Born in 1955, Robert Sheppard was educated at the University of East Anglia. Apart from the publications listed below he was editor of three magazines, 1983, which, despite its name, existed in the 1970s as a cassette tape magazine of recorded poetry; Rock Drill; and Pages, the latter of which still exits as a blogzine. He has read his work at dozens of venues and has worked in collaborative performance with dancers and musicians. He was an active part of the alternative poetry scene in London during the 1980s and 1990s, before moving to Liverpool, to take up a post teaching English and Creative Writing at Edge Hill University, where he is currently Professor of Poetry and Poetics. Between 1989 and 2000 he wrote a long work (or 'net/(k)not/- work(s)' as he called it) entitled Twentieth Century Blues, which is to be published in a 'complete' edition during 2007. (Its poetics is described in 'Poetic Sequencing and the New' available at Jacket.) Hymns to the God in which My Typewriter Believes, published in 2006, features 'texts and commentaries', works which specifically feed off other works of art. His current large-scale project is entitled September 12, but he has also written site-specific works and some fiction. He is also a critic of contemporary poetry, and a theorist of poetics as a speculative discourse. At other times he's done a bit of blues shouting.
Stamford Hill, North London, 2006
This recording was made on 30 November 2006, at a house in Stamford Hill, north London.
'Internal Exile 1' and '3' may be found in Complete Twentieth Century Blues, but 1 is anthologised in Anthology of Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry, and 3 in Floating Capital: New Poets from London. They date from 1987, and are the first and last parts of a sequence.
'Empty Diaries' (1901-2000) may be found in Complete Twentieth Century Blues, but the 4 here are also anthologised in Other: British and Irish Poetry Since 1970. They date from 1991-3.
'History or Sleep' presents the opening sections of the poem of that title, which may be found in Complete Twentieth Century Blues and in The Lores. It was written between August-November 1995.
'Small Voice' may be found in Complete Twentieth Century Blues, and in Tin Pan Arcadia. It dates from January 1997.
The remaining selections are not from Complete Twentieth Century Blues: 'Only the Eyes are Left', a poem in homage to Mina Loy, and 'National Security, Huyton 1940', and are both from Hymns to the God in Which My Typewriter Believes, and written in the early 2000s. 'September 12' presents the first seven 'sonnets' from the first (of four) series of 24 poems, probably to be collected under that title, written in 2003-4.
The texts here may be read at Shearsman.com, and (more or less) the remainder of the 24 may be read at Jacket. The poetics of the September 12 project, 'Rattling the Bones', may be read at SoftBlow.com.
- 'History or Sleep'
- 'Internal Exile 1'
- 'Internal Exile 3'
- 'National Security, Huyton 1940'
- 'Only the Eyes are Left (for Mina Loy)'
- 'Small Voice'
- from 'Empty Diaries': 1905, 1936, 1954, 1968
Full length Poetry collections
- Daylight Robbery, Exeter: Stride, 1990.
- The Flashlight Sonata, Exeter: Stride,1993.
- Empty Diaries, Exeter: Stride, 1998.
- The Lores, London: Reality Street, 2003.
- Tin Pan Arcadia, Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2004.
- Hymns to the God in which my Typewriter Believes, Exeter: Stride, 2006.
- Complete Twentieth Century Blues, Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2007.
Pamphlets and shorter publications
- Dedicated to you but you weren't listening, London: Writers Forum, 1979.
- Returns, London: Textures,1985.
- Private Number, London: Northern Lights Publishers, 1986.
- Letter from the Blackstock Road, London: Oasis Books, 1988.
- Internal Exile, Southampton: Torque Press, 1988.
- Codes and Diodes (with Bob Cobbing), London: Writers Forum, 1991.
- Fox Spotlights, Cheltenham: The Short Run Press, 1995.
- Free Fists (with Patricia Farrell), London: Writers Forum, 1996.
- Neutral Drums (with Patricia Farrell), London: Writers Forum, 1999.
- Blatent Blather/Virulent Whoops (with Bob Cobbing), London: Writers Forum, 2001. (The text may be read in full at Jacket).
- The Anti-Orpheus: a notebook, Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2004. (Also available as an e-book at Shearsman.)
- Risk Assessment (with Rupert Loydell), Damaged Goods, 2006. Parts of this may be read at Great Works.
Ship of Fools Pamphlets and Artist's Books
- Mespotamia (with images by Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1987.
- Looking North (with images by Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1987.
- The Cannibal Club (with Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1990.
- Killing Boxes, London: Ship of Fools, 1992.
- Logos on Kimonos (with Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1992 revised ed. 1998.
- Seven (with Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1992.
- Icarus -- Having Fallen (with Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1992.
- Wayne Pratt (spoof): Watering the Cactus 1992 -- the deathbed edition, Ship of Fools, London, Ship of Fools, 1992/9.
- Transit Depots/Empty Diaries (with John Seed [text] and Patricia Farrell [images]), London: Ship of Fools, 1993.
- net/(k)not/-work(s), London: Ship of Fools, 1993.
- Fucking Time (with Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1994.
- The Book of British Soil (with Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1995.
- Soleà for Lorca, Liverpool: Ship of Fools, 1998.
- Depleted Uranium, Liverpool: Ship of Fools, 2001.
- 31st April or The Age of Irony, Liverpool, Ship of Fools, 2001.
- The End of the Twentieth Century, Liverpool: Ship of Fools, 2002.
- The Blickensderfer Punch (with Patricia Farrell), Liverpool: Ship of Fools, 2002.
- Turns (with Scott Thurston), Liverpool: Ship of Fools/The Radiator, 2003.
Note: Ship of Fools was set up in the mid 1980s by Robert Sheppard and Patricia Farrell for the purpose of publishing their art and text collaborations, though we have used it for other purposes on occasions. See Farrell's 'Material to the Event' in The Artists' Book Yearbook 1996-7 (Magpie Press, 1996) for a description of the collaborative process.
- Far Language: Poetics and Linguistically Innovative Poetry 1978-1997, Exeter: Stride Research Documents, 1999; second printing 2002.
- The Poetry of Saying: British Poetry and its Discontents 1950-2000, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005.
- Iain Sinclair, Writers and Their Work, Northcote House, 2007.
- Salt Companion to Lee Harwood, edited volume, forthcoming 2007.
- The New British Poetry, eds., Allnutt, Gillian; D'Aguiar, Fred; Edwards, Ken; and Mottram, Eric, London: Paladin, 1988, pp. 336-9.
- Floating Capital: New Poets from London, ed. Clarke, Adrian, and myself, Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes and Poets Press, USA, 1991, pp. 102-10.
- Verbi Visi Voco: a performance of poetry, ed. Griffiths, Bill and Cobbing, Bob, London: Writers Forum, 1992, pp. 225-9.
- Other: British and Irish Poetry Since 1970, ed. Caddel, Richard, and Quartermain, Peter, Wesleyan University Press, 1999, pp. 238-42.
- Anthology of Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry, ed. Tuma, Keith, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 866-9.
National Security, Huyton 1940
for Hugo Dachinger
Behind the eating huts of
Tent Village, vitamins
self-propagate while furred
rows of men nest in straw,
or cowled in gossip, whisper
down the fragile line.
Walled in a lost city, spotlight-
their aperture: centuries
of gazing focus
on escapologist smears at the
flawed with fleshless nudes
free of barbed wire deletions.
Rail-tracks stretch to a watch-
tower dead under storm-clouds
billowed onto a tall sky of
taller stories, yellow with
optimism, read by filthed men.
He's sealed in the swart hut
thorned by telegraph pain, by
tangled sentries of wire-nest props.
He chalks a shiver of dusk
across their blackening list.
Note: 'National Security, Huyton 1940,' makes use of the paintings of Hugo Dachinger -- some of them on newspaper pages -- made while he was interned as an alien in Huyton, Liverpool, reproduced in Jessica Feather's Art Behind Barbed Wire (National Museums, Liverpool, Liverpool, 2004).
"The Borgesian complexity of this kind of thing seems designed to posit labyrinthine mega-structures whose complexity can never be grasped or completed. What such devices above all express is ambition and undauntedness, much disliked and perhaps too easily ridiculed by the kind of poet happy to turn in short lyrics which give impressions of (for example) a misty morning on Wimbledon Common." --Peter Barry on Sheppard's Twentieth Century Blues project in his The Poetry Wars (Salt: Cambridge, 2006, pp. 139-40)
Read online, Edmund Hardy's review of The Lores at Terrible Work.
Read online, Scott Thurston's review of Tin Pan Arcadia and Hymns to the God in which My Typewriter Believes at Stride.
Finally, Edmund Hardy's interview with Robert Sheppard may be found on Intercapillary Space.