This day-length event involved a series of research papers and presentations on various aspects of my creative and critical work. Speakers were Scott Thurston, Robert Hampson, Andrew Taylor, Steven Waling, Keith Jebb, Niokolai Duffy, Adam Hampton, Tim Allen, Joanne Ashcroft, Christopher Madden, Zoe Skoulding, Tom Jenks, and Allen Fisher. I'd like to thank them for their work.
I would like to also thanks James Byrne, Christopher Madden, Tom Jenks, Joanne Ashcroft and Izzy Lamb for their organizing.
There will be a conference report and a book in the fullness of time.
The Robert Sheppard Symposium event was kindly supported by the Department of English, History and Creative Writing, Edge Hill University and the North West Poetry and Poetics Network.
I am extremely grateful that this symposium is happening – and I suppose I should explain why I am absent from the room during its sessions (though I am hanging about the rest of the time!). For one, I would find it almost unendurable to witness the full critical apparatus turned upon my work (which I hope is what will occur). I have heard today described as a ‘celebration’ of my work, but I hope it will be an interrogation of it. Secondly, I have no wish to take part in it (even subliminally, by sheer silent presence). I provide the headache (in Beckett’s memorable metaphor) but it is not my job to provide the aspirin. My commitment to poetics as a speculative, writerly discourse is in part predicated on the belief that a writer cannot ‘read’ his or her work, or better had not, that ‘explanation’ is neither the business of poet or poetics. Thirdly, I am taking a cue from the late Tom Raworth who, when I was about to deliver a paper on his work at the Sound Eye Festival in Cork, told me he was going to explore the city. I have heard of symposia on writers that have been policed by the presence and intervention of the writer. I like to think Tom was telling me what I am telling you all now: that my absence will allow you freedom to express yourselves exactly as you see fit. As it should be. See you later.
|Book stall at the Symposium|
In the evening a reading by some of the most prominent poets in the UK followed: Allen Fisher, Robert Hampson, Zoe Skoulding, Antony Rowland, Patricia Farrell, Nikolai Duffy, Rhys Trimble, Natasha Borton, Scott Thurston, Andrew Taylor and others. See here for videos.
Details of the associated Ship of Fools exhibition (STILL ON) may be read here: