This review is taken from PN Review 204, Volume 38 Number 4, March - April 2012.As One is Moved and Moves
Berlin Bursts, the eighth instalment in Robert Sheppard's increasingly impressive oeuvre, is a book at once grounded and fleeting, 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.
The central sequence of the book consists in reflections on poetics and the reading process, but one should not be put off by the blurb's description of it as 'a series of metapoems' - a key contention of the book is the extendability of aesthetic experience to other fields of meaning. Sheppard's meditations on art (not just poetry, but especially video art, and painting too) are a revision of Stevens's Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, with the 'It Must Be Abstract' directive firmly removed. 'Twin Poem', like its siblings, has a setting:
A gloss between the lines
Identical to ours. This is the city
Of the stories you tell in narrowing
Testimony. Fragmentary pauses and shifts
Carried into the mind make credible things:
The light shimmering in the heat.
Coinciding with the publication of Sheppard's critical work, When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry (Shearsman), Berlin Bursts perhaps makes one of the biggest claims for the inherent politics of language and art in recent British poetry. ...
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