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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Robert Sheppard: writing blurb-matter for Twitters for a Lark (EUOIA anthology)

I have today (Sunday) been working on the blurb-matter for one of the two anthologies I am editing at the moment, this one being the fake anthology of fictional poets (the EUOIA poets), which is called Twitters for a Lark and which is scheduled for publication by Shearsman. Here’s what we have about the book so far. More about the EUOIA here.  Read 'Robert Sheppard''s resignation speech (!) from the EUOIA here. And Hermes' ungrateful response here.

Somehow, although I have been doing other things, this seems to have taken the whole day. Trying to be brief. Trying to explain the conceit of the book, its accidental post-Brexit (or are we pre-Brexit?) context. Trying to locate quotations that give a flavour of my work, without too much detail. It’s not easy, but I have at least done enough that I will post it on my blog, scheduled for a couple of days’ time. Here goes:

Conceived as a continuation  of the fictional poems Robert Sheppard ventriloquised through the bilingual Belgian poet RenĂ© Van Valckenborch in his A Translated Man (2013), the complete 28 poets of the EUOIA (European Union of Imaginary Authors) presented here take on a variety of new meanings in Brexit Britain. [sentence too long]

Working in collaboration with other writers, Sheppard creates a stylistically various anthology of these European writers, whose works range from the comedic to the political, from the imaginatively sincere to the faux-autobiographical. History may not be argued away by the fictive. Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own. There is no resultant ‘Europoem’ style, but a variety of styles that reflects the collaborative nature of their production.

[I've already reversed the order of those two paragraphs.]

Ian Davidson in Poetry Wales called Sheppard’s work Complete Twentieth Century Blues ‘a major poem of serious intent’. Alan Baker in Litter dubbed Warrant Error ‘political poetry of the first order’.

On A Translated Man

Urgent, melancholy, whimsical, hard-bitten, the voice of Sheppard/Van Valckenborch is also a force of rackety elegance which revels in the production of richly imaged often surreal phrase-extravaganzas…This is a dazzling addition to Sheppard’s oeuvre, witty, poignant, and endlessly entertaining.
Lyndon Davies, Poetry Wales

Robert Sheppard is now as Belgian as moules-frites and Herman Van Rompuy.
Tom Jenks, Tears in the Fence

On History or Sleep

Robert Sheppard’s selected poems from Shearsman Books, History or Sleep, is threaded with a sense of the other. Not ‘The Other’ with its sense of a doppleganger but the other which exists in a type of absence, an ‘autrebiography’ or ‘unwritings’. ….Sheppard’s poetry-frame sets up that haunting … {and what was becomes seamlessly what is and the ‘punched hollows’ of the gone are filled with a lyric intensity that twists ‘into a thin-throated flower’ that ‘wavers in the vibrant gulf.} probably omit the last part? 
Ian Brinton, Tears in the Fence

Since Robert Sheppard’s previous volume of fictional poems, A Translated Man (Shearsman, 2013), new creative work has appeared: an autobiography, Words Out of Time (KFS, 2015), a book of experimental prose, Unfinish (Veer, 2015), and his selected poems History or Sleep (Shearsman, 2015). His critical volume, The Meaning of Form was published by Palgrave in 2016. With James Byrne he edits Atlantic Drift: an anthology of poetry and poetics (EHUP/Arc, 2017). He is a professor at Edge Hill University, where in 2017 a symposium was held on his work. He lives in Liverpool.