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Friday, March 29, 2019

Saturday 29th March 1969:

Did first Outside Broadcast in Shoreham Harbour with Cassette.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Thursday 27th March 1969:

Number One: I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye.

Got Gimme Little Sign.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Robert Sheppard and Patricia Farrell: Collaborating as part of the Manchester European Camarade: April 2019

European Camarade has been to Manchester


On April Saturday 13th 2019


You can read what Patricia Farrell and I did for the performance: here.

The International Anthony Burgess Foundation 3 Cambridge St, Manchester M1 5BY, UK

The European Poetry Festival comes to Manchester with some of the finest modern poets of the thriving Manchester (and surrounding!) scene in collaborative pairs with writers visiting from across Europe, though some locals, like us, are working together. (As we have for over 30 years, though not like this!) New performances made for the night in this unique Camarade event. Featuring

Kim Campanello and Leonce Lupette
Harry Man and Krisjanis Zelgis
Scott Thurston and Simona Nastac
Tom Weir and Endre Ruset
Colin Herd and Morten Langeland
Martin Kratz and Inga Pizane
Sophie Carolin Wagner and Maria Sledmere
Robert Sheppard and Patricia Farrell
Nell Osborne and Vilde Valerie Bjerke Torset
Sarah-Clare Conlon and Jazmine Linklater
Tom Jenks and SJ Fowler
Tania Hershman and Christodoulos Makris



Patricia and I have made use, as a template, the almost-collaboration between Christopher (‘Kit’) Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh, the former’s ‘The Passionate Shepherd to His Love’ and the latter’s ‘The Nymph’s Reply’. We have jointly composed two poems.

For the first we treated as a source vocabulary some words from a passage in Anthony Burgess’ novel A Dead Man in Deptford, in which the two poets converse.

To correspond to Sir Walter Raleigh’s ‘reply’ to Marlowe’s poem, we jointly wrote a ‘reply’ to our first poem that was its ‘antonymic translation’. This technique, we discovered, was far from a mechanical selection of simple opposites. 

It all seems to fit together, particularly in terms of location.

This year’s (and last year’s) information and full documentation may be found here

Last year's group picture

It’s always an interesting and varied evening. The last (2018) Manchester Euro reading was partly a launch for Twitters for a Lark


All the videos are to be found here: 




At the 2018 Manchester launch I was also collaborating with a real Lithuanian poet Rimas Uzgiris, https://www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/rimas-uzgiris

which I thought went well. You may also see that here. AND I posted the text itself, a lyrical piece called 'Unreadable Expressions', on this blog HERE

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


Friday, March 22, 2019

Robert Sheppard: Four Burnt Journal poems published on Litter (links)

I’m pleased to say I have four of my ‘Burnt Journal’ poems published on Alan Baker’s intermittent but active blogzine Litter, published by his Leafe Press.

You may read them here.

‘Burnt Journals’, like ‘Empty Diaries’, which they superficially resemble, come with dates attached, in this case: 1968, 1977 (twice!) and 1978. The poems are written as birthday poems, and the largest group published is in my book Berlin Bursts. (Two of them are also on this blog, ‘Burnt Journal 1924’ (the earliest, as it were), written for my father, and ‘Burnt Journal 1939’ for Lee Harwood. See here and here.) I find the writing of ‘occasional’ poems quite demanding, but the technique and materials I have used for this (non-) sequence often produces good results. Not always though (as with any series). The rough aim is to create a mirage, rather than a description, of the particular year: after all, the recipients won't remember it!

Method: I take the person’s birth year and turn to the relevant pages of Tom Phillips’ anthology The Postcard Century (it's arranged chronologically, 1900-2000) and write through/from the images until I have  amassed enough material to process/collage/work through, in ways as I described in my non-delivered ‘talk’ about my use of photographs, here. In a sense, this domesticates the techniques I used to write ‘Empty Diaries’ where I collected notes made from multiple sources over a long period of time. Here I’m not ashamed to acknowledge that some of the selecting has been undertaken by Phillips before me. And usually, these poems have to be produced quickly for events (as is the case with three out of the four here), as well as simply for the deadline/birthday!

The four presented on Litter are all for men, but that’s a coincidence of availability, the ones I had free to send, since others are for Geraldine Monk, Frances Presley, Mary Prestege…

‘Burnt Journal 1968’ was written for Simon Perril, and you may read about the occasion here. There’s more about Simon here too. (There’s quite a lot of material about Simon as poet and critic on this blog, and there are additional links in these.) This will be appearing in my little book of little poems, Micro Event Space to be published by Red Ceilings Press later this year.

‘Burnt Journal 1977’ (or rather the first and second) were written for Chris McCabe (who held a birthday do in the Ship and Mitre) and for James Byrne (who I think was not around for his actual birthday). I found there were enough photographs in the Phillips book for two poems.

The same with ‘Burnt Journal 1978’, because I’d used the same materials to write a very different birthday poem a few years before for Eleanor Rees (see here or here: Burnt Journal 1978). This new one, ‘Parade’ was written for my colleague, the novelist, short story-writer and biographer Rodge Glass, as a request for his birthday ‘do’, which is described here. I like that line about ‘Calculated misreadings of Adorno’.

Other ‘Burnt Journals’ available online include one for Frances Presley here, and one for Patricia Farrell, here. (The last one is newly revised.)   
  
I know what you’re thinking: what will I do when I face the first millennial? Answer: I don’t know. Maybe that’s when I’ll start my other un-written (non)series ‘Drowned Books’ using different materials!


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

My REF statement describing my Veer volume UNFINISH

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I may be retired from Edge Hill but they can still submit my publications from my period of employment in the (mostly-dreaded) REF process. Part of the process for those entering creative writing involves the writing of a 300 word introduction to the work. That’s four out of the five. I thought I’d put them on my blog. I don’t think I’ve perjured myself.
51VTwOgIVwL_352.jpg
But for Unfinish, these be the words; I’m not offering them as a model, but they might help somebody write their own. It might also – in this context – draw people’s attention to the book, persuade them to buy it, even. It’s one of my least-noticed books, but one of my favourites. This is what I say:

Unfinish. London: Veer Publications, 2015
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Unfinish is an attempt, in 7 prose pieces, in different styles, to test out some of the following theses, and to produce a variety of experimental forms in response to some of the axioms printed at the beginning of the miscellany: ‘Interruption is one of the fundamental devices of all structuring’ (Walter Benjamin). A poetics piece, in the form of a letter to the poet Sean Bonney, is an instrument of interruptions. As such it illustrates another of the axioms, ‘The main thing is how to think crudely’ (Brecht), but in its developed poetics it relates to one of the best definitions of poetics: ‘His judgement was always anchored in poetry, or in the very subtle thinking that surrounds it. (Alain Badiou on Mandelstam). This collection of contrasts also contains a writing-through of TASS photographs of Soviet history which attempts a surreal history of that social experiment, interwoven with a ghostly narrative of espionage; a performance piece in two parts (a conventional story and a fantasia upon its theme); and a piece of psychogeographical prose, ‘In Unadopted Space’, that relates to another two of the axioms: ‘Space is a part of our mental life’ (Roy Fisher) and ‘Space is as much a challenge as is time. Neither space nor place can provide a haven from the world.’ (Doreen Massey) Varieties of montage, de-montage, with interruption as structure, with transformation and transposition, formal resistance, creative linkage, ‘imperfect fit’, near-perfect fit, contribute to create all kinds of multi-form unfinish, to use the deliberate title of the book. As another of the quotations states: ‘As Picasso said about unfinish, alive and dangerous… I have a taste for unfinish. It’s one of the ways I want to live my life and art.’ (Ronald Kitaj)
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The two axioms I don’t quote are:

We listen to silence. We listen to fictitious music in our head. Think music. (Ralf Hutter)    
          
But for what we believe most we don’t have art at all. (Kenneth Koch);

I couldn’t quite see how to work them in! But what's not to like?   
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Buy Unfinish  here and read more of the text.
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I write more about it here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2016/03/robert-sheppard-new-book-out-unfinish.html

and I have another set of axioms that didn’t end up in the book here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2016/03/robert-sheppard-new-book-unfinish-de.html

Access the other REF statements on my 2014-2017 output via links accompanying the first one here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/03/writing-my-ref-300-word-statement-on.html

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

My REF description of my book Words Out of Time: autrebiographies and unwritings

As I said also recently, I may be retired from Edge Hill but they can still use my publications from my period of employment in the dreaded REF exercise. Part of the process for those entering creative writing involves the writing of a 300 word introduction to the work. I thought I’d put them on my blog. I don’t think I’ve perjured myself. In fact, I don't want to write anything for the process that I didn't make public.

But for Words Out of Time, these be the words; I’m not offering them as a model, but they might help somebody write their own. It might also – in this context – draw people’s attention to the book, persuade them to buy it even.




Words Out of Time: autrebiographies and unwritings. Newton-le-Willows: Knives Forks and Spoons, 2015

The first part of this work began as a project – out of an existential dilemma – to deal with particular MATERIALS: the piles of journals, diaries, and less categorisable autobiographical writings that I have accumulated since 1965 when they began, and that I have periodically attempted to use for writing. In its opting for PROCEDURE it is thus a conceptual project, but is perhaps not quite an example of ‘uncreative writing’ as that term has come to be used, but is a creative ‘unwriting’, to adapt a term I have used to describe my earlier texts refunctioned or re-moulded from others. Perhaps the work might be thought of as an ‘unwriting through’ of the MATERIALS, but such proliferation of terms is only useful if it assists a gloss on PROCEDURE. 

The result of the ‘coherent deformation’ of the materials is what I call an ‘autrebiography’, a shaped narrative that concentrates upon certain aspects of the diaries. The most anthologised piece, the opening ‘I Don’t Remember’, catalogues the incidents in my diary of which I have no recall. Thus the piece may be described as an anti-memoir. One part two of the work proceeded by interrogation: each sentence is a question. It also covers a short space of time. The second part, ‘Arrival’, features the voice of a near-imaginary female sibling, constructed from re-examining diaries in such of female utterance, actions and agency, and transforming it. The third part, ‘When’, is even more conceptual – hence the titles, ‘With’, ‘Words’ and ‘Work’ moving through writings, photographs and diaries (again with an asymmetrical relationship between account and chronology: more as each year passes). . As such it is an exploration of subjectivity in text. Indeed, since publishing the piece I have come across the articulations of creative memory in the work of Rosi Braidotti; she says: ‘Remembering is less about forgetting to forget than about retaking, as in refilming a sequence: it is about differing from oneself.’


(Part of this material may be seen this year, since I am blogging my 1969 Diary, daily, 50 years after the event(s).) But it's only a very small part of the material!

I wrote in detail about producing the first part of Words Out of Time, ‘The Given’, here.

Buy Words Out of Time here.


And there is a supplement to ‘Work’, here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/09/work-from-words-out-of-time-2017.html

I explain the writing of the supplement thus:


My book Words Out of Time: autrebiographies and unwritings (Knives Forks and Spoons) ends with a piece entitled ‘Work’. In that version it finishes not with a full stop but with ellipses. That’s because its focus, the world of work, acts of, commitments to, actions of labour, wasn’t over for me at that time (the book appeared in 2015). Formally, the text distends time, or slows it even (the original idea was 15 words for unwritings of diaries when I’m 15, 50 for when I was 50, and thus 61 words for when I was 61, etc, but that broke down to nevertheless leave the general effect). That means that the text covering 2011-17 is as long as that for 1965-2011! (I was reacting against the fact that most conventional (auto)biographies spend more time on their subjects’ early years, and I wanted this section to ‘do different’.) Here’s the end of the end.

There is an ‘outtake’ here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2013/12/robert-sheppard-say-when.html

Access the other REF statements on my 2014-2017 output via links accompanying the first one here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/03/writing-my-ref-300-word-statement-on.html

Saturday, March 16, 2019

My REF statement describing Twitters for a Lark / Review of the book in Tears in the Fence

I may be retired from Edge Hill but, as you may know from reading three previous posts, they can still use my publications from my period of employment in the dreaded REF process. Part of the process for those entering creative writing involves the writing of a 300 word introduction to the work. That’s four out of the five. I thought I’d put them on my blog. I don’t think I’ve perjured myself. Indeed, making them public seems a useful thing to do. I’m not offering them as a model, but they might help somebody write their own. It might also – in this context – draw people’s attention to the book, persuade them to buy it, even.

It is the very different Twitters for a Lark, about which I have written the following:


Twitters for a Lark: Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors (with Others), Bristol: Shearsman Books, 2017

If the right poets for the times don’t exist, then they have to be invented. Working with this axiom, I co-created the works described above. While collaboration is a major mode of contemporary poesis, and these poems have been parts or wholes of at least 5 performances, this project is unique in collecting multi-authored collaborations under one concept. I was able also to combine working with both well-known and emergent writers of various poetical persuasions. It was an experiment in the creation of fictional poets and exposes the fiction of ‘voice’ as a construct of careful artifice. Like its sister book, A Translated Man, it researches the limits of what Foucault calls the ‘author-function’ through the means of ‘fictional poems’, to use Bruns’ term. Not a hoax (the book foregrounds its fictiveness), this work operates in some relation to the Ern Malley Hoax and to the use of heteronyms by Pessoa. The collaborative element helped to create the illusion that each invented poet (one for each of the EU countries) was an individual, but ensuring that they were quite different: from conceptualists to Oulipeans, from lyricists to experimentalists. Fictional biographies at the end of the book (commingled with ‘real’ bibliographies) destablises the unreality of the project. The EUOIA project (as I call it) was conceived before Brexit, but performances and the reception of the book have been coloured by this divisive issue. (The book itself very clearly reveals the authors of the poems.)

YOU MAY BUY TWITTERS here:

https://www.shearsman.com/store/Robert-Sheppard-ed-Twitters-for-a-Lark-p102839129



Norman Jope’s review ‘Games Across Frontiers’ (Twitters for a Lark) appears in the new Tears in the Fence 69, Spring 2019: 122-127. I rather liked: ‘Each imagined poet is like a fabulous beast, imagined by a tonsured scribe at a bench’ (Norman Jope)

See also Billy Mills: ‘Poetry after Brexit’ (Twitters for a Lark): Elliptical Movements (web), 13th May 2018.  Read this review  Here

This is joined by Annie Runkel, ‘Twitters for a Lark’, Dundee University Review of the Arts, at https://dura-dundee.org.uk/2019/05/01/twitters-for-a-lark/. in May 2019.




There are rather a lot of references to the book and to EUOIA on this blog, so here are a few links to hubposts that have links to other posts and/or videos of the many performances by myself and collaborators (and sometimes not with me):

https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/02/meet-euoia-collaborators-general-intro.html
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2017/08/euoia-night-august-reading-at-other.html
https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/04/twitters-for-launch-part-of-european.html

To find out more or less about the EUOIA check the EUOIA website which is still live at http://euoia.weebly.com,

Access the other REF statements on my 2014-2017 output via links accompanying the first one here:
http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/03/writing-my-ref-300-word-statement-on.html

Sunday 16th March 1969:

Reading: 13 Days, Robert F. Kennedy.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ern Malley 101: a year since our Liverpool centenial celebration

One year ago we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Ern Malley's birth in LIVERPOOL.

You may read about our evening here

You will gather from that post that Dave Whyte has set all of the Ern Malley poems to music. Last year most of them were performed (with Patricia and I reading the poems not covered). Recently I've added a few vocals to one of the remaining songs, and harp to another, enough of an involvement to say that I am now a member of the Ern Malley Orchestra. There are plans to release an album.

Met up with Dave and Bryan Biggs on the night of the 14th for an Ern's Night Toast and discussed some possible future events. 


Ern as encountered by Sidney Nolan.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019

Writing my REF 300 word statement on History or Sleep: Selected Poems

I may be retired from Edge Hill but the university can still use my publications from my period of employment in the REF 2021 process (which is not being used in a disciplinary way at Edge Hill as it is in other institutions, or I wouldn’t play ball). Since I still supervise a few PhD candidates it is only fair that I should. Part of the process for those entering creative writing involves the writing of a 300 word introduction to each work. I thought I’d put them on my blog. I don’t think I’ve perjured myself. In an earlier form I was asked to state the ‘significance’ of my creative work, which received this rebuff:  

As a leading theorist of poetics as a speculative, writerly discourse, which attempts to provide open strategies for a writer, while not closing them down into ‘descriptions’, I have stated often my contention that writers cannot judge the significance of their own work. This puts me in a dilemma. As Jung wrote:  ‘Being essentially the instrument for his work he (the artist) is subordinate to it and we have no reason for expecting him to interpret it for us. He has done the best that is in him by giving it form and he must leave interpretation to others and to the future.’

But for History or Sleep, these be the words:





History or Sleep: Selected Poems. Bristol: Shearsman, 2015


This is the first selection of the full range of my poetry to be published, and it gives a panoramic view of the work, or rather: a chronological journey through the work as it develops. The earliest poem dates from 1982 (and is an unpublished poem). The most recent includes excerpts from A Translated Man (2013). I decided that since my 407 pp long poem Twentieth Century Blues was still commercially available I would only select lightly from that project, and avoid the complex indexing it carries. In fact, the decision was also made to restrict information on previous provenances so that the poems were foregrounded in their own rights. This would provide a different reading experience, even for those used to the poems in other contexts. Sequences, such as ‘Empty Diaries’ and Warrant Error, are represented by poems that best exist on their own; the emphasis was on the experience of the individual poem. (This sets up a tension with my creative practice to write in interrelated clusters of poems. Hopefully the poetic strategies are laid bare by this decision: the varieties of montage, de-montage, with interruption as structure, with transformation and transposition, formal resistance, creative linkage, ‘imperfect fit’, near-perfect fit, all kinds of multi-form unfinish, as I call them in my poetics. Combined with my desire to translate the matter of history into the manner of poetry, this volume demonstrates originality in its scope, its selection, its presentation and its poetic foci. This is reflected in the titling (which is also the title of a long poem included). There are various patterns that a reader might detect, both the poetic strategies and the poetic foci, as I put it, but also others of which the author might not be aware.


I’m not offering this as a model, but they might help somebody write their own statement. It might also – in this context – draw people’s attention to the book, persuade them to buy it, if they don't possess it.

You can buy it here:

https://www.shearsman.com/store/Robert-Sheppard-History-or-Sleep-Selected-Poems-p102839128


but there are other posts about the book (and links) here. About selections here:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2016/01/robert-sheppard-how-i-selected-history.html


about de-selections here:

http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2014/09/robert-sheppard-micropathology-of-sign.html

For similar statements on my other creative writings:

See my REF statement (and some thoughts about two reviews of the book): Twitters for a Lark here

For a statement (and some other matters) about Words Out of Time, go HERE.

And for an REF account of Unfinish go here. 
 

Tuesday 11th March 1969:

Did games in half-borrowed kit.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Third review of my HAP in The Journal No 56 (66)

Here’s a page-shot of a short review of Hap from The Journal No 56 (66)(unknown reviewer), March 2019. Courtesy of KFS publisher Alec Newman. It combines the exhortation to buy the book with the oddest misspelling of my name ever!



I must answer his opening question in the affirmative! (Here I talk a little about the 'Petrarch Obsession'.) 

And there’s more. Read the first review, by Steve Spence, here. And the second, by Clark Allison here.


Friday, March 08, 2019

Looking Back Two Years: The Sheppard Symposium and Readings, the Ship of Fools Exhibition and (looking forward) The Sheppard Companion and its Liverpool Launch


I can hardly believe that the Robert Sheppard Symposium at Edge Hill University took place two years ago today. There’s quite a lot of documentation, one way and another on this blog and beyond it, but the lasting documentation looks as though it will be the critical book that developed from that day: The Robert Sheppard Companion, which is edited by James Byrne (who organised the symposium) and Christopher Madden, and is in the last stages of preparation from Shearsman (See here).


The only other thing I’ll say about the book is that it has a preface by Charles Bernstein, which developed out of his message about 'aesthetic justice' recorded in Liverpool after his Storm and Golden Sky reading, outside the Belvedere pub. Here


Let's turn our minds back a couple of years. You can read about the Sheppard Symposium itself here:


but these are my thoughts, whereas Joey Francis (who also has a long interview with me  here., if you didn’t see it) wrote a long report of the day (I spotted him head down, scribbling like a demon) for which we are all appreciative:  
Frances, J., (2017). Robert Sheppard Symposium. It's in the online version of the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, now edited by Scott Thurston and Gareth Farmer, here!

These photos of conference sessions taken by Rob Edge (who took some of the pics in Atlantic Drift). You can see them all thinking here, whilst Antony Rowland talks.

In the evening a reading by some of the most prominent poets in the UK followed: Allen Fisher, Robert Hampson, Zoe Skoulding, Antony Rowland, Patricia Farrell, Nikolai Duffy, Rhys Trimble, Natasha Borton, Scott Thurston, Andrew Taylor and others (like dancer Jo Blowers, voice artist Steve Boyland). See here for all the videos.

My own reading from ‘Break Out’ and the then work in progress ‘Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch’ (both parts of ‘The English Strain’) may be viewed here.  And here, where I've embedded it:


These sonnets Hap:Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch are now published;

see here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/10/robert-sheppard-hap-understudies-of.html

and are available from Knives Forks and Spoons.

But that's not all. We also mounted a Ship of Fools exhibition, which documented the micro-publishing of Robert Sheppard and Patricia Farrell (1985-2017), and there are lots of photographs of that accessible through another hub post
here



Saturday 8th March 1969:

Sent QSL to Voice of Vietnam.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Monday, March 04, 2019

Forty Years Ago I Visited Malcolm Lowry's Grave

Forty years ago today I visited Malcolm Lowry's grave in Ripe, Sussex. Studying the book on the Creative Writing MA with another Malcolm, Bradbury, and being influenced by my friend Mick Bailey, who loved the book (and the man), I made the pilgrimage. I took photos, I made notes. I wrote a poem. Ten years ago I unwrote the poem (quoting bits in quotes), described the photos (in italics) and added commentary, and produced 'Malcolm Lowry's Land', a prose piece that appeared in  From the Mersey to the World, eds. Bryan Biggs and Helen Tookey, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009, one of the first of the 'Firminist' activities in Liverpool to celebrate Lowry. Here's the bit where I find the grave:


The clock on the Church of St. John the Baptist tells me it’s 25 to four. I peep through winter trees barely knobbly with buds, fisted tight against the growing cold that I sense in the watery blue air dropping frosty towards earth. All life is harbouring underground. A brick tower, washed in the same sandy light as this morning, castellated at its tip, wide-buttressed below. Mean east windows, possibly stained, but probably just latticed with lead, darken the interior. Broken fences draped with brittle brambles, thornset. You approach carefully, step through to search, camera at the ready, lens cap in your pocket. You record the moment. ‘The sudden shock of the grave: /Malcolm Lowry 1909-1957.This modest plot is ‘budding with daffodils its length’ you write. Looking again, they might be crocuses, with their bitter chalices still clenched by winter. A stubby slab, as though but half-risen from the earth, the name and date clearly chiselled. Tufty grass on this shifty, uneven, but untrodden ground. Sunken graves with tilted headstones surround it. In a late version of the poem I find: ‘no goldenrod in a gin bottle/ as homage!’ It’s somebody else’s anecdote about visiting this place, something he or she found here. In any case, you wouldn’t recognize goldenrod, even from Lowry’s writing, which merely names it. Instead I think of the legendary bottle of Flower’s bitter, emptied on the grave’s first closing over, a piss-puddle on the fresh soil.
Not one of my photos, but another's, capturing the obscurity of the memorial.
I have never republished 'MLL' (though I have nominated it as an 'Assay' in the footnotes to my autrebiography Words Out of Time (see here)), and I have supplemented it with two poems (one on the blog, see the link below, and one awaiting publication in The Firminist). It is amazing to think about the amount of re-publication, scholarship and celebration that have transpired in the decade since I wrote the afterword to 'MML' in which I write about not going back to Ripe. It feels like the right day to say this is probably the end of my own literary Lowry trail.

I have a post about the latest Lowry Lounge event in Liverpool here. It has links (at its end) to accounts of other years, and to the poem 'The Lowry Lounge'.And here you may read my memories of the great Lowry scholar Vik Doyen, who did much to fill those ten years between then and now. There is another volume of Lowry criticism in preparation by the same fine editors, Helen and Bryan. 



Sunday, March 03, 2019

Robert Sheppard and Patricia Farrell: Poems and Images from BAD IDEA published in Monitor on Racism



 I’m pleased to say that the first three poems from Bad Idea to be published have now appeared in Monitor on Racism. Here and here. Thanks James and Monica. (That's the team; see here.)




Amid many important articles on the varieties and modes of racism, I hope my humble skits on Brexit still have something to say (in the limited, contextual way poetry can) about our world today. Patricia Farrell’s two images of Bo (who appears in Bad Idea and in previous parts of ‘The English Strain Project’) are Here and here too.

The proles boo Bo, cry, ‘He’s a lunatic!’

As Poem X here explains, in a way, this second book of The English Strain, entitled Bad Idea, is a re-working of the whole of Michael Drayton’s sonnet sequence Idea; that’s 64 poems by the way (with the addition of its ‘Address to the Reader of these Sonnets’). I’ve been at it since July 2018, one a week (more or less). I note I date the sequence as published 1611. The final edition (he revised it a lot) appeared in 1619: it just dawned on my yesterday, that that's 400 years ago!
I write a little on this project here, commenting on the project at about a third of the way in.


My sonnets from an earlier ‘Brexit’ sequence (Bo's there too!) Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch is now published; 

see here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/10/robert-sheppard-hap-understudies-of.html
and is available from Knives Forks and Spoons here:

https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/hap-understudies-of-thomas-wyatt-s-petrarch-by-robert-sheppard-26-pages

https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/new-titles

Taking only the sonnets Wyatt ‘translated’ from Petrarch, but adding a few of my own, I’ve merged the historical Wyatt with his hysterical contemporary analogue, a reluctant civil servant of a corrupt administration. His world fluxes between Henrician terror, administered by Cromwell, and something like our own reality, administered from inside Boris Johnson’s foreign office.


‘This poem is the un-perished part of another,
and behind that, the other poem, the one in foreign,
as behind Theresa May there squats the succubus
of Thatcher, donning the rubber masks of Englishness.’

Tom Jenks writes of the book: ‘We need our ghosts more than ever. Robert Sheppard rouses Sir Thomas Wyatt, pioneering English sonneteer, from unquiet slumber and drops him blinking into Brexit Britain. Tudor insider, rumoured lover of Anne Boleyn, Wyatt now plies his poetic trade in the dysfunctional dynasty of Theresa May, a court characterised by its surfeit of jesters. Informed but not limited by its origins, HAP is a work of wit, verve and skill, doing to Wyatt what Wyatt did to Petrarch: recontextualising and rebooting by transformative translation. This book should be shot into space as a record of our interesting times, preferably in Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s trouser pocket.’

You may 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. But I didn’t stop there though, as you can see.