Friday, July 31, 2015

Robert Sheppard: my research video

I have tried to embed this video before but it's never worked. But here it is for my summer break. (Back in September.) In it, I talk both about my academic research (which today I would call simply criticism), and about my practice-led research (which I prefer to think of once more as poetry), and about poetics (whose name remains the same.) You see my books and some of the collaborations with Pete Clarke.

What you don't see is a smile. But I can smile, but only when I'm standing next to Jeff Hilson, it would seem:

If you can't wait till September try


Tom Jenks' new zimZalla object is Conversational Nuisance, an A3 size directional poster poem with anthropomorphised rabbit insignia by Joanne Ashcroft and Patricia Farrell. More here


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Robert Sheppard: Tom Raworth’s As When

Parenthesis removed for further study from my forthcoming review of Tom Raworth’s As When:

(Poets beware: you cannot imitate intuition!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Robert Sheppard: For Lee Harwood Burnt Journal 1939 (from Berlin Bursts)

Burnt Journal 1939 

for Lee Harwood at 70

The sergeant under the umbrella splashes Bovril
as he carries a cup to the private on duty.
It’s all part of the service of the services,
it seems, in this dream that you’re marched into.
The Cenotaph crouches under billowing silks
as a new red bus putters up Whitehall.
The colony of Belisha beacons flashes in harmony
lukewarm but welcome like a pie.

Everybody’s aunt assembles by the ambulances,
masks tested for when the city turns to mustard.
Their perforated snouts chorus submarine melodies,
rubbery inhalant hallelujahs! The last pleasure

boat is moored, the boathouse padlocked. Time
is serving time, commandeered for the duration.

26th February 2009

This poem was written (well in advance, it can be seen) for Lee's 70th birthday, and was included in my book Berlin Bursts. In Memoriam here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Lee Harwood 1939-2015: in memoriam

Lee Harwood died yesterday, Sunday 26th July at 12.10. I'm glad that I saw him on Friday, however briefly, however distressing it was.

Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass
Stains the white radiance of eternity
Until Death tramples it to fragments.

                Shelley (another Sussex poet)

My review of Collected Poems in two parts here and here. On later works here; on recent works here. And an earlier gift to him here. A later 'Laugh' with Lee Harwood may be read here.

Access obituaries here. And news of the British Library Harwood Archive here.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pause for Thought. Derek Attridge on the Creative Act-Event

Most of the wisdom I derive from the work of Derek Attridge has been of a literary-critical or theoretical nature, (see here and, more recently, here) but just now and then he offers something for the poetics of writing, as when he describes ‘invention’ towards the end of his new book The Work of Literature.

‘The inventive artist is one who is fully in command of the materials and conventions of his art-form, or techne, but rather than simply producing a rearrangement of that material finds a way of making a space for the new, the other, the hitherto unthinkable or unperceivable. The scenario is exactly that of the hospitality of visitation: rather than inviting some already known idea or formal arrangement or quality of feeling into the work in progress, the successful artist finds a way of destabilizing the fixed structures of knowledge, habit, and affect, so as to make a visitation possible, and seeks to welcome the other, the arrivant, in a work that does justice to its singularity. Innumerable accounts by writers, painters, musicians of the way their best achievements happened testify to this process. In ‘I Have a Taste for the Secret’, Derrida uses the notion of hospitality to talk about the writer’s responsibility to future readers – a responsibility not to give the reader something that is wholly and immediately intelligible, but to leave a space open for individual interpretation. (31-2). Most philosophers would no doubt disagree, but most writers of literary works would have no difficulty with this idea.’ (Attridge 2015: 304)

Attridge. Derek. (2015) The Work of Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Access The Meaning of Form project here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Robert Sheppard: Deselected Poem: Byron James is Okay (7th July 2005)

Here is the last of the current batch of de-selected poems from History or Sleep, my Selected Poems. 'Byron James is Okay' comes from the end of Warrant Error. I talk about it in my interview in The Wolf (read here; the interview is also de-selected from the book, similarly because of space). 'It's grim stuff, the blackest impaction of societal depression, with flashes on utopian parkways desperately trying to compensate,' I say. Then I recall the day I wrote this poem: 'I remember first reading Nate Dorward’s review of Tin Pan Arcadia and he quotes that line from 1984 about a foot stamping on a face forever, and says that’s the effect of reading my book. I put The Gig down and switched on the radio. It was July 7th 2005 [i.e., ten years ago today.] Bombs had gone off all over London, it seemed, at the time. I made notes. I wrote "Byron James Is Okay" ... with that criticism ringing in my ears and thinking, yes, this is the world, but also grasping for more positive human values (not that they are not there in Twentieth Century Blues, I hope. At least the blues ring out true.)' What I don't say in the interview is the more interesting human story of being later contacted by Byron James, who had sent the message that appeared on Sky News and that I had quoted in my notes and subsequent poem's title, who asked to see the rest of the poem (Paul A. Green had published a portion of it, from his account of the 60th birthday bash for Allen Fisher, which passed by the site of 7/7, at which the poem was first read, hence its dedication. See that celebration here too, and here).

Byron James is Okay (7th July 2005)

                                    for Allen Fisher

Text phone no-name news-clips
Shatter the showered details. If
Was whened in the burnished air, a tin-
Can chrysalis formerly a double-decker bus.

Only the city has a name. It’s calm.
Fluttery police tapes. Shivering faces
Covered with soot. Lacerations of sand-
Grain particles. Who walked over bodies; others,

Dismembered, still in their seats. Anon-
Ymous heroes beside pockmarked walls patch up
No bodies ‘burning in fear’ – above shaky sounds

Of movement under ground. Police fumble with a
Geodesic tent funnelled to the mouth of the Tube.
They call the unnamed names back to the world.

Warrant Error may be purchased here, from Shearsman Books. A few more of its poems appear here to 'welcome' the readacted report on the 'War on Terror'.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Robert Sheppard: de-selected poem from History or Sleep: Putting Claws on the Glove (for Joan Brossa)

Tony Fraser has asked me to shave off some pages of my forthcoming 'Selected Poems' and I'm afraid this one has to go, the only section selected (then de-selected) from a poem 'writing through'/'translating' Joan Brossa's visual poems ('from the Catalan', I say, although there are no words in his poems). I thought some of the thoughts embodied in the poem are handled elsewhere, but I regret losing this gesture to a great literary figure. The full poem may still be read in Hymns for the God in which my Typewriter Believes.

from Putting Claws on the Glove: Poemes Objecte by Joan Brossa

from the Catalan

This mask is only off
by being on

You are behind it
and only through it
can you be before us, saying:

See my eyes,

I have made them for you
through what I say

See my mouth,
its tongue

flipping the letters to and fro,
back and forth, up and down

Let me say: there is a mask
placed upon an open blank page

We shall wear it together

Image result for joan brossa poema visual