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Showing posts from April, 2007

At The Blue Metropolis Festival

I have been invited to attend the 2007 Blue Metropolis festival in Montreal, Quebec - fast becoming Canada's major literary gathering. This year, both Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood will be appearing, as well as rising star Heather O'Neill.

I'll be reading on the Wednesday, alongside John Burnside, Jason Camlot, Carmine Starnino and others; then launching two books, Language Acts (co-edited book of essays with JC, as above) on the Friday, and Winter Tennis on the Sunday (part of the DC Books spring launch).
More info below and a link to the review (out today) of Language Acts in The Montreal Gazette.http://www.bluemetropolis.org/Festival/Participants/767http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/books/story.html?id=2857dbc2-9b20-4d82-adb6-90336bcdfc31

Poem by Martha Kapos

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Martha Kapos (pictured) this Friday. She recently read for the Oxfam Series, in London, and is the author of one of my favourite contemporary poems published in the UK, which, by a happy coincidence, is below.

Kapos was born in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Having completed a degree in Classics at Harvard, she came to London to study Painting and the History of Art at the Chelsea School of Art, where she stayed to teach - writing and lecturing on art and poetry until 2001.
A pamphlet from The Many Press, The Boy Under The Water, was her first poetry publication in 1989. She won a Hawthornden Fellowship in 1994 and in 2000 was shortlisted for Poetry Review’s Geoffrey Dearmer ‘New Poet of the Year’ award. She became assistant poetry editor of Poetry London in 2001.
Her poems have appeared in a number of magazines including Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry Wales, The Manhattan Review, and the TLS. A selection of her poems …

"Men seeking good, doing evil"

Ezra Pound, pictured, the most important impresario of modernism, and one of its five greatest practitioners (others being later Yeats, Eliot, Joyce and Stevens), has now had all his poetry recordings collected, with a useful Introduction, at the link below. No excuse not to listen to what's stayed news.

http://www.writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Pound.html

Review: We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

The year 2007 presents several satisfying options for anniversaries. 25 years since The Smiths were formed (1982) or, more gloomily, 20 since they broke up (1987). The Smiths, in the opinion of Eyewear, are one of the two most significant British bands of the last quarter century or so (the other is Joy Division, whose uncanny dark sublimity is inexplicable in a popular, albeit alternative, music context). Radiohead,Oasis, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys - whatever - they ain't The Beatles, they ain't The Smiths. Strangeways, Here We Come, their fourth and final studio album, charted in the US of A at #55.

So it comes as something of a welcome surprise that, recently, one half of the duo that defined Smithean genius, Johnny Marr, joined an alternative American band, Modest Mouse (pictured) - and then went on to have, with his new group, the US #1 album.

Is this album, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, worthy of such heights? Is it a curiosity, coasting on Marr's reputation? Y…

Language Acts April 27, 2007

Language Acts: Anglo-Quebec Poetry, 1976 to the 21st Century
Edited by Jason Camlot and Todd Swift

to be launched at the 9th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival

Friday, April 27, 8–9:30 p.m.
St-Charles Room, Hôtel Delta Centre-ville
777 rue University (Métro Square-Victoria)

A panel discussion will be chaired by the editors and will include Daniel Canty, David McGimpsey, Lianne Moyes, Victoria Stanton and David Solway. A reception will follow.

To view the Contents Page, click here. To view the Index, click here.
For information: 514.844.6073, http://www.vehiculepress.com/

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Language Acts: Anglo-Québec Poetry, 1976 to the 21st Century
publié sous la direction de Jason Camlot et Todd Swift

au 9ième Festival littéraire international de Montréal Metropolis bleu

vendredi le 27 avril, de 20h00 à 21h30
Salle St-Charles, Hôtel Delta Centre-ville
777 rue University (Métro Square-Victoria)

Une table ronde, présidée par les directeurs et composée de Daniel Canty, David McGimpsey,
Lianne Mo…

Future Welcome welcomed

Cordite has given the anthology Future Welcome a review.

http://www.cordite.org.au/?p=941

Poem by Steven Heighton

Eyewear is very glad to welcome Steven Heighton (pictured) this Friday the 13th. Heighton is one of the five or so leading writers of his generation in Canada, somewhat equivalent, say, to Tobias Hill in England - that is, he is both a fine poet and prose writer. I've known (of) him for years - he was already editor of Quarry when I was first starting to submit work to little magazines, in my late teens, early twenties. He took one of my first published poems. He's the author of one of the best poems written by a Canadian in the last 25 years - "The Machine Gunner". When I was compiling my selection of the best younger Canadian poets for New American Writing, in 2005, I said in my Introduction to the section that I had not included his work, as he was already well-established. I wanted to make room for truly emerging, and somewhat younger, figures. Already, in 2005, Heighton was a figure of international prominence.

He is the author of the novel Afterlands, published …

Review: Satyagraha

I went to see the Philip Glass opera, Satyagraha (on until May 1 in London), on the eve of my birthday - perhaps vaguely apt, since Glass (pictured) is celebrating his 70th this year. Before moving from the blogger's narcissism which almost grounds the form and content, the very context, of such posts, let me add that I was very glad to do so, since not only has Glass afforded me much aural pleasure for at least 25 years (since I was fifteen or thereabouts, in other words), the subject of the opera, Gandhi, has inspired my work for peace, since at least the age of 19, when my father first gave me a book of his on Gandhi and Tolstoy; and, indeed, Tolstoy appears (silently) in this production, alongside other figures related through time, history and the search for peace, such as Tagore and Dr. King.

This production by the ENO is, astonishingly for such an important and beautiful work, its UK premiere, though it was first performed in 1980 by the Netherlands Opera. Unlike the other …

Jason Camlot Turns 40 Today

Jason Camlot (pictured above) turns 40 today.

Eyewear wishes him a very happy birthday.

If music and thought are the twin poles of poetry (with wit somewhere sliding between) then he's your man. Both a musician and a literary scholar, Camlot is equally at home in the bistros near Duluth, singing his own songs, or scouring mansucripts in the British Libary for arcane Victoriana.

Jason and I edited Language Acts: Anglo-Québec Poetry, 1976 to the 21st Century, to be launched at the 9th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival / 9ième Festival littéraire internationale de Metropolis bleu, Friday, April 27, 20h00 – 21:30, Salle St-Charles, Hôtel Delta Centre-ville, 777 rue University, (Métro Square-Victoria).

Below is a poem that well evidences his virtuosity - a lyric he wrote in California, translated into French.


Charlotte Gainsbourg

J’ai vu Charlotte Gainsbourg
En Californie
Adossé à une voiture,
Elle avait l’air gentille.
Charlotte Gainsbourg
En Californie,
J’ai admiré ses yeu…

Vimy Ridge 90 Years Ago Today

Before Cobain's suicide in 1994, April 9th was most noteworthy for the Canadian push on Vimy Ridge in 1917. It is telling that for Canadians - so often considered a peaceful people - one of their defining moments as a nation is this concerted assault, doing what the Brits couldn't, and losing a number (a relatively small, and therefore impressive in terms of strategy) of men. Vimy Ridge is the Canadian symbol of breaking away from being an overmastered colony - of breaking with the British.

If Canada's post-colonial moment begins anywhere, it is here (arguably culminating with Expo '67 - whose 40-year anniversary 2007 is - when its international status was confirmed). One of the cultural implications of this date, then, is also the break with the English Tradition (in literature, especially, poetry) - at exactly the moment when T.S. Eliot's greatest (and strangest poem) "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was published - not in America but London - ther…

Happy Easter

Eyewear wishes you a Happy Easter.

I turn 41 today, and wish all the millions of others who also do, a very happy birthday.

Last year, I asked close friends to provide me with words, for my 40th, to write a poem. Here it is, finally, and in full.

Good Friday

I.

What I haven’t written,
I haven’t written. Last Easter –
April takes vinegar once a year –
I turned forty, gave up youth

And reckless afternoons endowed with darkness –
Being twenty is like being a millionaire
About to be ruined in a house of sweat and roses –
Promising gathered friends, among the ghost

Of celebration, shadowed by near loss –
For my birth was on Good Friday (premature,
Incubated, my parents cradling my smallness
To cherish the weak miracle guarded by glass) –

I should have come in to the world in summer
Not shadowing the saviour like a blinking twin
Upstaging his unbroken promise on the skull
(Venerate the cross with kisses!)

With a spring birth, poor but full.
I asked each friend for a word to create
A poem to complicate a patter…

Good Friday

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.(excerpt from "East Coker" by T.S. Eliot)

Poem By Cralan Kelder

Eyewear is very pleased to feature Cralan Kelder (pictured) this Good Friday.

I met him in Berlin late last year at the Hearings 2006 festival put together by Alistair Noon. Cralan is a unique performer - erudite, erratic, engaged, empathetic, engaging, expressionist, entertaining, and ultimately, enthusiastic. He had the audience enraptured by the end. He's the Kelder Statesman of European Continental poetry.

Kelder was born in London in 1970, but spent the first fifteen years of his life in California, before moving to the Netherlands in 1985. He studied anthropology and agricultural development in St. Andrews and at UC Davis, then conducted development work and research in Lesotho and Nambia.

His beautiful poetry collections include Lemon Red (Coracle 2005) and Night Falls and Is Slow to Get Up (Longhouse 2005). French Pastry will be released as a broadside by Coracle in 2007. In Amsterdam he is a member of wordsinhere writing collective and the poetry editor of Versalhttp://vers…

Kevin Higgins Turns 40 Today

Eyewear is pleased to celebrate the 40th birthday of Irish poet Kevin Higgins today, with a poem of his. Higgins is one of the best of the new generation of Irish poets, and by far the most savage in his wit. His new book from Salmon is forthcoming in 2008.

Days

We’d let the Daddy-long-legs take
the tower-block hallway,
as we took time out
from demos in support
of those more fortunate
than ourselves
for a feast of taramsalata
on vintage brown bread
washed down
with the best can of Kestrels
a fifty pence piece could buy.

Our kitchen sink may have been
a failed utopian experiment;
the revolutionary group we’d just joined
a corpse passing wind.
But all we needed was
a draft to sit in
to talk about Agent Orange;
and with your rolled cigarettes,
my missing teeth,

we were insurgents waiting
to be hanged at dawn;
as we watched
the flat be torn apart
by a Keith Moon cat.
All dressed down
and someone to be.

Whatever happened to alienation?
Those were the days.

Layton Revisited

I have before me The Selected Poems of Irving Layton - the classic New Directions "paperbook" from 1977, introduced by respected critic Hugh Kenner, who knew a little something about Modern Poetry.

I've long been an advocate of Layton's work - and indeed met him on a few occasions. He was a "father" of modern verse in Canada, and a kind man: he telephoned me once to say the poems I'd sent him (as a young man) had promise. That being said, a revaluation is in order, one that begins to seriously read and reconsider the actual value of the poems left to us by such major forefathers, for these are Canadian poetry's common wealth, and they form our meagre canon, such as it is, or may be said to be.

I realize that Layton (pictured) came to write later poems, but his reputation - as a poet - surely rests on the 50 poems presented here, to an American audience. It is these poems (or some of them at least) which led William Carlos Williams to (famously - in Ca…

Blomer Reviewed By Kavanagh

Eyewear is pleased to start a new occasional series of reviews by poets, of new poetry collections.

Yvonne Blomer
a broken mirror, fallen leaf
78 pages
Ekstasis Editions

Review by Michael Kavanagh

Yvonne Blomer's first collection documents, in quiet, imagistic poems, two years of life on the island of Kyushu, Japan, with the JET programme. For those who don't know, JET is a cultural exchange started in 1987 with the goal of internationalizing Japan through language teaching and cultural programmes. In her collection, we see the Blomer's vision of Japan shift from nostalgia, to a darker world of real experience and alienation. In returning home she finds herself a stranger in her native country.
The book is in four sections, which trace this thematic journey. It opens with 'Four Seasons,' a sequence of poems celebrating the familiar 'cherry blossoms' picture of Japan. Here, Blomer is in full poetic mode, with traditional observations of nature in haiku:

A thousand t…

Blomer Shortlisted for The Lampert

The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award is given in the memory of Gerald Lampert, an arts administrator who organized authors' tours and took a particular interest in the work of new writers.

The award recognizes the best first book of poetry published by a Canadian in the preceding year. The Award carries a prize of $1,000 and is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. It is presented each year at the League's Annual General Meeting in May or June, with the shortlist announced in April.

The Gerald Lampert Award Shortlist for 2007:

a broken mirror, fallen leaf by Yvonne Blomer (Ekstasis Editions);
In the Lights of a Midnight Plow by David Hickey (Biblioasis);
Tacoma Narrows by Mitchell Parry (Goose Lane Editions);
Anatomy of Keys by Steven Price (Brick Books);
Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists by A. Rawlings (Coach House Books);
Every Inadequate Name by Nick Thran (Insomniac Press).

The 2007 Jury: Heidi Greco, Brian Henderson, Alison Pick.

Eyewear wishes to congratulate all the nominees. Yvo…

April Poems at Nthposition Now Online

Canadians In April

Canada is still smarting from The Guardian's downgrading of Niagara Falls from a Wonder of the World on its recent chart...

Perhaps in order to remobilize its forces, here's a big Canada-led cultural event in London (according to Prospect better than NYC):

CANADIAN LITERARY NETWORKING NIGHT IN LONDON
16 April 200718.30-21.30Free Entry
The GeorgeTemple, 213 StrandLondon, WC2Rnearest tube, Temple
Featuring
Todd SwiftJohn StilesHeather Taylor&Samantha Wright
register online as space is limited and in demand, at: www.networkcanada.org

Winter Tennis

Eyewear is happy to offer you the first sneek preview of the cover art for my forthcoming fourth collection (fourthcoming, then?).

Faber Should Follow EMI

The big media story of the last few days has not been about an author or a movie - it has been about Steve Jobs, EMI, and the opening access that is being afforded to those who wish to download and acquire music ("tunes") from the Internet.
I have long been interested in three things - poetry, books and new digital media, and their intersection. I feel that the UK giants in poetry and book publishing - such as Faber & Faber - have so far missed the boat, in terms of what they could do to move more strongly and dynamically into the online market. If poetry is the new rock and roll, those who publish and market it need to note the succesful models of those who use the Internet wisely to distribute rock and roll (indeed poetry). I stand ready to receive an email from them to advise on what they might want to do next.
In the meantime, not holding my breath, let me offer a free preliminary bit of advice, in the form of bullet points:Faber should put all their poetry book conte…

Poem for April The First

Love Or Poetry

I know now that love, not poetry, will save me
From your blessed injuries, your uneven surfaces,
Your deviant forms and targeted marketing; and
Not just love, but any love, will do – various

As all get out; love of whomever, by anything
Or anyone is the get out of jail card required, free
As every player of Monopoly knows (on the nose,
Write it on the nose); poetry has been a killer

Of children, and the old; it has been in a sorry state
Of late; it hurts what touches it; it congeals
Habits that are poor, shows generosity the door.
The sun is a good example of love, when out;

When obscured by clouds, that’s poetry society:
Lowering, glowering, scouring, causing some to
Cower. Love opens a bower of roses no winter
Can annoy or dislodge; love forgives, pardons,

And cajoles merely to improve. Poetry judges,
Decides, and awards. Sets up a moon in the place
Of the sun, elected by its Parnassian buddies,
Chortles in crisscrossed darkness, calling shadows

Swords, beams of the moon rays of pure gold…