Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Monday, February 25, 2019

Robert Sheppard: Interview with me on rob mclennan's blog

I wrote a Tweet praising rob mcleannan's interview blog - and ended up being invited to contribute to his series. Which I have. Thanks to rob for extending his already extensive invitations to me!

All the other interviews, possibly thousands to date! (have a look and see who you want to follow up) are all posted here. And the blog more generally may be accessed here. Or from The List to the right of these posts.

The interview with me is here

Me reading at Edge Hill with the prints of Pete Clarke behind me
I always approach interviews as being of the moment, so quite a lot of quotidian stuff comes in. Rob works by asking the SAME questions of everyone, something I wouldn't do myself, but on this scale the range of answers to a simple question (like number 13) is intriguing. For my part, the most interesting answer was to question 6, which I answered by quoting myself:

In my poetics piece Pulse I wrote: ‘Throughout this process, contingency is its rhythm, a pulse that matches the varieties of montage, de-montage, that I attempt in my own practice, with interruption as structure, with transformation and transposition, formal resistance, creative linkage, “imperfect fit”, near-perfect fit, all kinds of multi-form unfinish.’ I think that about sums up my current poetics. I am also a critic; my most recent book, The Meaning of Form, opens with the statement: ‘Poetry is the investigation of complex contemporary realities through the means (meanings) of form.’ I could say more about these poetics (and about poetics in general, which I have also written on, as a speculative writerly discourse) but I think I’ll stand by these two statements and muse over them.

And 'muse' over them I shall. 

Here are the questions. See how I answer them. If you are a writer, how would YOU answer them?

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to critical prose)? What do you see as the appeal?

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

20 - What are you currently working on?

There is also another interview on my blog here: conducted by Alice Lenkiewicz: something to contrast with rob's, and in anticipation of two recent interviews which have been included in The Robert Sheppard Companion. More on that soon.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Thursday 20th February 1969:

Number One: Build Me Up Buttercup, Foundations

Got records off Chris Halls.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sunday February 16th 1969:

Did a show in the afternoon.

Reading with Forrest Gander and Rachael Allen on Friday 15th February 2019 (set list)

Tonight (last night now) I read at The Arts Centre, Edge Hill University, in Ormskirk, with Forrest Gander and Rachael Allen.

It was good to read with Rachael Allen, who has a first book out from Faber, which she read from well, and I liked the way she got inside bodily desire and despair.

It was great to see Forrest Gander again, who is included in the anthology Atlantic Drift, which this evening's organiser, James Byrne, and I, edited last year. He read from his latest book and from new work about lichen and intimacy.

I briefly launched Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch, which is now available from Knives Forks and Spoons, and read from my most recent work Bad Idea, my versions of Michael Drayton's sonnets Idea.

I read Hap 2, 9, 13. Followed by Bad Idea: 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, two that will appear soon in Monitoracism, i.e., 9 and 10; then; 17, 19, 'May Albion Never Learn', 26: Despair, 27, 28, 29:

last words: 'Even in fancy, I've betrayed my European IDEA'.  

Hap may be read about here:

Steve Spence has reviewed it here.

here. Thanks Steve.  And that’s recently been joined by:

Clark Allison: ‘One Side Ripening’, Stride, January 2019:

I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and see here and here for more on my 'Petrarch' obsession.

I shall also be reading at the launch of The Robert Sheppard Companion, a volume of essays on my work, at Bluecoat, Liverpool, on 13th May (a date for the diary). Note: I will be reading different work at that reading. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Robert Sheppard: My 14 years of blogging

The little block of raw links below will take you to the posts I made after merely 10 years of blogging, trying to make lists of the best, my favourites (one for each year), the most neglected, etc., and plans for the (then) future. It was all quite fun, quite a lot of work, and is still fun to look at now. If I reach 15 years I might edit similar lists. 

Here's one of my favourites from the last year: a post about my poem 'Prison Camp Violin', which was the Guardian Poem of the Week, here.

For some years now,  I've been blogging fairly furiously, but I have also started tweeting announcements of my content, and this has increased the number of hits. See www.twitter@microbius. Nevertheless, this year I'm also undergoing the insane task of posting my 1969 diary, 50 years on, more or less each day, and the posts still get a certain number of hits despite being not Tweeted about. They are really going to take over the blog when there's one a day. But I've started it now! And I'll finish!

Probably still the most remarkable thing I have used the blog for was writing the draft of my critical work The Meaning of Form. I showed the ‘working out’ of some of the chapters and parts of chapters (along with digressions, caprices, poetic effusions, poetics, and – frankly – jokes) in numerous posts, and they are arranged, for scholar and lay-person alike, at what I call a ‘hub-post’, i.e., largely a page of links to all the posts pertaining to the chapters of the book in its earliest form: HERE. (I think I invented the phrase 'hub-post'.) I was acutely aware that the lay-person might not get a chance of seeing the final thing.

Another of the changes is the introduction of 'temporary' posts. Initially this was a device for dealing with announcements of upcoming events, particularly about readings. Physically, at Edge Hill, I would remove posters after an event, and I began to do the same online. Most, though, I decided to turn into set lists, indicating what I was reading. Like this post about the Ern Malley Orchestra performance I was involved in:

This then extended into the practice of temporarily posting the latest poems in 'The English Strain' project, in short, the poems about Brexit. It seemed to make sense to 'get them out there' as soon as possible, but also to not 'publish' them, so I could reasonably expect a magazine to publish them subsequently. I also post little skits on Brexit too, which are kinds of thinking with the dreadful things as they exist (if you know your Zukofsky). I particularly enjoyed Michael Go's Brexmas message from the dogging sites of Britain (all that will remain after leaving). That may still be read here:

And I've come across wonderful pictures too: thus:

You can read about the whole ‘English Strain’ project in a post that has links to some other accounts, and earlier parts, of this work: hereThat was 100 poems long.

One temporary post, around Christmas, I turned into a permanent post (by removing the poem). It outlines what I'm doing with the sequence:

Some while back I posted this interview with me about my literary blogging. Read it here.

The pre-history of this blog, as a print magazine, may be read here, on what was my first post (even though I moved it later). However, the first edition of the print magazine is now online, and I post links to Jacket2 where it is hosted here. I also outline the complete run of the second series of Pages before it became a blogzine, and finally this blog.

Do have an exploration of what I have posted in the past. Did you, for example, ever read Bill Griffiths' 'Ghost Stories', six of them. They have never been collected. The first of them is here. (Note to self: I need to do a hub post for all of them.)

Me introducing Bill Griffiths

Monday, February 11, 2019

Robert Sheppard: Four sonnets from Non-Disclosure Agreement published on Stride (links)

One part of the unpublished manuscript ‘The English Strain’ consists of versions (‘overdubs’ is the term I use) of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. I read all of the Brownings' love letters, Woolf’s Flush, as preparation, and wrote them in two halves under the title Non Disclosure Agreement. Like others of these poems tracking politics in and around Brexit, the title (at least) was prophetic, but the speaker of the first half, ‘Brazilian Sonnets’, is the mistress of a Government minister during Brexit. The second half, ‘Cake and Eat It Britain’, has a variety of speakers; finally it’s Petrarch himself, coming back to claim his tradition (though not yet in the ones on display here).  

Four of the ‘Brazilian Sonnets’ appear online in Molly Bloom, Aidan Semmens’ fine  magazine, here.

I write about Non Disclosure Agreement here:

More recently, Rupert Loydell has published two of the ‘Brazilian Sonnets’ and two of the ‘Cake and Eat It Britain’ sonnets, but all from ‘Non-Disclosure Agreement’, this EBB extravaganza.. Here they are:

from Brazilian Sonnets

1. A Heavy Heart…: in which a love of bossa-nova invades his dreams; in which she confesses to have written his speeches for him. A grim ending.

2. I lived with visions ... in which there is an allusion to one of Churchill's most disgusting comments (at the expense of Bessie Braddock, Liverpool MP); in which she temporarily wins out over him. She gets the flat. (But of course there's an NDA (see poems below))

from Cake and Eat It Britain

3. First Time He Kissed Me (a poem which is about sexual assault, I should warn readers, a response both to ‘what’s happening’ in our times, and also to the very strange model in EBB’s sequence, which reads like an account of a sexual assault.) She's only a 'half-sister' to the #me too movement, since she's content with the terms of her NDA. Here:

4. Oh yes! They Love Through All this World of Ours: see here.

The mss of EBB's msot famous sonnet which I didn't overdub, thought it is alluded to

 I write about the completed 100 sonnets of The English Strain hereAnd about my sonnets generally here, and here ; and see here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession, which set this whole thing off, including how to purchase Petrarch 3, the stand-alone first part, from Crater press in its ‘map’ edition.

Sonnets from another earlier part of the 'English Strain' project Hap:Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch are now published;

see here:

and is available from Knives Forks and Spoons here:

I’m currently at work on the Idea sonnets of Michael Drayton for Bad Idea, what I think of as the second part of The English Strain. While I am still writing them I am temporarily posting them on this blog. But see here for an account of what’s going on in that one:

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Friday 7th February 1969:

Crashed into back of a red van. Smashed my two teeth and my gum was torn. We went back to the Clinic, who told us to go to the Southlands, who told me to go to the Dentists, who told us to go to Brighton Hospital. He put on a dressing which came off. Also the wound was stitched up.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Sunday 2nd February 1969:

Did show to Mum and Dad.

[That meant ‘broadcasting’ at the end of a long lead from upstairs to a loudspeaker in the living room.]

Friday, February 01, 2019

Saturday 1st February 1969:

Went to a Jumble Sale and got record by Les Compagnons de la Chanson for only 6d.