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Monday, December 10, 2018

Sunday 9th December 2018: Introduction to my 1969 diary

Reading Donne a lot today. Some writing. A quiet day. TV in evening. A walk… 

            First review of Hap online… [See here.]

            Enjoyable in its quiet way. 

I also blogged more of my 1969 diary to form an ‘OTD 50 years ago’ thread across next year’s posts. I must admit, I don’t quite know why I’m doing it. 1969 is clearly the year I became me, or the year my representations of self seem related to continuing representations of self. Somewhere, there is an autobiographical work potentially there. After all, there are so many things that I do remember and are excluded from The Given [with its chorus of things ‘I don’t remember] and transformed entirely in ‘A Rival’ (I mean ‘Arrival’) and didn’t find their way into Words Out of Time. 

[See here for details of Words Out of Time, my autrebiographies. There is a separate account of 'The Given', here.]

Sunday, December 09, 2018

First Review of HAP on Litter (by Steve Spence)

Steve Spence has reviewed my new HAP: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch  Knives, Forks and Spoons Press   23 pages   £6.50, December 2018, on Litter.

here. Thanks Steve.  

'It’s a rollicking good read,' Spence says, 'where questions of ‘Englishness’ are subtly intertwined with pornographic imagery and devastating political acuity. Sheppard revels in language, delighting in all the ‘tricks’ and wordplays which poetry is capable of while keeping his eye firmly on the ball.'

Also see here for more details of the book, and links to other parts of 'The English Strain' project, of which this pamphlet is a major part. 

Friday, December 07, 2018

My latest Michael Drayton BAD Idea Brexit sonnet: with built in filing cabinet knee-trembler'

A cartoon I found after writing my poem: odd that knee-trembling and chips are equated here too.
The English Strain is complete. The latest part of it, Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch is now available from Knives Forks and Spoons here:

You can read about the whole ‘English Strain’ project, if you like, in a post that has links to some other accounts, and earlier parts, of this work: here

But: to today’s addition to the project. The second book of The English Strain is entitled Bad Idea and it is a re-working of the whole of Michael Drayton’s sequence Idea, that’s 63 poems by the way. I will post one at a time, when they are finished (but only if I feel it appropriate in terms of topicality).

A classic bag of chips
Here’s today.


A shitless scumbag Member entreated his ‘tart’
to a filing-cabinet knee-trembler and implored me
to draft his chat-up (as a sonnet)! I’d rather write
amendments to May’s doomed deal. (I did that too.)
With the same juggernaut passion he brought
to legislation and rural affairs of the heart,
I dashed off verses so ambiguous that even they
might pass for a glittery Leave campaign jingle.
He whispered my dead droppings in her ears,
like Cabinet ministers courting the shires. My line
about ‘flipping your bag of British chips as you climax’
seemed to woo her. But she was secretly recording.
            He’ll need more than the Attorney General’s advice:
            No deal is good and ‘no-deal’ is worse.

7th December 2018

I believe this was of use to the resourceful intern in the poem (deliberately unvoiced: she doesn't need a voice: she is recording).
It’s quite faithful to Drayton in its way (probably about as much as the unnamed MP of the poem), and I’m pleased with the final line. 21 is a third of the way through the poems. Do I change style rapidly? Or not? I’ve a plan for 100 word sonnets and the final third being quennets? I don’t know. Poetics is speculative, a thumbnail, not a blueprint. (I’m quoting myself there.)

Innocent filing cabinet

In his Parliamentary dreams: his XXX files
Drayton is largely out of print at the moment, though I have found a ‘Poly-Olberon’ project online, (the whole epic online, which is refreshing), and his fine sonnet sequence ‘Idea’ is available online, including the one I’ve just translated above; have a look at both, the latter being:

Drayton, Michael. ‘Idea.’ in Arundell Esdaile, ed. Daniel’s Delia and Drayton’s Idea.
London: Chatto and Windus: 1908. 67-141; online at Luminarium:

Although I am using

Tuley, Mark. ed. Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles: Five Major Elizabethan Sonnet Cycles: by Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser. Crescent Moon Publishing, Maidstone: Kent, 2010,

Drayton looking characteristically miserable; just a fucking 'esquire', that's all he is.
a careless book that even misses one sonnet out! 

There are more excerpts from The English Strain coming up in PN Review in the future, and in Poetry Wales now. There’s another on Smithereens as I outline in an adjacent post on this blog. I’ve not sent any of these Bad Idea ones out yet. They are amassing if anybody wants them. And I'm available if anybody wants me to read them.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Robert Sheppard: Two 'Earl of Surrey' 'expanded translations' published in Poetry Wales

Many fine beasts in this issue, some friends indeed, but there are also four of my sonnets, this time 'translations' from the Earl of Surrey. They follow on from the 'Wyatt' poems that have just been published as 'Hap' (see below). You can see what's going on in the Surrey poems (and in them all really) by looking here, where another of Surrey's poems is presented alongside my expanded (or contracted!) translation. This was published in International Times. 

I write about this 'Trump' one here:

and you can go straight to the 'International Times' poems (and an image) here:

Of course, to read the new ones in Poetry Wales you'll have to buy, or subscribe to, Poetry Wales. Here. But that's a really good thing to do. It's under the steady editorial hand of the excellent Nia Davies. Thanks Nia, for publishing the poems, and thanks for the best acceptance letter ever: she wrote: 'I want to publish some of your bonkers sonnets'. What more can I say!? 

The English Strain, my collective title for these sonnets, is complete now. The latest part of it, Hap:Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch is available from Knives Forks and Spoons, now, here:

You can read about the whole ‘English Strain’ project, if you like, in a post that has links to some other accounts, and earlier parts, of this work: here. Yes, I do have more to say...