Sunday, April 25, 2021

Alan Baker reviews 'The English Strain' and 'Bad Idea' in Litter

And they said I took no prisoners!

I’m pleased that the first review of ‘The English Strain’ project reviews both The English Strain and Bad Idea. Alan Baker’s account also makes reference to poems he has seen (on this blog and elsewhere) from part three, British Standards (though perhaps unconsciously).

I’m pleased he finds strength in my approach: ‘Among contemporary poets, only Sheppard could have achieved this unlikely synthesis; his poetry is learned, scholarly, satirical, outrageous and innovative as well as - most importantly - political.’ That's the Brexity and Covidy sides of the project. But I’m pleased he also sees the educative and restituitional aspects of the project: ‘Sheppard's work in these volumes is closely tied to the poets he is parodying, paying homage to and updating, and this sends the reader back to read the originals in a new light.’ The books are a sort of annotated reading list (though his references to Mary Robinson relate to Book Three and you won’t find her in these volumes! She may be read about (with video) here:

Read Alan Baker’s review in full here: Review - "The English Strain" and "Bad Idea" by Robert Sheppard | Litter (

 and then check out Litter more generally. It’s a great little magazine, with an impressive archive as well as ongoing productivity:


Here are two comprehensive posts to check out, the first that looks at ‘The English Strain’ Book One, The English Strain here (written after I’d completed it but before it found its title!).

 There’s another post on Book Two, Bad Idea here .


It was good to receive this review at this juncture. I read it first yesterday, after looking at the manuscript of Book Three. It had been away in a drawer (I couldn’t find it at first!) for most of the legendary month one is meant to ‘put’ such ‘work aside’. The question I asked myself was’ ‘Is this book finished?’ I decided it was. (This released me from the probability of having to write a contrafact of Hartley Coleridge’s poem on the corpse of Napoleon as one about the Duck of Edinburgh!) That’s it: no more sonnets…

And now there's a second review of both books, here, from Clark Allison, here;

 I write about the end of Book Three (with links to its constituent parts) here:

 Most of these links carry videos of me reading single sonnets.

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

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

Alan’s review of my Micro Event Space may be read here: Review - "Micro Event Space" by Robert Sheppard | Litter (

I write a little about my collaboration with Alan Baker here: Pages: Alan Baker's Journal of Enlightened Panic (and the EUOIA poets) (

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

 Read the second review of these books, by Clark Allison, here, on the Tears in the Fence website: HERE:

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

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