Publication Date: 24-Jun-04 | ISBN: 1876857897 | Trim Size: 216 x 140 mm | Extent: 148pp | Format: Paperback
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This book contains by far the largest selection from the project of interconnected texts called Twentieth Century Blues that Robert Sheppard produced between 1989 and 2000. Other parts include Empty Diaries (Stride 1998), which is an alternative history of the twentieth century narrated through a series of female narrators. The Lores (Reality Street, 2003), is a long poem re-negotiating that same history through a poetics of creative linkage, from the ethical imperative that Derrida offers: ‘one must make links with that which makes links with Auschwitz’. Tin Pan Arcadia is a collection of most of the rest of the project, ranging from the ‘Killing Boxes’ sequences dealing with the First Gulf War, to continuations of the ‘Empty Diaries’. The ‘Histories of Sensation’ are a sequence of fragmented narratives that touch on contemporary history; the history of the blues, Victorian photographs and the works of the Earl of Rochester link with one another as parts of overlapping thematic strands. Homages to Frank Sinatra or Miles Davis rub shoulders with those to Lee Harwood or Roy Fisher. The resultant intratext Sheppard once described as a ‘(k)not-network’. While the cumulative effect of this networking makes the book complex, the individual poems may be read separately as studies in the various poetics that are sometimes called ‘linguisticially innovative’. Stylistically, the book demonstrates Sheppard’s journey from tight word-count lyrics and sequences to the lineated prose with which it ends.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Melting Borders; Melting Borders; Smokestack Lightning a mythology of the blues; Sharp Talk and Amended Signatures; Codes and Diodes are both Odes; Killing Boxes ; Slipping the Mind; Weightless Witnesses; Solea for Lorca; Improvisation Upon a Remark of Gil Evans for Miles Davis (1926-1991); Fucking Time: Six Songs for the Earl of Rochester; The Overseas Blues; : an allusion to Horace, Odes, II.i; Shutters; Flesh Mates on Dirty Errands; Magdalene in the Wilderness; The Book of British Soil; For Scott Thurston ; Entries; Ripping through Business; Small Voice; Small Voice 2; Variation and Themes dedicated to the memory of William Burroughs; Dialogues; The Collected Works of Josef Stalin; Ten; Beginning with a line from a Chinese poem in an English dream; Sonoluminescence For All; Armchair Adoption; In Good Voice; Dialogue between Created Pleasure and the Resolved Soul; Tin Pan Arcadia; Towards a Neo-Diagonalist Manifesto; In the Room of a Thousand Mute Salutes; Re:Entries; Freeze It; The Push Up Combat Bikini; A Hundred and Eight Robinson Crusoes; Downing the Ante; Abjective Stutter Expectorates Laugh of the Human; Angel at the Junk Box; A Dirty Poem and A Clean Poem for Roy Fisher; A Dark Study for Lee Harwood; For the Continuity Terminator; 31 Basalt Wind-chimes for the Window-Box of Earthly Pleasures; From the English; The Sacred Tanks of Dagenham; Say; In an Unknown Tongue; Catacaustic for Tom Raworth; The Push Up Combat Bikini
PRAISE FOR THIS BOOK
“Robert Sheppard’s “cactus world of barbed tongues,” with its “citizens layered and flayed like old election posters on the blistered walls of post-industrial squares,” is a wonder to behold. Here are the discourses of our moment—political, literary, media, advertising—saturated with echoes of great literature so as to produce a dense weave of language registers that prompt us to truly Joycean “laughtears.” Reading this book is pure pleasure!” —
“Sheppard’s poems bite. A drive and anger, a vivid sexual and erotic violence, a grim Burroughs wit, and at times a marvellously raunchy humour, that is rare and very special.” —
Robert Sheppard was born in 1955 and educated at the University of East Anglia. Between 1989 and 2000 he worked on the network of texts called Twentieth Century Blues. Previous excerpts from the project include Empty Diaries (1998) and The Lores (2003). A recent volume is Hymns to the God in which my Typewriter Believes (2006), and a sonnet sequence, Warrant Error, is due for publication by Shearsman in 2009. His work is anthologised in Other and the Oxford Anthology of British and Irish Poetry, in which he is described as 'at the forefront of (the) movement sometimes called linguistically innovative poetry'. He is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Edge Hill University in Lancashire in the UK, and has also published criticism and poetics, including The Poetry of Saying (2005) and Iain Sinclair (2007). He edits Pages as a blogzine and lives in Liverpool.