OverviewRosie Shepperd's debut poetry collection, The Man at the Corner Table (Seren), crackles with the unexpected. The voice is one of urban sophistication; a merciless charm that teases and tempts us with sensual evocations of food and place. The reader is surprised with tastes, scents, colours and textures. There is a winning insistence on detail offered with an irony that blends into satire. The poems adopt a deadly seriousness to the business of comedy. In 'It isn't just the under-floor heating that makes me lie down in the kitchen', the poem explores the ineffable by sending it up in a domestic setting that subverts as it disconcerts. The gorgeous place settings of these poems are not just carefully delineated backdrops. They toy with our interpretations of 'at table'. As in a Dutch master 'tablescape', they become symbolic of our relation to ourselves, to others and the world. These poems are exquisite meals, to be devoured amidst surprising intimacies, like the search for solace that is edging towards something more in 'Balthazar Bakery, Spring Street, NY'. Others explore troubling scenarios of grief and loss, such as the heartbreak in 'You all have lied…'. Sometimes the poems appear like postcards from beautifully observed moments of exile, as in 'Chorinho' – where the author is hounded and haunted by unease. As in Elizabeth Bishop's 'Questions of Trael' there is artfulness in this unease, and an obligation to close observation that resolutely refuses to moralize. Formally, these are poems of skill and erudition in the way they voice themselves as objects of both desire and satire. Shepperd uses traditional forms of rhyme and metre; sestinas and sonnets. And she has evolved a strategy of varying line length and position that gives the poems a light and deceptively casual air. We are interrupted in our reading as we realize that we are staring at themes that are both vital and lethal: love, desire, grief and death. Like a secret recipe, the author's technique is invisible, leaving us with poems whose flavors linger and become something that surprises and changes us.
Reviews"The governing dynamics of Rosie Shepperd's poetry are sensual intelligence and formal erudition. Her long lines are fearlessly balanced as she builds apparently impossible bridges of register and tone, yet still sounds like she were speaking from across the room. Her mind moves ornately yet her poetry is comic, clear and cool - all in the best senses of those words." —David Morley, Poetry Review
"In Rosie Shepperd's poems, life is like a dream of flying - it is only when you think about it that it becomes impossible. In these poems, the mind fortunately, is always on other things. These breathless, busy dispatches are held together by a sharp wit and firm structural control. The mind may wander but the poet's eye remains steady." —Andrew McCulloch, The TLS
"Rosie Shepperd finds beauty and romance coming through the banality of life. And if the humour comes through recognition then so we should also recognise the beauty and romance in our own daily round, like the 'delicacy in the afternoon light from the fly-over.'' —David Mills, The Sunday Times
Author BiographyRosie Shepperd trained as an Economist and worked in financial journalism and then banking in London and New York until 2004. She studied creative writing at London University's Birkbeck College and at the University of South Wales. Initially a writer of radio plays, she fell in love with writing, reading and studying poetry and is currently embarked on a PhD at London University's Goldsmith's College, in which she models and maps theories of creativity and aesthetics as they appear in poetry. Her poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines in the US, the UK, Ireland and continental Europe. She writes essays on literature, the occasional book review and writes and speaks on Creativity Theory. She was a finalist in the inaugural Manchester Poetry Prize, she won the 2009 Liverpool Poetry Prize and was a winner in the 2012 Poetry Business Competition. She won second prize in the 2013 Cardiff International Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. The Man at the Corner Table is her debut collection.