Follow by Email

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.