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Monday, September 26, 2016

Robert Sheppard Symposium: one week left for submission of proposals

Robert Sheppard Symposium

Wednesday 8th March 2017: Edge Hill University

Chairs: Joanne Ashcroft, James Byrne, Tom Jenks and Christopher Madden

The Robert Sheppard Symposium will involve a series of research papers and presentations on any aspect of Robert Sheppard’s creative and/or critical work. The format will be panel sessions throughout the day and a reading during the evening (please specify if you would like to be considered for both). (I’ll be reading in the evening, but won’t be around during the day. I believe in leaving the delegates alone to respond unimpeded by the symposium’s subject.) A guide to my recent books here.

Papers are to be no more than 20 minutes
Please send a 150-200 word proposal to by next Monday: October 3rd 2016
Full information here:

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form in Perril and Bonney

Chapter 6: Translation as Occupation: Simon Perril and Sean Bonney

Simon Perril’s occupation of the lacunae represented by the fragmentary remains of the first Greek lyric poet, Archilochus, Archilochus on the Moon, allows him to adapt some ancient Greek tropes involving language, colonization and marriage, as well as reflecting upon the figure of the poet himself, while developing a short line measure replete with internal rhyme and suffused with pathos. Sean Bonney’s Happiness: After Rimbaud, appropriates the figure of Rimbaud in the service of revolutionary politics, so that some of Rimbaud’s aphorisms are re-functioned to show the disintegration of bourgeois sensibility, for example. Prose ‘letters’ accompany a series of angry poems, some of them alluding directly to Rimbaud’s works and life, others relating to riots in Britain in 2011, all of them transforming the original texts and/or originary myths of Rimbaud.  

See here for links to working passages on both poets' works. 
For those who can buy the book, or order it for libraries, here are the places

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form Bergvall and Moure

Chapter 5. Meddling the Medieval: Caroline Bergvall and Erín Moure

Both Caroline Bergvall and Erín Moure produce contemporary innovative texts that re-frame medieval ones. Bergvall’s take on (‘meddling’ with) Chaucer, Meddle English, involves a recognition of the fluidity of Chaucer’s language that matches a contemporary slipperiness in linguistic matters. Humorous and performative, Bergvall negotiates contemporary issues of gender through transformation, and through an interlineal gloss on the original text within her poems. Moure, in O Cadoiro, plunges into the archive of medieval Portuguese troubadours with relish, but Derrida’s essay ‘Archive Fever’ serves as a minatory intertext. Moure recognizes that the incomplete archive is capable of generating philosophical questions about self and truth, as well as being the occasion for stunning innovative love lyrics and visual play (as in the book’s photographic plates of her treated texts).   

For those who can buy the book, or order it for libraries, here are the places

For further posts on the project as it lead up to the book see here.  

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form Atkins' and Hughes' Petrarch

4. Translation as Transformation: Tim Atkins’ and Peter Hughes’ Petrarch

An account of contemporary ‘translation’ practices broadens the scope of the word from that of faithful imitation into many varieties of transformative practices using ‘original’ texts. While many examples are entertained in summary, two book-length projects taking the sonnets of Petrarch, by two British poets, Peter Hughes’ Quite Frankly: After Petrarch’s Sonnets and Tim Atkins’ Collected Petrarch, are examined in detail with respect to their versions of the same poem. While Hughes (who reads Italian) emphasizes his difference from the original (by relocating the poems and modernizing them, for example), Atkins (who does not read Italian) intends in his versions to emphasize his distance from the originals (largely through the use of post-Oulipo techniques and constraints). Both writers manage to reflect Petrarch’s elegiac mode, while Atkins additionally injects a Buddhist negation. 

See here for a hub-post with links to pieces on these 'Petrarch boys'

For those who can buy the book, or order it for libraries, here are the places


See here for the sonnets I write, and the work that began out of these two poets' exploration of Petrarch. You can read the original translation and my 'doggie' translation, 'Pet', here! The 4 'symboliste' poems may be read on Card Alpha 1, here.  And you can watch me read some of my 'Petrarch' variations here. (Including the Jimmy Savile one.) 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form... in the Innovative Sonnet

Chapter 3.  Convention and Constraint: Form in the Innovative Sonnet Sequence

Analysing both the history of the sonnet and its transformation in contemporary innovative practice (as exemplified by the anthology The Reality Street Book of Sonnets (2008)) the works of Ted Berrigan, Jeff Hilson, Philip Terry, Geraldine Monk and Sophie Robinson are critiqued in detail. Questions of form (as sonnet frame) are raised alongside issues of the historical form and its relation to politics and gender. An examination of the breadth of experiment evinced in contemporary practice, in relation to the work of New York poetics, the Oulipo group, and quasi-concrete poetry experiments in a variety of visual forms, completes the analysis.  

See about the sonnets I write here. See here for the central thesis of the book.

For those who can buy the book, or order it for libraries, here are the places

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form ... Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Abstracts of the chapters of The Meaning of Form... coming up day by day...

Chapter 2. Veronica Forrest-Thomson: Poetic Artifice and Naturalization in Theory and Practice

Forrest-Thomson’s Poetic Artifice is explored, both as a theory of poetry, which emphasizes form, artifice and processes of good and bad naturalization, and as a poetics for her own poetry. While her terms are treated as useful tools in attempting to show how artifice can critique the world, her concepts of the ‘image-complex’ and ‘suspended naturalization’, and her insistence that artifice is ‘non-meaningful’, are found wanting. The semiotics of Yuri Lotman and the thinking of Charles Bernstein rescue these terms, but not enough to stop Forrest-Thomson’s forensic analysis of her own poetry demonstrating the impossibility of fusing theory with poetics, even though she throughout maintains the primacy of artifice.    

Explore the thinking behind the book here (though there is only a little on VF-T). There is a response to the republication of Poetic Artifice here, and a creative response to her poetry and poetics here.

For those who can buy the book, or order it for libraries, here are the places

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Robert Sheppard; The Meaning of Form : Its Introduction

The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry
Robert Sheppard

I will be posting my chapter abstracts every day from now. See here for the hub post to the others: 

Introduction: Form, Forms and Forming

The central methodology that poetry is the investigation of complex contemporary realities through the means and meanings of form is introduced, via accounts of other ‘turns’ in recent literary studies (the importance of poetics is also underlined), leading to a reading of formalist criticism in the works of Derek Attridge, Susan Wolfson, Peter de Bola, Angela Leighton and others, which loosely owes to a longer post-Schiller aestheticist tradition of regarding form as a significant force. The cognitive anthropology of Lambros Malafouris, a theory of material engagement, is utilized to mediate the speculation that haunts this study: that form is a repository of cognition. Form as a force and cognitive entity, particular forms as elements of poetic artifice, and forming as active readerly engagement and transformation, are compared and differentiated.

See here for the hub-link to the research which lay behind the development of the thesis here.

For those who can buy the book, or order it for libraries, here are the places

Monday, September 19, 2016

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry PUBLISHED

The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry

My academic critical book is now published by Palgrave Macmillan. This has been a few years in the writing now and a few months in the production stage. It represents the culmination of my thinking about form, as I say in the Introductory chapter, and is guided by the opening formulation: ‘Poetry is the investigation of complex contemporary realities through the means (meanings) of form.’ This conjecture guides the theoretical accounts of form and the readings of (mainly British) contemporary poetry that follow in its chapters. The pun upon ‘means’ is intended to enact the supposition that if poetry does anything it does it chiefly through its formal power and less through its content, though it also carries the further suggestion that form is a modality of meaning in its own right.

This study engages questions relating to the life of form in contemporary innovative poetries through both an introduction to the latest theories of form that will be of interest to anyone concerned with reading for form, not just innovative poets and their readers, and which focusses upon form as an engaged action rather than metrical frame or pattern, and with reference to the work of Susan Wolfson and Derek Attridge, Angela Leighton and Peter de Bolla. Close readings of leading North American and British innovative poets, from Rosmarie Waldrop to Caroline Bergvall, Sean Bonney to Barry MacSweeney, Veronica Forrest-Thomson to Kenneth Goldsmith, Peter Hughes to Stefan Themerson, Allen Fisher to Geraldine Monk, emphasise their forms to be a matter of authorial design and readerly engagement. They cover form on the page, form in performance, and form in physical book-making. The book ends with a consideration of what has been implicit throughout: the politically critical function of formal innovation, mediated through the theories of Adorno, Rancière and others, and something that haunts throughout, the thought that form is cognitive, is brought to a tentative conclusion. 

How does this fit in with previous studies I’ve written? They have demonstrated these various ‘turns’, though not I hope in any programmatic way: the linguistic turn of Far Language (1999); the ethical turn of The Poetry of Saying: BritishPoetry and Its Discontents, 1950-2000 (2005); and the historical turn of When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry (2011); though throughout there has been a concern for poetics as a speculative writerly discourse (although I never quite realized the project of writing a whole book on poetics: the possible chapters are scattered through other books, including The Meaning of Form), but see here for the first part of my main essay on the subject). Yet at another level I see these works forming a unity in terms of my larger project of the study of the forms and poetics of British (and associated) writing of an avant-garde persuasion. (See here for my recent thoughts on the connection between critical work, poetics production and creative practice.) 

I am glad that it joins The Poetry of Saying as critical work of a strictly academic turn, although I am glad that overlapping essays in Far Language and When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry, books which are within the reach of the average poetic pocket, are still available. People sometimes misunderstand the nature of academic publication, about which I have some severe reservations (which I might share on this blog, but which I will limit on what is a bit of a celebratory occasion to the remark that this is to be my last purely academic book), but the fact is they are intended for scholars who have access to academic libraries and inter-library loan. (The demand for open access might change all that.) My answer to this imposed exclusivity has been to show the ‘working out’ of some of the chapters and parts of chapters (along with digressions, caprices, poetic effusions and – frankly – jokes) in posts on this blog, and they are arranged, for scholar and lay-person alike, at what I call a ‘hub-post’, i.e., largely a page of links to all the posts pertaining to the chapters of the book in its earliest form: HERE

For the record, the chapters of the final book are as below, and I’m going to link one a day to the abstracts of each that I plan to post over the coming days. About half of it accounted for by now.

 Introduction: Form, Forms and Forming (see here)
1. Veronica Forrest-Thomson: Poetic Artifice and Naturalization in Theory and Practice (see here)
2.  Convention and Constraint: Form in the Innovative Sonnet Sequence (see here)
3. Translation as Transformation: Tim Atkins’ and Peter Hughes’ Petrarch (see here)
4. Meddling the Medieval: Caroline Bergvall and Erín Moure (see here)
5. Translation as Occupation: Simon Perril and Sean Bonney (see here)
6. Rosmarie Waldrop: Poetics, Wild Forms and Palimpsest Prose
7. The Trace of Poetry and the Non-Poetic: Conceptual Writing and Appropriation in Kenneth Goldsmith, Vanessa Place and John Seed
8. Stefan Themerson: Iconopoeia and Thought-Experiments in the Theater of Semantic Poetry
9. The Making of the Book: Bill Griffiths and Allen Fisher
10. Geraldine Monk’s Poetics and Performance: Catching Form in the Act
11. Form and the Antagonisms of Reality: Barry MacSweeney’s Sin Signs

For those who can buy the book, or order it for libraries, here are the places to go to:

Here is some book data:

eBook ISBN
Hardcover ISBN