There are two ways of seeing this book. One: it is a homage to Michael Drayton’s 1619 sonnet sequence, Idea, skilful transpositions into contemporary forms. Two: it tells the story of Brexit, as it passes through the body politic, the undigested cake and eat it of daily life. We read of the peccadillos and pet projects of the Brexiteers, the ineptitude of resistance. Expect comedy and chaos rather than analysis, ‘how not to get the blues while singing the blues’. Drayton is both Renaissance man and man of resentment. His worshipped muse Idea is a tragic Scouse idealist caught in a satire nobody can quite control. ‘The English Strain’ of the sonnet tradition meets the dogging sites of post-Brexit Britain. You’ve got to laugh.
Steve Spence wrote of an earlier part of Sheppard’s sonnet project: ‘These are sharp, spiky, satirical poems, full of scatological verve and menacing bite, meat to Sheppard’s scathing pen, great fun to read, fully appropriate to the dark-age we now seem to be on the brink of living through.’
Geraldine Monk in The Robert Sheppard Companion informs us: ‘Sheppard’s writing is rough, rude, quirky, serious, learned, and never afraid to be humorous. In short it is as irreverent as it is relevant.’