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.