Sunday, March 27, 2022

Philip Jeck 2022

The Relevant Posts:


It with great sadness that I am blogging about the life (but alas the death) of Philip Jeck, the musician, but also a friend of well over a decade, and a near-neighbour (and friend of other mutual friends too, both in Liverpool and elsewhere). I am writing this on the Sunday after the Friday on which he died. (I was not going to post it until I had seen official announcements elsewhere. Searching for the informative links above, I see that Touch, his record label, has quietly announced the fact in the last hour.) We were going to visit him on Saturday and found out just before we’d planned to leave that we were too late. (We had spoken on the phone the week before.)

There were many Philip Jecks, and there still are. He was foremost a musician – and his performances of turntable music was touched with genius. The sonic textures he built up and released were extraordinary and the result of his unique ear, and the product of hours of improvisatory performance and prepared recording. (He managed to cross the boundary between the two.) Music produced by this method is often weak laptronica, processual, whereas Phil was symphonic and lush. This was obvious in live performance, whether his re-visiting of his earlier Vinyl Junkyard, his collaborations with Janek Schaffer and Jonathan Raison, or his solo work, whether at the Bluecoat, with a public audience, or at Netti’s Kitchen, an annual invite-only kitchen performance. (I’m limiting myself to performances I witnessed. He also read poetry and prose at the Gramophone Ray Gun readings (and he was usually at my Liverpool readings over the last decade. He was a great reader of poetry).)


Another Phil was the record collector and enthusiast, of all kinds of music, experimental to pop, Basinski to Beyonce, one might say, but our tastes met in a love of Frank Sinatra and bossa nova (and perhaps blended perfectly in the albums Sinatra made with Antonio Carlos Jobim). We often listened to his choice of music. The last time I saw him it was to listen to the whole of his latest album, which was quite different from earlier work, being a collaboration with a volcalist: Stardust with Faith Coloccia (2021, Touch). (He also has a video, made with Mary Prestidge, in a current exhibition at the Bluecoat.)

 Patricia and I and others, including my old poetry-dance collaborator Jo Blowers (it’s a small world) spent many happy evenings with Phil and Mary and their son Louis, and as the drink flowed, so did the conversation. Here's another Phil. I have long said that Phil was the funniest person I’ve known (you might not guess it from the austerity and purity of the music) – and this I will remember always. Of course, I can’t think of a single comment or joke that he told, now I’m writing this, but I don’t think even if I could, I would tell it now! I like this image of him larking about. 


Our thoughts are with Mary and Louis (both currently down with Covid). Mary’s just phoned up to ask for a pint of milk.


I wrote one poem for Phil, a fake ‘album’ (vinyl, because there is an A and a B side!). It is not a description of a Jeck album (as is clear from the above, I lack the words to describe what he did). It is a response to the kinds of impressionistic language that was often used in magazines like The Wire and I imagined a vinyl album in, or of, words.

You may read it here: Robert Sheppard - Spring 15 ( . You need to scroll down to find it. But now, the following morning, I've been fiddling with the text (which I've lined up for a book or section of a book that relates to music) and here's the reworked poem. It was written for Phil's 60th birthday (his birthday was 15th November, the day after mine, different year). 

Spectres of Breath

                                    Compilation album for Philip Jeck


Side A

Wispy digital noodling, with woozy laptronica lines over clipped guitar riffs, humming bowls, unprepared piano, Noise quotes

Post-punk guitar-scuzz, amid a wash of tone fluctuation, psych-garage munge with soun’tracky form-sloth jiggers, over vocaleering dream lounge flair

Serpentine drones with rough camel skin gauze, filtered through punchy kook-oriented space-electronic phrases, low-bore gush and drool, segueing to raw hypnagogic handclaps

A live jack lead, plugged into a bass valve-amp, crackles, while yacht rock tropes think through ring-modulated nasal sustain

Torch songs with Morricone twangs, dubbed out by reggae-funk lite, for clubfooted clomping along to burps, blips, dips and clanks

Washed-out melancholia, junkyard jams alternating with palm-muted bleeps and trickles, plangent bird calls and fluttering wings


Side B

Smell the pixels on these ice-cracking fire-spitting loops, re-mixing bathysphere pings, amid scorched-earth saxes played by improv avant-allstars

Effete acoustic jangle against lacquered finish, with FX and channel bravado, opens polished black space for scrying, to glimmer until cycling chords crescendo and ring silence

Styluses scraped against spinning bodies, an entire spectrum of partials grounded by synth-puffs and granular pitches

Spectres of breath in arrangements, layered up from scratch glossolalia, elbowed by tonal clusters, vocal sighs, and automobile-shudder basslines

Bitcrunched microtones and pitchbending grinds sunk in a seedbed of screaming

A pop savvy barrage of dense keyboard doodles, clenched multiphonics on bassoon, motoric minimalism of ghostly warbling, organ clusters, bone-rattling brittleness in the voice, so convivial you can taste the retro crazed latency that gives it human tape hiss


Saturday, March 26, 2022

A further thought on fictional poetry and imaginary authors

A Great Gift: another thought on fictional poets and their unintended consequences 

My recent and current investigations of the fictional poetry project appear largely in two serial sets of posts. The first here: Pages: A Fictional Poet's Notebook (entry one)(hubpost to other parts) (, which relates the invention of Sophie Poppmeier’s lockdown diary and her caperings with a mannequin; and here:, which contains reflections on the fact and factlessness of fictional poets and fictional poetry (two different things). Then a further episode suggested itself. This one. 


The fraternity of Malcolm Lowry scholars who have washed up in Liverpool for various academic conferences on, and (deliberately) non-academic celebrations of, the work of Malcolm Lowry, seem a remarkable bunch. (My numerous accounts of these events may be accessed here: ) They are the best of academia, in fact, with their decades-long dedication to that enigmatic and eccentric author, whose marginality and greatness has never put them off, or marred their generosity. Often seeming immensely old, but physically robust and mentally vigorous, figures such as Sherill Grace, Paul Tiessen, Chris Ackerley and Pat McCarthy, complement the more ragged local enthusiasts, ‘the Firminists’ as we are known. One of the best of, and the most frequent of, visitors was Vik Doyen, who was, in the words Tiessen supplied for Grace’s obituary, to some: a ‘great gift to the Lowry world’ (he still had plans to deal with the labyrinthine manuscripts of Lowry’s October Ferry to Gabriola) ‘and to others: a dear, sweet, thoughtful man’. (Grace 2020: 222: see here:

and here for my brief obit:


Vik was also Belgian. One year, at ‘The Lowry Lounge’, having spent some time talking to him, and judging his sense of humour, that ‘sweetness’ that Tiessen identifies, I dared to present him with a copy of A Translated Man. There, I had done it! I had placed my works of a fictional Belgian into the hands of a palpably real Belgian, a Belgian, no less, who was an expert in fiction! I’d done so at the end of the weekend celebration, without explanation, and without the possibility of response.

The following year, Vik returned to the Lounge, and spotting me, pointed across the room at me, laughed. We later spoke. He corrected my mistake of imagining that Walloon was a language, but otherwise made no comments on the poems of Van Valckenborch (or other failures in my genuine attempts to reflect Belgian social realities as I had gleaned them from visit and research). A Translated Man carries an introduction, ‘The Secret Player: René Van Valckenborch and his Double Oeuvre’, supposedly written by editor Erik Canderlinck, who styles himself ‘formerly of the Institute of Literary Translation, Leuven’. (An early version of this may be read here:) I had picked Leuven, not for the dreadful pun (‘You’ve lost that Leuven feeling’!), but because I had never been there, and I knew nobody from its town or gown. Vik, of course, was from both, having taught at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven from 1974 to 2002, emeritus professor until his sad death in 2018. 

            Whereas I have considered the situation of readers who cannot unhoax themselves of the presence and ‘reality’ of fictional authors (and their works), Vik had the opposite ‘problem’: he could not understand how I could not have known his colleague at the university – I fortunately forget his name – to produce such an erudite representation of his work’s focus and style in Canderlinck in prose. What I’d intended as a parody of academic discourse, with a shade of pomposity and preposterous posing, and a glimmer of insanity, was read as entirely plausible, or even more than that, real. Vik interrogated me time and again, so convinced was he, ‘You must know him!’ but never stopped smiling. I even used Lowry in my defence (though I’m not sure how that could have helped, given his frequent marshalling of real people as fictional shells). From its opening sentence, ‘This book is the result of an incredible story,’ through accounts of Van Valckenborch’s disappearance, to Canderlinck’s final admission of textual complicity (he declares he has amended the translated poems ‘occasionally without the benefit of an original’), I had tried to foreground the unreality of the imaginary author, only to trap Vik – he was quite happily trapped, I think – in the sticky web of my framing device. What we know we cannot unbelieve. Who we believe we cannot unknow. However much we are aware – at some level – that they are not the same. 



Works Cited

The first two volumes of ‘The Fictional Poetry Project’ are:

A Translated Man, Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2013.

Twitters for a Lark: Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors (with Others), Bristol: Shearsman Books, 2017. Both here: Poetry books | Modern Poetry | Classic Poetry | Poetry in Translation | Hispanic Poetry (


Grace, Sherril. ‘“Glimpses of Immortality”: Our Voyages with Vik Doyen’, in Helen Tookey and Brian Biggs, eds.
Remaking the Voyage: New Essays on Malcolm Lowry and In the Ballast to the White Sea. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2020. (See:



Saturday, March 19, 2022

A version of a Keats sonnet published on STRIDE today (links and video and context)

‘When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be’ has just been published on Stride. Thanks to Rupert Loydell for publishing this one. It is, fairly obviously I think, a version of one of Keats’ most famous sonnets, though mine begins with the contemporary-sounding ‘When Bo has fears that/ Trump may cease to be //President…’ You may read it here:

 A poem by Robert Sheppard | Stride magazine

 And here is a video of me reading the poem the day it was written, which was 9th November 2020. As I say in my diary for that day: ‘I felt it building. The fifth poem, having to deal with with Trump, still boxed up in The White House, investigating phantom fraud. Done, blogged, etc, during the morning.’

I temporarily blogged the poem on that day (leaving it ,and the video up for about a week). Now it’s out in the open, I can repost the video of the poem that I posted that day (there’s just one difference with the final text).


All that stuff about ‘decompensating’ comes from an interview with Mary Trump about her uncle’s mental and physical lack of well-being. I didn't quite understand it, as you can see from the video.

I recently had another two of these Keats poems in Tears in the Fence. There's a link to that publication, and two more videos here: Pages: Two more sonnets from British Standards (from Keats) in Tears in the Fence 75 (

There are  yet three more Keats versions (and accompanying videos!) online here:

These Keats poems come from a manuscript called ‘British Standards’. It is best described here: where you will find links to other magazine appearances of parts of the book. I transpose sonnets by Wordsworth, Mary Robinson, Shelley and others, as well as Keats. I wrote specifically about the 14 Keats variations here: Pages: Weird Syrup: The final Keats variation: a (premature) farewell to satire as a strand in British Standards (

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

Read about Book One of ‘The English Strain’, The English Strain here .

Book Two, Bad Idea, is talked about here .

You can buy both of these published books so far, here: 
Pages: How to buy The English Strain books one and two together (




Friday, March 11, 2022

Two more sonnets from British Standards (from Keats) in Tears in the Fence 75

 I am pleased to say that I have a couple of poems in the latest Tears in the Fence, astonishingly their 75th issue!

The two poems are from the ‘Weird Syrup’ section of my probably finished sonnet project ‘British Standards’. They are versions (overdubs, transpositions, I’ve several names for them) taken from the sonnets of John Keats. They were both written in November 2020, and comment on the politics of that time (it seems already distant).  

Tears in the Fence 75 is now available at

 Here are two videos of me reading drafts of the poems (slightly different from the final texts) on the days they were written. I appear to have made play with Keats’ life mask.


My overdub of Keats' 'Why Did I Laugh Tonight'.

My overdub of Keats' 'Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art'. 

There are three more Keats versions (with more videos) online at Pamenar here: Robert Sheppard (

I wrote about all 14 of my Keats variations here.

Pages: Weird Syrup: The final Keats variation: a (premature) farewell to satire as a strand in British Standards (


These Keats poems come from a manuscript called ‘British Standards’. It 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 book. I transpose sonnets by Wordsworth, Mary Robinson, Shelley and others, as well as Keats.

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

 Read about Book One of ‘The English Strain’, The English Strain Pages: Robert Sheppard: the Petrarch sonnet project finished with poem 100

Book Two, Bad Idea, is talked about here: Pages: On Bad Idea (and reference to earlier parts of The English Strain, and to prospective parts) (hub post) (

Previously I've published poems from this project in Tears in the Fence 73: see here: Pages: Two new poems from British Standards published in Tears in the Fence 73 (

Both volumes of the 'English Strain' are reviewed by Clark Allison on the Tears in the Fence website here: Pages: A second review of The English Strain and Bad Idea by Clark Allison appears on the Tears on the Fence website (

Tears in the Fence 75 also features poetry, prose poetry, translations, fiction, flash fiction and creative nonfiction by Mandy Pannett, Greg Bright, Penny Hope, David Sahner, Stephen Paul Wren, Alexandra Fössinger, Mark Russell, Maurice Scully, Gavin Selerie, Mandy Haggith, Lynne Cameron, Sarah Watkinson, Jeremy Hilton, Gerald Killingworth, Lesley Burt, Nic Stringer, Sam Wilson-Fletcher, Lilian Pizzichini, Paul Kareem Tayyar, Beth Davyson, Rethabile Masilo, Tracy Turley, Olivia Tuck, Elisabeth Bletsoe and Chris Torrance’s Thirteen Moon Renga, Wei Congyi Translated by Kevin Nolan, Basil King, Lucy Ingrams, John Freeman, Mélisande Fitzsimons, Deborah Harvey, David Harmer, David Ball, Rupert M. Loydell, Jeremy Reed, Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana, Sian Thomas, Chaucer Cameron, Huw Gwynn-Jones and Simon Collings.

 The critical section consists of editorial, essays, articles and critical reviews by David Caddy, Elisabeth Bletsoe Remembering Chris Torrance, Jeremy Reed on The Letters of Thom Gunn, Simon Collings’ ecocritical perspective of Rae Armantrout, Isobel Armstrong on Peter Larkin, Barbara Bridger on Barbara Guest, Andrew Duncan on Elisabeth Bletsoe & Portland Tryptich, Frances Presley on Harriet Tarlo,  Simon Jenner on Geoffrey Hill, Steve Spence on Sarah Crewe, Mandy Pannett on Charles Wilkinson, Clark Allison on Ken Edwards, Guy Russell on Paul Vangelisti, Norman Jope on Ariana Reines, Lyndon Davies on Elena Rivera and Scott Thurston, Harriet Tarlo on Carol Watts, Morag Kiziewicz’s Electric Blue 10. See here: Tears in the Fence 75 is out! | Tears in the Fence

It's good to see Chris Torrance being remembered, in this issue.

Very handsome it all looks too. Thanks as ever to David Caddy and his industrious team.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Hi Zero recorded archive of readings (including mine) (set list)

The Hi Zero Reading series in Brighton was, judging from my one trip there, a very successful sequence of events. It was a monthly evening of poetry readings that took place at the Hope and Ruin, 2011–2020. Organised by Joe Luna, the one I attended was a rambunctious affair, with an audience that responded in a fashion more akin to stand up or open mic. Quite different, in fact, from SubVoicive in London in the 1980s, or Storm and Golden Sky inLiverpool, co-organised by me, until 2017. The work presented, though, was (to use the shorthand) linguistically innovative, and also an offshoot of Sussex University. (The name of the series, of course, alludes to Cambridge poetry.) The whole is now archived

HERE: you can find the poster for each event, plus recordings of many of them: Hi Zero | Index.

As you can see, I read there in 2015, with two others, and I wrote a long account of the reading on this blog, here:

 My reading was recorded and it may be accessed here:

As I say in that longer post, I read the following set: 

The ‘Berlin Bursts’ sequence from Berlin Bursts and History or Sleep. 

A selection of texts from Words Out of Time, from The Given part 1 (The ‘I Don’t Remember’ passages. Read my piece on The Given here ). 

And from Arrival, part two of Words Out of Time. One poem I read may be found at the end of this excerpt from Arrival here.) . More here

I read some of the prose too, from this, my ‘autrebiography’. (It featured snippets of growing up near Brighton.) 

I finished with two versions from Ovid’s Tristia that Rene Van Valckenborch supposedly translated, from A Translated Man ( Pages: Meet the final and most important EUOIA collaborator: Rene Van Valckenborch (

All of these texts are now published and I write about them elsewhere on this blog.

 Late thanks to Joe Luna for presenting the series and present thanks for archiving it so accessibly.

Monday, March 07, 2022

One stanza from 'Tabitha and Thunderer' seems relevant today. Text, video and links


I was reviewing the manuscript of ‘British Standards’ and wondered whether I’d touched on our PM’s cosy relationship with oligarchs, in my obsession with the famous twins Brexit and Covid. I’m pleased to say I found this, from ‘Tabitha and Thunderer’. Just one verse (though they were originally written as separate poems, based on Mary Robinson’s superb sequence ‘Sappho and Phaon’).

Farewell dead-drops farewell my registry

girls cracking codes farewell

Russian babes longing in golden coves

swapping cases by royal benches at Kew

strings broken across leopard-skin thighs

uncrossed crossing Bo mesmerised by

oligarchs waving ash-tipped cigarettes

Thunderer sinks to the carpet liars spout

schoolboy Greek couched in conch he

licks his stubby fingers tongue fresh

from salty crevices of caviar-devils

pleasured with cocaine their cupped

palms pour his excess off while

Tabitha helps out by eating out


The last line dates the poem to the summer of 2020, though I’m being cruder that Rishi Sunak might have imagined. It’ll do. Here's me reading it today. Slight fuzzy quality in the sound. 


 The whole of ‘Tabitha and Thunderer’ is online. The first 8 verses (the octet, if you will) may be read on the most recent Blackbox Manifold here:  Robert Sheppard poems, Blackbox Manifold 27 ( . The last 6 lines are on this blog here: Pages: My 'Tabitha and Thunderer' is published in Blackbox Manifold ( , along with more detail about ‘Tabitha and Thunderer’ and Mary Robinson, and my work on her sequence, plus videos of the first and last stanzas.


I have another extensive post on ‘Tabitha and Thunderer’ and on Mary Robinson here:

Pages: My Transpositions of Mary Robinson's sonnets 'Tabitha and Thunderer' are now complete (hub post) (

which also features more images, videos and links!

British Standards. from which ‘Tabitha and Thunderer’ comes, is Book Three of 'The English Strain' called. It is best described here: where you will find links to other magazine appearances of parts of the book, where I transpose sonnets by Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and others…

Read about Book One of ‘The English Strain’, The English Strain here . Parts of that book appeared in a previous issue of Blackbox Manifold.

Book Two of 'The English Strain', Bad Idea, is talked about here .

You can buy both published books so far, here: Pages: How to buy The English Strain books one and two together (

The Life of Mary Robinson may be read here: Pages: Selecting for a Selected: The Poems of Mary Robinson 2: The Life of Mary Robinson (

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Another 'final' poem of the English Strain sonnet project: looking eastwards and to the Ukraine

Gerard Manley Hopkins and Arthur Symons provided the templates for my last attempts at the ‘last poem’ of ‘The English Strain’ project. But I seem to be providing a long coda by writing three ‘after’ poems, versions of the two named above, already written about here: Pages: Another 'final poem' to The English Strain Project / British Standards (temporary post) ( and here: Pages: 'The Shepherd's Brow' (the final poem of British Standards (probably)) appears on International Times ( .

Of course, the world is watching (with rising horror) the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and it occurred to me to provide a quite dislocated ending to the sonnets by taking on a sonnet from the literature of the region (I say ‘region’ because borders have proved porous (and nationalities and exiles mobile)). ‘Sonnets from the Crimea’ by Adam Mickiewicz seemed to offer themselves, particularly the first poem, which is about traversing the threatened ground that is now Ukraine, and which mentions the lighthouse at Ackerman, now called Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi. A former three division world champion, Lomachenko, has just enlisted in the Territorial Defence Battalion of his hometown, Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, he announced Sunday on his Facebook page, and I read yesterday. The 34-year-old posted a photo of himself carrying an M16 assault rifle in fatigues alongside Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi mayor Vitaliy Grazhdan, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine. The city is in the South and, I suspect, endangered.

The choice of poem is a bit of a swerve (so was the Russian invasion) but it brings us back to the years of the Shelley poem with which the third book begins. I read several translations on this site:

Poetry in Translation – The Akerman Steppe – karimpootam (

The 1917 translation of the whole sequence may be read here:

Here’s the Polish (oh yes, that was his language, though the territory is Ukrainian, his country Lithuania):

Wpłynąłem na suchego przestwór Oceanu,
Wóz nurza się w zieloność i jak łódka brodzi,
Śród fali łąk szumiących, śród kwiatów powodzi,
Omijam koralowe ostrowy burzanu.

Już mrok zapada, nigdzie drogi ni kurhanu;
Patrzę w niebo, gwiazd szukam, przewodniczek łodzi;
Tam zdala błyszczy obłok? tam jutrzenka wschodzi?
To błyszczy Dniestr, to weszła lampa Akermanu.

Stójmy!—jak cicho!—słyszę ciągnące żórawie,
Którychby nie dościgły źrenice sokoła;
Słyszę kędy się motyl kołysa na trawie,

Kędy wąż śliską piersią dotyka się zioła.
W takiéj ciszy!—tak ucho natężam ciekawie,
Że słyszałbym głos z Litwy,—jedźmy, nikt nie woła.

Google translates it like this (where ‘goats’ came from I don’t know. All other translations have ‘cranes’! I took ‘flowers of the flood’ from here):

I have sailed into the dry expanse of the Ocean,
the cart is plunging into greenness and like a boat wading,
In the middle of a wave of meadows humming, among the flowers of the flood,
I avoid the coral sharp storm.

Already darkness is falling, nowhere the road or the barrow;
I look up at the sky, I look for stars, boat guides;
Is there a cloud shining there? there dawn rises?
It shines Dniester, it entered the lamp of Akerman.

Let's stand!—how quiet!—I hear the goats pulling,
Which the falcon's pupils would not catch up;
I hear where the butterfly is rocking on the grass,

Where the snake is touched with a slippery breast is the herb.
In such silence!—so my ear intensifies interestingly,
That I would hear a voice from Lithuania,—let's go, no one calls.

Google translate was, in a sense, where the ‘English Strain’ project began, since it was my playing around with that, using Petrarch 3, that set me off in the first place, the way Cupid’s dart became (via the Italian ‘darto’) Cupid’s dick! (See the FOOTNOTE to this piece: Pages: Robert Sheppard on The Petrarch Boys: Peter Hughes and Tim Atkins)

Of course, there’s little mirth in this version of Mickiewicz, though there is play. To write a conventional anti-war poem would not be appropriate either.

My poem, neither a version nor a translation, more a triangulation of different versions, as I hint in the poem, is called Aftershock – monitoring Adam Mickiewicz’ first Crimean Sonnet: The Ackerman Steppe, and (after having been on show for a week) is now removed for further work and - hopefully - publication.  


Here's my immediate video of the draft of the poem:

Update July 2022: And here is the (slightly) revised text as that now appears on the International Times website:

See these posts for the ruminations on whether to write a fourth book or not (spoiler: Not!) : Pages: Should I write a fourth ‘book’ of The English Strain project? ( and Pages: No need for a fourth book of The English Strain, I've decided (

And I do here (later) conclude this whole project here: Pages: If The English Strain is finished, what next? (Reflections and Loose Poetics) (

But of course that WASN'T the end at all. It nearly was, but one more poem revealed itself with the death of the Queen (did Bo kill her?) and the strange cargo cult reactions of the Great British Public. See here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: A final final poem for British Standards!

Read about the first two books (now both published).  

The English Strain here, which features sonnets from Petrarch (via the Symbolists) to EBB :

and Bad Idea which features only versions of the sonnets of Michael Drayton, here:

Online links to the ENGLISH STRAIN PROJECT:


One poem from Petrarch 3 may be read here:

From Petrarch 3 the doggie poem (a canine version of Petrarch's third sonnet) may be read here.

And one poem from Breakout, to ‘celebrate’ Brexit, here:
An overdub of Milton may be read in International Times here:

The Fugger of Wonderful Black Words in one of my Milton’s ‘overdubs’, dedicated to Tim Atkins, a sonnet. Another one here: ‘Avenge’, another sonnet, a contrafact on Milton’s ‘Avenge O Lord…’, features elements concerning the (female) Yasidi resistance to IS.

from Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch, in which Wyatt appears in them as himself and as his modern analogue, a foreign office spy on a secret pre-Brexit mission… (See the second half of the video at the top of this page.

‘It’s Nothing’, is a series of 'English Strain' sonnets that tries to write the self and fails miserably (but deliberately), and some are online here and here, and here. 'The Book of Names; or Late at the Tate', a birthday poem for Peter Hughes, comes from the same sequence and  may be read here.

Three more overdubs of the Sussex poems of Charlotte Smith have been published at Anthropocene:
I am pleased to say I have six poems published in BlazeVOX 19, edited by Geoffrey Gatza, four of them poems from ‘The English Strain’ project, versions of the Sussex sonneteer Charlotte Smith, called Elegaic Sonnets. You may get straight to the pages here:
Links to a number of the published poems from Non Disclosure Agreement (the last part of the proposed book of The English Strain) may be accessed here:

More of those ones here:

Some older ‘English Strain’ poems may be found here:

‘Bad Idea’ Poems may be read online: I’m pleased to say three poems from Bad Idea have now appeared in Monitor on Racism. Find the poems here.

Four consecutive poems from Bad Idea (XLV-XLVIII) are published together in International Times. They read well with today’s outing. HERE
I write about them here:

5 poems from BAD IDEA here on The Abandoned Playground:

another six located from here:

You may read two poems HERE.

Two more poems from the sequence may be read HERE

BOOK THREE: BRITISH STANDARDS (unpublished book manuscript)

Two poems have been published from ‘Poems of National Independence and Liberty’ here:

Read 'We had a female Passenger who came from Calais' as part of the 2020 'Talking to the Dead' feature on Stride here. I write about the poem and read it on video here.

The whole of ‘Tabitha and Thunderer’, my versionings of Mary Robinson, is online. The first 8 verses (the octet, if you will) may be read on the most recent Blackbox Manifold here:  Robert Sheppard poems, Blackbox Manifold 27 ( . The last 6 lines are on my blog here: Pages: My 'Tabitha and Thunderer' is published in Blackbox Manifold ( , along with more detail about ‘Tabitha and Thunderer’ and Mary Robinson, and my work on her sequence, plus videos of the first and last stanzas.

Three overdubs of John Keats, also from British Standards, appear on the Pamenar Press website, with videos!:
Robert Sheppard (

‘When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be’ is published on Stride here:
 A poem by Robert Sheppard | Stride magazine

 More Keats! Four sonnets from Weird Syrup: Contrafacts and Counterfactuals from John Keats (part of the ‘British Standards’ volume of The English Strain project) have appeared on Litter, here: Robert Sheppard - from Weird Syrup: Contrafacts and Counterfactuals from John Keats | Litter (

Here's a link to one of my versions of John Clare on Beir Bua, including a video, here.

My single transpositions of Gerard Manley Hopkins' ‘The Shepherd’s Brow’, may be read here:

[There was even a horrible chance of Bo returning to power in October 2022. I was ready, as you'll see here: Pages: The Horrible Thought that Bo mioght be back: only The Bard could save me now! ( and am ready, should he ever dare!]

Reflections on Fictional Poetry and Fictional Poets (part 6 - the final part)

 [This is the last post in this sequence. The rest may be accessed from here: Pages: Reflections on Fictional Poetry and Fictional Poets (1 and hubpost for the sequence) ( What is noticeable is the change in world politics in the time I posted these extracts. They were pre-posted before Russia violated Ukraine, and I'll repeat it again: Sophie Poppmeier refers to her dirty burlesque performance called 'Pegging Putin', performed by her Angela Merkin persona, using her uniformed mannequin (see below) as a prop. Imagine her now performing in blue and yellow. See here: Pages: A Fictional Poet's Notebook (part 3) (

Some of these posts have been incorporated into a prose chapter of my 2023 book, Doubly Stolen Fire, which you may read about, and purchase, here: Pages: Doubly Stolen Fire (a new book of hybrid texts) is now OUT (

Now back to the last post:]

If Van Valckenborch (who has a whole page here: Rene Van Valckenborch - European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) ( were to re-appear, he would have a legitimate complaint, against those readers, and me, who encourage thinking only about the fictional poets’ biographies (see last post), when what he would want to say (and A Translated Man exemplifies this to an extent) is that he would like his poems to be read as poems. There is no reason to suspect the poets of the EUOIA and EUGE, or even Different Lines, would disagree. Whatever their ontological status, and even as they supposedly divide into two bodies of work, along Belgium’s linguistic lines, his poems can be read in relative autonomy to the fiction in which they are deployed (one which includes the deceptions of fictional editor and fictional translators).


One of the translators, Annemie Dupuis, conducts a vain search for Van Valckenborch, a man they have never met, which she records in a diary reproduced at the end of A Translated Man. In it she expresses what might be the enduring equivocation of the project. On 12 August 2010 she dreams that she is in a foreign court (but also dreams that she is in a dream). ‘I’m accused of people-trafficking,’ she admits, but only slowly realises why. ‘I have made up a fictional national poet – his name at least – by combining the forename and surname with the most diacritics in the language, the least vowels.’ This is also the name of a criminal, ‘an unshaven giant’ who is present in court. ‘I realise the improbability of my alibi,’ such as it is, and it is beyond her professional skills to plead her case: ‘The interpreter squints at me, lost’. ‘I hear my name mispronounced by the judge in his frayed crimson gown. I am nudged to my feet. He looks through me,’ we are told, but instead of receiving a sentence for trafficking, she lists a roll-call of EUOIA poets, beginning with Sophie Poppmeier. It could be an admission of previous offences, but it also opens my project towards books two and, now, part three. She dismisses herself from her crime and its possible punishment by waking up. I read this now as an allegory concerning the ethics of fictional poet-making. As Erwin Wertheim once asked: ‘One voice torn into two./ Or two sewn into one?’ (All the poets of the EUOIA are listed (with videos) here: The Poets - European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) (   


His French investigation of the world of things, his Flemish exploration of space, to pick two consciously constructed poetics, are both serious and genuine, if not real. He would plead – as he cannot – to be read as a poet with two poetics. (Read Eric Canderlinck’s introduction to A Translated Man here.) I would plead for these fictional poems to be read as real poems. Commentators are very good on my framing fictions, but tend not to take the poems seriously. They are!

 As Van Valckenborch says, in an unpublished note, ‘On the one (French) hand, a vectoral poetics, “timely” as well as “thingly”, in rolling and tumbling unpunctuated tercets. Metrics as breakage. Language is not the horizon of thought; enigmatic things are. On the other (Flemish) hand, geography investigated in forms that use spatial devices on the page. Levels of attention to human interaction through slowing down the method and means of representation. A retardational ethics.’ (Again, his page is invaluable should you find any value in him at all: Rene Van Valckenborch - European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) (

 It is part of my understanding of poetics (if not his) that the poems may do any other number of things of which I might (he might) be unaware. This occurs at the moment when the act-event of the writing is filtered through the acts-events of actual and various readings. Rather than propagating, diffusing or dissipating new fictional poets, I want to direct readers back to the stark challenge of my existing fictional poems, authored and co-authored. Tbey are enough. No more are needed. The circus animals are indeed deserting.

You may wonder whether you may ever allow fictional poets to exist enough to really read them, so that the poems come alive. The first readers of Ossian or Ern Malley (See here: Pages: Ern Malley 1918-1943: Celebrating the centenary in his place of birth Liverpool (set list) ( would have told you that you can. They feel so alive that they may not be picked out of the fabric of disbelief, even after irrevocable proof. These readers think only this of their authors, and of their works: If they had not been invented, they would have to exist.

For Sophie Poppmeier’s lockdown journal, begin here:

A related piece begins here: Pages: One Off Episode: Transient Global Amnesia and the Fictional Poetry Project (EUOIA and all that) (

All these entries may be thought of as the working notes towards the third book of my fictional poets project, after A Translated Man and Twitters for a Lark, which has its own website, EUOIAEuropean Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) - Home ( ; this contains a page about Poppmeier too: Sophie Poppmeier (1981-) Austria - European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) ( ) I have no idea whether this will appear in print as a third book, but I'm working on that assumption.

Books one and two are described here: Pages: Celebrate Belgium’s Independence Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Paul Coppens and with Rene Van Valckenborch (

 These six posts (actually outtakes of a longer work called ‘Vestigial Gestures’, with text and footnotes combined) are now finished and we hope you found them of interest. They push my thinking ahead, and makes way and waves for the proposed third volume of fictional poet(ries), Doubly Stolen Fire, which will not be a collection of fictional poets, but meditations upon authorship, imaginary and real. You have read excerpts from the ‘imaginary’ half. The ‘real’ authorship will concern Malcolm Lowry and his writings. 

[Actually, there is a further post, written after these: Pages: A further thought on fictional poetry and imaginary authors ( 26th March 2022.