Tuesday, September 01, 2020


 I’m going to go on about this again. Here are two posts on my retirement, three years ago. The first includes my ‘rap’ at leaving, a text I performed at my leaving ‘do’ (a good way to get out of the ‘speech! speech!’ trap), which looks back over the previous 20 or so years: 


The second is an account of my gadding about town with Patricia on my first day of freedom, a freedom that seems all the more poignant following lockdown and the easing out of lockdown that we are still living through. It would be freedom indeed to walk down Bold Street now (which I haven’t visited since March):  


On the second anniversary I wrote of how I’d returned to Edge Hill for Roy Bayfield’s ‘do’ and took part in a little reading for him


with my ‘Portslade/Southwick Remix’ from Words Out Of Time which in the end I didn’t read (but I talk about that text and the ‘Sussex’ poems that I did).

Sticking with that text, my ‘autrebiography’, there are links to the ‘Words Out Of Time’ update, where I brought the final poem ‘Work’ (which is deliberately incomplete in the published book) up to the end of my ‘work’ period, to the eve of my ‘retirement’, here.

Words Out Of Time may be read about here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2015/05/robert-sheppard-words-out-of-time.html

Here are thoughts after only a year:


Indeed, there I decide that I am not ‘retired’ at all, but a ‘full time writer’. Lockdown and the virus have taught me that my desire to simply stay at home and read and write has been delivered to me in the luxury extra long play edition. Only: can we move on now? please! Joking aside, I think I’ve been able to deal with it better than if I’d been still at work. I can’t imagine how I would have functioned as a teacher via Zoom; I’ve only used it to talk to Scott Thurston and with my colleagues at Bangor University, where I am still external examiner, my now one remaining ‘professional’ commitment, since my brilliant PhD students Adam Hampton and Joanne Ashcroft have completed. Of course, I’ve been writing a lot under these conditions. ‘Poems of National Independence: liberties with Wordsworth’ hit the lockdown head-on, their theme moderating from Brexit into Virus, here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-last-of-my-wordsworth-versions-in.html

‘14 Standards’ were written out of sequence, appropriately, during the timelessness and emptiness of lockdown. I have written two additional ‘Double Standards’ about the Cum’s disgraceful lockdown infringements and his elitist refusal of apology and regret, the single event that has led to breakdown in trust in the government (as if Brexit hadn’t done that). See here for all 16 standards! http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/05/robert-sheppard-14-standards-from.html . And now ‘Tabitha and Thunderer’ is complete, and I have moved onto Keats. See surrounding temporary posts early September 2020 for the end of one and the false starts and tentative beginnings of the next.

I have been blogging temporarily about these writings but not about others: in terms of this blog, there are more hidden writings than displayed (and that hidden includes poetry, fiction, poetics and criticism). The (con)temporary nature of ‘the English Strain’ project is important to me, hence the immediate and temporary blogging. Indeed, I am glad to report that the first two parts are to be published soon, as two books. (There are readable posts on Book One here and another on Book Two, here . They also contain links to published excerpts from the work, and some of my practical poetics.)

Socially Distancing with Bears