Saturday, November 30, 2019

Sunday 30th November 1969:

Stayed in bed. Sun Radio did not go on the air as promised. Scotty came to see me.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Friday 28th November 1969:

Ill. Stayed at home. Read the newspaper reports in the Daily Express and Telegraph and Sketch.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thursday 27th November 1969:

Number One: The Archies: Sugar, Sugar.

In the afternoon the school closed, and we all went to David Streader’s house and with 3 prefects we ran our lessons. We had discussions. The press gave us coverage. 

[Understatement: all the national dailies were there, crowded into the room. the experience, and all the manipulation of the Student of 3A stuff, always meant that I was surprised at the naivety I've found concerning the media, particular with my A Level students of Communication Studies, though that's to jump ahead 30 years.]

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Wednesday 26th November 1969:

Stayed at home. I have not seen the press and I hope they haven’t called on my vice presidents, David Streader and David Hales.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Tuesday 25th November 1969:

Today I felt ill (it was a nervous sort of illness). Also the report was in The Guardian and The Daily Mail. The headmaster is partly on our side. In the afternoon, South Today, a B.B.C. TV programme interviewed us. (Also for radio.) The Head-boys were also asked (also they are friends) but their answers were fixed by the headmaster. People in many parts of the country know about the Student Power of 3A in Shoreham, Sussex.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Monday 24th November 1969:

At dinner-time I was told that there were two reporters from the Evening Argus to see Student Power of 3A. The Daily Express have also interviewed us (and the headmaster). In the evening, B.B.C. Radio Brighton interviewed us.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Sunday 23rd November 1969:

Reading: Nevil Shute: Pied Piper.

Redid tape. But because of fault in tape-recorder not very good. Low tone is better for voice over amplifier.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Robert Sheppard: Thoughts i.m. Sean Bonney (links to writings on his work)

Sean Bonney died sometime over the last few days. I have seen, not announcements of his death, but reactions to such announcements, and an outpouring of grief from many in the poetry world. I brood darkly, in sorrow.

I was very fond of Sean, and I will miss his enervated, jumpy, jerky commentary, sly and incisive, whenever we’ve met, quite often over the years: at London gigs and Edinburgh launches and conferences, at a Liverpool Tate reading and at Birkbeck after-viva piss ups (both after his own and Frances Kruk’s, another favourite person).  

Sean, Union Flag, Frances
When I moved to Liverpool in 1997 I was told (by Geoff Ward, at the New Hampshire conference) to look out for Sean. But he had swapped cities with me and was in London! Later, at the Writers Forum workshop, Bob Cobbing invited a ‘Sean’ to read, and somehow I knew this energetic young man was Bonney. A blur of meetings follows, and snippets of conversation: an early account of attending an SWP meeting and being horrified by the confessional atmosphere, for example. There is also the memory of the long interrogation of his excellent PhD on Amiri Baraka, for which I was honoured to serve as external, the room growing darker as he enthralled us with his revolutionary readings. And often, the oft-told tale of his dual and simultaneous discovery of the Poems for the Millennium anthology and Cobbing’s Writers Forum workshop, at which he developed a distinctive ‘London’ reading style, in the mode of Adrian Clarke or Ulli Freer.

It struck me the other month that what makes Sean’s political poetry ‘work’ (if that’s the right word) is that he felt politics viscerally, corporeally. He responded to ideas and their effects in the world as one would respond to a disease, dis-ease I suppose. I humbly hope the same for even my current Brexit poems, with their different tone. For Sean’s tone was ascerbic, hyperbolic, surreal. He wasn’t writing protest poetry in the vein of Diane DiPrima (another interest of his). He once told me about one of the poems which James Byrne and I selected for our transatlantic anthology Atlantic Drift – the narrator’s account of phenomenal drug-taking and attendant psychosis (more Burroughs than Brecht) was often read as literal, autobiographical. ‘Haven’t they heard of artifice?’ he pleaded! Which is not to say that he was not affected by drugs or panic: after the Atlantic Drift launch (a great reading and a pleasing sneezing fit during the Pro Vice Chancellor’s corporate speech), he screamed in the night and was phoned up by hotel reception. It was characteristic of Sean that he was both apologetic to the Pro Vice and fled the hotel without breakfast next morning; I found him at noon sitting opposite, leafing through one of his notebooks. I sat down with him: our last extended conversation (about life in Berlin, I think).

His dramatising of politics was often extreme: William Haig’s skull penetrated by a nail is exactly the kind of ‘image’ that many are trying to remove from public discourse after the murder of Jo Cox. But perhaps those poems belong to their 'revolutionary moment' (probably the student loan riots of 2011). The 'revolutionary moment' (this is Sean's term from  the PhD) may arise again. 

Just after that period I began to write my book on form and a number of pieces were produced around and adjacent to The Meaning of Form. In 2012 I wrote a take on ‘Form, Forms and Forming’ for a conference in Edinburgh, at which Sean was a guest speaker. It was a post-graduate conference on form and I was desperate to attend (even though I was a Professor; the company (mostly fellow-poets as it turned out) was more congenial than was common at academic conferences). The piece appears on my blog here,

and something like it appears in the book as part of the final chapter, its conclusion. Sean’s work was not the focus of that piece, but it fed into a piece I wrote for or to Sean: ‘Bad Poetry for Bad People’. It appears in my Veer book Unfinish (see here

and (an earlier version) may be read on Intercapillary Space here

I hope people will see how this piece reflects on Sean’s work. Another piece of writing I did on Sean’s work, it strikes me now, must have been a reference in support of his Post-doc studies in Berlin. The success of which meant I saw him less.

My main critical writing on Sean Bonney’s poetry is in The Meaning of Form, a book you may read about here

. I wrote on what (after the book appeared) people now call ‘expanded translation’ in the chapter Translation as Occupation: Simon Perril and Sean Bonney. What I loved about his Arthur Rimbaud book Happiness (and it strikes me now how it must have informed my own ‘translations’ – or transpositions as I now call them) was his politicised re-reading of Rimbaud’s two famous buzzword slogans. The central passage is:

Rimbaud wrote … ‘A Poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses’ Rimbaud 2008: 116), a page or so after announcing that ‘I is another.’ (Rimbaud 2008: 115) These are interpreted afresh by Bonney, within the context of Rimbaud’s particular revolutionary moment:

Rimbaud hammered out his poetic programme in May 1871, the week before the Paris Communards were slaughtered. He wanted to be there, he kept saying it. The ‘long systematic derangement of the senses’, the ‘I is an other’, he’s talking about the destruction of bourgeois subjectivity, yeh? That’s his claim for the poetic imagination, that’s his idea of what poetic labour is… The ‘systematic derangement of the senses’ is the social senses, ok, and the ‘I’ becomes an ‘other’ as in the transformation of the individual into the collective when it all kicks off. (Bonney 2012: 64)

‘Derangement’ is wilder than ‘disorganisation’ (and the alternative translation, ‘deregulation’, sounds too administered) but there is evidence for this interpretation in the ‘Letter’ (and the poem), as I have shown above. Bonney is keen is develop the othered ‘lyric I’ as ‘an interrupter,’ a political agitator, and a member of ‘a collective’ citizenry in accordance with this Marxist reading. (Bonney 2012: 65) Whether it is right or wrong as a reading of Rimbaud is not the issue here; what matters is how this is intimately related to Bonney’s poetics and to his choice of Rimbaud as his ‘occupied’.

I wrote The Meaning of Form by developing blogposts; the bare bones of the work (with diversions that were part camouflage and part guerrilla interventions into critical discourse) are contained in these two long posts:

on Happiness 1

on Happiness 2

My most recent dedication to Sean was in one of the poems of ‘Surrey with the fringe on top’! In it, I begin by ironically suggesting that Sean’s identification of George Osborne with the God of Love in Happiness no longer applies. (‘Meet the new cunt same as the old cunt,’ we might say.) My God! Look who he was replaced by. I begin my version of the Earl of Surrey’s sonnet:

George Osborne isn’t the god of love anymore.
It’s Bo and when he’s not sitting on his hands
he’s sitting on my face so I can’t hear his latest gaffe.

Amid the irony I say: ‘We’re fuming. And hurting. And dying.’ We are now, Sean.

Saturday 22nd November 1969:

Failed to do tape for Radio 255, because John’s equipment faulty. Sent letter from Student Power of 3A to the Evening Argus.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Friday 21st November 1969:

Three teachers have spoken to me about Student Power of 3A. Gave Miss Jennings article on school dinners. Writing about the strike to [news]papers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Thursday 20th November 1969:

Number One: The Archies: Sugar, Sugar.

In maths, Miss Jennings found out about Student Power of 3A. She is with us and has our manifesto. We are doing a thing on school dinners for her friend who is writing on them for the Daily Telegraph. In the evening it was the prize-giving. Got electronics book. A boy told me the school will be closed on Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Wednesday 19th November 1969:

Apollo tape on moon-walk.

Started Student Power of 3A because the teachers might strike, we want to come to school as we appointed hon. teachers under me (president). We wrote on board about us, and put an NUT poster upside down. In History, we got one of our members teaching the lesson. I, as English master, corrected his grammar. Mr Fleming agreed with our plans, and took our manifesto. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Robert Sheppard: Two sonnets from Bad Idea published in International Times

On IT, I have two new poems from Bad Idea (see here for a hubpost concerning the writing of these 64 versions of Michael Drayton’s Idea). The bad idea is Brexit (as the wonderful image by Atlanta Wiggs above underlines in the best tradition of International Times). Poem LV was written on 1st August 2019 and concerns ‘Booster Bo, turbocharged with active verbs’ getting elected as leader of the party. Poem LVI, written a week later, is in the voice of one of the true Yeoman of Kent, who, after Brexit, will be tasked with both the defence of the newly liberated realm, and custodianship of the Ancestral Dogging Sites - which have sprung up in these poems as the locus of value for an inwardly-regarding liberated British majority: in short, there will be nothing much to do other than fuck each others’ brains out amid the swards and permissive bridal paths after Brexit; ‘this is our true National Sport’. Go will no longer be able to police the groves. 

Here they are! The poems, that is.

Hope you enjoy them. The hubpost linked to above has links to further online examples from the sequence.

Two more sonnets from Bad Idea appear on International Times. They are LVII, which is about Bo (Boris Johnson) and his ‘vision’ of the world, and LVIII, which features the various carves-up of the nation pending if Bo takes us out of the EU. Idea appears in each poem, as its muse.
You may read the two poems HERE:

I am currently working on the sequel to Bad Idea, Idea’s Mirror, and these sonnets are being posted temporarily, one at a time, on this blog. If you look, you’ll find them. This post explains. The larger sonnet project is entitled The English Strain.
Thanks to Rupert Loydell, who has a new online publication from facqueuesol books: 

One-Sided Conversations
prose poems by Rupert M Loydell

Sunday 16th November 1969:

Radio 260 stopped transmissions in series.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thursday, November 14, 2019

'Poet, 24'. The first part of Tombland written 40 years ago today

Forty years ago today I was writing a long poem, ‘Tombland’, a topological poem about Norwich, where I was living, just outside the medieval city walls. I seemed to have found my ‘place’ material (as Roy Fisher had Birmingham, Allen Fisher had London, Lee Harwood had the South Coast, I felt. I was also thinking about, and reading, Williams and Olson, my diaries suggest).

Norwich 1979 (photo (c) Heywood Hadfield)
Since I am currently blogging my 1969 diary (see here for general intro, here for 50 years ago today).

Let’s see what I wrote 40 years ago today: 

During the afternoon I went for a walk. En route I made notes for a poem now in Winter Walks/House Journal : I walked along St Benedicts, looked up at the church of that name, over the ground covered in leaves. Wet, golden-leaved pathways. I stopped in Plough Yard and wrote ‘past the agency, the pub, the coinshop’ (Note 2019: I had a Roman coin for my birthday from the shop, which eventually features in my Micro Event Space of this year! See here.) ‘the new community bookshop. 24th birthday. Poet under umbrella, sheltering in yards. I thought how [illegible] it was, now autumn is here that the Churchscape is altered: St Margaret’s (!) added to it, already formerly by trees. Past Talbots CafĂ©. And I met the old gaffer from the pubs/Talbots. He said, ‘Are you alright?’ I said ‘Yep!’ His eyes stared. I stopped to write in St. Gregory’s doorway.
            I past {sic} the market, a watery back-of-the-Inns, and visited Tombland (wet leaves – cobbles). And walked to the City Hall.
            ‘A Look at Macedonia’: photograph exhibition. It’s probably warmer in Macedonia now. [There’s a connection between this exhibition and the reading of Macedonian poets I had to read translations at a few days later, a significant pre-history to the fictional poets of the EUOIA. See here. ]
            Home. Genesis of the poem, written as note walking, notes in the City Hall, and once at home….

The first part of Tombland resembled these notes and I may also have written the diary after the poem, perhaps from the notes to the poem.

Read Tombland in its revised state. HERE. I've fiddled around with it over the years, and I'm happy with it (at last!).

It didn’t appear in my Selected Poems, History or Sleep, (see here) but I could see it at the head of a Collected Poems. Which is mostly why it's coming to mind. Parts of the poems also appear in 'Words' in Words Out of Time (see here) but I think they can bear re-arrangement. After all, at some point I thought to 'remode' the first part of 'Tombland' as a Miltonic sonnet.   

Friday 14th November 1969: Prince of Wales born, 1948

Friday 14th November 1969: Prince of Wales born, 1948

My Birthday (and his [arrow to ‘Prince of Wales’]) had another tape recorder mike, and tapes, plus money. Bad cough, cold, and sore throat.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Wednesday 12th November 1969:

Paul Plumb gave a lecture at school on tape recorders. There is a tape competition.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Tuesday 11th November 1969:

Talked about dreams in English. Was my usual talkative self during it.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pete Clarke and Robert Sheppard: 'Black Panels' in John Lennon School of Art Exhibition

Pete Clarke is currently Artist in Residence in Printmaking at the John Lennon School of Art, Liverpool JMU.

This Residency coincides with the series of three printmaking exhibitions 'Printed Matter' October 1 - November 13 curated by Hannah Fray, Paul Davidson and Neil Morris.

The last of the three exhibitions 'Deep Black' includes artists from Liverpool, Germany, Serbia and Morocco. Clarke's  print triptych 'Wasteland' was part of the Krakow Triennial Exhibition and the second 'Black Panels' is a collaboration with the poet Robert Sheppard.

I like seeing my work in these contexts.

Black Panels

Monday 10th November 1969:

Duke of Edinburgh today told us the Queen was in the red!!

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Sunday 9th November 1969:

Reading: George Bernard Shaw: Everybody’s Political What’s What.

John came up. Listened to Radio 260.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Thursday 6th November 1969:

Number One: The Archies: Sugar, Sugar.

Had to come home for dinner-time for I had forgotten my games-kit.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Wednesday 5th November 1969:

Guy Fawkes Night. Had no fireworks. Did firework tape, with anti-Bomb-fire Night remarks.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Tuesday 4th November 1969:

New arrangement for science, a week for a subject, then the next science.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Sunday 2nd November 1969:

Reading: Eric Thacker and Anthony Earnshaw: Musrum.

Saw nobody. In morning heard Radio 260.

[That was a very cult book: odd I should have picked this up from the library]

Friday, November 01, 2019

Saturday 1st November 1969:

Could not do interviews because Scotty and John were both out. Nanny and Grandad came.