Friday, July 23, 2021

Playing my Part in the New Defences of Poetry project (the poetics of British Standards: Shifting an Imaginary: Poetics in Anticipation

The reading of 'Defences' and live discussion about poetry and poetics (Shelley's and our own) last night worked well, even over Zoom, as we connected the seagulls of South Wales with the fogs of Northumbria. Olivia McCannon’s piece on ‘ownership and the cooperative mind’ dealt with translation as exchange and relationship, while Philp Gross dealt with ‘Words, Listening’, which focussed upon listening, silence and that noisy world of dissension that we all seem caught up in. I presented my ‘Shifting an Imaginary: Poetics in Anticipation’, which I wrote in the middle of writing book three of The English Strain project, British Standards, but is also a ‘defence’ of some kind, perhaps more of poetics than of poetry itself. I also revise my definitions of poetics! (Revised from those offered here.

Thanks to David O’Hanlon-Alexandra, the convenor of the discussion and the onlie begetter of the ‘New Defences’ project, who got us all to say more. His 'hidden' introduction to the project may be read here: Editor’s Introduction – New Defences of Poetry (

2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the composition of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘A Defence of Poetry’ (1821) – one of the boldest and most profound statements on the power of poetry to act as a social and political force. In celebration of this seminal work, the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts invited submissions of short prose essays responding to the theme of ‘A Defence of Poetry’ from practicing poets. See; Essays – New Defences of Poetry ( 

Last night that was down to us three. How do you think we did?

See here…


The works selected (not just our three) are now published on the NCLA Archives website (as of July 2021), with the possibility of a print publication to follow.

You may read all of the pieces here:

You may find my piece, which I probably only read half of on the evening, here:

Information about ‘the English Strain’ project abounds on this blog (the poems were blogged as they were written, the progress fully recorded. This link will take you to all the others!

Pages: Transpositions of Hartley Coleridge: the end of British Standards (and of The English Strain project) (


I plan to add this poetics to Book Three, as an appendix. I think it will work, since it is anticipatory (and points beyond the book and project). 

A further poetics (on my use of the sonnet in this project, a kind of shadow to this one) may be linked to here:


Monday, July 19, 2021

An interview with me, by SJ Fowler, has been posted on Maintenant 107/3am magazine

An interview SJ Fowler conducted with me last year (and early this) during various lockdowns, is published here on 3AM Magazine.

It appeared within minutes of my sending my final copy to Steve today (!) and it is an interesting interview in that the focus was on poetry scenes, now and in the past, and partly on Creative Writing as an academic discipline, but also took in: how one keeps going, how one selects a collection, one’s neglect, one’s influences…   I was asked about my own work, Twentieth Century Blues, my associations with Writers Forum and Bob Cobbing (collaborations soon to be re-published), and (of course, since I was in the middle of writing them), my transpositions of English sonnets that I call ‘The English Strain’ project: The English Strain (Shearsman, 2021) and Bad Idea (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2021). I was working on the third ‘book’ of that at the time, which I call British Standards. So, wide-ranging. Things like: 'The other thing I learnt from the scene of the mid-70s was that you got it together and did it yourself, through the provisional institutions of little magazines, small presses and pub-room reading series...'

Read it here:

Maintenant #107 - Robert Sheppard - 3:AM Magazine (

 The exchange evolved in some ways from my posts (and subsequent essay) on literary collaboration (which, curiously, is not one of the things we talked about!), many of which feature accounts of Steve’s ‘Enemies’ projects: you read those posts here, and a link to my review of his selected collaborations, Nemesis!

 Look here for those: The introductory part one, flags up the themes and surveys the territory, here:

Part 10 is an account of Fowler’s poetics of collaboration. Here:

Part 11 is an account of Fowler's collaboration with Camilla Nelson (as it reads on the page), here.

Part 12 continues to analyse Fowler's collaboration with Nelson, but it takes account of the extraordinary dynamics of its 'Enemies' performance (which was filmed), here.

Other interviews with me: rob mccellan’s interview may be read

Here’s an interview with me (conducted by Joey Francis), where I talk about the PAGES project from the inside, though I stray into defining 'linguistically innovative poetry' and the experience of homelessness. Read that here.

A  wide-ranging Wolf interview with me, conducted by Chris Madden may be read here.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Three Keats transpositions posted on Pamenar Press (with videos!)

Three poems from Weird Syrup: Overdubs of sonnets from John Keats and ‘Sheppard's lively readings of them’ on video, as they are described there, have just appeared on Parmenar. Read them and hear them here:



Big thanks to founder and editor Ghazal Mosadeq and thumbs up for finding a photo of me roaring with laughter that fits the mood of the pieces!

They are part of the third volume of my ‘English Strain’ project that is in the works, British Standards. I write about this book and the project here: Book three, British Standards, remains unpublished (because I've only just finished writing it) but may be read about here:


Here I write specifically about beginning and finishing work on these transpositions of Keats. I had some trouble getting going; you can read about that struggle here:

The Keats poems are called ‘Weird Syrup’. This post operates as a hub post about the Keats transpositions alone:



For your guide, the earlier published ‘books’ of ‘The English Strain’ are:

1. The English Strain (Shearsman, published. See below, and: here)

2. Bad Idea (Knives, Forks and Spoons, published; also see below, and  here )

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 (

I have some plans for a fourth book here: Pages: Should I write a fourth ‘book’ of The English Strain project? (

Also for your guide, Pamenar Press is an independent, cross-cultural, multilingual, experimental publisher, based in the UK, Canada and Iran, producing books, pamphlets and other ephemera each year. They lean towards experimental works, undiscovered territories and finding and promoting quality and often overlooked voices. They accept manuscripts across all genres from anywhere in the world.

 They bring different writers and artists together to collaborate and produce work.

Their web-based publication, Pamenar Magazine (an online magazine of experimental writing, poetry, visual arts and translation) is open to submissions. There is lots of interesting work to read.