Monday, July 23, 2018

Robert Sheppard: my 'Prison Camp Violin, Riga' is Guardian Poem of the Week

I am pleased to say that my poem ‘Prison Camp Violin’ was the Guardian poem of the week: the week beginning 23rd July 2018. I would like to thank Carol Rumens for selecting it, and for writing an insightful commentary on the poem and its poetics.

That link should work, even after the 'week'; if not: try the generic link (and this gives you access to Carol's weekly choice and commentaries):

Thanks to all the people who have shown such interest in the poem in this showing. This poem, on its own, appears in my History or Sleep: Selected Poems, but was originally published in Berlin Bursts, paired with another Riga poem as part of a 'Riga Duet'. Both of these books are still available and may be read about and purchased here and here.  

The poem also appears on this blog, here, where it is paired with its twin poem, which is about another musical instrument (a mute piano this time) fashioned by Latvian inmates of Soviet prison camps. You'll also find another, unrelated, poem about Riga. I saw the musical instruments in Riga's Museum of Occupation. The Poet's Room was a strange room in another museum, as described.

Read here about the 'Sheppard' Symposium held last year at Edge Hill. This year there will be a book based on its discussions. I've noticed that links to my Shearsman volumes have been changed, so here they are in raw form, but you can discern the titles for them. They might be of use to any newcomers to my work who might find themselves here. I have a website here where I write about my work.  

More posts in September. I'm having my annual break from blogging and Twitter.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Celebrate Belgium’s Independence Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Paul Coppens and with Rene Van Valckenborch

I've been celebrating the National Days of the countries whose poets I have swelled the numbers of by inventing new ones! This is a special one, and the last. (And may well be the last of my special EUOIA posts too, and it includes possible plans for the future.)

Celebrate Belgium’s Independence Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Paul Coppens, who was co-created by myself and Philip Terry, and with Rene Van Valckenborch, my original Belgian invention! So a bit of a double, or a treble, if you include Philip!

Me and Rene in Brussels?

See here for more on Philip Terry.

René Van Valckenborch is noted for writing in both Flemish and French. Publishing between the years 2000-10, his books (in French) include masks and other masks and glance poems. In Flemish, his projects include The Fuck Me Shoes Chronicles (though no parts of this are translated - yet) and the online European Union Of Imaginary Authors: 27 Translations. He was President of the EUOIA until 2010, when he was deposed by Hermes, and he disappeared (but not in a good way). A generous selection of his work, translated by Annemie Dupuis and Martin Krol, was published as A Translated Man (Shearsman, 2013) with an introduction by Erik Canderlinck and an authorial imprimatur from Robert Sheppard. 

Read a piece of Van Valckenborch’s critical prose (not included in A Translated Man), an account of the cinema of forgotten Belgian film-maker Paul Coppens Snr, father of the invention of Philip Terry and myself,  here.

Rene, a real troll, also Tweets here. There are three of his 'twitterodes' here! Most recently he has decided to adopt the middle name Pelikan for the length of 2018. More on him here at these links (which themselves contain further links): 

And here's me at The Other Room some years ago, where I read his Flemish poems.

Read an early account of Van Valckenborch here; the book is also available from Shearsman here:


Together Philip and I worked on the antonymic translations of Rene Van Valckenborch's quennets (which appear in A Translated Man) for the corpus of Rene's exegete and friend Paul Coppens. We wrote them two words at a time, a deliberately insane method that took six months to complete. They literally turn Van Valckenborch's poems inside out, and represent another of the links between these two books of fictional poems.
Here is Philip showing us what a quennet looks like on the page
I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy. So what will part three look like? One possibility is that Van Valckenborch returns in some way, like Bob McCorkle perhaps, in Peter Carey’s wonderful novel My Life as a Fake, and takes over again. Who knows? The unseen Fuck Me Shoes Chronicles might be entertaining to complete. Or would he write new poems? Would they be in Dutch or French? In any case, I have posited a possible (but quite different) continuing fiction here, but I am unsure how this may be used now (and whether it would involve Rene). I also re-read my short story 'Tropp' the other day. I'd forgotten that this story about a Czech Esperanto poet was a sort-of 'dry-run' for Rene, although I thought the story (which I'd not looked at for a while) was OK. It is published in my 44 pp volume of 3 stories The Only Life by KFS. You can still buy it here. 

20th July 2018: A vague apprehension, reading Erin Moure's fine selected poems, Planetary Noise (and the selection of poetry and poetics we made for Atlantic Drift), of how I might adapt her way of marshalling her fictional 'circus animals'. They re-appear at crucial points, as names, alter egos, (m)others, analogues (and the opposite of those four characteristics). They are part of a poetic and plastic polylogue, NOT bit-players in a fiction. (I've done that: twice). [list of free characters, not collaboratively composed - obviously I can't continue with any of those that are)] 13, plus 'Robert Sheppard' of Twitters, as Moure has an 'Erin Moure' or EM. Bad Prophets Err, in my anagrammic case.... To move away from the writing of fictional poems to the creation of a textual web which could incorporate many of the ideas I've been gathering with each of these 'national day' celebrations. Even this here, though it would become quite fragmented in this new guise. Let's leave that now. (August is time for my summer break from blogging. August might be your time for reading: see here for my take on some of Erin Moure's work, working notes for my chapter in The Meaning of Form on her exacting work.) 

You can read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators I've worked with are accessible via links here; our resultant works are collected in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman. Videos of The Other Room special EUOIA evening last August, which have only this week become available, may be accessed (variously) here:

More on Twitters here and here:

 And check out a review by Billy Mills, who thinks the EUOIA should hang up its multi-coloured Rimbaudian letters, here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Videos of the European Union of Imaginary Authors Other Room reading now online!

The videos from the EUOIA reading last August at The Other Room are now online. You can read my detailed account of the reading, with photos AND with the videos embedded in the castlist, setlist and playlist, here:

They are also accessible via The Other Room site (which lives on after the series of readings ended), here:

Or in two halves on YouTube here:

This reading occurred before the launch of Twitters for a Lark and is distinct from that event, also filmed, of course, and also held in Manchester. More on Twitters here and here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Atlantic Drift: Review by Mary Jean Chan in Poetry London

There's a third review of Atlantic Review in the print journal Poetry London by the emerging poet Mary Jean Chan, which may be read online (or the part of the review that pertains to our book) here. It's on the ARC site, and you may also buy the book through that link!

Full reference: Mary Jean Chan, Review of Atlantic Drift: Poetry London, Summer 2018 (Issue 90): pp. 46-7.

Read the first review by Ian Brinton on the Tears in the Fence website here
Read the second response by Clark Allison on Stride here
Read an online review by Steven Waling here

We're pleased also to say our cover artist, Pete Clarke, was shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize and a painting is currently on display at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool, and other work in the biennial fringe. 

Links to much more about the anthology, the launches, etc, here.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Robert Sheppard: Poems from HAP in Blackbox Manifold 20

Alex Houen and Adam Piette are very pleased to be launching the twentieth issue of Blackbox Manifold, celebrating ten years! And I’m very pleased that I’m in it, along with:

Linda Anderson, Rowland Bagnall, Jack Belloli, Andrea Brady, Lee Ann Brown, Laynie Browne, Adrian Clarke, Emily Critchley and Eric Langley, Michael Farrell, Khaled Hakim, Rob Halpern, David Hawkins, Peter Hughes, Rich Ives, Lisa Kelly, Paul Muldoon, Daniel Morris, Jamie Osborn, Otto and Gisel, Tom Paine, Simon Perchik, Peter Riley, Peter Robinson, Dave Shortt, Jeffrey Thomson, Scott Thurston, Jonty Tiplady, Iain Twiddy, Lawrence Upton, with a review by Adam Piette of Barry MacSweeney, John James and Michael O’Neill.

Particularly glad also to be associating with long-term poetry comrades like Adrian, Lawrence and Scott, and newer ones like Andrea and the Peters (Robinson and Hughes).

My contribution

is from Hap:Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch (though the first, introductory, poem ‘Perhaps a Mishap’ is not a version of Wyatt’s versions of Petrarch). The whole lot will appear as a booklet from Knives, Forks and Spoons around September. It won’t take very long to see they are much concerned with Brexit (and were mainly written in early 2017, already history). 

This is also one part of a longer sequence of sequences of sonnets that I think I’m going to call The English Strain , and features ‘overdubs, understudies and fortuities’ of Petrarch, Milton, Surrey, Charlotte Smith and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, as well as Wyatt. A hundred poems, in fact.

I write about the completed 100 sonnets of The English Strain here
I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and see here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession, which set this thing off, including how to purchase Petrarch 3 from Crater press in its 'map' edition.This is the only part available until this autumn.  

The first review of Petrarch 3 by Alan Baker may be read on Litterbug, here. The second response, by Martin Palmer here. The third is by Peter Riley, who is also a Blackbox Manifold contributor. My response to it here includes a few remarks about the whole 'English Strain' project with links to other parts:

November 2018: My sonnets Hap:Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch is now published;

see here:

and is available from Knives Forks and Spoons here:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

France's National Day and EUOIA poet Carte-Vitale (presented by Sandeep Parmar and myself)

How Paris looks to Carte-Vitale

Remember France's National Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Carte-Vitale. With Sandeep Parmar I created the poem of Carde-Vitale for Twitters for a Lark: Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors. Nothing is known about this writer except that that he/she/e/they resides in Paris. The reader should investigate the poem, not consult the biographies, of course.

Sandeep reads the whole poem on a video of the Manchester launch of Twitters. You can read about the evening  here. But the video is here:

Speaking of videoes, the vids of The EUOIA Other Room reading from last August are now available here.

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

All the poets are collected in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman. 

More on Twitters here and here.

I have posited a possible continuing fiction here, but I am unsure how I shall carry the plot forwards. Or even (as I think of it now) if I will. I have plans, but nothing I want to pursue. However, the whole project is a series of fragments, not in the sense that nothing is finished, but in the sense that the little that is offered to the reader (Carte-Vitale's single poem, for example) suggests all the other potential poems that the individual fictional poets might have written. 

Monday, July 02, 2018

Robert Sheppard: Petrarch 3: the semiotic translation removed from my sequence!

I have been revising (quite lightly) my translations of Petrarch's third sonnet (and the subsequent sonnets that will form a book, as yet, untititled) and have decided to remove the semiotic translation which I had placed as a 'semiotic fringe' at the bottom of my 'Semantic Poetry Translation' of the sonnet. (I think it detracts from my homage to Stefan Themerson's 'semantic poetry' method.) This is the sonnet, which describes the day he first saw Laura (depicted above).

Era 'l giorno ch'al sol si scoloraro
per la pietà del suo Factore i rai,
quando i' fui preso, et non me ne guardai,
ché i be' vostr'occhi, Donna, mi legaro.

Tempo non mi parea da far riparo
contra colpi d'Amor; però n'andai
secur, senza sospetto: onde i mei guai
nel comune dolor s'incominciaro.

Trovommi Amor del tutto disarmato,
et aperta la via per gli occhi al core,
che di lagrime son fatti uscio et varco.

Però, al mio parer, non li fu honore
ferir me de saetta in quello stato,
a voi armata non mostrar pur l'arco.

Here is the semiotic fringe translation, as a strip.

☼♂♂♀♂♥?♂         ↑♂♂↓♂█ ♂♂        →♀♂ !†♂         ♂†♂♂◙ !

But really it should not be a fringe but a sonnet in its own right:


↑♂♂↓♂█ ♂♂        

 →♀♂ !†♂          

♂†♂♂◙ !

Read my first 'straight' translation and the Scouse doggie version here.

I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and see here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession/project, including how to purchase Petrarch 3 from Crater press in its 'map' edition.

The first review of Petrarch 3 by Alan Baker may be read on Litterbug, here. The second response, by Martin Palmer here. The third is by Peter Riley. My response to it here includes a few remarks about the whole project with links to other parts:

  takes you to excerpts from Hap:Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch (though the first, introductory, poem ‘Perhaps a Mishap’ is not a version of Wyatt’s versions of Petrarch. The rest are).