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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Robert Sheppard: 'The Formal Splinter' published in HL Hix' Counterclaims (Dalkey Archive)


“Poetry makes nothing happen.”  “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.”  Incessantly repeated, typically taken as truisms.  But are they true?  In this unique and timely anthology, H. L. Hix invites more than 150 contemporary poets and scholars to counter those claims.

The familiar pronouncements from Auden and Adorno, respectively, are, after all, a full human lifespan old, made at particular historical moments, in particular cultural contexts, and from particular subject positions.  Contributors to Counterclaims were asked, “What must or might be said now about poetry?”  Their answers sum to a broad and luminous vision of poetry: what it does, what it is, what it might be, what it shows us about ourselves, and they are presented in Hix’ new book from Dalkey Archive, Counterclaims: Poets and Poetries, Talking Back. (Read a good account of the book, by Clark Allison, here.) 

View COUNTERCLAIMS on:




As yet it is not listed in the Dalkey Archive site, but will be. Its isbn is 9781628973310. See here:



I am one of the contributors. It is good to share the pages with critical grand masters like Derek Attridge, poetics mentors like Charles Bernstein, admired poets like Forrest Gander, and friends and colleagues like Rupert Loydell and John Redmond – and all the other respondees whose thoughts I value, like Andrea Brady and Rachel Blau Du Plessis, Steph Burt and Pierre Joris. Then, there are the fascinating connective poetics introductions by Harvey Hix himself, and then don’t forget all the thinkers (mostly poets) whose work I don’t know (yet).

My contribution is a quotation from an essay of mine (chosen by Hix) and a short paragraph I wrote about form (no surprise that it is in the ‘Form’ section of the anthology). Hix then uploaded the response (and all the others) on his blog, which is on my blog roll to the right of this post, and which has moved on to a fresher sampling. Or use this link:  http://031454a.netsolhost.com/inquire/

My piece ‘The Formal Splinter’ (as I called it) was written in 2015, when I was working on my critical book, The Meaning of Form. I hadn’t quite gathered how to transpose the critical thinking (had under the sign of Derek Attridge) into poetics. Most of my thinking for that book may be accessed here: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2014/06/robert-sheppard-meaning-of-form-forms.html. I write about form, forms and forming here.

‘The Formal Splinter’ appears on this blog, in a 500 word version, here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2014/05/robert-sheppard-formal-splinter.html

Read the 200 word version, which is what appears in the book, here, as part of Harvey's poetics blog posting Inquire (here).


Another attempt to transpose the ‘formal’ turn into poetics is the piece on rhythm called Pulse, that appeared in part in Tentacular recently. See here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/04/robert-sheppard-pulse-all-rhythm.html