997-2002. I now run the MA Creative Writing: Innovation and Experiment at the University of Salford and co-run The Other Room reading series in Manchester. I live in Liverpool.

See my pages at


Momentum (Shearsman: Exeter, 2008) 106pp
Hold: Poems 1994-2004 (Shearsman: Exeter, 2006) 113pp
Of Utility (Spanner: Hereford, 2005)
Turns (with Robert Sheppard) (Ship of Fools/Radiator: Liverpool, 2003)
Two Sequences (RWC: Sutton, 1998)
Sleight of Foot (Reality Street Editions: London, 1996) (Selection)
Fragments (The Lilliput Press: Norwich, 1994)
State(s)walk(s) (Writers Forum: London, 1994)
Poems Nov 89 - Jun 91 (Writers Forum: London, 1991)


· Stimulus Respond (2009)
· Greatworks (2008)
· Dusie (2006)
The Argotist Online (2006)
Shadow Train (2006)
Intercapillary Space (2006)


In press, ‘Accreted Statement’ in Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh (Salt, 2009)
I edited The Salt Companion to Geraldine Monk, 2007.
My interview with Tony Lopez is published at The Argotist Online website.
'Ulli Freer: Space is the Place / Ulli Freer and Scott Thurston: An Interview', in Poetry Salzburg Review 9 (Spring 2006), pp. 169-187.
'Allen Fisher -- Reading "Mummers' Strut"' in volume 4 of Eseje o wspólczesnej poezji brytyjskiej i irlandzkiej, (Essays on Modern British and Irish Poetry) ed. Ludmila Gruszewska and David Malcolm, (Gdansk: University of Gdansk Press, 2005), pp. 119-134 (ISBN: 83-7326-288-1).
Interviews with Ira Lightman, Maggie O’Sullivan, Adrian Clarke, John Wilkinson and Allen Fisher published in issues 3-7 of Poetry Salzburg Review.
See also my article 'A Tribute to Bob Cobbing 1920-2002' in Neon Highway 3 (2003)


‘Lisa Samuels: The Invention of Culture and Carrie Etter: Yet’ Stride Magazine (2009)
'Robert Sheppard: Tin Pan Arcadia and Hymns to the God in which My Typewriter Believes' (2006) Stride Magazine
'Dell Olsen: Secure Portable Space' (2005) Readings
'Miles Champion: Three Bell Zero' (2004) Readings

On-line reviews and articles on my work

Ira Lightman ‘On Weightedness in Poetry: An Approach to Scott Thurston’ at The Argotist On-line
Joseph Brooker 'The Needle and the Language Done' at Pores
Melissa Flores-Bórquez's review of Hold at Intercapillary Space
Luke Kennard's review of Hold at Stride Magazine
Tim Allen's review of Hold at Terrible Work.
See Scott reading Momentum at The Other Room, Manchester, my favourite venue of the moment.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Pete Clarke: Looking Back: Facing Forwards

Last night to the opening of Liverpool painter Pete Clarke's exhibition. He and I are hoping to collaborate. The catalogue may be viewed here.