Conceived as a continuation of the fictional poems Robert Sheppard ventriloquised through the bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch in his A Translated Man (2013), the complete 28 poets of the EUOIA (European Union of Imaginary Authors) which we will only have time to sample take on a variety of new meanings in Brexit Britain. This collaborative work will be published before Brexit 'happens' as an anthology by Shearsman Books. (We are at the proof-stage with that.) Mostly conceived before Brexit, you can discover how Brexit became Shexit, as 'Robert Sheppard', the UK poet, becomes fictional, optional and expelled.
Working in collaboration with other writers, Sheppard creates a stylistically various programme of these European writers, whose works range from the comedic to the political, from the imaginatively sincere to the faux-autobiographical. History may not be argued away by the fictive. Accompanied by biographies of varying detail and plausibility, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own. There is no resultant ‘Europoem’ style, but a variety of styles that reflects the collaborative nature of their production.
I’d like to publicly thank everybody for making this EUOIA night a memorable one. I think everybody played their strange parts of being half or wholly someone else! Those of you on video added to the occasion by suggesting elsewheres (though two were filmed in Norfolk and one in the very (lovely) space we were performing in).
I did feel the reality of the poems that were read, particularly to hear them read by single voices. That choice worked I think, because it smoothed out the collaborations: in a lot of cases I was listening and trying to remember what I wrote and what the other had written, and I often couldn't. One measure of success.
I think I was right to hold back on the Brexit aspects. Not only because my versions of Wyatt and Surrey have been taking that head on, but because this is a project that pre-dates Brexit (though the word enters the last collaboration I did, with Steve McCaffery), its politics is of the contextual kind, when history surrounds an event and changes its meaning.
The Other Room is one of the great 'provisional institutions' of radical poetry (that's Charles Bernstein's term) and I feel honoured to have appeared there again. It is a collaborative enterprise, as this project has been, soon to be an anthology, Twitters for a Lark .
On that: I have the proofs now and I will turn to them as soon as I've come down from proofreading Atlantic Drift. (Not just from ecstasy but from the last minute labour!) I noticed a few inconsistencies (even while I was reading!).
Here’s the set list and some notes I made to help me speak to the audience
Intro from Tom Jenks
Intro to Van Valckenborch and the EUOIA.
Robert Sheppard: read 5 EUOIA poems from A Translated Man
I went back to my list (or his) and decided to write the lot starting with these 5 whose works I wrote on my own. Sophie Poppmeier as example from Twitters for a Lark: I read her 3 poems and said a little about her life. (Much more here and here)
An account of collaboration (and why collaboration)
with Jason Argleton, Joanne Ashcroft, Alan Baker, James Byrne, Alys Conran, Kelvin Corcoran, Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Patricia Farrell, S. J. Fowler, Allen Fisher, Robert Hampson, Jeff Hilson, God’s Rude Wireless, Tom Jenks, Frances Kruk, Rupert Loydell, Steve McCaffery, Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Sandeep Parmar, Simon Perril, Jèssica Pujol i Duran, Zoë Skoulding, Damir Šodan, Philip Terry, Scott Thurston, René Van Valckenborch
‘I would like to thank all of my collaborators, who have pooled their sovereignty, as it were, and constructed poems and people in so many different, educative and exhilarating ways.’
This will be published soon as Twitters for a Lark
|Cover by Ivalyo Dimitrov (who will be reading tonight)|
An account of collaboration
Robert and Patricia Farrell (two voice performance): Bulgaria: Ivaylo Dimitrov (1979-)
Behind Into Beyond
For the next part of the evening I asked my collaborators to read our work in a single voice; after all, most of the collaborations were about creating a single voice amid varied company:
Joanne Ashcroft: Slovakia: Matúš Dobeš (1959-)
'Roasting One's Chestnuts' and 'As I Drank Double Espressos'
Read Joanne's hopes for the evening here. And see our previous attempt to animate our creature, Matus Dobres of Slovakia here, and read about this fictional poet and find links to his texts here.
Tom Jenks: from the Biographical Note of Luxembourrg’s Georg Bleinstein. He has an interesting life (some of it still to come) and you can trace that life, with the help of embedded vidoes (Group Captain Carol Vorderman, sausages, that sort of thing), here.
Scott Thurston: Malta: Hubert Zuba (1964-2015)
S.J. Fowler: Video: Sweden, Kajsa Bergström (1956-)
Jeff Hilson: Video: Hungary, Ratsky József (1970-)
Alan Baker: Slovenia, A.B.C. Remič (1958-)
If I Were...
Allen Fisher: Finland: Minna Kärkkäinen (1974-)
Small Choruses on Mars
Explanation of EUOIA and ‘Shexit’ as shadow of Brexit (see here for my playing around on this blog with that idea)
Robert Sheppard: UK (I am also a fictional poet)
Ern Malley Suite
An explanation how the island of Frisland nudged into the project. If fictional poets, why not fictional land-masses? Eirikur's suggestion...
Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl: Video: Frisland: Hróbjartur Ríkeyjarson af Dvala (1948- )
Koans of sweet pig Brenda and the escape from Frisland
Robert Sheppard: Fragments of the Ancient Tale of Queen Brenda and the Settling of Frisland (here’s a clip, as it were):
Bjorn my best Beserker born of bears
Feels no fear on Frisland’s fishless shore;
He bursts forth bearing crests of bear and boar
And peels the flesh from living men leaving
Sweetmeats and stinking gore hanging from gates,
And widows’ wombs torn free like bloody bladders,
And children’s brains bashed pretty hard.
Concluding remarks by Tom Jenks: next reading 31st October…
And here's my last reading at The Other Room, where I read the Flemish poems of Rene Van Valckenborch: https://otherroom.org/videos/or-43-sandeep-parmar-robert-sheppard-rachel-smith-videos/
The book may be bought here: http://www.shearsman.com/ws-shop/product/6460-robert-sheppard-ed---twitters-for-a-lark
My Edge Hill email was promised to continue after my retirement on 1st September despite the agreement of many parties. It may come back but I doubt it: it disappeared before my final day of work was finished and with it contact with all sorts of people was immediately lost, from professional contacts to contributors to Atlantic Drift, but not EUOIA poets and collaborators. I have another email and I suggest that you use that: firstname.lastname@example.org .