Friday, November 25, 2022

Lee Harwood: New Collected Poems: a blurb or mini-essay by Iain Sinclair

The New Collected Poems of Lee Harwood is NOW available. HERE:  Lee Harwood - New Collected Poems (

The art of the blurb is not often considered (and I’m a veteran of writing them. Here’s one I like a lot that I did for Alan Baker’s excellent Riverrun: Pages: Alan Baker's Journal of Enlightened Panic (and the EUOIA poets) ( Iain Sinclair has written one for the New Collected Poems Kelvin Corcoran and I have edited from the works of Lee Harwood for publication in January 2023. Unfortunately, we have had to edit Iain’s copy too, in that it is too long, with Iain’s kind permission, but the whole appears on the Shearsman website, but I thought it might be interesting to publish it here as well. 

In Edge of Orison Sinclair makes the observation that the portrait of John Clare below looks like the young Lee Harwood. (You'll see below he looks a bit like the later Harwood!) The thought seems to have percolated into his sensibility, for now he’s operating with a full-blown, but mysterious, analogy between the two writers. I have been reading Clare attentively (to write 14 versions of his sonnets for my ‘English Strain’ project: find one representative post here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Four new versions of John Clare published in Talking About Strawberries (plus videos and links)) and I have to agree there is something in it.

Lee Harwood and John Clare: they come from such different places and times, but they share something we can’t explain, a way of making bright and inevitable a pattern of words, measured sounds, never there before in quite this way, but now present for us, always. And redeemable too. Their poems affect our memories like intimate letters from a stranger. Trust is solicited and willingly given, experience before understanding. Light dances from the white field of the book in our hands. Visions are offered just as they come. That is the beautiful illusion, the uncommon gift. Sequences scroll out, playful, perverse when required, modestly assertive, and in good heart. The captured history of these serial engagements with consciousness lets us think better of ourselves.

That stipple engraving of John Clare by Edward Scriven, a commissioned frontispiece to The Village Minstrel, taken from the portrait painted by William Hilton, brings me back, by some unexplained alchemy, to Lee Harwood. To a certain watchful look, questing beyond occasion, held within the climate of private reverie. Harwood knows he is untouchable in his vulnerability. There are landscapes and there is scenery, the shared room and the mountains climbed with friends. Purity of diction must be capable of ‘hazing the sharpness’ of a familiar horizon.

This new collection is a generously considered gathering of resistant and supple fragments, hard evidence of a life truly lived. We are the beneficiaries of these dazzling transfusions of personality and circumstance. Of remembered and newly encountered detonations of affect. ‘The clarity of such moments,’ Harwood confesses, can never stay still, even when that seems to be the required task.  Love moves and shifts. Through repeated acts of making, it coheres and continues.


Something profound. ‘Harwood knows he is untouchable in his vulnerability,’ is itself almost a visionary remark. Instead of a blurb we have here a mini-essay on one view of the essential qualities of Harwood’s work! We, that is Kelvin and I as editors, and Tony as publisher, would like to thank Iain for this thought-provoking text.

 More on the book, and links to all posts about Lee Harwood on this blog, may be accessed via what I call a hub-post, here: Pages: Lee Harwood: 4 Poems (and a note on them) in Abandoned Playground, ahead of NEW COLLECTED POEMS edited Corcoran and Sheppard (


You may pre-order or order New Collected Poems from Shearsman here: Lee Harwood - New Collected Poems (

My book on Iain Sinclair, Iain Sinclair is still available here, and elsewhere: 9780746311547: Iain Sinclair (Writers & Their Work) (Writers and Their Work) - Robert Sheppard: 0746311540 - AbeBooks and elsewhere. And here: Iain Sinclair | Liverpool University Press

Listen to the best of Harwood online from here: Pages: Lee Harwood New Collected Poems: the best audio and video recordings (


Locating Robert Sheppard: email:  website: Follow on Twitter: Robert Sheppard (@microbius) / Twitter  latest blogpost:

Thursday, November 24, 2022

I.m. Wilko Johnson (poem, video, thoughts)

Here’s a poem about Wilko Johnson, his music, and his strange encounter with cancer. Text followed by video.

This poem comes from a sequence called ‘Sound on the Lip of Silence: from the photographs of Trev Eales’, which itself is a distillation of a project that hit the buffers very late, just into the Pandemic (the two instances are aligned in my memory). I talk about that project here: Pages: Whatever happened to the book Charms and Glitter? (

Wilko Johnson


seen him leaping in the freshness

of youth across the stage of my

miscomprehension, his body in

percussive jounce, frenetic frenzy

of mopped hair. Later, much later, 

he seems

in decline, terminal, a

meat-head butting mortality. But


or miracle

gives him back to time, as 

continuity, and from it he quickens

a pattern like rising chords 

on wild frets, a finale 

that becomes a prelude in late style.

Fresh prickles of hair rise on his scalp. 

I saw Wilko twice, I think, once with Dr Feelgood, whose hyped-up blues I didn’t get at the time, and once solo, when I equally didn’t get his proto-punkness, though I remember being impressed by that energy, also captured in Trev’s photo, and captured in my memory (of the stage at UEA). And, in my poem I hope. Now, both strategies make sense. Indeed, my friends and I were discussing him on Tuesday evening, ignorant that he had already passed away. I don't think he's going to 'rest' in peace.  


Locating Robert Sheppard: email:  website: Follow on Twitter: Robert Sheppard (@microbius) / Twitter  latest blogpost:

Friday, November 18, 2022

Proof copy of New Collected Poems by Lee Harwood arrives

 The proof copy has arrived - and I filmed myself opening it. Here:

It will be published in January 2023, and represents a lot of hard work by Kelvin Corcoran and myself (as editors) and Tony Frazer (as publisher), and there are still sone final things to check - and then it'll be available. Must get on with them now. 

See here for a recent post on the volume, AND links to the many posts concerning Lee Harwood on this  blog: Pages: Lee Harwood: 4 Poems (and a note on them) in Abandoned Playground, ahead of NEW COLLECTED POEMS edited Corcoran and Sheppard (

Listen to the bet of Lee online here; Pages: Lee Harwood New Collected Poems: the best audio and video recordings (

The New Collected Poems of Lee Harwood is NOW available. HERE:  Lee Harwood - New Collected Poems (

Locating Robert Sheppard email:  website: Follow on Twitter: Robert Sheppard (@microbius) / Twitter  latest blogpost:



Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The 1955 Committee (and others) 2022

Ellie, Dave, me (b. 1955), Nick (b. 1955), Frank (b. 1955) and photographer Len (b. 1955), in The Belvedere (where we'd all met a few years ago), November 14th 2022 (my birthday).  

Who would have thought that I'd have written that day's line, only hours before: 'In a sweet birthday shower of body parts'? That strange inner-life of words and the outside world of sociality. We need both. 

There are many posts 'about' November 1955 on this blog. Here's one: Pages: November 1955 ( Here's one that hits the target date: Pages: November 14th 1955; 'Tombland: How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth' (

Oh, yes, there are other posts about the Belvedere. Here's one about the poems Chris McCabe and I had on the walls once, along with a handwritten Brian Patten poem! Pages: Chris McCabe and Robert Sheppard poems in the Belvedere, Liverpool!