Taking only the sonnets Wyatt ‘translated’ from Petrarch, but adding a few of his own, Robert Sheppard merges the historical Wyatt with his hysterical contemporary analogue, a reluctant civil servant of a corrupt administration. His world fluxes between Henrician terror, administered by Cromwell, and something like our own reality. These sonnets are from a larger grouping called The English Strain.
“We need our ghosts more than ever. Robert Sheppard rouses Sir Thomas Wyatt, pioneering English sonneteer, from unquiet slumber and drops him blinking into Brexit Britain. Tudor insider, rumoured lover of Anne Boleyn, Wyatt now plies his poetic trade in the dysfunctional dynasty of Theresa May, a court characterised by its surfeit of jesters. Informed but not limited by its origins, HAP is a work of wit, verve and skill, doing to Wyatt what Wyatt did to Petrarch: recontextualising and rebooting by transformative translation. This book should be shot into space as a record of our interesting times, preferably in Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s trouser pocket.” — Tom Jenks