Blogging is more than a publicity exercise for me. Although this blog started out as the extension of an earlier magazine, it is an instrument for thinking (and writing, as I explain below in relation to the sonnets I have now finished). It is even therapeutic in some strange way: I lose myself in the process and within the labyrinthine linkages it makes. (It took me a long time to realise this aspect matched the strands and links of my Twentieth Century Blues project. (See Pages: Twentieth Century Blues published ten years ago! (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)) It is, clearly, a mode of publishing (which reflects its beginning as a blogzine).
This year has been an odd one, not least of all for having radiotherapy in the summer and on-going hormone treatment for prostate cancer (get it checked, old lads out there, that's the most serious message of this post, believe me. I've never had a symptom. And here's the most important link today: Prostate Cancer UK | Prostate Cancer UK ). It hasn’t made much difference to my blogging (though I timed my annual summer break for those 20 radiotherapy sessions at the wonderful Clatterbridge in Aintree).
I’m going to select 10 ‘areas’ with links for this year (but there's really 11!):
1 The great work of the year was the co-editing of New Collected Poems by Lee Harwood. Here’s one post, about the launch, with a link to other links (there’s lots about Lee on the blog!) Pages: Lee Harwood New Collected Poems launched and on sale now (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)
2 It was great to participate in the Cliff Yates @ 70 tribute and I write about that (and have links to the tribute, for which I wrote the introduction and submitted a specially-written poem) here: Pages: Cliff Yates at 70 : my parts in this celebration of his poetry and poetics (links to it) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com). Andy and Alan did him proud - as we all should.
3 Good also to be asked by Lyndon Davies to provide poem and essay to the John James/Chris Torrance issue of Junction Box, here: Pages: The John James/Chris Torrance issue of Junction Box - plus my poem for, essay on, James (robertsheppard.blogspot.com). I wrote for and about James, but I did have a fruitful suggestion for the Torrance part (that is, to reprint an interview with Torrance I read waiting for one of those radiotherapy appointments).
4 It’s grim to announce the deaths of friends (whether they are artists are not). But we lost two extremely creative friends in the last year and they are remembered here:
5 I continued publishing excerpts from British Standards (my transpositions of romantic sonnets) in magazines over this year and I provide links to them, BUT I also include on this blog short videos of those poems too. So here is a piece on transposing Wordsworth, which is also a homage to the brilliant work Phil Davenport is doing with homeless people using Wordsworth’s poems in a parallel way to me. (No, I am using them in a parallel way to him.) See: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Wordsworth’s Sonnets Transposed for the 21st Century appears on Zwiebelfish!
6 Keats got a similar treatment, and here are four posts,
with videos, of work that appeared from the 14 sonnets I’ve tackled (or
mangled, depending on your view of the project):
You’ll notice on the video I wear my Keats (life mask) with pride.
7 John Clare got the same treatment in British Standards and here are the two posts about the publication of some of the resultant poems (again with videos): here:
8 Talking of performing or reading, I did a reading (and would love to do more, if there are any organisers left after Covid!) at MMU’s English Futures conference in July 2022. Here’s my set list: Pages: My reading at the English Futures Saturday 9th July 2022 (set list) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com). It’s more of the Wordsworth transformations. I read a whole block to make absolutely clear what I was doing.
9 I wrote about Fictional Poets (looking back at the two volumes I published of such work), beginning with a post here: Pages: Reflections on Fictional Poetry and Fictional Poets (1 and hubpost for the sequence) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) and with links to the rest. I was also thinking through (even writing) a third part. I am quietly announcing here for the first time that a cleaned-up version of these posts will form parts of a book called Doubly Stolen Fire which will be published later this year.
10 Even before the eighteenth year of blogging began I was posting posts about having FINISHED the ‘English Strain’ project with its serial ‘final’ poems. It didn’t turn out that easy: these posts quite amusingly trace the process of closure, as I debate HOW and WHEN to end it. The final post here even contemplates starting it all up again, but decides against it (it is also the least consulted post of the four). Since the whole project was published and discussed on the blog (unlike other projects you won’t know about from reading these pages) it seems appropriate to cluster them together. I think they make interesting reading:
I’m saying goodbye to the sequence but I’m also saying goodbye to Bo (and to the sonnet: I’ll never return to the form! (He sez.))
One other thing (this isn’t point 11, believe me): I’ve also started this last year adding a set of addresses to every post (if I remember to do it!) That’s to make sure people can contact me. The other way of putting this is: don’t use my edgehill email address! I can’t access it. So:
Locating Robert Sheppard: email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.robertsheppard.weebly.com Do follow me on Twitter: Robert Sheppard (@microbius) / Twitter latest blogpost: www.robertsheppard.blogspot.com
The little block of four raw links below will take you to the posts I made after merely 10 years of blogging, trying to make lists of 1, the best posts, 2, my favourite posts (one for each year), 3, the most neglected posts, and, 4, my blogging plans for the (then) future. It was all quite fun, quite a lot of work, and is still interesting (even informative) to look at now.
My annual accounts of blogging all link (up). In fact, they are a sort of guide to that year’s ‘best’ posts (though it’s only in my estimate). Here’s 14, 15,16 and 17 years…
The pre-history of this blog, as a print magazine, may be read here, on what was my first post (even though I moved it later). I also outlined the complete run of the second series of Pages before it became a blogzine, and finally this blog. However, the first run of the print magazine is now online, at Jacket2 where it is hosted here.