Saturday, 11 February 2017

TOM RAWORTH HAS DIED

HE BROUGHT POST-WAR AMERICAN POETRY TO BRITAIN IN A VITAL WAY
British poet of genius and cultural significance, Tom Raworth has died after a long and protracted illness, aged 78.
Writer, artist, teacher, and publisher Tom Raworth was born in South London and attended the University of Essex. In 1970, he earned an MA in the theory and practice of literary translation. As founder of Matrix Press and co-founder of Goliard Press, Raworth was instrumental in bringing an entire tradition of American poetry to English readers. Promoting the work of a number of poets associated with the Black Mountain School, including Edward Dorn, Robert Creeley, and Charles Olson, Raworth also published the poetry of Elaine Feinstein, Aram Saroyan, Anselm Hollo, and Zoltan Farkas.
 
Raworth’s own work has also been identified with the Black Mountain School. He wrote over 40 collections of poetry, among them The Relation Ship (1969), winner of the Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize, Eternal Sections (1993), Tottering State: Selected Poems 1965–1983 (1984), the 500-plus page Collected Poems (2003), Writing: Poems 1980– 2003 (2005), and Windmills in Flames: Old and New Poems (2010).
 
His most recent collection As When was published by Carcanet in 2015. John Olson has noted that in Raworth’s work "words and lines are highly compressed: one perception immediately and directly slides to a further perception, and these perceptions accrue, multiply, ricochet and expand into a domain of accelerated cognition protean and variable as cumulonimbus, or gouache."
Raworth’s awards included the Cholmondeley Award, the Philip Whalen Memorial Award, and, in Italy, the Antonio Delfini Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
 
He taught as a visiting lecturer at the University of Texas-Austin, the University of California-San Diego, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa; he also served as poet-in-residence at King’s College, Cambridge University.
 
He lived in Brighton, England.
 
photo courtesy of Carcanet.
 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

EYEWEAR PUBLISHING LTD EDITORIAL POLICY


EYEWEAR PUBLISHING EDITORIAL POLICY 2017

Eyewear is a privately-funded company. Its chief aim is literary – to discover, nurture, and publish, significant and interesting new and established writers and poets, across all languages, and all genres. We do so by holding our editorial team to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity; and by ensuring our printing is environmentally sustainable. We actively seek diversity of representation, and opinion, in our editorial choices, and align ourselves with no one political party, or movement. We are, in most things, radically moderate. At the moment, our ideal political leaders would be Justin Trudeau in Canada, Angela Merkel in Germany. As a rule, our editors do not believe Brexit is in the best interests of the UK, and we remain deeply concerned about the direction America is taking under its new leadership. We are on record as welcoming refugees to the UK. Our publications try to build bridges between cultures and continents (especially the US and UK, but also the UK and Ireland, and the UK and Europe, as well as between the West and Asia) and to support authors young and old. Despite, or because of, our views, we want our company to be a pluralistic platform, to paraphrase The Kenya Free Press.

As the BBC states online, we agree: “We aim to reflect the world as it is, including all aspects of the human experience and the realities of the natural world. We will be sensitive to, and keep in touch with, generally accepted standards, particularly in relation to the protection of children.” We will neither court offense for its own sake, nor avoid controversial ideas or statements, if and when they serve a reasonably thought-through aesthetic purpose. As wide-ranging readers, we understand that the shock of the new, such as with Dadaism, can challenge societal values, while contributing to greater cultural purposes. We will be fearless, tolerant, non-judgemental editors and publishers. However, we will steer clear of writing that seeks to advocate violence, cruelty, sexual degradation, racist abuse, or hatefully targets persons or beliefs; except insofar as this may be the expression of legitimate artistic works. We will seek to balance the ideas of Judith Butler with those of Claire Fox, in terms of the harm that free speech and writing can cause versus the harm that closing down debate can cause; and will not avoid offence for the mere sake of gentility, unless we feel genuine harm could be done.

While we cannot agree with Orwell that a clear style is always preferable to an ornate one, we remain concerned that limits to linguistic expression, and the creation of “thought police” could inadvertently aid and abet those seeking more totalitarian systems of governance. In short, while remaining relatively progressive, open-minded, and innovative, and with a clear eye on feminist and democratic viewpoints, we will not close down all correspondence with those who may differ from us in their ideas or opinions. We ultimately believe that robust debate and dialogue are better than even principled silence. As Penguin Books states in their editorial statement, we too wish to “champion writing, freedom of expression, and cultural diversity. … As a company, we are continually investing in a myriad of voices that reflect wide ranges of viewpoints and opinions and impact our society in meaningful ways.” Amen to that.

Eyewear believes in outspoken, fair, kind, and conscientious behaviour in a world too often driven by greed, and cruelty. We do not seek power or wealth or celebrity, for their own sakes, but rather simply a foothold in which we can continue to publish beautifully-designed, brilliantly-written, affordable books. We cannot claim to be perfect, but we err on the side of the angels whenever possible, while reminding ourselves that some of our literary heroes – including in no order: Graham Greene, James Baldwin, Charles Baudelaire, Colette, Anais Nin, Albert Camus, LeRoi Jones/Baraka, Virginia Woolf, William S. Burroughs, Ezra Pound, Sylvia Plath, Philip Larkin, and Gertrude Stein, were not always perfect. We must believe that they did their best, as creative humans, bravely pushing the boundaries of thought and feeling, within the societal and spiritual and psychological pressures of their moment.

Ultimately, publishing is about bringing something into the world that has not existed before – a book. While books in history have a problematic past, we must side finally with those who would prefer to keep all books in a library, than ever stoop to burn even the most inflammatory. In the end, judge us by the books we managed to help create, in a difficult financial, and political time, at cost and challenge to ourselves.

Friday, 3 February 2017

THE BEST OF 2016 IN POPULAR MUSIC, TV, FILM AND POETRY



MERLIN WAS THE FUTURE, ONCE...
Eyewear, The Blog, usually enjoys compiling end of the year lists. 2016, now arguably the punch line to a Kafka-Beckett comedy routine, doesn't seem the sort of place to lodge too many enthusiasms, but of course some of the finest films, songs, and poems, have been created during wartime, and The Great Depression, and other major moments in recent history.

2016 will be remembered for the Dylan Nobel, Brexit, the slaughter of Aleppo, the deaths of Castro, Bowie, Ali, Carrie Fisher, and the Trump election - probably little else, except the rise of social media/iPhone ubiquity in the techno-cultural sphere.
 
 
BEST MUSIC
 
A cruel trilogy of masterful albums, two almost posthumous, are clearly in the top five - by Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, and David Bowie. Then there's Lemonade, by BeyoncĂ©. Drake and Rihanna dropped major new LPs, as did Solange. Warpaint, PJ Harvey, Animal Collective, offered fine new LPs. Lady Gaga reinvented herself. Massive Attack and Hope Sandoval created one of the best dream pop songs ever. Iggy Pop, Suede, The Tindersticks, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones, Wire, ABC, Pixies, The Monkees, Gwen Stefani, Metallica, Radiohead, The Violent Femmes, Kings of Leon and Barry Gibb all returned with good to excellent new work - reminding us never to assume people are quite done yet. Merchandise crafted a very cunning fusion of The Smiths, Simple Minds and Joy Division. A young  British Asian lad, wonderfully, in this year of hateful Trump/Farage, produced the best Top 40 single: 'Pillowtalk' by Zayn.
 
 
BEST TV
 
The BBC started the year with a double-punch of two great mini-series - War and Peace, and The Night Manager. These got attention, but were promptly eclipsed by The Game of Thrones episode, 'Battle of the Bastards' - easily the finest one hour of TV action ever filmed; and then came the nostalgic favourite, Stranger Things - a perfect synthesis of all that made us love the 80s. Best TV movie - Netflix's The Siege at Jadotville. The Fall, Halt and Catch Fire, Humans, The Americans, Homeland, Goliath, The Affair, Designated Survivor, all good fun... but I think Stranger Things wins. The BBC ended the year with a clever mash-up, a romantic modernist version of Christie's The Witness for the Prosecution, set in 1923, which heavily referenced poems of TS Eliot (including 'Prufrock').
 
 
BEST FILM?
 At this stage, the best American film of the moment may be Hell and High Water. Sentimental favourite is the NZ family film, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a very charming and stylish event. Nocturnal Animals and Elle are both profoundly disturbing films about style and violence. Guilty pleasures included the charming Irish musical comedy Sing Street, the inventive punk-thriller Green Room, the reviled but destined to be classic Costner vehicle, Criminal, and the one about the sexy surfer staving off shark attacks. Deepwater Horizon is one of the finest disaster films ever, and a powerful indictment of greed. However, the most moving, significant films so far have been Certain Women, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures. La La Land is ultimately too fanciful and lightweight for the times to warrant a win at the Oscars.
 
 
SOME OF THE BEST POETRY BOOKS
and books about poetry*
 
The Poems of Basil Bunting, edited by Don Share;
The new book of essays by Stephen Burt, the poem is you;
Cain by Luke Kennard;
Moments of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo;
Holy Toledo by John Clegg;
Through by David Herd;
Trammel by Charlotte Newman;
The Seasons of Cullen Church by Bernard O'Donoghue;
Exile and the Kingdom by Hilary Davies;
Anatomy of Voice by David Musgrave;
Selected essays by Richard Price, Is This A Poem?;
 The new essays by Charles Bernstein, Pitch of Poetry;
Paul Muldoon, Selected Poems, 1968-2014;
 Stephen Heighton's GG winner, The Waking Comes Late;
 and a major new poetry collection by Denise Riley, Say Something Back, which is arguably the greatest work of British poetry this century.
 
 
*Excluding Eyewear titles.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A BRIEF ESSAY ON BEING YOUNG AND AMERICAN IN THE TIME OF TRUMP BY STEVEN TIMBERMAN

THE SHIT GOT REAL


The Cavalry

 
As the early results curdle, I text my father three words - This Is Bad. Like thousands of others, I’ve spent the last year volunteering and working to elect Hillary Clinton. The long fight. The good fight. The first fight I’ve truly thrown myself into, again and again. Election Night finds me in southern Virginia, a ramshackle campaign office held together by duct tape, off-white cracked paint, and five other community organizers. Growing up, the evening news was my family’s sacred time. Six years old, I watch a Palestinian child dive behind wreckage as gunfire crackles. Peter Jennings’ lullaby voice informs us that the child is unaccounted for. My father responds to my text with two words - I know.

            Hour ago a packed office, trusty volunteers using an auto-dialer to rapid fire call as many inconsistent voters as we can. After polls close in Virginia, volunteers shuffle out. Well-wishes. Hugs. These aren’t my volunteers. My volunteer team is two hours to the east, forty plus strong. Knocking on doors, making calls, driving mini-sedans down dirt roads and into ditches. I love them, unconditionally. Contact and register voters, recruit more volunteers so they can contact and register yet more voters. That’s the job.

Before 2016 I had never knocked a door, registered a voter, or cold-called registered democrats. The vast majority of my volunteer team could say the same. On Election Night they text me, celebrating our work and urging me to get some rest. We are a support system.  In twenty four hours our network of activists becomes a network of grievers. “This fucking table,” a co-worker says. To his left sits a card table covered in call sheets, pamphlets, spreadsheets. Florida is called. He paces to the back room. Three minutes later he strolls to the table, slamming it end over end. Paper flies like confetti. He bends down, calmly propping up the table and returns each item to its proper place one by one.

            We absorb the news differently. For a few hours we have the luxury of making calls to the west coast states, absentmindedly dialling numbers as we crack jokes and reminisce. Then we wait. Two co-workers cuddle on the couch, long past the point of caring about subtlety. When the numbers start to tilt CNN reports that the youth vote is disastrous. “Well,” I say. “They fucked us. Like they always do.” A co-worker not even twenty screams back “This is not on us! Fuck you!” We embrace in the backroom, wordlessly apologizing. Her eyes well. “I don’t want to be crazy again. I can’t. My healthcare.” I hold her best I can, my arms feeling entirely inadequate. “Me too.”

            2010 was a big year for me. I graduated college. I moved abroad. I accidentally overdosed twice. Severe depression, self-harm, a titch of anorexia thrown in for good measure. Any serious depressive learns how to paper over their cracks. Inventing convoluted cover stories to hide that they can’t or won’t stand up and say “I am wounded, this hole cannot heal, I am tapped out.” When I mustered up the courage to seek treatment I called up every health provider in California. Some pitied me. Some laughed at me. Every single one rejected me. Pre-existing condition, they said. I fell backwards. Years later, I steel up the courage to dial a number to seek treatment.  Now that the Affordable Care Act has kicked in, the first provider sets me up with an affordable plan within ten minutes. A month later I am properly diagnosed as Type 2 Bipolar, mood stabilizers granting me normalcy again.

 

I was always a liberal. President Obama made me a Democrat.

The morning after Election Night I wake up, roll over in bed and immediately post a picture of my medication on social media. “Pry These from My Cold Dead Hands,” I write. We imagine political campaigns as a viper’s nests of careerists, striving to accrue power with political voodoo. And while there are strivers and movers and fake smiles, each and every campaign staffer has a story like mine. A Muslim best friend bullied. A 9/11 Firefighter’s lungs slowly torn to ash. A girl unaware she’s undocumented until she applies for college financial aid.  I entered the Hillary Clinton campaign office a cynic. I leave it an optimist.

I spent Election Night quietly pacing, mumbling a single word over and over again. Brexit. Brexit. Fuckin’ Brexit. I spent two years in England. I was not a fan. But in June, my father finds me in front of the TV, watching Britain’s results roll in city by city. I sob. This is it, I remember thinking. Trump’s blueprint. Resentment over reality. The Culture Wars are done and buried. This is different. This is intoxicating. The mythical unicorn of The White Working Class striking again. Never doubt the capacity of people to fall in line. A shame they did not fall in our line.

I do not blame those that voted for Trump. I do not even blame those that enthusiastically cheered him on, their own wrecking ball through the establishment. They did exactly what I expected them to. My mistake was expecting that our voters would show up. That in the face of such raw hatred they would rally. They did not. We did not. I talked to disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters, who grew up without the fires of the George W Bush administration. For me, Obama’s presidency was life changing. For them, they wondered why their life had not changed enough. They did not reach out to us, and we did not know how to reach out to them.

It is too easy for me to be brought low by bitterness. We spent a year telling America that the building was on fire. Liberals bickered about the color of the fire truck or the size of the hose. And now that the fires burn bright, those same folks stand up and have the courage to say that they are against fire?

The toughest day since Election Night was last Saturday. Privately, former campaign staffers were debating whether to attend the Women’s March. Some argued that there was no time for dissent or despair, that we needed to welcome each and every new voice. Others argued that those same voices abandoned us in November, when the chips were down. That wound too raw, too congealed to even begin triage. I thought about all those democrats who railed on facebook about the tyranny of a possible Trump presidency but could not be bothered to volunteer. “I help in my own way.” “I have a dinner party.” “This is all the free time I have.” but then I thought about all of those who stepped up and stood with me. The volunteer who texted me that he had to miss a phone bank shift because his wife was in labor. Who came in the Saturday before the election clad in sweatpants and a smile. His new-born daughter was six days old.

            So I marched. I drove to North Hollywood and parked over a mile away from the metro station, a sea of pink hats and protest signs already in formation. I wear my Clinton-Kaine shirt because I am stubborn and grieving (and it’s also a comfy shirt).  A middle aged woman with a “Pussys have power” button hugs me on the train. She tells me that she’s so happy to see young people involved, that her daughter is also “super” involved. When I ask how, she tells me that her daughter attended four marches since the election! I ball my fists, nails digging deep.

 

I stood in a crowd hundreds of thousands strong. The cavalry had arrived. Standing against hate and bigotry. Failing to stand for the first female president. Because emails. Because Benghazi. Because Bernie. Because they didn’t know why but they just couldn’t trust her (Hint: she lacks a penis). Despite that, I am swept up in the pageantry. My organizer mind wonders where the clipboards are. The rest of my mind is humbled by the display of solidarity. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be okay. The crowd roars THE FUTURE IS FEMALE. I roar back. A friend next to me takes off his sunglasses to wipe off tears. We hug. We embrace. We stand together.

And then the crowd breaks out into a chant of WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS. My legs shake. Hillary’s message, the literal phrase she championed, echoed by so many of those that slagged her name for the past year. Nationwide, the same voters that let her down. That sat on the side-lines. That refused to volunteer when asked. That had Better Things to Do. Her words on their lips. This feels like a violation. Walking back to my car, I pop into a Walgreens and find a bathroom. I sob, deep heavy chest wracking sobs. Someone asks me how they can help. I tell them to get a goddamn time machine.

            Eight years ago we had the gall to elect a black president. Now we would pay the price.

            And then, the cavalry really did arrive. My Dad, not one generally given to sentiment, watches the news and tells me we will be okay. I ask why. “Because when I grew up they were sending my friends home in body bags and shooting our leaders. We will be okay.” A politically dormant friend mentions she’s making five calls a day to congressional leaders. Her husband looks up dates and times of town hall meetings for the republican congressman who represents his hometown. Another friend attends a community event held at a mosque and meets her local congresswoman. Someone asks me how they can help. I tell them how.

            Election Night. The results are official. Donald Trump will be our President. My President. My 21 year old college intern sends me the electoral map of Virginia. He’s circled in yellow our county, a blue blip in the southern Virginia sea of red. He’s pledged to be an organizer in the governor’s race, fighting for progressive causes. I know he’ll be better at this than I ever was.  After a late night call, we lock up the office and a few of us stay together. We drink cheap beer in a cheap motel.

            A co-worker leans back in his chair, the stress of tonight laced in his face. He laughs until his sides hurt. “On the plus side,” he says. “In a messed up way, I now know what I want to do with my life.” We clink half-drank PBR cans.

            Let’s go to work.


STEVEN TIMBERMAN is a graduate of KINGSTON UNIVERSITY, UK, and a writer based in America.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

AS IF CATULLUS COULD RESPOND TO PRESIDENT TRUMP - NEW POEM BY ERIC SIGLER, AMERICAN POET AND SATIRIST

Inaugural Occasional Poem: The White House
Casting Couch Is Visited By Zeus as Golden Rain
BY THE AMERICAN POET AND SATIRIST ERIC SIGLER

 

I

 
I thought I saw a smoke screen or a cloud
descend through spears that rallied at the sky,
and railed against the theme -
four years beneath a shroud-
until I woke to see that, in my eye,
I could not emancipate the dream 
from shackles chained to starlight -
a strident stalker wading through the night,
an endless specter searching for a theme....

 

II

 
But then I saw sun's gilded feet retreat - 
high-heeled hopes broken by the darkness,
love that lies alone on mirrored splinters,
shattered by the monuments of defeat,
that thrust into the eyes the vile success 
of tyrants who elect to be successors -
their statutory statutes on the plaques -
marble mountains moved on others' backs -
destroyers in the mantles of the victors....

 

III

 
He heard his daughter's son would bring him death,
though prophecies are dead - the prophets mute -
the grander grandeur - puppet on a pulpit-
the bloviating toxins on his breath
the wind that withers trees and dries the roots,
that topples the foundations of the spirit,
the ignorance that feeds on fear and doubt,
that puts the fire of liberty ever out,
and leaves us desolate and destitute.... 

 

IV

 
This caused the Don to build a golden cage,
and lock his daughter there until forever. 
The father of no country - of no child -
the bearer of the void - this lightless age -
who hides his terror in his gilded tower - 
to torture and torment those he defiled
by lies that fed the truth of their desire
to hold their leader highest of the higher,
the feral alpha calling to the wild.

 

V

 
The daughter lay sequestered in the tower,
imprisoned in a dungeon with no window.
The tyrant feared the oracles of karma, 
and as he held the absolutes of power, 
he knew that his today would come tomorrow -
that death would be a sorry melodrama -
his name would ever desecrate the dust
that drowns the articles of blinded trust - 
the tides of time that brought us this enigma...

 

VI

 
He struts in his new clothes before the mirror
that slims him in the image of himself -
his hair the color of the coming sun.
He wears it like the falsified demeanor 
of pimps who preen to flash their worthless wealth,
who act as if the answer and the one.
So self-absorbed, delirious with power,
he seeks to steal the mother from the father,
or be the father of his daughter's son....

 

VII

 
He could not drown - leaden in the water -
nor touch a drink to demonize his soul.
He feels his bloated beauty does not change -
but stoops to snort an energizing powder,  
his fingernail dipped in a crystal bowl,
a morbid mind the dopamine deranges,
that stimulates the power of abuse,
so that he thinks himself the mighty Zeus,
that he will come disguised as Golden Rain.

 

VIII

 
He paints the tainted sunlight on his face,
plucks his brows and bellows like a bull.
He looks again into his lying mirror,
but can not see the truth of his disgrace -
that he must grope to find a fingerful,
that he can't stand erect without a popper,
however beauty sizzles in his child -
the image of himself that he defiled
and locked inside a dungeon in his tower.

 

IX

 
He looks outside his window at the clouds,
bends upon his knees and bows his head.
The sanctuary of his inner demons 
is draped in curtains made of funeral shrouds.
The promises he pilfered for the dead
he offered in the rantings of his sermons,
the lies that told the truth of his deceit,
the deadly hatred of the feigned elite,
who look upon their lessers as their vermin.

 

X

 
Now our tears have shed the Golden Rain,
and he has liquified into the chamber 
where he can rape and pillage and destroy - 
and like a madman - utterly insane -
he showers his gifts upon his sleeping daughter, 
and leaves his seed to scatter and deploy
the legions of the army of amorals,
the vengeance of the gross deplorables,
who never knew the simple joy of joy.

 

XI

 
And as this would befit a grand occasion,
I offer this entertainment to the Ball,
and join the singers singing their bright songs,
knowing that we face pure disillusion,
that what we saw before was not at all  
the truth that has amassed in these dark throngs,
the hatred now that's branded on the sleeves,
the golden calf in which the crowd believes - 
here neither love nor joy nor hope belongs....

 
January 20, 2017
Miami

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