Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Patricia Farrell: her North by North West Collaborations on video

Patricia has just been on tour as part of the North by North West Enemies project, and she may be viewed here in collaborative performance after collaborative writing with (top to bottom) Chris McCabe in York; Nathan Walker in Manchester; with Chris McCabe again at Edge Hill University; with S.J. Fowler in Leeds; with Joanne Ashcroft in Liverpool; and with Tom Jenks in Sheffield (where she plays the part of the astonishing Amanda).

I was at half of these events (I read at two of them, videoes on this blog here and here, and was the local curator for Edge Hill) and it was a wonderful tour, with most of the work tip-top. It may all be found on YouTube. Well done Steven J Fowler and Tom Jenks for organising.

For a hub post to the posts by, on and to, Patricia on her birthday (with links to her online works) see here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ian McMillan and Robert Sheppard: Simultaneous Performance: Leeds Enemies (photo, video, set list and thoughts)

February Thursday 9th - Leeds : Wharf Chambers Co-operative Club; North by North West Enemies Tour

Ian McMillan and I performed our still untitled piece of simultaneous writing. We wrote it at the same time (Monday 23rd January 2017 19.00-19.45) and then we performed it simultaneously. People seemed to like it. It was great to work with Ian and we thinking of ways of developing this work. Here’s the video of our bit:

And here you can read the texts in their intertwinedness, on 3am Magazine

Here's the full roster:

Ian McMillan and Robert Sheppard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouxaFZKyDeg
Chris McCabe and Nathan Walker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RkH6b8KRBY
SJ Fowler and Patricia Farrell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGUkbih0p9Y
Tom Jenks and Sarah Clare Conlon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4qeWdEMIkk
Lauren de sa Naylor and Andrew Clwyd https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-IXy4napLE
Leanne Bridgewater and Lucy Harvest Clarke https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLdFc1qXblY
Nasser Hussain and Lucy Burnett https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRjMXB77-uc
Joseph Clarke and Andrew Wells https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnqNKVNm114
Christopher Stephenson and Matthew Welton https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M86fAayiU_Y
Tom Weir and Matthew Hedley Stoppard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFGszjwtbqs
Stephen Emmerson and James Davies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYqG52HBUPM
Linda Black and Andrew Wilson Lambeth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IwC998h7Wc

It was a wonderful evening with an impressive range of how to undertake performance of/in collaboration. It was also good to perform on the same bill as Patricia but in different contexts. The evening also produced Colin, a University friend, not seen for 40 years, who is a friend of Leanne Bridgewater, one of the readers. Good to hang out with Chris McCabe and to see Lauren de sa Naylor again and to meet Nasser Hussain, Lucy Harvest Clarke and Stephen Emmerson for the first time. Others too....

Leeds Enemies (without Ian!)

Robert Sheppard: Twelve Years of Blogging

Yes, 12 years of blogging. 'New' technologies probably shouldn't acquire histories, but when I celebrated 10 years of blogging I decided to look back a bit, and I included this review with me about literary blogging. Read it here. This little block of raw links will take you to the posts I made trying to make lists of the best, my favourites, one for each year, the most neglected, etc... It's all quite fun:

Certainly since then I've been blogging fairly furiously, but I have also started tweeting my content, and this has increased the number of hits. See www.twitter@microbius. There have been about 650 posts with 290,000 hits recorded (since 2010, when they began counting). Here are the most visited posts of all showing the number of hits (as of 2nd February 2017) with links:


YET only 3 people have ever looked at this post here, one of Rene Van Valckenborch's 'twitterodes'!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Robert Sheppard: On Tom Raworth: The Speed of Writing and the Poetics of What is to One Side (IM TR 3)

In 1989 Tom Raworth commented on the focus and purpose of his poetry:

At the back there is always the hope that there are other people ... other minds, who will recognize something that they thought was to one side or not real. I hope that my poems will show them that it is real, that it does exist.’

The implications of this poetics is felt throughout his work. But during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Raworth seems to have been working through, at times in quite a tortured way, the implications of wishing to expand his range, in serial texts that became less immediately phenomenological and more imbedded in the language as it is produced. They are more meditative, more logopoetic, in Pound's sense, of the intellect moving among words. They are at once more self-referential, and self-definitional. ‘Tracking (notes)’ states




This questions the assumptions ordinarily placed upon the plural personal pronoun, the important verb ‘to be’, and upon the nature of time. The last of these haunts a number of these works of the early 1970s, not least of all because spontaneity and process raise issues about temporality. The poem seems to be asking where ‘are we now?’ an issue that pervades the prose passages, in more social and aesthetic terms:

things of your time are influenced by the past. the artist can only go on from there and see the situation as it is: anything else is distortion.....i stick with de Kooning saying ‘i influence the past’ - and it is not important for the work of a time to be available in the mass media of its time: think of dickens on film, dostoyevsky on radio.

The past is only activated by, realized in, the present (‘what's done/is’ as another of the brief poems has it). Raworth reverses, and makes egalitarian, Pound's notion that artists are the ‘antennae of the race’, not in some reductive suggestion that everybody is an artist, but that the required nature of education is to open everybody to the age's aesthetic messages, whatever the medium:

within everyone is an antenna sensitive to the messages of the time: art is beamed to these antennae. education should tune them : instead they are smothered with phony ‘learning’. the past has no messages (yes it has - whispering smith’s harmonica and a dog howling in the night).

Characteristically, Raworth cancels his own arrogance when it threatens to elevate the ‘now’; the non-Proustian anti-epiphany of the narrator’s memory is comic but decisive. We also face a revision of his earlier insistence upon the intuitive as against the intellectual (or intelligence), as long as we recall that inert factual learning, or research, is different from the vitality of the ‘beamed’ art.

not rejecting knowledge but what (as in research) passes for knowledge and is but an illusion. the words (knowledge, intelligent etc.) must be redefined, or new words coined.

In a slightly later sequence, ‘The Conscience of a Conservative’, one section reads:

but not

The ironic impossibility of imagining a state of non-knowing without some knowledge of the imaginary and of the concept of being is not stated but felt in the segmented lineation. Amid these ‘snapshots that are interiorized both in their presentation of experience and their dissection of the phrase or even the single word’, as Geoffrey Ward puts it, the prose meditations on poetics implicitly demonstrate the inadequacy of the notational mode which they interrupt. They interrogate the difficulties of poetic expression in a world in which the discursive is undercut by the speed of contemporary technology and in which development of ideas is replaced by immediacy of image. Yet even the famous ideogrammic method of the juxtaposition of fragments, of Pound, which serves Lee Harwood well in The Long Black Veil, for example, is rejected:

the connections (or connectives) no longer work - so how to build the long poem everyone is straining for? (the synopsis is enough for a quick mind now (result of film?) you can't pad out the book).

That celerity and quickness might be part of the answer rather than the problem for Raworth is intuited:

                        all week I’ve (week) felt
                        the speed of writing
                        explanation rejects my advance

Practice, this implies, outstrips explanatory poetics (if there can be such a thing) but it also recognizes that velocity as a scriptural equivalent of mental celerity might ground the poetics of what is to one side.


I have written critically of Tom's work a great deal but here's a relaxed take on his extraordinary 14 liners, written after the work discussed above.

See also from my abandoned novel Thelma here which features Tom Raworth as a character, my 1999 poem for him, posted I.M. here., and my recent one written I.M, here.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Robert Sheppard: Catacaustic for Tom Raworth (posted IM)


                               for Tom Raworth


Twentieth Century Blues 73

Articulates 15

Some Words 2

Study 3

Numbers polished

petrol back to his room

changed continuously in the swell

clouds flickered the afternoon stalactites

a stone cracked open leaving

the docks

map a blank plan destroyed

50s flights of steps to work at two chairs

scribbled falls flickered to speak

near rushing table

remembered the last news

labelled a quick sketch

in the ejected

hold sides of wire tiles

between air spits

on the windows happy with lines

appeared to hold breathing

from the real shutters

switched the day’s dog shit off

as the cleaners run down the central hoardings

pick up endless photographs

of xerox stone hits roofs to shout down

bright red shoes

the shutters scrap of blue steps through his head

at the bottom of decay

dark grey calm eyes

flash the starts of ends

and adding in paper twists loud

real fingers approach

the last poem stated his method.

19 December 1999

The next poem, as it were, also tried to 'state' Tom's 'method', this time in a poem written I.M. See here.

Read 'On Tom Raworth: The Speed of Writing and the Poetics of What is to One Side' here.

I have written critically of Tom's work a great deal but here's a relaxed take on his extraordinary 14 liners.

See also from my abandoned novel Thelma here which features Tom Raworth as a character,

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Robert Sheppard: IM Tom Raworth: from Thelma

Image result for tom raworthTom Raworth has died, sad news indeed. He was fast, furious and funny, charming and witty, without push and plush. A perfect gent. And I shall miss him. In his memory I'd like to offer a passage from my aborted novel Thelma, that was based on Breton's Nadja  but set in  Liverpool. I think this 'chapter' parallels a passage in Breton where he encounters Robert Desnos. Apart from the existence of Thelma, this all happened, in 2002 or 3. Re-reading it, it strikes me that it has much to say about Tom as a man, his work, his reading style, and his surprising music taste.

Tom Raworth was one of the first to see that the myth of the Beats could not be Anglicized. Despite the hopes of the bearded bards of Liverpool performing happenings under the arches of the Everyman. ‘It’s like tossing the quarter bottle of whiskey out of the mini as you drive down the M16. It doesn’t work at all. There’s a whole different way of going about things,’ he said.

            Once again, now, you see Raworth preparing to sleep.

            ‘I have to take drugs I used to take for pleasure!’ he laughs, making light of the demands upon him. The rattle of pills.

            He talks. It is three in the morning at your house near Penny Lane. You’ve shared a post-reading late night listening to CDs. You’ve duetted with Frank Sinatra (and the Basie band). Kept the household awake.

‘She talks. Like an angel talks!’

            You discovered this mutual taste, once you’d exhausted (and become exhausted by) the avant-garde: Dave Douglas, Greg Osby, Time Berne. You did find one album, cluttering through the piles, by his friend, the singular experimentalist Steve Lacy – the duo with Mal Waldron – that he hadn’t yet heard.

You also praised Lacy’s solo on ‘Absence’ (a setting of Tom’s ‘Out of a Sudden’) as the most spectral that you’d heard. A perfect slurring growling display of ‘duende’ for the poem’s occasion. Its rhyming couplets.

At the gig, Tom had explained: ‘There’s a reason for this one being in the form it is. It was written after the death of a friend, the Italian poet and painter Franco Beltrametti, the day after he died. And Steve Lacy wanted to set something to music, and asked for something and so, knowing that the more avant garde people are in one field, the more traditional their taste in other things is.’

            The foregrounding of ‘the alphabet wonder(ing) what it should do’, as language does without its medium.

            As Tom says, with typical modesty, ‘At the back there is always the hope that there are other people ... other minds, who will recognize something that they thought was to one side or not real. I hope that my poems will show them that it is real, that it does exist.’

            The amazing dis-equilibrium of his recent poems. Performed – as that night – without the slightest hesitation and at an astonishing speed. The nearest approximation to a poetry of saying. As the words rush by too fast to grasp. In the fibres of your response. A poetic tingling. Re-reading the poems on the page you still have trouble recounting them objectively. Counters of arguments re-arranged – juggled lines – so that they no longer argue but present the parts of an argument without its mechanism. Or the mechanism without its argument. Choose your metaphor. You can’t describe the poems, or situate the semantics of the exploded syntax in a single completion. They have the purity, the generosity, of a gesture of openness. So often they are empty. However much they say, there is nothing to be said.

            The obliquity that you find in Raworth’s poems you find in the man. As if they’d written him. A living poetics.

Spend some days in Tom’s company. Say, in Cork, at the festival. Sniffing out rough back street pubs with lock-ins. His eyes glisten. The moustache bristles below that passionate nose. Nothing much is said (nothing that you will be able to recall). Though there is a great deal of talking. Barely audible asides. Much humming to himself. Politeness without formality.

You suspect that he’s waiting for something to stir him, something to one side that he will drag even further off-side: a pun, a graffito, a west wind….

            He talks. He sleeps.

NOTE: I have written critically of Tom's work a great deal but here's a relaxed take on his extraordinary 14 liners.

But read 'On Tom Raworth: The Speed of Writing and the Poetics of What is to One Side' here.

And see my 1999 poem for him, posted I.M. here. And a link to a recent poem written I.M., here.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Edge Hill Enemies: Jessica Tillings and Jazmine Linklater

See here for my details of the North by North West tour and about the Edge Hill evening, of which I was the local curator. Jessica Tillings is a third year poet, whose work has appeared in Datableedzine and Jazmine Linklater is an MA student from Salford. They plan further collaborative works.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Edge Hill Enemies: Martin Palmer and Laura Tickle

See here for my details of the North by North West tour and about the Edge Hill evening, of which I was the local curator. Martin and Laura have both been featured on Pages: take a look here for a link to both of their work (a couple of years ago). And Martin's blog on my blogroll.

Friday, February 03, 2017

EUOIA : Matus Dobres' poems (Robert Sheppard and Joanne Ashcroft) text on Stride (plus video link)


This long link will take you to the only three known poems of the Slovakian EUOIA (European Union of Imaginary Authors) poet Matus Dobres, written by Joanne Ashcroft and myself, for the EUOIA project, which is now due for publication by Shearsman later this year. It will be called Twitters for a Lark and will appear in June or July, in time for the EUOIA evening at The Other Room, Manchester.

For more on the European Union Of Imaginary Authors see here and here .

See here for my details of the North by North West tour and about the Edge Hill evening, at which Joanne and I read the poems now published on Stride. The video is also embedded here.

Thanks everybody!

A bit more on Joanne here. And she writes about our collaboration here.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Edge Hill Enemies: Nathan Walker and Amy Cutler

See here for my details of the North by North West tour and about the Edge Hill evening, of which I was the local curator. Here Nathan and Amy are both in fine voice as they lift their texts from the page.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Edge Hill Enemies: Adam Hampton and Matt Fallaize

See here for my details of the North by North West tour and about the Edge Hill evening, of which I was the local curator. As Adam says, they only met on the evening, Adam being a PhD student (and editor of Card Alpha poetry magazine) and Matt a former MA student (and purveyor of fine food at Source deli-cafe in Ormskirk; Patricia and I dined there last Friday!). Here they are trying not to be political and failing. They both popped up on this blog when I was celebrating 25 Years of Creative Writing at Edge Hill here