Follow by Email

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Robert Sheppard: An Abandoned Poetics Response to The Robert Sheppard Companion

Form. Re-form, not reform. De-form, un-form, in-form, out-form. Etc.
            All the forms of forming.
            All forms of forming. Not just Form, not ever form, but forms.
            Not just forms, but all the forming and re-forming the social can form.
            ‘Poetry is the investigation of complex contemporary realities through the means (meanings) of form.’
            An hypothesis. An hypothesis to live by?

If tradition is made longer by this persistence, does it not simultaneously become attenuated, an ever-lengthening strand beaten, almost, to airy thinness?

The verbs are all active, though the life they describe seems mainly passive from the inside.
            Though maybe like reading itself, it is both action and event, something the insider does and yet it is simultaneously something done to them.
            Tradition, life, reading: forms of form forming.

The hinged door swings. Pressure.
            Once he thought language might be his content. It can’t be form.
            If Olson looks less clear that’s because it’s not been seen clearly, the practice that is, not the poetics.
            Appeals to the reader (in a poem) are not of themselves social; they have to be made so.

To respond to the call of the social, with the difficult, the half-thought. Unfinish, I suppose.
            On two sides of an equation (or some relating or copulative principle), stand the ‘matter of history’ and the ‘manner of poetry’, the writer (this writer, situated in time and space) rests, both slippery platforms sliding under him, and (in peril) away from one another.

I read a young poet promising that, when he is old, he’ll show generosity toward younger poets, acknowledge their ‘difference’, from his senior ‘privileged’ position.
            There’s at least one bold assumption that the poet betrays there.

Note: This was an attempted ‘writing-through’ of The Robert Sheppard Companion (eds. James Byrne and Christopher Madden, Bristol: Shearsman, 2019), using the same method I’d used for Pulse: It’s All a Rhythm, which I hope will be published soon as a pamphlet. (And which I shall be presenting to the Edge Hill Poetry and Poetics Research Group on Thursday.) This critical writing-through, though, was doomed to abandonment, of course, but not before I’d written the above, in response to Charles Bernstein’s ‘Preface’ and the beginning of James Byrne’s ‘Introduction’. The first paragraph I copied into my poetics notebook, probably for its pithy (if obscure) reiterations of the hypothesis of my critical book The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry (New York: Palgrave, 2016), which I quote: ‘Poetry is the investigation of complex contemporary realities through the means (meanings) of form.’ (Sheppard 2016: 4) There's more on that book on this blog: see here. The rest of the text I’ve just recovered (I found it on the back of a draft of a poem) and thought enough of it to place it here.

There is a hubpost for The Robert Sheppard Companion here, with links to buying the book, and to another response, which is more general and in the manner of thanks to the authors. Thanks again to the authors!