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Robert Sheppard on René Van Valckenborch

August 30, 2012

The ‘whole’ oeuvre of René Van Valckenborch is surrounded by mystery, perhaps of his own making. Published in fugitive publications in places as far apart as Cape Town and Montreal over the last decade, the poems of this Belgian are composed in Flemish and Walloon, and the stylistic divide between the two sets seems to reflect the societal linguistic divide of his troubled nation (although he never refers to this fact). These poems are translations from the Walloon of his ‘versions’ of Ovid, both from the unfashionable Tristia and the apocryphal ‘new’ Amores.

The entire project is due for publication by Shearsman in 2013.

Robert Sheppard


from ovid’s twistier & new amores

tristia bk 1: 7 the exiliad

                                 for phillipe thierry


bin the press cuttings the imperial poetry prize

wipe the tapes of the olympiad the shaky video

of my north sea pinings with exilic marvin gaye dear


friend delete my emails defriend me on facebook

for every time you see my thumbnail

you’ll weep & tweet


how unhappy he must be forever off-line in the

valley of bad signal hard drive wiped the final

draft of the book of ch-ch-ch-changes deleted


but i’ve kept a fair copy on pen-drive old friend & it

awaits my final tweaks but while

we’re on the subject if you’ll beg my pardon


(no i mean really beg my pardon did i not

explain the distinction between relegatio &

exilium?) that opus of mine (thank the odd


god or two that nicander is out of ©) could

remind you of me like the signet you wear

that bears my image but what i really want to say is


that book of the dead will survive unchanged my death

great friend: is there room in the rome that you roam in

for its twisted transpadane transformations?



new amores bk 1: 5 a.d. 4: 4 a.d.


into summer noon heat

of our shuttered crepuscule

you enter slip


tensible straps down

cleaving silk upon

sheeny stockings


tensing your back

against me you

hold back


halfmoon bra falls

from the afternoon &

i turn with moistened


lips musky fingers for em-

passioned meat deep below

your perfect slopes with


cavernous tang sucked

tongue & your lick-

spittle sphinx smile


until you shudder

release re-

joice & relax!


then your turn

turns spine line lifting to

taut sharp shoulders


till we’re complete & i

fall apart exiled shade

twinned in twilight for jove


knows tangled hair & cleft

flesh must return to roma-

ny scarf & sensible skirt


high heels & tight lips

carry off my wanton

verses in your departing wiggle


each evening you absorb

applause for

persistence from your


husband lukewarm

like a courtesan

before supper all


night he guards your shallow

moat with his rubber sword

dry as a bone in its defence



See further information and links to other Van Valckenborch ‘fictional poems’ at


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