Sunday, May 02, 2021

Robert Sheppard: My Poetics of the Sonnet in 'The English Strain' / excerpt from 'Idea's Mirror' in The Lincoln Review

I am pleased that I have an excerpt from ‘Idea’s Mirror’, the final sequence of Bad Idea in The Lincoln Review. The Lincoln Review . Read that here:



Here's a video of the first poem.

Hopefully, these samples will make you want to purchase the whole of Bad Idea, on sale now from KFS Press. Here:


There’s another post on Bad Idea here . (‘Idea’s Mirror’ is described separately here: ).

 Having accepted my poems, one of the editors, Alison Smith, persuaded me to write a poetics piece. I had just written one specifically for The English Strain, the project of which Bad Idea is the second part (as yet unpublished). So the result is a meditation upon my obsessive use of the sonnet form, which nevertheless opens out into a general poetics. In some ways, it’s a continuation of the personal parts of my serial posts on the innovative sonnet (that led into a chapter of The Poetry of Saying). (See here: Pages: The Innovative Sonnet Sequence: One of 14 (

However, this piece brings it up to date, to my renunciation of the sonnet frame, now that I have completed the last poems of 'The English Strain' (See here: Pages: Transpositions of Hartley Coleridge: the end of British Standards (and of The English Strain project) ( . Thanks, Alison for the prompt. Given that I have written several kinds of sonnet, it is a surprise to find myself looking back to a very early text from 1978. (I had considered it once before here: Pages: The Innovative Sonnet Sequence: Eight of 14: My Own Sonnets ( But coming back to it, I found myself considering this isolated poem as an unknowing precursor of recent discoveries (it also demonstrates how the avant-garde gesture in British poetry of that time wasn’t to be found in a creative writing textbook). It took decades to catch up with myself. However, I can't see it heading up a 'Collected Poems'. It belongs now in this essay.

I say in it: One axiom I do have is provided by the opening words of my critical book, ‘Poetry is the investigation of complex contemporary realities through the means (meanings) of form.’ (The Meaning of Form, Palgrave, 2016: Pages: Robert Sheppard The Meaning of Form: forms and forming in contemporary innovative poetry (Summary and Weblinks)) This is echoed in the dedicatory poem to volume two of this project, Bad Idea:

I hang out inside these sonnets, punching
echoes into new shape, because I take
poetry as the investigation
of complexity through the means of form....

Read my “Hanging Out Inside Sonnets: A Text and Anti-Commentary” here

(I’ve since realised that it isn’t an anti commentary at all: it’s a commentary. And here is a poetics I wrote before this piece, also pertaining to the work in this project, and beyond, I hope: ) 

Also in The Lincoln Review 2 (2021) find:


James Brasfield

Mary Buchinger

Michael Chang

Felix Chow

Gemma Gorga

Ivan de Monbrison

Juanita Rey

Robert Sheppard

Marcus Slease

Virgil Suárez

Anannya Uberoi

Lauren Winchester

Jennifer Wong

Lindsay Young

Jane Zwart


Sally Gander

Alan Michael Parker

Andreas Philippopoulous-Mihalopo 

Cathy Ulrich


Casey Jo Stohrer


Yvwh Elohim


Jay Waters


Robert Sheppard


Colin Bancroft

Jennifer Wong


Andreas Philippopoulous-Mihalopo's The Book of Water