Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Robert Sheppard: Far Language: Poetics and Linguistically Innovative Poetry 1978-1997: New Introduction and links to chapters

In 1999 I published my first work of ‘criticism’ and ‘poetics’ in a book that deliberately mixed reviews I had published on linguistically innovative writers and the ‘linguistically innovative’ poetics of my own writing, particularly the then-still advancing Twentieth Century Blues. In both cases this was a selection, leaving out, for example, an essay on David Miller that had appeared in a Stride volume already (for Far Language was published in the Stride Research series) and a series of overlapping pieces on Paul Evans that had appeared in several places (interestingly, parts of it turn up in the Introduction I wrote for the Selected Poems of Paul Evans, The Door at Taldir, that I edited a few years ago for Shearsman). I excluded the gloriously-indulgent reviews I produced for New Statesman which were rich in insult against the Movement Orthodoxy (some re-appeared in samidzat from Ship of Fools). It built up a picture of British Poetry of its time, and some of it found its re-written way into ThePoetry of Saying (or even beyond). When I moved to work at Edge Hill in 1996 and turned my back on literary reviewing in favour of literary criticism, I also left behind the concise, telegraphese of some of these pieces, particularly the ones I wrote for the paper version of Pages (precursor of this blog; see here): having few actual pages free I squeezed the criticism into as few as possible, and used every line – but in the process invented a style, I think. (See the pieces on Adrian Clarke, Ulli Freer, Maggie O’Sullivan and Bob Cobbing, for example, though the latter was for And).

The poetics again is selective (my interlinked early 1990s Ship of Fools net-(k)not-works, influenced by Roubaud's The Great Fire of  London, was my most intricate attempt at poetics), but the pieces here relate to a developing writing practice and to the overall construction of Twentieth Century Blues (and ‘Poetic Sequencing and the New’ is indeed part of the poem itself). ‘Propositions 1987’, flawed perhaps, in interesting for its attempts to define postmodernism in a way that didn’t mean what it had come to mean for mainstream British poetry, Craig Raine, for example.  

There is still stuff that is relevant here. Perhaps as confirmation of that fact: it is a surprise to find 5 chapters of the book already on-line. But having the files, typed at the expense of the research fund of Edge Hill University, I sent them to various places (I was not slow to see the eventual importance of the internet, despite my reputation as a technophobe, and a free repository of literary ideas). These are:   

‘Far Language’, on Barry MacSweeney, whose phrase this is and was used, with permission, as the title of the book (see here); ‘Poetic Sequencing and the New’ (see here); 'Buoyant Readings', about Bruce Andrews and others (see here); ‘Sightings and Soundings’, on Bob Cobbing (see here).

Rupert Loydell (who published the book) writes about Far Language and ‘The Education of Desire’ here.

I shall be reprinting one chapter a week, including links to these, until the book is re-published entire online. With an index amassing here as I go:

The (original) 'Introduction': here.
'Reading Prynne and Others': here.
'Far Language' (MacSweeney) here.
'Irregular Actions' (Allen Fisher) here.
'Timeless Identities' (Roy Fisher) here
'Utopia Revisited' (John Ash) here.
'Flashlight Propositions' (Robert Sheppard's 1987 poetics) here.
'Education of Desire' (pedadgogic poetics) here.
'Commitment to Openness' (Roy Fisher, Lee Harwood, Tom Raworth) here.
'Poetic Sequencing and the New: Twentieth Century Blues' (poetics) here.
'Buoyant Readings' (J.H. Prynne, Bruce Andrews, Ken Edwards, Aaron Williamson and Gilbert Adair) here.
'Collosal Fragments' (Adrian Clarke) here.
'Tune Me Gold' (Maggie O'Sullivan here.
'Linking the Unlinkable' (poetics of Twentieth Century Blues) here.
'Adhesive Hymns' (Ulli Freer) here.
'Bob Cobbing: Soundings and Sightings' here.

I do have copies of the 2002 re-print still, and anybody who wants one can have one free, as long as they pay postage. Email me here.