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 (