Friday, November 19, 2021

My piece on 'Collaboration' is published in The Yearbook of English Studies 2021

The Yearbook of English Studies for 2021 examines contemporary poetry from Britain and Ireland. Edited by Samuel Rogers, the volume contains fourteen essays exploring a range of poetry from 1980 and the present.


Permanent link: 

The volume is organized into four sections. ‘Place, Identity, Environment’ contains discussions of Tony Conran, Raman Mundair, Geoffrey Hill, and Karen McCarthy Woolf. Attention is paid to questions of nationhood, cultural identity and ethnicity, the ethics of attention, and the pressing matter of climate change. In the second section, ‘Placing Language’, Rhys Trimble, Lesley Harrison, and Tom Pickard are compared; Gaelic poetry is explored via Meg Bateman, Ruaraidh MacThòmais, Rody Gorman, and others; an analysis of Catherine Walsh further underlines the connections to place afforded by language.

The third section, ‘Ways of Looking Back’, mediates between the contemporary and the past. This includes classical presences in Alice Oswald, parodic responses to Philip Larkin (no comment), and a consideration of the late Eavan Boland’s legacy. A fourth section showcases some of poetry’s ‘Forms of Meaning’, a Sheppardian title if ever there was!  Redell Olsen’s cross media lineage is traced to Sophie Robinson, Nisha Ramayya, and others. Ted Hughes is revisited via the epistolary tradition. Literary collaboration is approached through Kelvin Corcoran, Alan Halsey, S. J. Fowler, Prudence Chamberlain, and Camilla Nelson. {That’s my bit!} Finally, the complications of the contemporary lyric are examined in Zoë Skoulding’s work.

My chapter 'Doubling Up: Modes of Literary Collaboration in Contemporary British Innovative Poetry', is described in my abstract:

 Literary collaboration has become an important part of contemporary poetic practice in the last few years. Types of collaboration vary: Kelvin Corcoran and Alan Halsey have collaborated over many years; other pairings may be one-offs, as in the series of collaborative events (‘Enemies’ and 'Camarades') organized by S. J. Fowler. This discussion compares the Corcoran–Halsey texts with selections from the printed and online manifestations of Fowler's pairings, particularly with Prudence Chamberlain and Camilla Nelson. I engage with performance, though not with the broader sphere of cross-media collaboration. I ask whether it is possible to locate the kind of seamless collaboration that genuinely creates what some commentators call 'the third voice'; however dialogically it is produced, it produces a single entity, an imagined unitary subject position.

 Thanks Sam Rogers for editing this.

 My working method was quite a laborious one. Encouraged by the fact that I drafted some of the chapters of my book The Meaning of Form as posts on this blog (a hub-post to the many links is found here: Pages: Robert Sheppard The Meaning of Form: forms and forming in contemporary innovative poetry (Summary and Weblinks)) I decided to blog about ‘collaboration’, both in terms of my own literary collaborations (such as the recent pair of pamphlets with Bob Cobbing republished (in a box) by Veer here: Pages: COLLABORATIONS (Bob Cobbing - Robert Sheppard) published in a box by Veer - out now) and about my critical readings of the above named writers, and I assembled 14 posts (with links to one review on Stride and another on Litter related to it). You can find all that here:

Of course, the published piece is more economical (there are gains and losses in that). And it is accompanied by others’ works, which might be more interesting for you. If you have access to jstor you might find it here: Doubling Up: Modes of Literary Collaboration in Contemporary British Innovative Poetry on JSTOR

A subsequent piece, on Tim Atkins, I decided to write without recourse to the blog. In one situation this method was advantageous; in the other, it was less so (not for the reader, I trust, but for me, as writer!).

Nevertheless, the whole process of writing academic literary criticism is a little in question for me, given the effort required and the absence of reward (not even, on occasion, receiving a copy of the book). Perhaps I prefer the kinds of loose poetics/criticism I used for Pulse and developed in relation to The English Strain, all three volumes. (For the former, see here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: 'PULSE: All a Rhythm' published in Tentacular 5 (with links); for the latter, here: But then I do enjoy engaging with the difficulties of text and the intricacies of reading. 



A major part of my chapter concerns the contents of SJ Fowler's Nemeses, his selected collaborations. He seems to like the final thing: A note on : Robert Sheppard's brilliant essay on collaboration — SJ Fowler (