Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A second review of The English Strain and Bad Idea by Clark Allison appears on the Tears on the Fence website

I have a second review of the more or less simultaneously appearing two first books of my ‘English Strain’ project, The English Strain and Bad Idea on the Tears in the Fence website.

It is by Clark Allison.

Among other things, Clark says: ‘I’d say what we find is a considerable amount of libidinal energy and direction hewn according to the formal model of the sonnet form, so we get a fascinating mixture of the eruptive and the contained coterminously. There’s also a good amount not just of Westminster politics here but also gender relational controversies, which might be particularly fitting given the sonnet’s role as a mode for finding courtly favour. And a mite unlike Boccaccio, Petrarch was often studious and exacting, that is that the form must have it to the end. It is as if Sheppard is addressing this language by testing how suitable and appropriate it is to our times, which indeed it remains so, or not far off, perhaps more Machiavelli than Dante, however. It is a very effective trawl through history. But Sheppard throughout is agile, not easily pinned down.’

 Read it all HERE:

References to some of my many and much appreciated appearances in Tears in the Fence as a poet may be found here, including my most recent, in the current issue, which appropriately features two poems from British Standard (the recently completed third part of ‘The English Strain’ project): Pages: Two new poems from British Standards published in Tears in the Fence 73 (


Clark Allison has followed the public temporary appearances of sonnets from this ‘strain’ on Pages for a number of years now. To not receive an email about a recent post made me wonder if he was unwell! My periodicity (my temporary posting, which I've not done before) has actually been referred to in a piece in relation to the temporal progression of Brexit here, by Jamie Toy, in Versopolis

See also my reaction to that:

Read the first review of these two conjoined books, by Alan Baker, in Litter here: Review - "The English Strain" and "Bad Idea" by Robert Sheppard | Litter (

Read the third review, by Steve Hanon, in the Manchester Review of Books, here:

Pages: BAD IDEA reviewed by Steve Hanson in The Manchester Review of Books (

Read about ‘The English Strain’ Book One, The English Strain here , and about Book Two, Bad Idea here I write about finishing Book Three (with links to its constituent parts) here:


Book One, The English Strain, is available from Shearsman:


Book Two, Bad Idea, is available from Knives Forks and Spoons:

In addition to the print version of
Tears in the Fence publishing my work, the online version has reviewed my work, whether it be of my critical work The Meaning of Form

 or my selected poems History or Sleep:

My various thanks to David Caddy and crew.