Thursday, October 06, 2022

Robert Sheppard: Four new versions of John Clare published in Talking About Strawberries (plus videos and links)

I’m pleased to announce that another four of my ‘transpositions’ of the poems of John Clare (‘Unth(reading) Clare’ I call them) have been published on the Canadian webzine Talking About Strawberries All the Time. What a great title, and it’s an enterprising magazine too, edited by Malcolm Curtis. Thanks, Malcolm, for including these poems. The magazine may be found here:

 My contributions may be found here:

During the third (unpublished) volume of my ‘English Strain’ project I have been re-writing, transposing, unthreading (I have a variety of terms) sonnets from the English Romantic tradition. That’s one way of looking at them. The other is to say they are poems about Brexit and Coronavirus. But in these four poems (and the other ten from the ‘Unth(reading) Clare section) I have been working with John Clare’s sonnets as my raw material. I found these sympathetic, and I had not known Clare’s work well before. I loved the work, actually, and adopted a quieter, more sympathetic, voice for some of my versions. Perhaps only Mary Robinson’s work I knew less, and I’m making up for that by editing a volume of her poems! Compare with Wordsworth here: Pages: The last of my Wordsworth versions in 'British Standards' (Book Three of 'The English Strain') ( Keats here (with more videos) :

 Or indeed, read what I said directly after the writing of these transpositions of Clare:

Pages: The final sonnet transposition from John Clare (thinking about the set of 14) (hub post) (

 Links to another online Clare ‘transposition’ in Beir Bua (with a video) here gives a bit more info:

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

 And so to this four. As I wrote these poems (because of their contemporary nature) I blogged them for a week or so. I also found I could add a video of their drafts. So here are three of the poems in Talking about Strawberries (Clare, I bet, talked about strawberries!) and a link to a fourth already online elsewhere.  

ONE: ‘De Wint! I would not..’ (De Wint was a painter who knew Clare.)


TWO: ‘Black grows the southern sky’ (the titles use the first line of Clare’s poem so readers may find the ‘originals’) is read here:

 THREE: My lo-fi videopoem of ‘What a Night’ I ‘ve already written about here… (It was all an accident, but it looks good.)

'What a night' is also here still, as part of SJ Fowler’s videopoem archive at Kingston University, but also on YouTube:

FOUR: ‘The oddling bush’, which comments on Clare’s odd term ‘oddling’!


 The beginning of ‘the English Strain’ is best described here ( ): that’s the first hundred, in the book The English Strain. Then here: - that’s Bad Idea, another 80+ sonnets (and another book).

 You can buy both books together here:


British Standards, as I said, not yet a book, but finished (or so I kept thinking, see the final link below!): see here: They are all versions of Romantic Era sonnets, Wordsworth to Coleridge, including Clare, of course. I write about the last of them here: