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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Robert Sheppard Upcoming Readings and Events Autumn 2014

Events I’m involved with


Saturday 25th October: I shall be interviewing Iain Sinclair as part of the Malcolm Lowry celebrations dubbed The Lowry Lounge at the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool all day. Various tickets



Saturday 1st November: Patricia Farrell, Nikolai Duffy, Chris Stephenson and I will be reading for Peter Barlow’s Cigarette at Waterstones, Deansgate, Manchester at 5.00. (Note that time.)


Wednesday November 26th: 5pm: I shall be reading at The Centre for New and International Writing in the School of English, Abercromby Square, With Sam Riviere. FREE event followed by wine reception

To RSVP: visit

Friday 28th November: as a short warm up to the Storm and Golden Sky reading by Steve McCaffery and Karen MacCormack, Jo Blowers, Steve Boyland and I will be performing our three voice work ‘Kybarti Junction’. Caledonia pub in the Georgian Quarter, Liverpool: 7.00 sharp.



 Thursday 27th October: Sandeep Parmar and James Byrne read at Edge Hill. 7.30 pm £4.50

Friday 28th October: Storm and Golden Sky at the Caledonia pub

Thursday, October 16, 2014

25 Edge Hill Poets: Natasha Borton

Natasha Borton


Ar Lan y Môr

(Down by the Sea)

Seaweed cracks the sand;  an echo of the 'll'

'll' against the shore.

Pressing my fingerprints,

feeling the dry caress against my skin.

In the distance,  

the sky mimics the white tipped tide.

I fold the sea bed around me.

Shards of sea shells; cregyn;

gnaw at knots in my hair.

Quills with shadows of feather lie across my palms dipping into the ink of my wrist

and I

 holding my breath wait -

familiar with the taste of salt on my lips - 

for the sea to take me home


My time at Edge Hill:

There is no doubt in my mind that Edge Hill has made me the writer and person that I am today. It is a space filled with opportunities and encouragement.


There is a blurred line between music and poetry. I use my experience as a singer to explore the musical space in language.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Malcolm Lowry Lounge 2014

The Lowry Lounge 2014

at the Bluecoat
Saturday 25 October 11am-6pm
with special guest Iain Sinclair
The Bluecoat’s annual celebration of Merseyside-born
​author of Under the Volcano
, Malcolm Lowry

​ ​
​, ​
features the European launch of his 'lost' novel In Ballast to the White Sea.

This autobiographical book, Lowry’s longest and most ambitious project of the mid1930s, was thought to have been lost in a fire, but was later discovered in New York Public Library after it become known his first wife, Jan Gabrial, still had a typescript of the book. Now, nearly 60 years after the writer’s death, the first ever published edition will be launched at this daylong event in Liverpool.
The book is about a Cambridge undergraduate who wants to be a novelist but has come to believe that both his book and, in a sense, his life have already been 'written' by a Norwegian novelist. Partly set on Merseyside, its annotations have been compiled by Chris Ackerley, with the help of New Brighton Lowry expert Colin Dilnot.
The Lowry Lounge 2014 features writer Iain Sinclair talking about Lowry in relation to his 2013 book American Smoke, which follows in the footsteps of American Beat writers and of Lowry, whose


ways anticipated theirs. Interviewed by Robert Sheppard. (Read my account of Sinclair's Dining on Stones here:

The latest issue our journal THE FIRMINIST will be lauched, including poems from Helen Tookey.
The event also includes a guided walk round Liverpool city centre, led by Colin Dilnot, visiting sites relating to the book and to Lowry’s childhood years on Merseyside. The book launch itself will be introduced by the editor of
​ ​
In Ballast to the White Sea, Patrick

​ ​
A. ​McCarthy and Vik Doyen, who wrote its foreword.

Tickets: Walk (11am-1pm) £5/Iain Sinclair talk (2-3.30pm) £5/combined ticket £8/book launch (4-6pm) free. Tickets & Information 0151 702 5324

In Ballast to the White Sea: A Critical Edition
, by Malcolm Lowry, edited by Patrick A. McCarthy with notes by Chris Ackerley and a foreword by Vik Doyen. Paperback 9780776622088. Price: £28.00

Monday, October 13, 2014

Robert Sheppard/Steve Boyland/Jo Blowers

I performed as part of the soft opening (!) of 8 Water St last Thursday. Jo Blowers, Steve Boyland and I performed a three voice piece, using as text my stuttered version of a poem from A TranslatedMan.  Kybartai Noctune Remodel (Revolutionary Song Number 2) It's a reworking of the original poem, which begins:

Kybartai Noctune

what is that sound
humming like an antique fridge packed with ice

the hint of a turbine something turning
a patient siren rising and falling....

The poem has been reversioned thus (using the technique deployed in 'Revolutionary Song', of which I posted the colour version here some days ago):
what is that sound humming like an antique
is that sound humming like an antique fridge
that sound humming like an antique fridge packed
sound humming like an antique fridge packed with
humming like an antique fridge packed with ice

It is Rene Van Valckenborch’s version of a poem by Lithuanian Jurgita Zujūtė (1966-), a poet he invented (though I invented him, of course). None of that matters in the performance.

Jo is a dancer (seen above) but the dancing dropped out of this piece to leave only a vocal trio. Steve is a singer and vocal artist (who works a lot with Scott Thurston). I’m a writer and the third voice.

Some people said they liked it a lot. Here's a video of Steve performing with Veryan Weston on piano, a player I have also featured here on Pages. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

25 Edge Hill Poets: Alice Lenkiewicz

Alice Lenkiewicz was an English and Art graduate of the BA programme at Edge Hill University: she is a well-published poet and fiction writer, AND a visual artist and gallery owner. All the images, book covers and otherwise, are by Alice.

Poems from Maxine


Published by bluechrome publishing


ISBN: 1904781721

Exercise 4 in floating

eyes open eyes shut

in space (someone I once knew)

darkness empty road

head rotates

mechanism of distant tears

key floats away

towards shimmering

wet pavement

casting remains of blindness departed the empty room

towards emptiness to store things precious to cast

and bury the surface a clear stone of greyness covered

all six through doors greying further in-between myself

gliding an area base since walking to store things

burns the cast mixture with sadness since that is the red

of it placed inside the tide within the inner pulling

edges beyond the darkness

Poems from Men Hate Blondes

The Fire Starters

In 1932

He shed his shoes

Walked past the grey

Drab apartment blocks

And entered the forest

Of rising flames where an unfamiliar

Sky followed a trail of amber smoke

Above the vivid horizon

An eagle watched

The empty silence the good

And safe place smoke

Moving but silent

There was a moment of consideration

As he entered the clearing

Redwood trees

And fragments

Translucent in shadows

The 1929 St Valentine's Day Massacre

we walked the river

land without shadows

everywhere knowing

                 you’ve lost all sense of shame

the sun unfastens a still

café triggers the “raid”

for hooch as the mob fired

                seven victims at 2122

not a word spoken

each time returning

footsteps come into our lives

               in the view of streetlamps

my eyes weeping

snow is falling

there he lies body black

               dreaming of strange cities

secrets gather the sleepy

horizon to lose identity

re-enter the real world

              to have nothing else to give

as the light fell away

i stood there beside the

wonder wheel

             as the sea soothes this first day


Fleeting light glides a thought while eyes ponder the madness of gold. Between insults, jealousy of glitter creates a sleek glance.

Her sight demands no chance for the hurt to see inside. Completion of isolation will extend towards the ceiling inside a pink haze.

Interference rejects the smile but now there is movement and desire only in the memory. The faking is possible underneath a glass floor, or is it fate.

Enough punching ground for later. Gold is an illusion. Only one door here. Lights obey. Maybe the glow is the after-thought. But did it really happen.

There is nothing to fear. Her immobile state creates a line of falling statues. Walls are vital for advice. Tables and chairs in need of the right balance. Anguish creates the prize.


Remnants of voices magnify the emptiness of the night before in front of scattered particles. The ritual guarded by her vision of a miracle, vodka cuts through her body.


No good pretending it didn’t happen. Anger of course was always part of it. Never a reason to look official in black.


Maniacs of vulnerable youth. Tragedy compartments meet the flower junkies. The betrayal is surrounding me.

Maxine links

Men Hate Blondes

·         Paperback: 108 pages

·         Publisher: original plus (1 Nov 2009)

·         Language: English

·         ISBN-10: 0956243347

·         ISBN-13: 978-0956243348
Men Hate Blondes links

Monday, October 06, 2014

Robert Sheppard: On a Note of Roy Fisher concerning Christopher Middleton


‘I owe CM a debt of understanding,’ Roy Fisher has written recently of Christopher Middleton, in a short note reprinted in the new Shearsman An Easily Bewildered Child: Occasional Prose 1963-2013:

At a time when the Sunday broadsheets still carried reviews of new poetry there appeared a review of his book Torse #3. [sic] The piece was by its own standards civilised: but it was patronising, ignorant, insular and weary. I had at that time virtually no contacts and no prospect of getting a book published; but I was working tentatively in a distant corner of the same territory, and the review showed me in an instant how the cards were stacked. It freed me from setting any store by opinions that might come from such a quarter. (Fisher 2014: 196)

 This exemplary declaration of independence (torse 3 was published in 1962) set Fisher up for a career that is definitely and quietly defiant, yet modernist in orientation, with a perceptual poetics that torques the social perspective into the phenomenological. It turns the general philistinism of British cultural life to its own advantage through its awareness that allegiances to influences outside of the Movement Orthodoxy will find precious little support from mainstream culture so one might as well get on with it. Which Fisher did. And which is another story told elsewhere (and traced by Fisher himself throughout the pages of An Easily Bewildered Child).

 I thought of this statement after listening to a poet published by a large independent press bemoaning the sales of his or her recent book. (I’m disguising identity.) It had just comfortably exceeded the hundred mark. I later remarked to a mutual friend that the problem was this poet believed in the world of the published book, whereas poetry publishing, not just small press poetry publishing, is largely a gift-economy. I strained for the words of Fisher above, but couldn’t quite reprise the tone of relief in its release from the world and words of mainstream (and metropolitan) opinion. (I also recalled a story I’d heard of agents from Faber being alarmed, when on sharing a discussion panel with the other Fisher, Allen Fisher, they heard him announce that he sold 500 copies of Brixton Fractals, when they could only shift a hundred copies of an unknown writer. They would have thought of Fisher as unknown, the unofficial channels by which he distributed his work, illegitimate. But which world is disseminating more poetry? That’s even before we examine aesthetics and poetics, and the poetry itself.)

 The review Roy Fisher read, I am guessing, is the one by A. Alvarez, who, as editor of the Penguin The New Poetry, was both detractor of and perpetuator of mainstream orthodoxy, detecting the germ of a poetry of psychological extremism lurking in the Larkinesque – and getting his payoff from the final works and tragic days of his Hampstead neighbour, Sylvia Plath. Middleton’s reported reaction to the ‘patronising, ignorant, insular and weary’ review was to emigrate, finally to the USA where he has lived ever since. I am sure his removal from Britain was more complex than that but the comparison with Fisher’s retreat to a Bely-esque city of modernism in Birmingham, a scratch philosophy concocted out of perceptual scraps, is instructive. Perhaps Middleton should have believed a little less in the world of the published book, and sought a similar freedom in loss.

Fisher, Roy. Untitled Note in ‘Tributes to CM’, (accessed 5th October 2014). Fisher is only one of a number of fine tributes.

The Note is also published in Fisher, Roy. An Easily Bewildered Child: Occasional Prose 1963-2013. ed. Peter Robinson. Bristol: Shearsman, 2014: 196.

 Buy the book here.