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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Robert Sheppard: two poems excerpted from Twitters for a Lark

Here are two poems excerpted from Twitters for a Lark, not because I thought there was anything wrong with them but because I needed to cut the size of the manuscript: poems I had written on my own, rather than in collaboration, were obviously the first victims. The first poem was originally the epigraph of the book, the work of Erwin Wertheim, who crops up as one of the possible creations of the Luxembougish poet George Bleinstein. He is inexplicably described as ‘a vampire poet and Schnitzel champion’ (I have no idea what that means!).


One voice torn into two.
Or two sewn into one?  Two
turning into themselves. Itself.
One torn atwain, and again
the breaking down/building up: into
series, consequent, like the genome,
a trail of blood between the raw and the roasted. Or
a rained off vacation somewhere in ‘Europe’
in a leaky caravan, reading Paris-Match to one another,
hiding from our own others
behind the fridge next to the mousetrap.

                                                            Erwin Wertheim (1997)

The second poem is the second collaboration between myself and a cut up engine, God’s Rude Wireless, but it had to go because the other poem was the one into which I put the lines Rene Van Valckenborch quoted in A Translated Man – I wanted some continuity between the volumes. But I like the poem just as much and, as you can see, this one alludes to Rene.

Walk On Part

                        for René Van Valckenborch

walk off it’s a pretty flat song

to play the carousal and wingèd Pegasus
its painted rôle could be sung forever

you would like to have crooned torch songs
in Watteau the Musical with strings and swings
and some kitsch at the most

walk on
you would still like to
in a revival against the busy backdrop

you would like bouquets the only play in your self
that’s no bel canto no dipthong poignant verse

whereas this walk off is a pretty flat song

the hero has an exacting rôle
that a singer could sing
to a shy lover who’s tossed aside
by the song our old hero played to death

Maarten DeZoute

Twitters for a Lark: The Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors
is published by Shearsman Books at £9.99 and in available here:

It strikes me that these two poems may have something to do with the potential third part of the Fictional Poets Trilogy (I’ve never put it like that before, but it’s what I’m thinking of doing.)

Atlantic Drift Launch: Zoe Skoulding, Trevor Joyce and Chris McCabe

Launch of Atlantic Drift: An Anthology of Poetry and Poetics

Published by Arc Publications &Edge Hill University Press 
November 23rd , 7.30pm

Arts Theatre
Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, L39 4QP

Featuring Chris McCabe, Trevor Joyce and Zoë Skoulding 

Introduced by the books' editors, Professor Robert Sheppard and Dr James Byrne and with remarks from Pro-Vice Chancellor Mark Allanson
This event is FREE, though please sign up in advance for tickets 

Refreshments will be provided
This reading will feature three poets from a new and groundbreaking publication of poetry and poetics published by Edge Hill University Press.

But also visit this page HERE for the various posts I've made concerning the book, its editing, including videos and photos.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Robert Sheppard: reading at Doped in Stunned Mirages: poems in response to Captain Beefheart (set list)

Sat 11 November 2017: 5 - 6.30pm

Bluecoat, Liverpool

Doped in Stunned Mirages: poems in response to Captain Beefheart

Poets: Patience Agbabi, Vahni Capildeo, Sarah Crewe, Patricia Farrell, Peter Finch, Libby Houston, Tom Jenks, Chris McCabe, me, Zoë Skoulding, Matthew Smith, Helen Tookey and Jeff Young.

Each responded to a Beefheart album, not in that order but in the chronological order of the albums they were assigned, Jenks to Tookey. 

This event took place between 5-6.30pm, but the day began with the Beefheart symposium and a chance to see an archive display and films that will run at Bluecoat. There was music in the evening, but we didn't get to that.

Devised by independent curator Kyle Percy, working in collaboration with
Chris McCabe and Bluecoat’s Artistic Director Bryan Biggs. My thanks to all three!

My diary: A rush to Bluecoat for the Beefheart symposium. Highlights: Lucy Cullen's film about the 1972 Bluecoat exhibition,

Graham Crowley nailing Beefheart's painting, Alan Dunn's film (with Edgar Jones, who we'd caught at the Handyman a couple of weeks ago), and Patricia Farrell, Sarah McCabe and Peter Finch examining the poetry, Gary Lucas' memories (we bought his new album that received a good review in The Wire)...

John Hyatt, Gary Lucas, and Alan the trumpeter: who played the last post at 11.00
Then the poets read: Vanhi was the real surprise, amongst a good set. Not heard her before. Or met. It sold out. Sorry? A poetry reading sold out. Well done, everybody involved...

I read my poem 'Beefore and Never' (which, with the others is published in the zine Click Clack, so I'm not going to quote much of it, but before I read (or beefore I read) I said:

My assigned album was Strictly Personal, a record that was made under adverse conditions and subject to post-production treatments that threatened to impose the trappings of psychedelia - fazing and so on - onto an album that was steeped in the blues. I knew some of the tracks on the album, but not all - and not the first track, whose first meoments delivered a 'strictly personal' surprise to me that coloured my active listening. The Captain was singing and playing harp on a surreal version of a song by his - and my - favourite country blues singer, Son House. The song, in Son House's version, is called 'My Black Woman', and the shock of it was that it was a song I used to sing with Tony Parsons. It was inevitable therefore that my poem, while picking up cluses and echoes from the album, is also a skip through the blues tradition.

Then I read the poems: 'blow in the sunset threading/ bones legs entwined/ swell/ into a cough cut huff' etc...

I decided not to sing a bit of the song and play the harp, though I could have. I found no way to transition from the music to the poem, from my singing voice to my reading voice. I thought the song might obscure the poem.

Patricia read with Rita:

A tan is addressed in her poem. Again, you'll need to consult the zine!

Friday, November 10, 2017

More Petrarchan sonnets: Charlotte Smith's Elegiac Sonnets

I made a habit of posting my sonnets earlier in the year as they were written. I write about the Earl of Surrey ones here , where I explain that the poems were temporarily posted, partly because I was often commenting on contemporary events, like Boris' gaffes, and I wanted to get an immediate audience. See here for one reference to this latest sequence, feeding off of the sonnets of Charlotte Smith, and featuring Boris' last gaffe.  The new poem has a reference to his more serious one.(And Pretti Patel's.)

I left it up a week, but now it's gone. Sorry. Let's hope you'll read it in print one day.... 

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Robert Sheppard: New long poem, 'The Accordion book' published in Adjacent Pineapple 2

A long six part poem (or is it a long poem, I’m not sure) appears in the second issue of the vital magazine edited by Colin Herd, Adjacent Pineapple. Dig that name, dig my poem, here;

‘The Accordion Book’ is a long and deliberately involuted poem, dealing with perception, art and (in places) cognitive extension…. 
It begins:

Form becomes reform on this stretch
of paintbox limbs. Destruction is con-
structivist shivering, a black box with
unruly wires, splats! on grids. We

lean over our futures: white on black,
we silhouette our capering. One of us
faces the tank (we’ve learnt this pose from
YouTube footage) as they pounce to the beat....

 And then dig the work of the others:
       Amy Gerstler
       Joey Frances
    Eva Ferry
      Iain Britton
    Calum Rodger
     Clive Gresswell
      Medbh  McGuckian   
Denise Bonetti      
Paula Claire         
Claire Potter            
Rachel Grande      
Laura Tansley    
   Jonty Tiplady        

Thanks to Colin Herd for taking this work.  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Minilaunch of Twitters for a Lark/Earl of Surrey poems at EDGE POETICS November 4th November 2017 (set list)

There was a mini-launch of Twitters for a Lark as part of the Edge Poetics symposium, details here:

4th November 2017

10.00-17.30, with a public reading at 18.00 (that's where we'll launch)

Venue: University of Bedfordshire, Luton Campus

I read with Nicholas Royle,  Helen Marshall and Tim Jarvis.

I read the section 'The Unfortunate Fellow Traveller' from 'Surrey with the Fringe on Top', my irreverent takes on the Earl of Surrey's Petrarch poems, his 'Europoems' as the poems themselves call it. See here for more (or less) on the sequence.

Then I launched Twitters for a Lark by asking Simon Perrill to read our collaborative poem, the works of the Latvian poet Janis Raups. Then I finished off with the works of Lucia Cianglini.

Tim, Helen and Tim read marvellously unnerving short stories!

Twitters for a Lark: The Poetry of the European Union of Imaginary Authors
is published by Shearsman Books at £9.99 and in available here:

Working in collaboration with a team of real writers, Robert Sheppard has created a lively and entertaining anthology of fictional European poets.

This collection marks a continuation of the work Sheppard ventriloquised through his creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (also available from Shearsman here: ). Nicholas Royle is credited with having stoked upo the necessary Belgiophilia to invent him (see Nick's novel Antwerp.)

Although devised before the neologism ‘Brexit’ was spat across the bitter political divide, this sample of 28 poets of the EUOIA (European Union of Imaginary Authors) takes on new meanings in our contemporary world that is far from fictive, ‘fake news’ or not.

Read more about the European Union (of Imaginary Authors) here and here. and here:

Monday, November 06, 2017

Edge Poetics: My Keynote and Other events

Edge Poetics

A Symposium on Innovative and Speculative Creative Writing Practices in Higher Education

Me, with 'blogpost 5' on show

4th November 2017

10.00-17.30, with a public reading at 18.00

Venue: University of Bedfordshire, Luton Campus

With keynotes from Professor Robert Sheppard (Edge Hill University) and Nicholas Royle (Manchester Metropolitan University), and contributions from Dr Helen Marshall (Anglia Ruskin University). In the evening we all read, along with Tim Jarvis. I launched Twitters for a Lark with delegate Simon Perril.

Just back from Edge Poetics: A great day: good company: lots of energy; plenty of ideas: everybody moaning about the tension between trying to nurture creativity and the obstructive nature of university research culture + empty but burgeoning administration. But also a recognition of the joys of what we do (well). 
You can read all parts of my drafts of a keynote but I didn't use them all. The material at the end of post four ('The Formal Splinter') below was (wisely I think) substituted by a different text. (Hopefully a final piece will be published in a polished form in a publication, so I'll leave the revisions until then.) It seemed to go down well. 

Keynote Part one here:

Keynote Part two here:

Keynote Part three:  

Keynote Part four:

Keynote Part five:

                Till relatively recently, Creative Writing in Higher Education has been dominated by a set of techniques and tropes derived from realism, and also by the expectations of mainstream literary fiction. Increasingly, however, aspects of innovative and speculative poetics are finding their way into the classroom.

                This one-day symposium will ask: what are the benefits for the pedagogy of Creative Writing of writing practices drawn from experimental and fantastic traditions; and what does it mean to be a writer interested in such traditions who also teaches Creative Writing in academe? 

Nicholas Royle's keynote (like mine) was a reflection upon teaching, in his case through a structural miming of BS Johnson's The Unfortunates. I'd wondered who'd bought that copy in the Bold St Oxfam. Now I know. Nick. Marvellous Liverpool detail from this excellent Manchester writer. I'd been away less than 24 hours and I was already nostalgic.  
Nick reading his speech

Thanks to Conference organisers Tim Jarvis, Keith Jebb, and Lesley McKenna (University of Bedfordshire) 

The Necessity of Poetics was a text produced over some years, in different editions from Ship of Fools, but it is serialised, in one version, here:

Keith's students told me I was 'notorious' for it! They have to study it. I felt scowls in my direction!