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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Celebrate Greece’s Independence Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Eua Ionnou

Celebrate Greece’s Independence Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Eua Ionnou who was co-created by myself and Kelvin Corcoran.

See here for more on Eua and here for more on Kelvin.

I worked in collaboration, over a number of years, with a team of real writers, to create a lively and entertaining body of work of fictional European poets.

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman.   
More on Twitters here and here

This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ).

I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy. But I'm not sure how to proceed this. Possibly I'll get the Bangor reading (6th April) and the Manchester reading (13th April) over first, both launches of Twitters...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Peter Riley on my Petrarch 3 and other 'expanded translations'

In his ‘Translation, Expanded Translation, Version, Mess', here, 

http://fortnightlyreview.co.uk/2018/03/translation-expanded

Peter Riley takes on the following books, thinking that we have all taken on the term ‘expanded translation’ to describe what we are doing. I haven’t, though I recognise that it has been an ongoing title for conferences investigating versioning, and I doubt if others are using it about their practice:

.
Peter Hughes, Quite Frankly: After Petrarch’s Sonnets.
Tim Atkins, Petrarch Collected.
Robert Sheppard, Petrarch 3: a derivative dérive.
Crater Press, Crater no. 36, 2016 | One sheet folded to 32pp. | £4
Alan Halsey, Versions of Martial.
Laurie Duggan, The Epigrams of Martial.
Philip Terry, Dante’s Inferno.
Virgil, Aeneid Books I-VI translated by David Hadbawnik, illustrated by Carrie Kaser.
Catullus, Carmen LXIV translated by Simon Smith.
The Books of Catullus, translated and edited by Simon Smith.
Bad Kid Catullus, edited by Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone.
Trevor Joyce, Fastness: A translation from the English of Edmund Spenser.


He’s a bit grumpy about the category, which he worries away at, and takes issue with the thought that we (I think I can speak of this collective he assembles, and which I have treated of in my book The Meaning of Form (see here: )) are making versions ‘for our time’. I’m not: I’m positing Petrarch (and later Wyatt, Milton, Surrey, Charlotte Smith and (currently) EBB) against the modern world. He doesn’t need expanded translation, but he can be used as a vehicle to write contemporary poems (which is what Wyatt did, as Riley asserts).

But he does look at my Petrarch 3. I think there's only one translation here, from Petrarch - followed by 14 (not 17 as Peter says) versions; (Jakobson uses the term 'intralingual' translation for that sort of thing, but I've only just received that term). Read more about the book here. He is taken by my use of Themerson’s ‘Semantic Poetry Translation’ technique. And says:

The one that most interested me was a “semantic” translation in memory of, and in the manner of, Stefan Themerson, a name I haven’t seen for many years—a kind of anti-romantic and mock-scientific experimenter who died in 1988. Here the small details of the translation are expanded by paraphrase and explanation within the text until the sonnet occupies four pages.

He is severe on Hughes and Atkins. See here for my take on them, prefatory notes for a chapter of The Meaning of Form, in which I compare their 'difference' and 'distance', in terms of translations as transformation. I have also just finished writing an essay on the writing of Petrarch 3 too, ‘Era il giorno ch’al sol si scoloraro’: A derivative dérive into/out of Petrarch’s Sonnet 3’, in which I say,
Petrarch was pretty clear that translation implied more than faithful reproduction of linguistic features. He warned, utilising a conventional metaphor for translation drawn from apiculture, ‘Take care … that the nectar does not remain in you in the same state as when you gathered it; bees would have no credit unless they transformed it into something different and better.’ [i] This essay involves attempting to trace the transformations involved in the writing of fourteen variations on a ‘translation’ I made of the third sonnet of Petrarch, Petrarch 3 (2016), a partly conceptual, partly expressive, sonnet sequence, made under the sign of Oulipo, but informed by earlier poetic interests of my own, even early poems.[ii] It is at once impersonal and personal. It is, arguably, both hugely derivative and original, though that last judgement is beyond the scope of my poetics as I define it as a ‘speculative, writerly discourse’.[iii] What I can say is that the process was immensely productive, though I would not dare to rise to Petrarch’s aspiration concerning the betterment of the original. As a poet-critic, I believe that my literary criticism must inform my poetics – the mercurial writerly conversation that I have with myself in my journal, with others in explicit poetics pieces, and perhaps in this piece I am writing now – but I do not know how particularly, hence my use of the verb ‘attempting’ above.

Read Zoe Skoulding's response to Riley's piece, a defence of 'expanded translation' here. It's also an account of the Bangor Conference.

Read more about Petrach 3 here

I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession/project, including how to purchase Petrarch 3 from Crater press in its 'map' edition.

Read the 'original' translation (if you see what I mean) and the doggie version here. Then buy it, if you haven't already.

The first review of Petrarch 3 by Alan Baker may be read on Litterbug, here. The second response, by Martin Palmer here.




[i] Susan Brigden, Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest (London: Faber and Faber, 2012), p. 157.
[ii] Robert Sheppard, Petrarch 3: a derivative derive (Izmir/Minneapolis, 2017). This is published in an unpaginated double-sided format (folded like a map). I will include references to the number of the variation (V) and the lines (ll) in the text.
[iii] Robert Sheppard, ‘Poetics as Conjecture and Provocation: an inaugural lecture delivered on 13 March 2007 at Edge Hill University’, New Writing: The International For the Theory and Practice of Creative Writing,. Vol 5: 1, (2008) 3-26 (p.4).

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Celebrate St Patrick's Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors Irish poet Sean Eoghan

Celebrate St Patrick's Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors Irish poet Sean Eoghan who was co-created by myself and Steve McCaffery. 

See here for more on Steve. As this was the last collaboration to be conducted, you'll have to consult Twitters for a Lark to read his two poems, one a version of AE's work, the other a take on Yeats.


I worked in collaboration, over a number of years, with a team of real writers, to create a lively and entertaining body of work of fictional European poets.

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman.   
More on Twitters here and here. And here.

This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ).

I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy.There are a number of possibilities for the (not necessarily book-length) third part. Do I turn back to Van Valckenborch in some way? Do I travel back in time? Is it time for the Manx Modernists? Or for the bifurcating 'Robert Sheppards' announced (but rejected) in Twentieth Century Blues?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Robert Sheppard: Poem by Earl of Surrey with my intralingual translation in International Times

I have been writing poems that re-write the Petrarchan tradition for a while and wondering whether they need to be displayed alongside the original. Possibly Wyatt's, Milton's and EBB's are well-enough known for this not to be a problem, but Surrey and Charlotte Smith are more obscure (but shouldn't be, and weren't in the past). So I have experimented with this poem from the 'Direct Rule' part of the Surrey poems (they are the ones that are not versions of Petrarch but are trenchantly 'occasional'. This one involved touching on Trump's 'trans ban' and upon the macho version of diplomacy that seems to prevail in the White House. I held it back from publication as it became a veritable thicket of scare-quotes to show I wasn't expressing the opinions involved. The two poems together make that clear. Thanks to Rupert for taking this for International Times.

See here:




Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ern Malley 1918-1943: Celebrating the centenary in his place of birth Liverpool (set list)

Liverpool was the birthplace of Ern Malley, probably the most famous English language fictional poet. I took part in a celebration of his 100th birthday on 14 March, on 13th March, last night, round the corner at the Handyman Pub. Believe it or not, I’ve met a composer and guitarist, David Whyte, who has set all the Malley poems to music. The event was his brainchild.

It was pretty splendid, all round, with two bands, exciting stuff on video, a fair-sized audience. The professorial quotient was pretty high and a lot of the performers were fresh from UCU picket-lines, so that gave the evening an edge. Good to relax back at David's place too, literally round the corner. Thanks David and Vicky and Kirsteen and Patricia and Kait and Paul - and all the others, whose names I didn't catch.

There are some photos of the night here, taken by Phil Maxwell...

We played Ern straight, and Mark Minchinton even claimed to be Ern's grandchild. 


First Half
DJ Frank Scenario
Boult to Marina – read by Robert Sheppard
(V) Egyptian Register - read by Mark Minchinton
Sonnets for the Novachord – read by Robert Sheppard
Perspective Lovesong – read by Robert Sheppard
Culture as Exhibit – read by Patricia Farrell
Night Piece – sung by Ern Malley Orchestra
Sweet William – sung by Ern Malley Orchestra
Baroque Exterior - sung by Ern Malley Orchestra
DJ Frank Scenario
Second Half 
(V) Colloquy with John Keats (and Coda) – read by Lucy Van
(V) Young Prince of Tyre – read by Justin Clemens
(V) Palinode – sung by Derek McCormack and Imbe Neeme (Ern Malley Orchestra Melbourne)
(V) Sybilline - sung by Derek McCormack and Imbe Neeme (Ern Malley Orchestra Melbourne)
Petit Testament – read by Patricia Farrell
Night-piece (Alternate Version) - sung by Ern Malley Orchestra
Documentary Film - sung by Ern Malley Orchestra
Dürer: Innsbruck, 1495 - sung by Ern Malley Orchestra
Ern Malley Suite read by Robert Sheppard (from Twitters for a Lark; see here)

DJ Frank Scenario


https://twitter.com/handymansmarket


In the twenty-fifth year of my age
I find myself to be a dromedary
That has run short of water between
One oasis and the next mirage
And having despaired of ever
Making my obsessions intelligible
I am content at last to be
The sole clerk of my metamorphoses.

The Complete Poems may be read here:
 
(Who was Ern Malley? See http://www.ernmalley.com )

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Launch of Twitters for a Lark at 2018 States of Independence (set list)/Simon Perrril launch

We (Patricia and I) journeyed to Leicester for the 2018 States of Independence bookfair and reading event at DeMontfort University, Saturday 11th March.

They have a website (http://www.statesofindependence.co.uk).

I have an account of our last visit two years ago which I thoroughly enjoyed, to read for an Oystercatcher event (http://robertsheppard.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/robert-sheppard-and-nancy-gaffield.html). It’s a great day out in its own right.

Apart from the travel, which could detain this account - only to say the unscheduled long journey back between Derby and Crewe, in a single carriage train full of drunks (at 8.00?) was not really a highlight - this year's event was most enjoyable.

We arrived in time for a quick chat with Tony Frazer, and to suggest he came in to watch Simon and myself reading.

We were there to launch Twitters for a Lark. As many will know, I worked in collaboration, over a number of years, with a team of real writers, to create a lively and entertaining body of work of fictional European poets. Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators, Patricia and Simon included, are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Tony's Shearsman.  More on Twitters here and here

This collection marked a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ). And, as I began my (our) reading, I explained how the new project emerged from the first book, when Van Valckenborch invented the EUOIA ('Belgian dolls!' I quipped) and read

(set list) 

1.  'Book 4 Poem 1' by Sophie Poppmeier, which is dedicated to Tony Frazer, who was there. (Hence my insistence. He doesn't like to leave the book stall.)

More on her here:

2. Gurkan Arnavut's 'When Egrets Rise' came next, and I explained how Zoe Skoulding's suggestion that she and I collaborate on one of the EUOIA poets (they were 5 of them completed, like Sophie, plus a list of names, at this point) kickstarted the whole thing off, as I realised the best way to do ALL 28 was in collaboration and to let the collaborator lead. 

3. Patricia Farrell and I read a two-voice performance version of Italyo Dimitrov's 'Behind Into Beyond', which is one of the only poems you can see who dun wot. See also here and here:


Here we are at it, in a photograph taken by Andrew Taylor:


4. Simon Perril then read (as he had at Luton last year, see below) the complete translated works of Janis Raups. More on him here.

After that, I read some poets on my own:

5. Hermes (to prove that they weren't all invented paragons of virtue. He wrecked the EUOIA, the only Brexiteer in the grouping!) Created with Rupert Loydell.


6 I created the poems of Eua Ionnou with Kelvin Corcoran, and I read one of our verses. Nicely lyrical, a moving contrast with items 5 and 7! You can read more about her here:

7. I read one of Sean Eoghan's poems, the one based on AE (to whom Joyce famously (IOUed), the only poem to mention 'Brexit'. I explained how Brexit wasn't even a thing when I began the poem with Zoe, but it was by the time I was working with Steve McCaffery on Sean, towards the end of the project. History enveloped it. (But of course, if you want anti- Brexit poems, I've got plenty of those!) 

It felt great again to read with a couple of the contributors, and it was Simon's go next. He was launching his very fine Shearsman pamphlet OR he was celebrating being 50 with this reflective and funny poem. (See the balloons behind us, and one of his collage-novel stills, in the photograph. And there was cake!) In the final year of my 40s is much wittier and funny than the audience seemed to take it to be, with verses that ranged from the personal, funny:

In the final year of my 40s
I shall accommodate my disappointments
in an outhouse. There
they will be free to live
a full, frank and unfettered life.

Through to 'decisions' about the mechanics of future writing:

In the final year of my 40s
my failure to write a new poetics
founded upon ergonomics
will permit my poems
a greater grace and idiocy.

Great stuff! You can buy it here.

Simon’s poetry publications include Beneath (Shearsman: 2015) Archilochus on the Moon (Shearsman: 2013), Newton’s Splinter (Open House: 2012), Nitrate (Salt: 2010), A Clutch of Odes (Oystercatcher: 2009), and Hearing is Itself Suddenly a Kind of Singing (Salt: 2004), and now this new one  As a critic he has written widely, editing the books The Salt Companion to John James, and Tending the Vortex: The Works of Brian Catling. He is Reader in Contemporary Poetic Practice at De Montfort University, Leicester.Various posts on/by Simon on my blog Pages here: 

Patricia had made him a box of text. And I gave him 'Burnt Journal 1968', a birthday poem: 'Rhythms won't unstick from  our saccharine ears/even The Soft Machine can't blast away the VC10'.  

Later in the afternoon there was a reading by Lila Matsumoto and Tim Youngs. Lila's new book is Urn and Drum , excellent stuff, judging from her reading.

OK: books I bought: first ALL Shearsman: Lila's, Simon's, Christopher Whyte's After Russia, trans of Tsvetaeva; Christopher Middleton's Serpentine, in Tony's new 'Library' imprint; Mark Goodwin's Back of a Vast; Robert Vas Dias (to whom I talked at the launch of Atlantic Drift )' Black Book; and Aidan Semmens' Life Has Become More Cheerful (which looks fab). 

Andy Taylor gave me a copy of his new Red Ceilings' Aire, delicate poems of place and being. I bought a book on Petrarch (probably a bit late in my obsession). 

Then a drink and the train...

More on the Luton launch here:


 Here's a post on the Manchester EUOIA reading in August 2017:


Independent publishing | Independent writing | Independent thinking

A book festival in a day

This year's States of Independence is our ninth. It's a book festival in a day, a marketplace, a conference, a chance to relax and listen to some readings, an opportunity to argue about issues in the industry and to meet with independent presses from across the region. Check it out next year!

States of Independence supports independent thinking, independent writing and independent presses. Join us for the day or an hour. Attend lots of events - you will be spoiled for choice - or just one, or simply come along and browse through the twenty or so bookstalls to see what the independent sector is publishing.
As always there will be poetry and fiction readings and industry panels discussing current hot topics
States of Independence is a free event, underwritten by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Centre for Creative Writing at De Montfort University, with the support of over fifty writers and over thirty presses.
All sessions are free, no tickets required.
Just turn up and stay for an hour or two, or the whole day.

States of Independence is organised and funded by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Creative Writing Team at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Robert Sheppard Symposium One Year Ago Today

A year ago the Sheppard Symposium happened. Here's a hub post that describes it all. Here are a couple of images of panelists and audience. THEIR BRAINS HURT. If you want your brains to hurt like this, don't despair, a book of the proceedings (and more), edited by Christopher Madden and James Byrne, will be published soon! Joey Francis wrote a detailed report. Read it here.



Monday, March 05, 2018

A review of my critical volume The Meaning of Form by Hilary Davies in PNR 44/1

I have just re-subscribed to PN Review, but not soon enough to catch this review of The Meaning of Form, which appeared late last year.

PN Review 237, Volume 44 Number 1, September - October 2017.
Hilary Davies: ‘What is the Wind Doing?’ Robert Sheppard, The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry (Palgrave Macmillan), £66.99.

It's long, detailed, not entirely sympathetic, but so what? Its level of attention is important. If she doesn't like my style, my academic language (it's an academic book), that's OK by me.

A couple of things did rankle, though: I thought I invented the aphorism: 'Paraphrase is amnesia of form'. She says it's a quote from Angela Leighton. It's the sort of thing she might have said. Davies also ploughs through the innovative/mainstream opposition, which is not central to this book (unlike The Poetry of Saying; see here), since it has a wider application, though my specific interest - not dissimilar to, say, Susan Wolfson's focus on the Romantics - is in formally investigative writing (some Americans in here too). (My previous volumes are The Poetry of Saying (Liverpool University Press, 2005; access its main thesis here) and When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry (Shearsman, 2011), and they are much more historical than this new one. 

I did take exception to: 'he’s keen to assert street cred through examples of innovative poetry that draw on post-punk, transcripts of harrowing rape trials, the hereditaments and detritus of a post-historic, post-modern world'. My interest in Barry MacSweeney's work or Vanessa Place's is not to get-down-with-the-kids, but to make deliberate formal analyses of work that would seem to be so obviously content-based. The book is not arguing that content doesn't matter (there's a hint that I'm saying this, but I'm not), but that content can only be read through an awareness of form for a fully literary reading (as Derek Attridge would say), that what Veronica Forrest-Thomson (who Davies doesn't mention, but I do, at some length!) calls 'internal expansion' takes precedent over 'external expansion'.

If you can't access the PN Review, read the first review on the Tears in the Fence website by Ian Brinton. Thanks for this consideration too. Here.

If you're not familiar with the arguments being touched on here, a good deal of the book was discussed on this blog, indeed some posts are deliberately loose dry runs of chapters. Read more about the book here.  Or go straight here.You can purchase individual chapters electronically.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Robert Sheppard:Some Overdubs of John Milton's sonnets published by Stride and others: LINKS

OVERDUBS, a non-sequence of versions of Milton’s sonnets has been published by Rupert Loydell at Stride and International Times and by Ranjit Hoskote at Poetry from Sangam.

The first in the sequence, ‘The Fugger of Wonderful Black Words’ (title courtesy of Google Translate), may be read here.

Another called ‘Home Page’ is  Here.

And then the last ones (not in terms of order, but certainly two of the 'Overdubs' that will be collected), 'Black Edge', possibly some thoughts about blindness and Edge Hill:


and an angry one, 'Avenge', a version of my favourite Milton sonnet, also on International Times here.

and lastly 'Song Nets', a bad pun on 'sonnets' that I have resisted as a title:


These 5, in this order, will form a sequence in my book of 100 sonnets that I do not yet have a title for.

The others. the leftoverdubs, as I think of them, are just as fine, but don't quite work together (neither do Milton's, of course - but may see collection in other ways. 'The Form of Meaning' appears on Stride here. And another, 'Synovial Joints', a mash up of Milton and Steve Coleman, is found here.The calligrapher Thomas Ingmire has made a version of this poem.

An Oulipean 'chimera', 'Facts' is a different sort of overdub, squeezing Marvell's language into Milton's sonnet (both men writing very different poems for General Fairfax; hence the title and first word; 'Facts/Fair'). Read here on Stride.

I write about my sonnets generally here.


No wonder my next set of sonnets after Petrarch 3 were ‘overdubs’ of Milton’s. Although I have written a number of other sonnet sequences since (including extending ‘Empty Diary’ poems to 2017), Petrarch was not absent for long, even if the next arrivant was Sir Thomas Wyatt. Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch (2018) weaves Wyatt’s versions of Petrarch, Wyatt’s life as an endangered servant of that first Brexiteer, Henry VIII, and a modern day civil servant of the Brexit-obsessed administration of Theresa May, together into a satirical narrative.[i] History almost dictates that Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, should be submitted to a similar fate, and ‘Surrey with the Fringe on Top’, whose title suggests the growing irreverence of the enterprise, forages further into the dark undergrowth of Brexitland Britain, both in my versions of Surrey’s versions of Petrarch (the seven poems of ‘The Unfortunate Fellow-Traveller’) and in my responses to seven of his occasional poems, ‘Direct Rule’, in which I operate a controlling meta-narrative over the poems, and its narrative of Surrey’s hubristic behaviour in the face of the Henrician Terror that finally destroyed him, while presenting a comic post-Brexit Britain peppered with rural dogging sites and self-serving Brexiteers. I freely admit this process, begun in Petrarch 3, is addictive. Latterly, I have adapted female sonneteers, and taken the works of Charlotte Smith as transformational models: four of her versions of Petrarch preface responses to some of her ‘Elegaic Sonnets’ that evoke the Sussex countryside (where I was also born). At the time of writing, I am adapting some of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’ to the voice of a mistress of a Conservative MP.That's the 100.


[i] Robert Sheppard, Hap: Understudies of Thomas Wyatt’s Petrarch (Newton-le-Willows: Knives Forks and Spoons, forthcoming). The other poems and sequences mentioned remain unpublished. 

Thanks Rupert.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Celebrate Bulgaria’s Liberation Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Ivaylo Dimitrov



Celebrate Bulgaria’s Liberation Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Ivaylo Dimitrov who was co-created by myself and Patricia Farrell.

See here for more on Ivalyo and here for more on Patricia.

I worked in collaboration, over a number of years, with a team of real writers, to create a lively and entertaining body of work of fictional European poets.

Read more about the European Union of Imaginary Authors here and here. All the collaborators are accessible via links here.

Accompanied by biographical notes, the poets grow in vividness until they seem to possess lives of their own; they are collected now in Twitters for a Lark, published by Shearsman.   


More on Twitters here and here.
This collection marks a continuation of the work I ventriloquised through my solo creation, the fictional bilingual Belgian poet René Van Valckenborch, in A Translated Man (read an early account here; the book is also available from Shearsman here ).

I see these two books as the first two parts of a fictional poetry trilogy, but I'm currently not sure in which direction to go. Should Van Valckenborch return? Or should I concrentrate on some of the EUOIA poets I created alone? Perhaps a collaboration between four women in memory of Lucia Cangliani?