Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bob Cobbing and Robert Sheppard: Blatent Blather and Virulent Whoops

As part of the interest generated by the tenth anniversary of Cobbing's death, I have been involved in a number of events.

Firstly, I have revived Blatent Blather/Virulent Whoops, my 2001 collaboration with Bob at a reading/performance at Flat Time Gallery in Peckham, London, on the afternoon (2-5) of Sunday 14th October, where Patricia Farrell and I performed it. Jennifer Cobbing, Anna Barham, Julika Gittner, Heather Phillipson also performed or displayed work. It was a great day. See more about Flat Time here.

Then THE OTHER ROOM presented BOB COBBING: A CELEBRATION with CLIVE FENCOTT, an ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE OF ABC IN SOUND on Tuesday 23rd October 2012, 7pm at The Castle Hotel, Manchester M4 1LE. The video below is from that performance. See


for further videos of the event.

The text may be read here.

[Both my collaborations with Bob are back in print. See Pages: COLLABORATIONS (Bob Cobbing - Robert Sheppard) published in a box by Veer - out now ]

The third event involves the co-editing of a special issue of the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry. Out soon.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Allen Fisher Symposium



Allen Fisher Reading

23rd Nov 2012, 6pm

Gallery North, City Campus, Northumbria University

Poet and painter Allen Fisher read from his work as part of Northumbria University's Allen Fisher Symposium, reading a range of work old and new. Allen's performance was accompanied by short readings from Ira Lightman (empassioned song and dual-voiced poem) and Sophie Robinson (empassioned political verse).

Allen Fisher Symposium

24th Nov 2012, 10.30 to 5.30

Sutherland Building, City Campus, Northumbria University

Speakers included Peter Barry, Ian Davidson, Peter Garratt, Robert Hampson, Ira Lightman, Ann Matthews, Sophie Robinson, Robert Sheppard, Harriet Tarlo, Rhys Trimble. Papers were  followed by a Q&A/discussion with Allen Fisher, which included a moving account of Fisher's helpers and shapers.

I talked about his recent text Proposals. I concluded: 'In apprehending Proposals, the viewer and reader are one and the same and the formal complexity that results from imperfect fit requires the same readerly energies of a will towards coherence and logic evoked earlier that is formally undermined by the work.' (A version of the talk may be read here, and here is a piece on Fisher's poetics.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Launch of The Alchemist's Mind 17 November (set list)

REALITY STREET will be at the Small Publishers Fair on Friday 16-Saturday 17 November in London. (You can spot publisher Ken Edwards talking to Tony Frazer on the picture below.)

It takes place at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, from 11am-7pm each day.

On the Saturday at 4pm Reality Street will be launching WHITE by Sean Pemberton and THE ALCHEMIST'S MIND, edited by David Miller.

The readers will be Sean Pemberton, Giles Goodland, Johan de Wit, Robert Sheppard.

My contribution is the opening passage of my autrebiography The Given. You know: the one that begins, ‘I don’t remember…’ (All the autebiographies are available here.)

Both these books will be on sale at the launch price of £10 each (retail price subsequently £15 and £13.50). Reality Street Supporters will get them free.


A book of narrative prose by poets

An anthology edited by David Miller in collaboration with Ken Edwards. Contributors are: Barbara Guest, Lee Harwood, Ian Robinson, Rosmarie Waldrop, Robert Sheppard, Bernadette Mayer, Paul Buck, Lyn Hejinian, M J Weller, Brian Marley, Johan de Wit, John Levy, Vahni Capildeo, Paul Haines, Lawrence Fixel, Robert Lax, Fanny Howe, David Miller, Keith Waldrop, Giles Goodland, bpNichol, David Rattray, Guy Birchard, Will Petersen, Tom Lowenstein, Kristin Prevallet, Stephen Watts, Daphne Marlatt

Small Publishers Fair 2012

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Friday 16th & Saturday 17th November, 11am to 7pm

The international fair celebrating books by contemporary artists, poets, writers, composers, book designers, and their publishers; together with a programme of readings and talks on Saturday.

For full details www.rgap.co.uk | email helenmitchell@inthefi elds.co.uk | tel 05603 689840 (standard landline charges)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Malcolm Lowry and David Markson event

I am took part in the annual Lowry Lounge event at the Bluecoat in Liverpool on Saturday 28th October (as near to the Day of the Dead as we can get). I talked about the work of Lowry scholar David Markson and his extraordinary postmodern novels.

Lowry: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/350045/Malcolm-Lowry

Markson on Lowry and Dyaln Thomas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRqIIPHY-co

The Lowry Lounge

The Bluecoat’s annual celebration of Wirral-born writer Malcolm Lowry (author of the classic Under the Volcano) comprises a psychogeographical walking tour of Liverpool with artist Colin Dilnot and an afternoon at the Bluecoat including the launch of The Firminist No 3, an occasional journal of all things Lowry, performances, talks and music.

Out on the Lowry walk with Colin Dilnot pointing out the branch of Austin Reed referred to in the newly discovered and soon to be published 'lost' novel of Lowry: Ballast to the White Sea.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

from 'Poet' (a work in regress)

Poet makes his writing practice material, inventorying every printed book he can see as he sits at his laptop. On the desk. Along the shelf. In the big box behind. A composite self-portrait with no self. Feeds it to Twitter, title by title. Until he sees at last, the most satisfying thing, saved for the final tweet. Neat in its crimson bag, the pristine leather-bound fine-paper notebook that Poet has not dared to write in since buying it a decade before, in Florence. A bibliography of a work he’ll never write.

On Poet's desk:

Tears in the Fence 55
Benjamin’s Illuminations
David Ter-Oganyan

(Uncovering a few more books on his desk:)

Meredith’s Modern Love
Poet’s 2012 diary
Poet’s dictionary (with its gifts of ‘ithyphallus’, ‘mallemaroking’, ‘rounceval’)
Anthony Rudolf's and Colin Wiggins’ Kitaj in the Aura of Cézanne and Other Masters

Looking along the shelf above Poet's desk; (in a pile, top to bottom):

Hans-Peter Feldmann’s Voyeur
Ingrid Schaffner’s The Essential Joseph Cornell
John Seed’s Collected Poems and a single volume of his Pictures from Mayhew
Pete Clarke’s Letters to Language
Paul Evans’ True Grit and Prokofiev’s Concerto

(Then upright, left to right:)

Scott Thurston’s Salt Companion to Geraldine Monk
Monk’s Insubstantial Thoughts on the Transubstantiation of the Text
Michael Hamburger’s The Truth of Poetry
Joan Retallack’s The Poethical Wager
Huntsperger’s Procedural Form in Postmodern American Poetry
Bernstein’s The Politics of Form
Rawes’ Romanticism and Form
Milton’s Paradise Lost. Poem, in Twelve Books. The seventeenth edition, Dublin, Printed for
A. Ewing, W. and W. Smith and P. Wilson, 1765
Wood’s Literature and the Taste of Knowledge
Watten’s The Constructivist Moment
René Van Valckenborch’s Vache
Mousley’s Towards a New Literary Humanism
Denise Riley’s Poets on Writing
Susan Wolfson’s Formal Charges
Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory
Lemon and Reis’ Russian Formalist Criticism
Derek Attridge’s The Singularity of Literature
Joughin and Malpas’ The New Aestheticism
József Attila’s Eszmélet
Angela Leighton’s On Form
Art Matters by Peter de Bolla
Louis Armand’s Avant-Post
Allan Sekula’s Polonia and Other Fables
Language Alive 2
Radnóti Miklós’ Naptár
Peter Barry’s English in Practice
Marcuse’s The Aesthetic Dimension
Hans-Peter Feldmann’s Foto
Ian Davidson’s Into Thick Hair
From: Tracey Traces by Jeff Hilson
Mukařovský’s Aesthetic Function
Christopher Middleton’s Selected Writings
The Plantin-Moretus Museum Visitors’ Guide
Wolfson and Brown’s Reading for Form
Leech’s Linguistic Guide to English Poetry
Christopher Middleton’s Selected Writings

In the big box behind Poet:

Sean Bonney’s Happiness
Chris McCabe’s The Borrowed NotebookShakespeare’s Sonnets
John Goodby’s Illennium
Philip Kuhn’s Boltzmann’s Constant & the Black Body Spectrum
Gareth Farmer’s Mock into the Brazen Day
Matthew Welton’s We needed coffee but we’d got ourselves convinced that the later we left it
the better it would taste, and, as the country grew flatter and the roads became quiet and dusk began to colour the sky, you could guess from the way we retuned the radio and unfolded the map or commented on the view that the tang of determination had overtaken our thoughts, and when, fidgety and untalkative but almost home, we drew up outside the all-night restaurant, it felt like we might just stay in the car, listening to the engine and the gentle sound of the wind
Vahni Capildeo’s No Traveller Returns
Paul Hoover’s Postmodern American Poetry
Jeff Hilson’s In the Assarts
Michael Zand’s Lion
Chris McCabe’s Zeppelins
Louis Armand’s Letters from Ausland
Simon Perrel’s Nitrate
David Markson’s This is Not a Novel
Philip Terry’s Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Peter Gillies and Rupert Loydell’s A Music Box of Snakes
Lucy Harvest Clarke’s Silveronda
Carrie Etter’s Infinite Difference
Scott Thurston’s On Being Circular
Andrea Brady’s Vacation of a Lifetime

plus the notebook described last in the text (not a ‘printed book’ at all, actually). Disturbed by the act of writing, the volumes are no longer configured as they are described here, Poet wants you to know. Tumbling down from the shelves as they’re touched. Re-stacked in reverse order. This portrait already a history.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Robert Sheppard: Bad Poems for Bad People (for Sean Bonney)

My prose piece, ‘Bad Poems for Bad People!’ dedicated to Sean Bonney, may be read now at Intercapillary Space


It is also republished, revised, in my Unfinish from Veer: see here.

(Photo: Bratislava 2012: a friend of Magritte's COW picture below, obviously, and clearly a bad person.)

This ‘manyfesto’ is a response to parts of Sean Bonney’s keynote at the Conversify Conference, Edinburgh, September 9-11 2011 (though not to the exemplary readings of Rimbaud therein, but in anticipation of the publication of Happiness). It was first performed as the finale to my Berlin Bursts reading at the Bluecoat’s Chapter & Verse literature festival, Liverpool, on October 16 2011. I have melted and re-formed quotations from the following into its forming action: Adorno, Auden, Badiou, Bad Prophets Err, Bonney, David Cameron, Clark Coolidge, Simon Critchley, Duckweed, flarf, W.S. Graham, Guattari, Simon Jarvis, Primo Levi, Angshuman Kar, Kruk, Marcuse, Meschonnic, Milton, Pasternak, Penny Lane Graffitist, John Rajchman, Rancière, David Toop, and two geopolitically-challenged ‘scallies’ from Wavertree, Liverpool. It’s also twinned by the paper I wrote and delivered at the conference, ‘Notes on Form, Forms and Forming and the Antagonisms of Reality in Criticism, Poetics and Poetry’, which I promised a number of people I’d publish online. This will have to substitute for the moment.

This text is published in final form in Unfinish published by Veer in 2016: here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rene Van Valckenborch links

Links to the fictional poems of Rene Van Valckenborch by Robert Sheppard

The ‘whole’ oeuvre of René Van Valckenborch is surrounded by mystery, perhaps of his own making. Published in fugitive publications in places as far apart as Cape Town and Montreal over the last decade, the poems of this Belgian are composed in Flemish and Walloon, and the stylistic divide between the two sets seems to reflect the societal and linguistic divide of his troubled nation (although he never refers to this fact). The two translators, Annemie Dupuis and Martin Krol, worked independently of one another at first. Their subsequent meeting, marriage and removal to Brussels form such an incredible tale that they have occasionally been accused of manufacturing the controversy of Mr Van Valckenborch’s discovery, of fabricating their translations and of inventing their author. But in fact they are ‘fictional poems’, a category defined by Gerald L. Bruns. ‘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.’

Read Eric Canderlinck’s introduction here:


Read early poems (both in Walloon and Flemish) here:


Watch Patricia Farrell and I perform part of ‘Background Pleasures’, one of VanValckenborch’s poems from the Walloon:


More Walloon poems, this time from Van Valckenborch's versions of Ovid:


Read and listen to the Walloon ‘Cow’ poems, his final Walloon poems, perhaps written in the same spirit as Magritte, when he entered and quickly departed, his ‘Periode Vache’ (see an example at the top of this. Isn't he adorable?):





Read a piece of Van Valckenborch’s critical prose (not to be included in the collected Van Valckenborch project), an account of the cinema of forgotten Belgian film-maker Paul Coppens:


Turning to the poems supposedly in Flemish, read ‘Van Valckenborch’s Cube’:


Read his Twitter feed at


or read all 100 collected together and then some separately with photographs (after the link to his ‘Cube’) here on Pages at


See some of the collaborative prints made with Pete Clarke using poems from the Van Valckenborch project at


and, more clearly, at


Read Dylan Harris’ account of a close encounter with the enigma himself:


Other texts have appeared in print in Tears in the Fence AND, Sunfish, Roundyhouse, VLAK, Form & Fontanelles and Poetry Wales. The whole project is intended for publication in 2013.

The whole thing may be bought as A Translated Man here:

Then came Twitters for a Lark

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Robert Sheppard and Jeff Hilson at Maintenant Camarade III

Jeff Hilson and I have been working on a collaboration called 'Honda Hands'. On Saturday  we read the first 5 verses at the third Mantenant Camarade organised by the incredible Steven Folwer at the Rich Mix, near Brick Lane, London. All the other readings are are available too and can been seen in adjacent places to this video. Thanks again to Steven and to Jeff for their hard work. We hope you will enjoy this truly egregious work.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Robert Sheppard Feature

There is currently a feature on my work at Litter magazine here

It contains excerpts from a new work, Arrival, an autrebiography of sorts, here.

There is a review of its predecessor, The Given (Knives Forks and Spoons) by Litter editor, Alan Baker here.

There is a re-print of Scott Thurston’s review of The Lores, part of Twentieth Century Blues, here.

Thanks Alan.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Robert Sheppard: The Only Life (book of short stories)

My first booklet of short stories is out. The Only Life

Three short stories about poets.

His fictional poets begat fictional poems, of course, which lie as fragments of greater wholes, marvellous or ludicrous, in teasing virtuality. These stories – their styles range from the clipped short-short to the expansive experimental – give us the world as only a poet could, as kinds of poem, for our delight and horror. But in writing only of poets he writes of everything else. The fog of history and the steam of sex are intermingled in these intricate, absorbing and often funny, poignant stories.

‘A classic triptych of moods and movements, forensic, sharp-elbowed, with a ripeness you can taste. Sheppard's prose curves elegantly between ease and disease, live ghosts and city shadows. Borgesian, teasing, wise.’

- Iain Sinclair

This book is available to buy for £5 from http://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk ( or as
part of its 3 for £10 deal: and I recommend recent books by Ken Edwards and Adrian Clarke).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Even the Bad Times are Good: Rupert Loydell & Robert Sheppard

A conversation/interview, spring boarding off my Shearsman book of essays When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry


and including excursions into the Poetry Society 1976, Sinclair, Bomb Culture, Bob Cobbing, young poets in Britain, poetics and Conceptual Writing, and a little on my own work!

Posted now on Stride


or follow the links from


Robert Sheppard