Saturday, August 13, 2022

Part of 'The Necessity of Poetics' republished with a new introduction on the CREATIVE CRITICAL website

My poetics piece ‘The Necessity of Poetics’ has been through a number of publication channels, including this blog, and a part of it (in some ways, the central part, the even slightly-famous, ‘definitions’) is now available on the new Creative Critical website, with a fresh introduction, as requested by the editor of this ‘blog’ part of the website, Robert Hampson. You may read these two conjoined discourses here:

Creative Critical is edited by Gabriel Flynn and Dr Thomas Karshan (UEA): see

‘The twenty first century’, they say, ‘has seen the erosion of any sharp distinction between the “creative” and the “critical”. Can criticism itself aspire to be creative? Does creative writing have a critical force? Or should we dispense with these terms altogether?

I’m quite happy to regard criticism as criticism (and with its inherent creative elements, as I know from writing it straight), creative writing as creative writing (which has critical elements and even a critical function, as I know and argue elsewhere), and see poetics as the third term between them, as I argued in, my inaugural lecture (which is on this blog, here: ). Just to recap: I have (repeatedly) defined poetics as the ‘product of the process of reflection upon writings, and upon the act of writing, gathering from the past and from others, speculatively casting into the future’. It is a writerly discourse.

Just for the record: ‘The Necessity of Poetics’ first appeared as ‘The Poetics of Writing; The Writing of Poetics’, in Creative Writing Conference 1999, Proceedings, Sheffield Hallam University, 1999. A shorter version, emphasising practical uses for students, was published by Ship of Fools in 1999 solely for distribution amongst Writing Studies MA students at Edge Hill College of Higher Education (later University), Ormskirk, Lancashire, UK. Another – emphasising poetry – was published in Pores (2001). Updated versions were amended, expanded and abridged in various ways – a Ship of Fools booklet was published in 2002 and was re-printed a number of times until 2016 – but the chief addition is the section ‘Poetics as Discourse’ which was written in 2009.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Robert Sheppard: a guide to the updated websites

Every summer I update my website, adding some details and cleaning up the manifold links to internet sites. I have just done so, and I will leave this post to stand during my annual summer break from blogging (and Tweeting, mostly). The website consists of – obviously – a home page

where I welcome all to the site, and put links to my other website (see below) and Twitter, and so on. The ‘Publications’ page is a succinct list with images of book covers:

It deliberately carries no links. It is not a definitive bibliography. In fact, there is a full bibliography at the end of my site, here

This is full indeed, and derives from the one assembled for The Robert Sheppard Companion by Christopher Madden, co-editor of that volume.


Back to the earlier pages (I think of the site as being more accessed at the beginning, as getting more specialized as the pages go on, but I’m not quite sure of that). You can skip the ‘Pages’ page

because you are already on Pages! This page links to this blog.

Every year I update my ‘Biography’, and not just by adding to its latest parts. Last year I had to deal with Coronavirus and this year with medical matters, but it is largely an account of my writing, and I often prune earlier passages which seem to me to be no longer central (you can also see that this writing is a deliberate construct):

The page on Rene Van Valackenborch, the fictional Belgian poet, has blossomed into a website of its own, and this page links you to that:

I think at some point I will delete this page, and simply make do with the European Union of Imaginary Authors website, which I have also updated, and which you may find here:

(There are separate pages on fictional poets, and links to some recent updates, concerning this project that is clearly not exhausted yet.)

Back to ‘my’ website! The ‘Criticism’ page – its title is slightly ambiguous, given my own work as a critic – contains quotes from, and links to, some accounts of my work, and begins with an account of The Robert Sheppard Companion. I’ve checked over all the links:

 Talking of links, the page ‘Online Works’ is probably the most extraordinary (and I know others would simplify this layout). It is a very large page of links to my online poetry, poetics and criticism, video, audio and textual. In effect, it’s a ‘Selected Writings’, only it’s not been ‘selected’. ‘Assembled Writings’ might be a better way of putting it. It’s worth a long dwelling over:

(I’m tempted to include this list somewhere on this blog too!) 

Collaboration has been something I have undertaken with a variety of artists and writers, and I outline that here, while also pointing to where I have written about collaboration as a critic:

Sunday, July 10, 2022

My reading at the English Futures Saturday 9th July 2022 (set list)


 Last night I took part in 

Dali Muru and the Polyphonic Swarm (formerly FITH) + Poetry Special Bill (ie. 3 Poets)

at The Grosvenor Auditorium (G.17), in the Grosvenor East building of Manchester Metropolitan University, on the Oxford Road, at :, part of the English Futures conference. 

This event was open to the general public, not just to delegates of the conference, so there was a mix between some local Manchester poetry people, delegates to what sounded like a positive conference (at a time when English is under attack, as one of the 'low-yielding arts degrees' that one of my poems spoke of), and friends of Grace Atkinson!

Here's what I wrote about my reading last week. Of course, having written 2 and half volumes of sonnets that have tracked political events (as well as transposed our strong sonnet tradition in English) , I know that a week is a long time in writing political poetry, but, boy, I didn't expect to lose Bo quite so quickly. I have been wondering whether there isn't one more poem to write, but the poem I ended the reading with still suffices. This is news that stays history. Still, as long as there is hubris, there's hope! I wrote:

 I shall be reading as part of this Poetry Special Bill: Three poets join forces showcasing what the organisers call the best innovative and experimental poetry, introduced by Nikolai Duffy, poet, critic and lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.

I shall be reading briefly from my books published during the Pandemic, and at more length from poems written during that period, in what will be my first solo reading for quite some time. (I am still reading my diaries through and before the Pandemic I was reading somewhere every so often, usually every few weeks. That feels like another world, but one I should like to revisit.) The last reading I did is recorded here, with set list and links, just before it all blew off: Pages: Robert Sheppard: The Broken Spine reading, Southport (set list). 

It was satisfying to find I could still do it! Even with a cough for unwanted punctuation!

Of course, Coronavirus also took over as the main subject of my sequential re-writing of the English Sonnet Tradition, though Boris Johnson (Bo) remains the focus that he gradually became in Book One, The English Strain, and Brexit grew into a theme (it is but mentioned in passing in one of the earlier poems). Bo (and these two twins) has steadily been the poetic focus (the genius, even) throughout Books Two and Three (Bad Idea and the unpublished British Standards). There's loads on this blog about this project. Best starting point is: Pages: Transpositions of Hartley Coleridge: the end of British Standards (and of The English Strain project) (


Selecting what I’m going to read has taught me that Bo is the gift that just keeps on giving! I also wrote last week. 

As I jokily explained before I started reading I'd half lost my voice (a cough, not Covid) and my subject matter. In the time between selecting what to read and the gig, Bo had 'resigned'. How differently the poems sounded. But they still sounded OK to me (despite the croaky voice). These are the notes I spoke from:

For some time I have been obsessed with the innovative sonnet, and more recently making versions, overdubs, unthreadings, or transpositions of traditional English Petrarchan sonnets, and I have found myself working through Petrarch, Milton, Wyatt, Surrey, Charlotte Smith, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and also Michael Drayton. The first group are published in The English Strain, the Drayton versions in Bad Idea. Both books are on sale tonight.

Here’s one from The English Strain. You’ll see that it picked up a theme: Brexit! This is Elizabeth Barrett Browning recast into the voice of a certain politician’s fictional put-upon and unforgiving mistress in 2018: and then I read one of them. (See here for a different one: from Non- Disclosure Agreement: Brazilian Sonnets | Stride magazine)

In Bad Idea I decided to (largely) continue the Brexit theme and the whole book transfigures Drayton’s 1614 sonnet sequence Idea. That’s the name of his dark-lady muse. Bo is my name for you know who. Here’s a 2019 version of the famous anthology piece: ‘Since there’s no help…’ (See here for different ones: Sonnets from Bad Idea | IT (

I want to read from book three, British Standards, where I turn my transformational attentions to the Romantics. There are versions of Mary Robinson, John Keats, John Clare and Shelley in clusters as well as some individual texts by Langdon and Coleridge, Mary Tighe and Horace Smith, and more. BUT I am going to read most of one section, 13 of the 14, my Wordsworth variations, which trace the hubris of Brexit ‘getting done’ colliding with the ill-preparedness for Covid 19. They were written February and March 2020. Wordsworth’s were mainly written 1802-3, and concerned his return to France, which was, and is, it is worth pointing out, in Europe!

(I write about the 'Liberties from Wordsworth' sequence here: Pages: The last of my Wordsworth versions in 'British Standards' (Book Three of 'The English Strain') ( and here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Wordsworth’s Sonnets Transposed for the 21st Century appears on Zwiebelfish! And here's a sample video, of a poem from the sequence.)

‘Poems of National Independence – Liberties with Wordsworth’ | IT ( takes you to the texts of a couple more, published by International Times. 

Fast forward to March this year, I told my audience. I almost ran out of sonnets, but events permitted me to venture into European Romanticism, and I completed the book by remoding a non-English sonnet that refers to the area of Europe we now call Ukraine. This is the last poem of the book. My last poem tonight. Thanks for listening… 

And I added: 'Thanks for laughing!' because it was a knowing, attentive, and responsive audience (which I couldn't see from the stage). And I very much enjoyed reading, had no nerves, in fact. Bravo! Back on form, back on stage! I write about that final poem (as I said, despite the political upheavals going on at the moment, it's still the final poem of the book(s)) HERE: 

The rest of the bill (I read first) was:

Grace Atkinsonan award-winning poet from East London. She has had poems most recently published in Stand, Dazed, The North, Poetry Salzburg Review, amongst others. She energetically launched her new Like This Press pamphlet, and demonstrated a variety of modes from lyric to found text.  

Sarah Cave, a writer, academic and editor at Guillemot Press and has published two full-length collections and several pamphlets, artists’ books and collaborations. Sarah performed a fascinating ritual-poem about Jesus' sister (who seemed at certain points to transform into a cat). Fascinating work. I have here Like Fragile Clay still to read. 

Dali Muru and the Polyphonic Swarm sit in the middle of a Venn diagram consisting of medieval inspired troubadour poetry, cinema soundtrack and primordial electronics. Initially known as FITH formed in Berlin by the duo writer/filmmaker/vocalist Dalia Neis, and the composer/producer Enir Da, their project expanded to become a revolving collective of musicians and poets spread out across a Paris/Manchester/Berlin axis. 

The trains back to Liverpool (the one bringing us caught fire on the way and turfed us at at Newton-le-Willows) were erratic, so we managed to catch a very slow train,  and had to miss this last part of the evening. Thanks everyone, particularly Nikolai Duffy for compering (AND for reading his illustrative prose poems between each act!).

This was a fringe event for English: Shared Futures 20022, which aims to celebrate and explore the discipline’s intellectual strength, diversity and creativity and explore its futures in the nations of the UK and across the world. 

Friday, July 08, 2022

Robert Sheppard: Wordsworth’s Sonnets Transposed for the 21st Century appears on Zwiebelfish!

Of course, I know that other people have transposed, overdubbed, ‘translated’ and generally re-fitted poems before me (and I’m pretty convinced they will after, as I now turn away from these procedures). Indeed, the first part of my probably finished ‘English Strain’ project, ‘Petrarch 3’, still available separately in the lovely Crater edition, openly acknowledges both the work with Petrarch that Peter Hughes and Tim Atkins attempted, indeed arose out of my studying them, but it also acknowledged fraternal and influencing models, such as Harry Mathews’ ‘Trial Impressions’ and Nicholas Moore’s Spleen. (See here for a batch of such practices: Pages: Peter Riley on my Petrarch 3 and other 'expanded translations' ( .)

 (AND I shall be reading them tomorrow in Manchester: see here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Reading in Manchester on 9th July 2022 : details and musings)

Here is another: Refuge from the Ravens: New Lyrical Ballads for the 21st Century, which takes for ‘inspiration’, if that’s not too passive a word for such re-functioning (it is too passive a word for this), Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads. It is not the work of a single individual, but comes from Zweibelfish, ‘a new arts organisation set up in 2021 to work in collaboration with marginalised people, especially people affected by homelessness.’ Their website is here: Home page – Zwiebelfish.

Phillip Davenport (one of the three directors), an old friend from Manchester and Bury connections, and one of the poets to read at our curtailed front room reading series, Collected Works, became aware that I was ‘doing’ Wordsworth (some might say ‘doing Wordsworth in’!) in the British Standards part of the ‘English Strain’ project. (I’ve written about that a lot on this blog, but here’s a handful of links specific to the 14 sonnets from 1803 by Wordsworth that got the Sheppard treatment, some of them with videos of the poems: 

Pages: Poem from 'Poems of National Independence' talking to the dead (Wordsworth) on STRIDE today (

Pages: Robert Sheppard: Two transpositions of Wordsworth from British Standards published on International Times

Pages: ON THIS DAY 2020 I wrote my final transposition of a sonnet by Wordsworth (

Pages: Robert Sheppard: my recent 'Wordsworth' transposition is published by New Boots and Pantiscracies

Pages: Real beginning of new series of 'liberties' taken with Wordsworth's sonnets (temporary post of The English Strain' series) ( Not all of these have been linked to much before and they are different from the ones on Zweibelfish!)

Phil sent me some materials from his workshops and writing sessions with his homeless writers and asked me for a sample poem (and video) and to say a little about my project, and to compare to his. The poem is my version of England! The time is come when thou shouldst wean, which begins ‘Britain, the time is now to wean yourself from’, which indicates a little of how I overdub.

My piece is entitled Wordsworth’s Sonnets Transposed for the 21st Century, (probably soon a book) which borrows from the Zwibelfish title, and I express my ‘awe’ at their giving voice to the marginalised of the new homeless of the Wordsworth’s beloved North West, as well as outlining what I was up to.

You may now read that HERE: Transposed! Robert Sheppard – Zwiebelfish

Thanks to Phil for asking me and for posting me! If I’ve done anything, I hope I call attention to his project, and to the myriad ways that transposition can work, including with groups – and groups of marginalised people. They produced art and song too in response to Wordsworth.

‘The English Strain’ is in three books, two of them published so far, The English Strain (Shearsman, 2021) and Bad Idea (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2021). I talk about thinking I’ve finished the project (I had a few more poems to add, in fact, but don’t worry about that here:

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Refractive Pool Exhibition at the Walker Gallery (and my text from Micro Event Space)

 I was blogging about my upcoming reading on Saturday the 9th (see updates to my last post), relieved that my radiotherapy won't begin until after that date, and I lost all sense of time. We had to rush to the Walker Gallery to see the current painting exhibition (again), Refractive Pool. This time to hear David Jacques’ excellent talk on his work, all monstrous pipes and evil oil, and intimidatingly huge. Pete Clarke was there, as was Mary Prestige, and as was Louis Jeck Prestidge, another contributor. Pete confirmed that some of the words on his four paintings, four versions of one ‘deconstructivating’ building are mine (unacknowledged). Here's an earlier piece of his using that poem, 'Arena Area':


Here are two sections that I recognised. (Famously, I arrived one day at Pete's house to face a painting upon which that I failed to recognise my own words!)



parked in the park forever


a darkness that darkens the lungs

concentrated pitch









          blistered skin where windows

never blink


See here for this poem, as it appears in other paintings by Pete, and in my Red Ceilings publication Micro Event Space. Pete also provided the front cover image:

 There’s more about Pete here: Pages: Pete Clarke's new catalogue and our on-going collaborations ( and here:

Refractive Pool is a project that was established by Josie Jenkins and Brendan Lyons to document and celebrate contemporary painting in Liverpool. The exhibition, features a number of painters I know: Pete Clarke, David Jacques, Louis Prestidge Jeck, and Bernadette O’Toole, (who I met up with to discuss Mallarme, in what seems another world, pre-Covid). Even being in an exhibition space seems strangely fresh. Another return trip will enable me to concentrate on those many others. Rather splendidly, the exhibition is on until January 2023.


 Here are two videos about the exhibition (and about the book, deliberately not a catalogue, accompanying it, with a painterly poem by Paul Farley). The first is a sweep across the images; the second has the curators talking about the exhibition and painting in Liverpool.


Monday, May 16, 2022

My transposition of a sonnet by John Clare, from British Standards, is published on Beir Bua

I’m pleased to say another poem from British Standards, a ‘transposition’ of the poems of John Clare, the first of that set to appear, as text, I think, is published in Beir Bua. 

here: I love to see the old heath’s withered brake by Robert Sheppard – Beir Bua Press

Thanks to the noble editors involved. And you can check out the rest of the contents: journal – Beir Bua Press

Unthreading John Clare’s poems once or twice turned me into a bona fide animal poet (as the lockdown turned me, and everyone, into a bird watcher (and listener: the (possible) song thrush that appeared at 4.00 each afternoon finds his or her way into another Clare transposition, as do more common blackbirds, into another, with their ‘chup-chup’!)).

Here I am with a ‘flash of yellow-green’ in my borrowed hat reading the poem I love to see the old heath’s withered brake (or its draft) on the day I wrote it, 16th December 2020, looking daft for my draft, as it were:


It was my habit (ritual is a better word) to make one of these little videos and post them on this blog temporarily for a few days to signal the progression of the work. (And, it strikes me now, it was a way of dealing with the lack of public poetry readings during that period, though I would have done it anyway.)

 A few words on the reference to Audubon's robin: 

On the fallen ash stump, a

robin poses, without sharp

trill, all life in its eye –


out of the generation that

love-struck Audubon


sketched here, snatched

in a line’s quick fling.


Here’s a different robin (I think, though it could be the one he sketched at Greenbank) painted by Audubon:


Although the Victoria Gallery was closed to the public when I wrote the poem, I remembered seeing in an exhibition there that Audubon had stayed in Greenbank House, which is just a few minutes’ walk from where we live, with the Rathbone family, and that he was love sick while there, AND that he had drawn a robin. I couldn’t re-visit the gallery, but I could have found it all online here (but used my memory of earlier visits instead):

Audubon Gallery - Victoria Gallery & Museum - University of Liverpool

The story of Audubon in Liverpool is told here:

John James Audubon - Victoria Gallery & Museum - University of Liverpool

(He’d also turned up in my reading of Denise Gigante’s The Keats Brothers. Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press, 2011, where he diddles George Keats out of all the money he and brother John had tried to extract from their ‘benefactor’. So he fluttered across two of my poets in British Standards).

The dedication to Christopher Middleton benefits from explanation. Often thought of as one of our great experimentalists (correctly!) he was also a great writer of animal poems, and I was thinking of his poem ‘How to Listen to Birds’, with its terrific, and suggestive, ending:

It modifies the whole


Machine of being: this

Is not unpolitical.


(Neither is my poem, I'd like to hint.) I have written about Middleton a number of times on this blog, and off it too, and this link will take you to one of those with spiders’ web links to other posts: Pages: Christopher Middleton (1926-2015) i.m. ( Here’s my take on his poetics, on ‘measuring experience’: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Inaugural Lecture PART 2: Measuring Experience (on Christopher Middleton).

 ‘British Standards’ is best described here:Pages: Transpositions of Hartley Coleridge: the end of British Standards (and of The English Strain project) (  where you will find links to other magazine appearances of parts of the unpublished 'book'. I transpose sonnets by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Mary Robinson, Shelley, Keats and others, as well as Clare.

 ‘British Standards’ is also Book Three of a longer project of refunctioning traditional English sonnets, called ‘The English Strain’.


Book One of ‘The English Strain’, and Book Two, Bad Idea, are reviewed here: Review - "The English Strain" and "Bad Idea" by Robert Sheppard | Litter (

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Robert Sheppard: My essay on Ern Malley and Fictional Poets appears in International Times

You may now read my reflective essay on the Ern Malley ‘affair’, or rather on ‘our’ re-enactment of it in Liverpool in 2018, which I originally wrote about here:

 Pages: Ern Malley 1918-1943: Celebrating the centenary in his place of birth Liverpool (set list) (


The new essay appears on International Times, and I thank Rupert Loydell (as so often) for selecting this piece, choosing some suitable illustrations, and for IT for following through with publication. It's called 

Doubly Stolen Fire in his Prosthetic Voice: The Ern Malley Hoax and Fictional Poems in Liverpool:

Although I say it is on the Ern Malley affair, it doesn’t describe that (it’s an oft and well told story, which I summarise in a paragraph, but there’s loads online about it). It’s more a reflection on the nature of hoaxes, as carried out in this case, and as theorized by Charles Bernstein, AND a reflection on the difference between a hoax and a fictional poet. Of course, I’m thinking of my own use of fictional poets, and I refer to that. (Consult these webpages: Rene Van Valckenborch and the European Union of Imaginary Poets - Robert Sheppard ( and European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) - Home (  

This essay comes from an assembling collection on the subject of authorship and ‘fictional poets’ and their mysterious hold (rather than hoax poets, with their sticky tricks to fit you up and empty you out). As Gerald Bruns says (and I’ve quoted this often): ‘A fictional poem would be a poem held in place less by literary history than by one of the categories that the logical world keeps in supply: conceptual models, possible worlds, speculative systems, hypothetical constructions in all their infinite variation.’

I hope you enjoy this brief take on the issue. Then you may read my other, later, reflections, which I have serialised on this blog, beginning, here:, with a second series here: Pages: Reflections on Fictional Poetry and Fictional Poets (1 and hubpost for the sequence) (


The fruits of my ‘fictional poet’ explorations are published as A Translated Man and Twitters for a Lark, both accessible here: Sheppard, Robert ( (along with other projects).

In that second book there appears a poem by 'Robert Sheppard' which supplies the title of my essay. It may be read in the book, of course, but is also available here:  'Robert Sheppard - Spring 15 (

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Patricia Farrell: New work in International Times (and links and video)

Quite a large representational chunk has appeared from Patricia Farrell’s Rime in International Times, a work of visual and lexical poetry. 

from Rime 

From Rime – part one

From Crashed Anglia (Rime – part two)

From Coda: Without Reason (Rime – part three)


More of Coda appears online on Abandoned Playground here: Poems by Patricia Farrell (

 There is more in the second edition of the journal of the Edge Hill Poetry and Poetics Research Group.


Patricia Farrell is a poet and visual artist.  Her most recent book publication is High Cut: My Model of No Criteria (Leafe Press, 2018). See here:

Here are links to pages of her completely visual work, A Space Completely Filled with Matter

which may be purchased in whole from Veer, here:

Patricia Farrell reads a selection of her earlier work here:

And her collaboration with Helen Tookey may be seen here:

 And our own collaborations, via our micro-press Ship of Fools, were featured here when we exhibited some of our works: Pages: Ship of Fools press Exhibition Edge Hill 2017: Hub post (links) and Introduction (

The last time we collaborated in public we did this:Pages: Robert Sheppard and Patricia: The Passionate Nymph'/The Impassive Shepherd' : European Poetry Festival, Manchester 2019 (set list)

Don’t forget to check out Patricia’s website: Patricia Farrell - Home (



Friday, April 08, 2022

If The English Strain is finished, what next? (Reflections and Loose Poetics)

It’s quite something to think that the project ‘The English Strain’ is finished. Reading my diaries through (a reading begun in lockdown, but not yet completed) I see that I was working on some poems based on Milton’s sonnets as early as 2011, and some of these found their way into The English Strain as ‘song-nets’ or ‘overdubs from Milton’. (This one: The Fugger of Wonderful Black Words by Robert Sheppard | Poetry at Sangam ( Others didn’t, but may well appear as ‘leftoverdubs’ at some point. This one, for example, ‘Synovial Joint's: from Overdubs | Stride magazine ) That means I spent as long on this ‘project’ (how did I ever adopt this term that I spent so much time trying to avoid throughout my Creative Writing teaching career?) as I did on Twentieth Century Blues. (See here: Pages: Robert Sheppard :Twentieth Century Blues out in paperback )That doesn’t mean (as it did in the case of C20 Blues) that that was the only project of the last ten years. Far from it. But ‘Flight Risk’ or Micro-Event Space, for example, only got mentioned as information, when published (as here: Pages: The Poem ‘Adversarial Stoppage’ from FLIGHT RISK is published in Mercurius ( or finished (as here: Pages: Robert Sheppard's Micro Event Space is published by Red Ceilings Press NOW)  

 ‘The English Strain’, on the other hand, has had an intimate relationship with this blog, from the original work on others’ linguistically innovative Petrarchan versions, which set it off (see here: Pages: Practice-Led piece on 'Petrarch 3' from The English Strain published in Translating Petrarch's Poetry (Legenda) ( to the later practice of posting each new sonnet online for a week, and accumulating text for residual posts at the end of each ‘section’ or book of the project. (See, for example, this one, here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Four sonnets from Non-Disclosure Agreement published on Stride (links)  

Posting the poems became, in this case, part of the writing of the poems, or at least, the ritual of the writing of the poems, as did the weekly videos, from the start of 2020, when I became able to add short films, short enough for these sonnet variations. (Like this one, one of the Mary Robinson sonnets, eventually a stanza in the poem 'Tabatha and Thunderer see the whole of it here: Pages: My 'Tabitha and Thunderer' is published in Blackbox Manifold ( 


‘The English Strain’ is best described in posts for each of its books:

 Read about Book One of ‘The English Strain’, The English Strain here . That’s the one with the Milton overdubs in it. Book Two, Bad Idea, is talked about here . See covers of the books above.

 ‘British Standards’, unpublished, is described here: where you will find links to other on and off line appearances of parts of the book (and some other videos). I transpose sonnets by Wordsworth, Mary Robinson, Shelley, both male Coleridges, John Clare (as in the video), Hopkins, Arthur Symons, and others, as well as Keats. ‘BS’ (ho ho) has now been ‘completed’ (I feel pretty confident to repeat) with this version of a Mickiewicz sonnet. (See here: )

That last sonnet, of course, pitches the work into another realm. As I was thinking, on Twitter, thinking how to address Graham Mort’s question/musing, ‘I've found the wanton destruction of human life and infrastructure in Ukraine almost overwhelming. Trying to bridge silence with utterance that doesn't seem merely self-serving or futile. How to respond? I wonder how that has been for other writers and artists?’ @grahammort. I tapped out this insufficient answer: ‘I found it impossible to continue my lampooning of Boris Johnson in British Standards, even though that puts me in the company of those withdrawing letters from the 1922 C'mittee. But I had to close it down with a nod to Mickiewiecz, one last poem: here:….’ @microbius. 

Update July 2022: BUT NOW this poem has been also published in International Times, an appropriate venue for a finale of these political poems: ‘The final poem of British Standards, the third and final book of the ‘English Strain’ Project’ I announce before its subtitle: ‘Monitoring Adam Mickiewicz’ first Crimean Sonnet: The Ackerman Steppe’. Its actual title is ‘After-Shock’, the last of four ‘After’ poems at the end of the book.

 Read it here:

I have other projects, mostly not mentioned on this platform, but only part of one of those has appeared here, the notes towards the third part of my ‘fictional poet project’, but that too is finished! It’s to be called Doubly Stolen Fire, I think. (See here: Pages: Reflections on Fictional Poetry and Fictional Poets (1 and hubpost for the sequence) ( ) Weirdly that has something to say about Putin.

 All this from the poet of ‘unfinish’, of course.

 Another ‘result’ of reading (I nearly wrote ‘re-reading’, but I don’t think that’s what I’m doing) – another ‘result’ of reading my diaries is to see how I’ve worked on more than one project or non-project at any given time. It feels strange to have finished so many (perhaps this is compounded by having started medical treatment for a serious condition at this time as well)! I have a couple of ideas, which have been floating around for a while.

One is to write a book of poems about music (though the critical book on poetry and jazz will forever elude me: See here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Poetry and Jazz and approaching Monk (Geraldine, not Thelonious) . This is partly to utilize the poems rescued from the elegant, indeed, lush, production of my ill-fated ‘book’ with Trev Eales, which I explain about here: Pages: Whatever happened to the book Charms and Glitter? ( . But I’d want to add other already extant poems: my ‘Beefheart’ poem (see here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: reading at Doped in Stunned Mirages: poems in response to Captain Beefheart (set list) ), my poem for Philip Jeck (see here: Pages: Philip Jeck 2022 ( ), a poem about Ray Charles 1964, and even the ‘leftoverdub’ I mention and link to above, 'Synovial Joints'. Of course, I’d like to write some more poems for it. A sequence on jazz saxophonists has been mooted in those diaries over the years (I mean decades, if I’m honest), but never achieved! Ekphrastic poems about music I’ve found difficult, though achieved in the one for the Beefheart weekend, and in the case of one for/about Frank Sinatra (that very odd poem even appeared in an anthology of poems all about Sinatra!).

 The diaries also suggest there is more material for a continuation of Words Out of Time, even beyond the ‘Work’ text that I appended to the published book. (See here: Pages: ‘Work’ from Words Out of Time: the 2017 Supplement ( )

Another possible project floats around a famous murder in Brighton, involving a night club owner who lent his pink Chevvy to Jeff Keen the filmmaker, the film Peeping Tom and involving Belle de Jour (both the film and the book). But I’ve not found a way in (yet).

Of course, I maintain my ‘Ark and Archive’ daily writing (which appears in, or results in, a lot of writings, in part or whole). This morning (just now) I wrote on into page 692 of this loose-leaf accumulation of continual lines. (‘Flight Risk’ comes almost entirely from it, as do my prose pieces ‘Weekend of Miracles’, which I am still brooding over.) I am writing through photographs presently. Today’s reads:


I checked out the dispatch

room. The empty bowls

were laid out for the guests

with plates of heaped olives

to entertain them. My two boys

sat filling the ledger.

My husband’s legacy,

I’m afraid. ‘Administration

over ministration,’ was his mantra.

Cooling food. (‘Fooling cood! said the

bad poet, with nothing more

to say.) I threw a towel

over my shoulder

and got stuck in to service

as they scribbled on.   


‘Administration over ministration,’ seems propitious, as a phrase. And the ‘bad poet’ keeps making parenthetical and irrelevant appearances in this ongoing writing practice.

 I’m alert to accidents of opportunity (or opportunities of accident), of course, and that dreadful word ‘project’ doesn’t quite enfold my ways of working. My poetics lie in wait for the material to jump on (see my latest poetics effusion, here: Pages: Playing my Part in the New Defences of Poetry project (the poetics of British Standards: Shifting an Imaginary: Poetics in Anticipation ( . I think I’ve assembled a book of poetics, dating back to the 1980s. But that will have to wait. I’m thinking about what creative works might emerge next. As that poetics piece concludes:

 ‘A listening happens after saying. I cannot say what comes next and I’m saying it now.’

 Exactly that; exactly that!

 PS Some readers will have not paid attention since reading the words ‘medical treatment for a serious condition’, and are wondering what it is. This is prostate cancer, which I have mentioned in my biography on my website, alluded to in poems, but not mentioned on this blog. I have had it monitored for 5 years: it is now time for action. In fact, it’s begun. Yesterday I came upon Beckett’s word ‘texticles’ and that struck me as a possible title for a text about my treatment. But I’m not really that kind of writer, am I? Am I? You’re not really that kind of reader, are you? Are you?

Men, check your risk here: Check your risk in 30 seconds | Prostate Cancer UK