Prof Robert Sheppard

Professor of Poetry and Poetics
Dept of English and History
Main Building, Room C2
01695 584252

I have been at Edge Hill since 1996 and for all of that time I have been Programme Leader of the MA in Creative Writing, which has been running (under the name Writing Studies) since 1989. I also teach undergraduate poetry modules, as well as supervise some of the growing number of postgraduate research students in Creative Writing (poetry, fiction and life-writing) as well as English students in the area of post-war British and American poetry. I also coordinate the Poetry and Poetics Research Group, which has been meeting here since 1999, and which organised the symposium on Literary Collaboration in 2013.

I am a Fellow of the English Association.

I am a poet-critic, and recent volumes of poetry include Complete Twentieth Century Blues from Salt and Warrant Error ,  Berlin Bursts and A Translated Man from Shearsman Books.

A prose ‘anti-autobiography, The Given, is published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press, and an exapnded version will be published during 2014.

My critical work includes:

‘He read with startling velocity, manifesting all the assurance of technique and voice of a poet who can add a substantial body of critical work to the armoury of his practice as a poet. None of the energy of his performance is lost when reading the poems yourself on the printed page; Sheppard is an astute technician of the performed and written voice, his poems crafted meticulously as if they were musical scores. But wene the reader glances over these pages, it is not intimidation at the challenge of reading them that is keenly felt; rather, it is the openness of the lines, gesturing beyond their materiality to the world of the reader in ways not always evident in contemporary poetry.’ Christopher Madden in The Wolf 26, spring 2012

‘Berlin Bursts, the eighth instalment in Robert Sheppard’s increasingly impressive oeuvre , is a book at once grounded and fleetingly, particular and universal: moving from Liverpool to Riga, Berlin to Amsterdam, the collection finds time between its travels to meditate separately on the nature of art, death and sexuality. Sheppard speaks consciously from the depoliticised culture of triangulated Europe, but no less to the fundamental demands of the aesthetic for that…. Certainly the robust couplets of Sheppard’s title sequence succeed in self-consciously aestheticising the holocaust in a way that offers a paradoxical and moving ‘testimony’ after the event.’ Ben Hickman in PN Review 204 March-April 2012.

Further reviews may be read here:

I have collaborated with various artists and writers, including Patricia Farrell, Thomas Ingmire, Zoe Skoulding, Scott Thurston, Jo Blowers, Robert Hampson, Jeff Hilson and Pete Clarke. More information here.

‘Lyric’ and ‘The Manifest (constellation) appear in prints made with the artist Pete Clarke that were part of the AHRC funded project Poetry Beyond Text and were exhibited at Dundee University and at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh during 2010. An exhibition was held at Edge Hill in April 2013, along with a symposium on collaboration. One piece made with the printmaker and painter Pete Clarke, ‘Tangled Scree’, was a runner up for the Adrian Henri Prize 2013.

I am also an advocate for the way writers write about writing, a speculative discourse that is often misread as literary criticism or as autobiographical writing, but which is really a mode of writing quite distinct. I encourage students to read it and produce it, and I am working on a study of this. Part of my thinking on this may be read on PORES journal as ‘The Necessity of Poetics’ .

Read poems from ‘September 12’, the first part of Warrant Error.
More available here >>>

Complete Twentieth Century Blues was reviewed by Todd Thorpe.
Read the review here

Warrant Error has been reviewed by Alan Baker.
Read his review here

I am always keen to answer enquiries from students interested in the MA in Creative Writing and from prospective research students, either of creative writing or of Literature, in the areas of British, Irish or North American innovative poetry or poetics more generally.


I currently teach on the MA Creative Writing programme, of which I am Programme Leader.


Critical Books

  • 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, Plymouth: Northcote House, 2007
  • When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry (Shearsman, 2011)

Edited Volumes

  • Floating Capital: New Poets from London, with Clarke, Adrian, Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes and Poets, 1991
  • News for the Ear: a homage to Roy Fisher, with Robinson, Peter, Exeter: Stride 2000
  • Salt Companion to Lee Harwood, Cambridge Salt, 2007

I have published numerous book chapters and referred articles such as ‘Poetics and Ethics: The Saying and the Said in the Linguistically Innovative Poetry of Tom Raworth’, Critical Survey, Vol 14, Number 2, 2002, pp. 75-88, and ‘Public Poetics: The Manifesto of the Poetry Society 1976’ in Poetry and Public Language, eds. Anthony Caleshu and Tony Lopez, Exeter: Shearsman, 2007

More recent critical pieces are listed below.

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, 2008
  • Warrant Error, Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2009
  • Berlin Bursts. Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2011
  • The Other Life (three short stories): Newton-le-Willows: Knives Forks and Spoons, 2012
  • A Translated Man. Bristol: Shearsman Books, 2013.

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 Anti-Orpheus: a notebook, Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2004. (Also available as an e-book at www.shearsman. com)
  • Risk Assessment (with Rupert Loydell) Damaged Goods, October 2006

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, London, 1992
  • Wayne Pratt: Watering the Cactus – the deathbed edition, 1999 Ship of Fools, London, 1992, revised 1999
  • Logos on Kimonos (with images by Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1992 revised ed. 1998
  • Seven (with images by Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1992
  • Icarus – Having Fallen (with Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1992
  • 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
  • The Book of British Soil (with Patricia Farrell), London: Ship of Fools, 1995
  • Soleà for Lorca, Liverpool: Ship of Fools, 1998
  • Birthday Boy, A Present for Lee Harwood, ed. with Patricia Farrell, anthology containing poetry by John Ashbery, art by Andrzej Jackowski, and others, 1999
  • 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
  • Looking Thru’ A Hole in the Wall (with Patricia Farrell), Liverpool: Ship of Fools, 2010.

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.

Anthology appearances include

  • 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
  • New British and Irish Writing, West Coat Line Number 17 (29/2) ed. Quartermain, 1995, pp. 85-7, 112
  • 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
  • ‘from September 12’, ed. Swift, Todd, e-book Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on, at
  • ‘Small Voice’, in eds. Allen, Tim, and Duncan Andrew, Don’t Start Me Talking, Cambridge: Salt, 2007, pp. 335-6
  • Six sonnets in The Reality Street Book of Sonnets, Reality Street: Hastings, 2008.
  • ‘A Voice Without’, ‘Not Another Poem’, in ed. Rupert Loydell, Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh:Manifestos and Unmanifestos, Salt: Cambridge, 2009
  • ‘from “The Given” in ed. David Miller, The Alchemist’s Mind. Reality Street: Hastings , 2012
  • ‘Portrait and Portals’ in ed. Philip Davenport, The Dark Would (various media) 2013.
  •  ‘In Unadopted Space’ in eds. Holland and Topping, Sculpted, North West Poets, 2013.

My poetry has appeared in well over 100 magazines since the 1970s, including: New Statesman, Critical Quarterly, PN Review, The Gig (Canada), Jacket (Australia), Scratch, Alembic, Palantir, Reality Studios, Slow Dancer, Raddle Moon (Canada), Fragmente, Object Permanence, Mirage # 4/Period(ical) # 47 (USA), Angel Exhaust, VLAK, Veer Off, Angel Exhaust, Ambit, Stand, Damn the Caesars, English, The Wolf, Poetry Wales.

Recent journal publications include:

2010. ‘The Colony at the Heart of the Empire: Bob Cobbing and the Mid-1980s London Creative Environment’, in Hidden Agendas: Unreported Poetics, ed. by Louis Armand. Prague: Litteria Pragensia: 29-47.

2010. ‘Early Steps: René Van Valckenborch’s Poems’ trans. Krol and Dupuis’: Poems in The Adirondack Review, 10 (Spring 2010),

2010. ‘Smokestack Lightning’ (text with sound and music), in Ekleksographia Wave Two, ed. by Philip Davenport (March 2010),

2009. ‘Poems Against Death’, Poetry Wales, Brigend, Wales, Seren Books, 45.1, Summer.

2011. ‘Two Poems’, Stand: Vol 10(2).

2011. ‘election day glance poems’, ‘Ode to Zip’, Poetry Wales, Volume 47, No. 2 Autumn: 18-22.

2011. ‘Stefan Themerson and the Theatre of Semantic Poetry’. in eds. Blaim, Ludmi?y Gruszewskiej, and David, Malcolm (eds.), Eseje o Wspó?czesnej Poezji Brytyjskiej i Irlandzkiej, Volume 5: Gda?sk: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gda?skiego,Ludmi: 245-262.

2011. ‘Linguistically Wounded: The Poetical Scholarship of Veronica Forrest-Thomson’ in ed. Turley, Richard Margraf, The Writer in the Academy: Creative Interfrictions, Essays and Studies 2011. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer: 133-55.


Exhibitions (Book Art works and collaborations with artists)

The poem ‘from the Motivist Suite’ formed part of Bryan Eccleston’s celebration of the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa at Bank Street Arts, Sheffield (2011).

Vision Text and Cognition: Poetry Beyond Text: University of Dundee March 2011, Scottish Poetry Library May 2011, Scottish Royal Academy November-December 2011 (text-art collaborations with the painter and printmaker Pete Clarke).

Catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Get Back’ by Pete Clarke,

26 September – 12 October 2012

Organised by the artist and Thomas Peter at Kunstraum Dreizwanzig, Köln, part of the ‘Eight Days A Week’ Liverpool in Cologne Exhibition Programme 2012 curated by Jürgen Kisters and Georg Gartz.

Manifest: Edge Hill University, April 2013.

Recent keynotes and invited talks and poetry readings

30 November 2010: CONTEMPO (Universities of Bangor, Aberystwyth, Brighton (video link): talk on ‘Form’s Mordant Eye’.

February 2011: a talk on formally innovative poetry for the Contemporary Poetry series at the University of London (Senate House).

June 2011: Hay Poetry Jamboree: a plenary lecture to end the gathering (University of Swansea and others)

May 2012: Keynote speech: Small Press Publishing Conference, University of Salford.

March 2013: ‘On Form’ University of Essex.

October 2013: As Rene Van Valckenborch: North Wales International Poetry Festival

November 2013: Shearsman launch of A Translated Man, Shearsman Books, London

December 2013: The Other Room, Manchester.


See also Edge Hill Repository

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