About Eyewear the blog

Eyewear THE BLOG is the most read British poetry blogzine, getting more than 25,000 page-views a month. It began in 2005. and ha snow been read by over 2 million The views expressed by editor Todd Swift are not necessarily shared by the contributing poets and reviewers. Any material on this blog infringing copyright will be removed upon request.


Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Bad Week For Cinema

Eyewear is sad - and a little shocked - to learn of the death of cinema's great Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni - who gave us such great films as L'avventura, Blowup, Professione: Reporter (The Passenger) and Zabriskie Point.

Coming just after Art House Cinema's other major European Existentialist Auteur, Bergman, has died, this is staggeringly bad news for movie lovers. Antonioni's heroes looked out at the world, and into themselves, on journeys that brought them, often, to silent, mortal zones - in the process encountering erotic, dangerous interzones - as the image, and the imagination, hot and vast as a desert - mixed like windblown sands.

Antonioni was one of the finest image-makers, and thus givers, in film history, and Blowup's eerie London park, with its rustling leaves, and apparently abandoned body, is just one of them. More than films, his works were - are - environments - where mood, landscape, desire, and fate - meet (and sometimes absurdly) part ways. Profession: Genius, more like it.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Mimesis

Mimesis 2 is now out - an important second issue for a new, promising, small magazine devoted to the best international poetry from little and well known poets. It's edited by the poet James A.L. Midgley.

I'm in this issue, along with Andrew Sheilds, E. Kristin Anderson and Charlotte Runcie, others, and George Szirtes (an interview). At 55 or so pages, it is slim, well-produced, atttractively put together, and was sent to me rapidly after being published. What's not to like?

Okay, I'd like to see the next few issues develop a masthead that has some contributing editors, maybe tells us where the magzine is published from - and poetry reviews would be good, too.

Still, Mimesis is hereby Eyewear-recommended as a place for poets young and old to send work to.

Masters of Light and Darkness

Ingmar Bergman has died today. The world has lost one of its true masters of 20th century cinematic art - an art that, like painting, may soon become seen as less for all time than for an age, as new digital media technologies alter the beauty and struggle of the original process - a process that involved, more than anything, the deployment of light and shadow across human faces, across landscape, across vast moral and dramatic spaces, but finally, importantly, projected across screens, in dark rooms, with an audience watching. Often considered tantamount to a dream state, gazing at cinema, no other film-maker knit the dreams of film, the dreams of people, into such a rapt suture. Bergman is, of course, forever associated with European existential, psychoanalytic, and Surrealist aspects of film. More succinctly - he was the dark side of the Hollywood dream machine - the side that asked the complex questions about our desires and dark inner experiences. He will be missed, but like few other directors, never forgotten.

Meanwhile, one of the great purveyors of sunlight in 70s cinema, Laszlo Kovacs, also died recently. A cinematographer par excellence, he nearly defines the "look" of American 70s-style movies, with the way his lens kissed sun-dapple, saturating the stock and the landscape with a blinding reminder that one gazed upon something made, something made in the air.

So, a little bit of cinema's light and darkness has left this July.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Ashbery Is Eighty

The most influential and impressive living American poet, John Ashbery, turns 80 today. I missed his - was it 75th? - birthday in Paris a few years back - time is speeding up. Yet still the New York School master is, thankfully, abundantly with us (his latest collection, A Worldly Country, came out this year, in the UK from Carcanet). So: happy birthday, Mr. Ashbery. My poem for you is below.

It may seem churlish to say so, but many (most?) British and Irish poets and critics just don't get this most versatile, fluent and loquacious of American poets - and in the process, miss not just a passenger, but the conductor and whole train of current American poetics and poetry. In Ashbery, WCW's American grain is rubbed smooth with French verse, an appreciation of abstraction in art and talk, and a big city insouciance that is both lyrically pleasing and intellectually perplexing. A few years ago, that most traditional of lyrical craftsmen, Seamus Heaney, told me he didn't think Ashbery wrote "real poetry" - because it was not rooted in experience. Instead, it is dandified, swift-moving, self-regarding, modern, and, of course, able to apprehend artifice as the end branch of the tree of life, not something wholly unnatural to the human condition.

Play is games, and games are artificial - but so are symbols, so are words. Poetry meets the human world by making things up, and ruffling the leaves a little in the process. Ashbery's fluid stroll through the urbanity of the world and its languages is no less grounded in experience than any farmer's. And his poems sing as do those of more remote bards. Of course, it is Ashbery's near-uncanny mastery of his words, his poetry - the signature of bardic power - that in effect frightens those gate-keepers who consider decorum in poetry - its governed articulation - the measure of its command. In this way, he is closer to Dylan Thomas and that brand of Forties eloquence than is often noted.

Ashbery is a great poet - Frost, Pound, Auden, Stevens, Eliot, Lowell - some other great Americans not mentioned here so far, are renewed and redelighted in his company. Along with Frank O'Hara, his way with words is overwhelming, like the sea's crashing roll can be. I think, to survive his oceanic impress one must surf on the crest of his saying, to loll on his elegant swerves, winning the coast at last, unaccosted.

As an amusing addendum, one way of gauging Ashbery's current crisis of reception (theirs not his) in the UK, consider how The Guardian treats his major birthday today - a small (but balanced) note on the back page of their Review section, to be sure - but, the week's poem is by Alice Oswald, that most conspicuously English of contemporary British poets, whose crafted, concise, energetic Hughes-like nature poems, while wonderful, are, in a sense, often a refined counter-claim to the Ashberyian oeuvre (though her long river poem in its flow, is, arguably, a tributary of, if not tribute to, JA).

On the occasion of JA's 80th birthday

For John Ashbery, July 28, 2007

Send for the boys who do not care,
The rude birds that avoid the air,
The girls who shave off all their hair,
Flyers that crash down for a dare –

Send for the scribes who are impure;
Let them serve up sherbet and maize,
Warmest Florida days, a dance craze
Started in Harlem, and nothing in place,

See, there are no shoes to win this race –
Blessed are those who fail to justify
The ways in which they select high
And low manners of making desire sigh,

Flung off to deny, belie, codify, luxuries
Broadly open to all cavorting stylish eyes;
Mania belongs to the song of songs sung
With thrusters burning, all wheels swung

Wide to glide like butter or ice going across
A pan, out to the sea which cannot adjudicate
Between a well-turned ankle and a sharp skate
But glistens like a flustered many-glozed affair

That happens in every apartment where
Lovers cavort without scruple or design,
Or rather, have designed scruples that provide
All the pleasures of the moon, the day, denied

Them in the avenues of arbitrage, sad caverns
Of any deluded parvenu; spread out perfumed
Cockatoo feathers on pillows of the Lord Mayor
And break all his windows that refrain from air!


poem by Todd Swift

Friday, 27 July 2007

Poem by Elizabeth Bachinsky

Eyewear is very glad to welcome Elizabeth Bachinsky (pictured) this Friday.

Bachinsky has recently stormed onto the Canadian poetry scene as one of the significant, exciting new poets to follow - one whose fine sense of form is equalled by a hipster dedication to using the full spectrum of tone, style, and content - often voicing, with Browning's panache, the dramatic monologues of the marginal young (in one another's arms, etc.).

In this way, she extends contemporary Canadian poetry's unequalled exploration of the merger of high and low, form and content, and style and sensibility, that makes 21st century Canadian collections often richly ironic, speculative and positively excessive works - works simply disinterested in pure authenticity or tradition for tradition's sake - works asking questions (about identity, media, culture, and American experience) that poetry books in Britain and Ireland all too often don't even know exist.

(The starting gun for this poetry is the pistol-shot belief that nothing is out of bounds in terms of language or theme - dismissing out-moded ways of thinking about the sublime, about purity in poetry. It's work driven by adrenaline, humour, a command of form, and an eye and ear for the exceptionally contemporary, whether that be on street, screen, or sheet. This New Canadian Line might start with McGimpsey, and The Matrix poets, and runs like an undercurrent through many post-1999 collections, from Budavox on...)

Bachinsky is the author of two books of poetry, Curio: Grotesques and Satires From the Electronic Age (BookThug, 2005) and Home of Sudden Service (Nightwood Editions, 2006). She was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and raised in Prince George and Maple Ridge, BC. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals and anthologies in Canada and the United States and has been translated for publication in France and China. Bachinsky has been nominated for many awards including The Bronwen Wallace Award for Poetry and the Governor General's Award for Poetry. She lives in Vancouver where she teaches creative writing, co-curates the Robson Reading Series, and is the poetry editor for Event magazine.


Home of Sudden Service

The last year of high school, I got a job
as a pizza delivery person, drove burning hot
stacks of Hawaiian-with-extra-cheese around
all night in my Volkswagen rabbit. The radio
always playing something like Smoke
On The Water
or Crazy On You, and I smoked
so many cigarettes my pointer finger started
turning really yellow. After a while, they let me work
in the kitchen too. Squirting bottles of sweet
tomato sauce onto disks of dough.
I quit that place for the coffee shop with
the medical/dental and got an apartment
with Angel right away, which was about time.
The first month, we made love
in every room. I worked my ass
off in the coffee shop and got myself promoted
to Shift Supervisor after only four months;
Angel got on full-time at the shop.
So I got my Dogwood and I got pregnant.
Didn’t seem to be any reason not to, especially
with the mat-leave, and we weren’t wrong.
Cole’s three-and-a-half now. I have to leave him
with mom on the days I go to work.
I try to get a lot of early shifts so I can spend
nights with Angel and Cole, but it’s hard.
There aren’t that many Supervisors at work,
so I have to work a lot of nights anyway.
It’s a lot of responsibility. On my days off,
I take Cole to visit his dad at work.
Cole loves a truck up on a jack.
Whenever we show up, we wait for Angel
in the office. There’s a sign out front that reads
The Home of Sudden Service, but, sometimes,
it takes him a while to notice us.
When he looks out from under the truck
and sees us, though, he gives
us this shy kind of smile, as if we’re his secret
and heat passes through my body like a wave.
Sometimes I think he’s still getting used
to the idea of us. When he comes home, he’s filthy,
but I love the smell of him, he smells like my father
used to when he came home from work.
I don’t know…is that fucked up? I don’t think so.


Poem by Elizabeth Bachinsky. Originally published in The Fiddlehead in 2004, and is the title poem of the 2006 Nightwood book.

The Wolf Is Five!

The Wolf's subtitle is "The Magazine For New Poetry" - and, in Britain - it is.

I moved to London about four years ago. Poetry and English establishments being what they are, with all those competing class circles and cliques, the welcome was rough and cold at times - still is, in many ways. The Wolf, from my first months in the UK, was open to reading, and eventually publishing, my work.

If this was just about me, it'd be rather limited as an appreciation. But The Wolf has become, since founded in April 2002, by poets Nicolas Cobic and James Byrne, a truly indispensable small press publication for British letters and many writers - because it is marked by integrity, fierce independence, and a willingness to pretty much question every quietly held opinion and suggest new ways forward.

It provides a platform for many emerging, younger poets, who often have few alternative outlets in a publishing landscape that is cramped, conservative and too often pettily divisive for no good reason. Along the way, The Wolf has also published, reviewed, and interviewed, many major and established figures, too, and improved, year by year, its design, look, and feel, to the point where this, its 15th issue (Summer 2007), is distinctively indie in spirit, but stylish in appearance. Among the highlights of this 15th, special issue, are Niall McDevitt on Harry Fainlight (a wonderful meeting of two seriously brilliant, off-beam maverick poets), an interview with Saadi Youssef, and an unsigned, polemical and well-argued essay on the "in-clubs of poetry criticism". The Wolf is right to call for more informed, objective, and critical reviewery in Britain - too often all is puffery signifying nothing. Where is our Poetry and the Age?

I also have a poem in this issue - typically, for me in this magazine, a sonnet about the infamous good-time girl, Ms. Keeler.

Do support this most vital, young and honest of the UK's poetry magazines. Once bitten by The Wolf, one can no longer go back to being a sheep.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Review: Zeitgeist

Billy Corgan (pictured in pseudo-sacrilegious pose) is the frontman - one wants to say evil genius - of Smashing Pumpkins - who were, after Nirvana, the major American alternative band of the 1990s.

This isn't just conjecture or opinion - though I want to stop here and coin an aphorism: fashions change, taste remains bad. SP saw their 1995 madly-ambitious magnum opus, Melancolie and the Infinite Sadness, go to number one at Billboard, following up on what I consider their greatest album (indeed, the greatest popular music album of the last 16 or so years, other than In Utero) - the sublime Siamese Dream.

SD meshed and mashed a variety of influences and styles, to gloriously evoke the head-rush of unchained rock guitar (often derided as "noodling") and adolescent vulnerability - so that the songs work together to present a landscape of teen isolation that is both defiantly itself and openly wounded by past abuses ("Disarm"); but the work is not altogether morose, and explodes into joy in a few triumphant places, notably on "Today", which slowly builds into one of the truest pop dream anthems ever penned and performed: "Today is the greatest day I've ever known / can't wait until tomorrow... I want to turn you on, I want to turn you on, I want to turn you on, I want to turn you on... " Corgan intones - echoing John Lennon, of course, but seizing that particular torch-role for himself.

I was in my 20s when I first heard Siamese Dream. It was in a blizzard waiting for a bus in St-Lambert, and at the stop a high school girl offered it to me by way of her Walkman. Here, she said, try this. I swooned, and knew I was in the presence of alternative aural opium.

This led me to Pisces Iscariot, and the impressive, long, psychedelic march of "Starla" and other later works, but nothing was better than that, except, perhaps, for "Love" (4 minutes and 21 seconds of thrilling love-torn bile) on Melancolie. So, we come to the somewhat maligned new album after seven years in the wilderness. Some critics have been quick to mock Corgan and cohorts, forgetting, in their pimply youth, who they're dealing with. Legends and true trail-blazers. But, despite the reports from the prematurely jaded young, Zeitgeist is a very good album.

Indeed "Bleeding The Orchid" is arguably one of the five best Pumpkins songs. Corgan is being attacked for mostly sticking to his well-known vocal and musical style - his guns. One startling, disturbing style is enough for any genius to pioneer. Corgan is surely as gifted and tortured as Cobain (without the death). One wonders what would have happened if Nirvana had muddled through and released an album 16 years after Nevermind - how kind would the scribes of Q be?

Zeitgeist is dreamy, obsessed, overblown, sneering, driven (those drums, those guitars!) and very cool. It is also full of memorable melodies. Opener "Doomsday Clock" is vintage Pumpkins. "That's The Way (My Love Is)" is as sweet as "1979" and nearly as catchy. What more can be asked for? "Neverlost" is smooth and effecting. On "Bring The Light" Corgan even extends his vocal styling to sound more plaintive, less nasal. The big elephant in the room is the mammoth near-ten-minute "United States" (this is a concept album, after all) with its Blue Öyster Cult heavy-metal ponderings; the drumming is driven like heil-stones. It rawks. Penultimate "For God And Country" has a Bowie feel, if Bowie had worked with later Depeche Mode - it's synth-infused and somewhat programmatic, but also basically infectious as an anti-anthem. "(Come On) Let's Go!" is a dancy, swerving jeune-Eliotic invocation that wouldn't be out of place on Neon Bible. Vaguely maudlin closer "Pomp and Circumstances" (a weaker effort, like mediocre Prince) is excessive, with gongs and reverb that rhyme Corgan's life-story with, indeed, history, and frankly grandiose aesthetics, and perhaps (personal) politics - but what's not to like about large musical egos? Did anyone suggest Wagner limit himself to modest tunes on the penny-whistle?

Okay, it'd be nice to have D'Arcy and James Iha back. But when the clock is so close to midnight, it can't be turned back that far. On that note, when Corgan sings "it's lonely at the top" he means in America, too (see the album's cover) - and, while it may be easy to lampoon his concern with socio-political realities in the air, he's caught the 07 mood well. Eyewear gives the album four and a half specs.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

London Versus New York

I was recently mentioned in a Globe and Mail article pitting London vs. New York as cultural hotbeds.

Facebooking the music

Facebook is an addiction, but maybe a good one. I joined a few weeks back, and now have over 250 "friends" (see picture for example). I also have a pet penguin, that is regularly petted, and a garden in which the so-called friends can leave flowers. Presents one can exchange with anyone else on the network, in the world, include happy chipmunks and chocolate-coloured cherries.

If one wanted, one could have a countdown to when Bush leaves, a list of favourite CDs, or even, a test to see how many of your friends (them again) are like you. There is a herd mentality to the groups that spring up - appreciation societies for bands, and even one man who promised to "punch an astronaut" for every 17 new members he received....

It is zany, very fun, and really, the best new game in town - you can be a vampire, or a zombie, and attack "chumps" (friends and strangers) - or throw virtual cartoon food. You can also let everyone in your network know exactly what your latest mood, or thought is.

Is this a waste of time? Yes and no.

It is a waste of time.

But meanwhile, several poetry groups have started, such as Poetry (I am a co-founder) that have already conjoined 100s of poets. There's already a poetry competition. I have been asked for poems for journals, and indeed, submitted. I have renewed or begun correspondence with a number of variously intriguing long-lost figures, some literary, some less so.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

At last, Atlas Reading!


There was a well-attended (200-300 audience members?) poetry reading at The Nehru Centre of The High Commission of India in Mayfair, London earlier tonight, to launch issue #2 of Atlas. Atlas is an international book[maga]zine of ‘new writing, art & image’ edited by Sudeep Sen and published by Aark Arts. I had the pleasure of reading with Peter Porter, Daniel Weissbort, Mimi Khalvati, Kim Morrissey, Chris McCabe, Daljit Nagra, George Szirtes and Sen. There was also a passionare, mystical Sufi Dance Performance by Manjari Chaturvedi.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Karl Ghattas Has Died

Eyewear is sad to report that long-time Oxfam Marylebone supporter, artist, and prize-winning poet, Karl Ghattas, has died, at the age of 49, in Barcelona, in his sleep. There will be a London memorial service held August 8, to include readings from his works, and all sales of his books at the event will go to Oxfam. Ghattas was a brilliant, passionate man, with his own sometimes contrary vision.

He had a an MSc in Philosophy from the London School of Economics, had placed first in the Hastings International Poetry Competition, and had had many one-man exhibitions of his work, between 1992 and 2006, in Barcelona, New York, Paris and London. His first full collection of poems had recently been printed, titled My Very First Poetry Book. His work can be ordered from Oxfam online here.

Poem By Ken Edwards

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Ken Edwards (pictured) this Friday. His books include the poetry collections Good Science (Roof Books, 1992), eight + six (Reality Street, 2003), No Public Language: Selected Poems 1975-95 (Shearsman Books, 2006), Bird Migration in the 21st Century (Spectacular Diseases, 2006) and the novel Futures (Reality Street, 1998). The prose work Nostalgia for Unknown Cities is seeking a publisher.

He has been editor/publisher of Reality Street Editions since 1993. Edwards is active in music as well as writing: he wrote the text for a piece by John Tilbury for piano, voice and sampled sounds, There’s something in there…, which was premiered in Leeds in 2003, and his music for Fanny Howe’s Spiral was first performed in Brighton and London in 2004. After 35 years in London, he now lives with his partner Elaine in Hastings, on the south coast of England, and works as an editor for the Royal College of Nursing.


Brilliant Sojourn

1
Lagged in our tree-house we turn hands to any
Thing and really get down to it mending the ribs
Bruised unexpectedly by concrete in the garden
Confident of vertical solutions to the
Horizontal crisis hoping to understand the real
Cloud formations that have embellished the imaginary sky
The word-box established anew on its bed of slate
The sloping courts of the spider in the good & mild
Weather bathing the windows from an angle
A schedule established and music is rooted in it
Soft works that require thought before supper

But high winds blow up now the half-moon clinging to
Moving clouds they follow laws of indeterminacy
Which, concentrating on, your brain would lose its bearings
Instead you follow the endless dark lane you keep the faith
You come up thankfully to the Golden Key


2
In the alternative scenario since everyone
Already knows the end the whole thing’s celebrating
Itself like a sonata in certain pursuit of its major triad
This is not open to us from this point
The sojourners will adapt themselves to such
As it appears and to no more than that
If they encounter the transcending element
Of wind they will now buy a woollen hat
If they arrive at water they will find a bridge

The southern sky is blinded by the network
And the form of their emerging words
Also the necessary interruptions
The point is that intention be destroyed


3
But we are done with words tonight we’re sick of them
And if we heard a diva & her band were to fulfil
A booking from across the northern current then
Slaking our appetite with fish & rice
We would attend with poised ears

there are some
Serene & highly technical elements in the music
Those exiled Russians have produced
That gladden the austere marshes of the estuary

And even the sojourners fare well with this
New stuff laid over an existing grid


poem by Ken Edwards

Thursday, 19 July 2007

There is no bloodless myth will hold

J.K. Rowling (pictured) is the most successful novelist in the history of the form, if one thinks in strictly commercial terms. She is, on the eve of the last installment of the Potter series, already a dollar billionaire (worth apparently between £500-600 million). She is, in terms of cultural impact, already, at least, comparable to authors now canonical, such as Mark Twain, Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie - each hugely popular in their lifetimes - and each creating a character of near-universal recognition (Tom Sawyer, Sherlock Holmes, and Hercule Poirot). And, she has maintained total artistic control over the American, Hollywood production of her films - a miracle, given that only, perhaps, Spielberg has more power in the domain - and even he couldn't imprint his own vision on the Potter franchise. In short, Rowling is a hyper-star - easily one of global popular culture's top ten figures for the start of the 21st century.

And yet, this very impressive, admirable and meteoric rise to prominence of the once-struggling young woman writer, has led to a sense of entitlement that is a stretch, even for her. Rowling's latest critique of America's free press - especially The New York Times - for instance - is unforgivable, especially coming from a writer, who must recognise the need for such freedom, surely. Rowling's basic argument is that reporting on, or reviewing, the new Potter book, before its contrived publishing date, will spoil the magic for younger readers.

Not so.

Kids do not, on the whole, read The New York Times. Those that do, can refrain from reading the review. The same for all Internet spoilers. I have had a copy of the book for over two weeks, as a PDF, sent to me by a fan, and decided to play by the rules. But others, equally reasonable, have not.

The question becomes - how complicit need we be, as a society, and as free individuals, in maintaining a commercial, profit-making venture's marketing hype - given that Rowling is a billionaire, and most of us are peons? For one of the Potter Juggernaut's main tricks has been - like all effective ideologies (see Orwell, or Dawkins) - to make it seem, and feel, as if our needs are identical to hers. That is, she offers a cheap, secular alternative to religion - feel-good entertaining magical stories set in a hierarchical world of black and white certainties - and all we have to do is show up and buy the books when she says we can. Period. While this seems a fairly decent exchange of goods and services, the difference is, we end up with seven bad books, and seven mediocre films, and she gets to be one of the richest people to have ever lived.

Okay, so blame capitalism, not Rowling, for that.

But still. How dare she presume to ask so much of us, we who have made her the legend, the powerhouse, she is? How dare she judge us for hungering for a bite of her apple, a little too soon (but, frankly, only a day or so too soon)? And is her vision - that all children, everywhere "experience the magic" of the book's ending not both naive and rather manipulative?

Naive because children read at different speeds - children dying of dirty water or malaria can't share in the fun - and also, why should there be globally-manipulated events, masquerading as "fun" and "magic" invented by corporations that are, ultimately, soul-destroying machines? How fun, really, is Pottermania? Is it Christmas, only less often?

Pottermania is empty, finally, because the Potter books offer a bloodless myth that cannot hold - though some characters may die. Astute readers will have noted the static structure of the series - each year, a new level at school, new teachers, and more conflict with the enemy. Potter is tested, but survives. Because Potter's world is somewhat aChristian (or irreligious) it has mass appeal, in a way that Narnia doesn't quite have - it doesn't threaten our secular worldview, but affirms it - there is a world of Muggles, and a fun, other one, in the imagination. Unlike true religious belief, though, Pottermania makes no demands on us - no demands to change. As Rilke observed, in perhaps the most profound observation ever on the true impact of art, "you must change your life" after direct confrontation of art's genuine reality. As Eliot said, we cannot take too much of that - and so, Unreal cities. Hell is, in fact, a world where we replace direct confrontation of the greatest moral and spiritual dilemmas for bloodless magic and ultimately safe "good reads". Give me The Waste Land - or other great Poetry now - over Potter - any later day.

Prison Broken?

Prison Break - one of American TV's best-loved and most entertaining guilty-pleasures of the 00s - set itself an intriguing structural challenge: the first season would be mostly set in a maximum security prison, and be all about attempted release from said constraint; the second season is about escaped convicts unleashed and on the run. In brief: control vs. chaos, or perhaps, formal versus free verse. If season one was poetry, season two of Prison Break is prose. The tone is different, and dissipated.

One thinks of the difference between the films The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal - where, similarly, the issue was of order and escapade. Visions of Dr. Lecter strolling about sun-stroked Italy wearing a hat and carrying a Herald Tribune like a retired Interior Decorator from Des Moines was a let-down, to be sure. So too, the squalid squabbles of the "Fox River 8" once set out in the vast landscape that is America. But, thankfully, thematic and poetic elements survive, not least the mythic underbelly of the whole show - such as Pandora's Box (another PB). Now, as T-Bag (Robert Knepper, pictured) says, "the hat is over the wall" - Situation Normal all fuzzed up. Michael couldn't have counted on - his pretty expertise never even considered - the ramifications of his original mission (shades of neo-con non-planning in Iraq).

He does begin to reflect (in a Catholic confessional) on his guilt, responsibility, and other childhood matters, as we begin to understand how his origins as a gifted wunderkind stem partly from terrible childhood experiences (mirroring the religious "dark night of the soul" episodes in the middle of the first season). There has always been a Crime & Punishment element to the series - a sympathy for villains with complex inner lives - and it is good to see this continue.

The second season has yet to jump the shark (I am at episode 12) - but if the writers continue to use the cheap eye-trick of FBI agents ringing on one door only to cut wide and later learn it was a house across town (trope stolen from TSOTL) I will put it in a basket. Also, not since John Webster has so much murder been allied to such narrative excess - surely, not all the characters need to be killed off at such metronomic intervals?

The violence levels on the show have risen - and one wonders whether Fox is encouraging the repeated use of torture as a commentary on the anti-Geneva Convention activities associated with extraordinary rendition, or a way of dulling our minds to its horrors. The "water-boarding" treatment of one of the main characters in Episodes 11 and 12 was particularly harrowing - cruel and inhuman. It is disappointing to note that The Emmy Award nominations for this year have entirely overlooked the show. Season 3 airs mid-September ...

Quizzed Shows

The BBC lied. Perhaps not shocking news, but it should be. Those three letters (two the same) once symbolised - along with wartime propaganda - a sense of integrity, a sense of British decency. No more. A few years back, the elegant, if somewhat worthy film Quiz Show told the story of how the Golden Age of American TV in the Eisenhower Era was exposed for the sham it was - about as honest as a two-bit carnival in Idaho - but the story seemed remote from contemporary experience - we all knew, or thought we knew, that the Wizard of Oz was trumped up quackery, and that grand illusions and narratives were the order of the day; unflappable, cynical, we took our daily doses of TV with grains of salt leavening the laudanum - in a blissful opium dream, unwilling to consider the truth, or consequences. Well. If institutions like the BBC fix their contests and call-ins, for better TV, what else is fixed, in British society? Dossiers for war? Reports on police culpability in the shooting of innocents? Dear me. Everything is broken, as Dylan once sang. Say it ain't so, Joe, as the other song goes. But why so much dishonesty at the Beeb? I'd suggest one of the signature styles of the times is a signal failing of integrity, especially among the competitive younger generations. You see it in the suits and ties and purple shirts of Estate Agents everywhere, beetling about town in their tiny clown cars, jumping out to lie like a snake-oil huckster in Montana and sell you a subsiding shed for a mansion. They lie to us, to make money, to get ahead. Blair lied (ho hum), the spin doctors lied (yawn), now Comic Relief seems to have been involved in sexed-up phone-ins. What's next? Don't tell me someone might start fixing poetry contests, rigging juries, and promoting mediocre talents simply for fame and fortune? Resist the temptations of the BBC!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Irish Poet Deserta

Carcanet has recently published Selected Poems by Thomas Kinsella. Kinsella is fast approaching his 80th birthday (born in Dublin in 1928). This year, he was awarded The Freedom of that city (as was U2, shamefully before). As younger Irish poet-critic David Wheatley recently indicated in his Guardian review, here is a major Irish poet to reckon with - a figure who, if the poetry world were at all balanced, proportional and fair - would be mentioned in the same (or an earlier) breath as Heaney, Longley and Mahon (indeed, he is of an older generation and is in fact their senior in many ways).

I am currently making my way through this new collection, with something akin to awe and gratitude (as the blurb might say). How do we not all know these poems (or do we?). "Baggot Street Deserta", so far, has struck a particular chord - its combination of evening young man's reflective doubt, and poetic high rhetorical flying, manages to get a bit of Yeats, a bit of Prufrock-era Eliot into something that's also entirely Kinsella's own style.

Listen to Kinsella's recent interview on Irish radio.

Monday, 16 July 2007

French Made

There's a good and interesting review written by the British poet and critic, Lachlan Mackinnon, of an important new anthology of English poetry translated into French, in the July 6, 2007 issue (no. 5440) of the TLS. The book in question is from the canon-making Gallimard, and is titled Anthologie Bilingue de la Poesie Anglaise. It is relatively comprehensive, stretching from Beowulf to Simon Armitage, at over two thousand pages.

According to the review, the translators (there are dozens employed) mostly get things right, and, though there are rather curious omissions (Kenneth White) and curiously obscure inclusions (Michael Edwards), the work is ultimately impressive: "the editors of this volume and the translators have achieved an extraordinary entente cordiale."

Eyewear recently lived in Paris for a few years (2001-2003) and is much encouraged by this newly-expressed interest in the English poem. Poetry is apparently less of a living form among the French, with a few Oulipo-exceptions, unlike, say, fiction, or the theoretical essay, so even French poetry gets relative short shrift in France. There are also fewer anthologies of poetry, than in English publishing. I recall, last year, entering a stylishly-situated, and book-crowded bookshop on Saint-Germain, and having the anthology section pointed out to me by a disinterested shop assistant. It was a few brief shelves way at the top, and he gestured at a ladder. I'd climb it for this new book.

Interminable Entertainment

Eyewear would like to report that the war to colonise our imaginations has been won. Prince, as we have all heard in the last few days, has begun to disseminate (I select this term carefully), his songs for free, via newspapers and the Internet; meanwhile, reports stream in of a generation of "screen kids" raised on a steady diet of web-based, digi-tainment. Meanwhile, the Potter franchise - a mighty juggernaut - rolls forward.

Students of media and culture might want to suggest a term for this landscape of ours - one with no foreseeable horizon - "Interminable Entertainment". Put bluntly, there is no end in sight, to TV episodes airing, music groups releasing songs, films being produced, books being published - and new works being created and distributed in media as yet unknown. Creators have a moral right to protect these works - but do we, the targeted audience, have a moral right to resist? To ever shut down, turn away, avoid the never-ending stories and unceasing cacophony of new releases, new writers, new stars, new franchises, and on and on and on. Truth is, and exhaustingly, the people who, like busy bees or productive ants, scurry to make new things for us to consume as cultural entertainment, cannot stop, if they wanted - new people would replace them. Why? Two reasons: glamour and money. The industries that sustain a never-ending supply of product for our minds pay well, and, if only by association with celebrities and famous artists, are considered prestigious by many.

You may say I am being a curmudgeon here. But the lack of surcease, for instance, in the idea of televisual fare, is utterly numbing. Knowing, as I do, that moving images used for narrative pleasure, will be a form of mass communication for the next century, if not longer, fills me with dread and melancholy. All those concepts, all those pitches.

To keep it new, reviewers and marketers speak of new forms of distribution - but, whether the entertainment comes through a TV or other screen (or directly onto the retina) it is still someone selling something to us, to entrance us - shadows on a cave wall, that, alas, and classically, continue to deviate from a sunnier truth.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Poem by John Menaghan

Eyewear is glad to welcome John Menaghan (pictured) this Friday. Menaghan was born in New Jersey to Irish-American parents. He lives in Venice, California.

He is winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize and other awards. Menaghan teaches literature and creative writing at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he also serves as Director of both the Irish Studies and Summer in Ireland programs and runs the annual LMU Irish Cultural Festival. Several of his poetry collections have been published by Irish press Salmon, such as All The Money In The World and She Alone.

Menaghan’s recent move into playwriting has seen his one-act play A Rumor of Rain performed at the Empty Stage Theater in Los Angeles (as part of an evening that included work by John Patrick Shanley and Neil Simon). He is currently working on two full-length plays, one set in Berkeley, California and the other in Belfast, Northern Ireland and a sequence of short plays on the theme of leaving and being left behind. His third volume of poetry is forthcoming from Salmon in 2009.


Home

This place suffused not
with spirits but thin traces
gaunt remains of deeds
done words spoken or left
unsaid undone undoes her
now all these years later
coming back to find she
has no home not even one
away from home no firm
connection to the earth no
place that calls her back
and says abide here you
will thrive and feel fully
alive don't look back or
so the wisdom goes and
maybe it's always folly
this effort to visit a past
life situation context lost
dissolved surrendered at
the border to some newer
world so many years ago
some lustrous future once
her future till it too grew
old became no more than
just another past she'll
try to visit someday and
discover it too lies beyond
her grasp teasing her with
dangled shards of fact
fragments of circumstance
so many places where she
once existed still exist
themselves after a fashion
still remain but do not
know her name . . .

Poem by John Menaghan

Reprinted from She Alone (Salmon Poetry, 2006) with permission of the author.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Moving On Up

There are - according to engine Google - 13 million or more hits that come up when you search for "eyewear". This humble blogspot is now so popular, it is 4th on that list. Who ever said "men seldom make passes / at girls who wear glasses"?

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Hands Off, She's Mine

Canada is often considered the Switzerland of North America (five hundred years of peace, good government, etc... and all it created was the Cuckoo Clock etc.) - a dull neighbour to the North of the Toxic Texan and his large empire. Think again. Canada is shaping up to be more like the Saudi Arabia of North America, but with ice instead of sand - potentially massive amounts of oil reserves are becoming available in Canada's True North, strong and free. And PM Harper has finally found a position he can defend well and truly - by laying down a strong riposte to American (and other) claims on Canuck territory. Eyewear mainly abhors violence and military might, but, if someone has to control 25% of future oil reserves on the planet, better a mild-mannered middle power like Canada, than, say, Russia or the US.... eh?

Review: Our Love To Admire

The new Interpol album is recently out, with stuffed and mounted (extinct?) animals from kitsch dioaramas on the cover and inside the lyricless booklet. As is well-known, it is their third, but first on a big label. The question that arises on first hearing this moody, slow-burning, sometimes exquisite, even morose album, is: what exactly does this foursome think they're doing?

Labelled under the genre "alternative", American, New Yorkers, and based in the terrorised first decade of the 21st century, Interpol (their name itself is a sign of the times), is a weird cultural throwback. Oddly, the style Interpol have adopted is derived from Joy Division (from a post-industrial town in the North of England) with a hint of The B-52s (listen to those herky-jerky vocals again). Interpol seem like poseurs in this lineage. But they do not parody, but perform a pastiche of a style, and thereby refresh it for the current age.

That is, they sound like Joy Division, if Joy Division (and this is far more the case here than for Editors, for instance) were chemical-using late-nighters in Manhattan post 9/11, instead of, as we know, more complex and limited figures. Interpol - able to think in terms of an American career (Joy Division lost their lead signer on the eve of such a career) - thereby have to plan and execute an album of songs, exploring themes, subjects, using lyrics, and various sonic strategies, to establish a brand for themselves.

As such, the new album is both derivative, and, as a piece of genre work, impressively innovative (as paradoxical as that almost is). Less didactic, or overbearingly symphonic (cacaphonic?) than Arcade Fire, less one-note lo-fi than The Strokes, less pro-American and upbeat than The Killers, and disinterested in cheap forms of epiphany (unlike Coldplay, Snow Patrol and other derivative U2 offshoots) they're marking a niche for themselves as definitively serious, sombre, yet tuneful songwriters, laying down a sort of narcissistic East Coast melancholy soundtrack that Edgar Allan Poe would have understood as just as American as Whitman's more transcendental aims.

Is it a good album? It is a good album. Is it well-crafted? It is well-crafted. The songs are cool, and sinuous in their design. At times, it is small "e" epic. Why do people make such music? Why do people listen to it? Something in us enjoys such sounds, does not refuse such sounds.

Five specs.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

A report on poetry in 2007

I write this as someone who has spent over 20 years writing, editing, publishing, and promoting poetry, in both North America and Europe.
There is no mass interest in poetry, in the United Kingdom, in 2007.

Last year, I edited a poetry anthology CD for Oxfam that has since sold over 10,000 copies, in less than a year. It is, as such, the best-selling British poetry CD of all time. As far as I can tell, this fact – hardly remote from social or aesthetic concern – has received no mention in any mainstream media in the UK.

Television. Film. Music. These do not need state sponsored support to generate interest, even desire, on the part of mass audiences. It is true that government support may (this is debatable) improve these forms of entertainment / art – but it hardly need advertise them. Marketed, admittedly, by commercial interests, the demand is still high, and continuous, for new movies, TV shows, and songs by popular performers. Novels, too, are relatively popular.

Poetry is not a form of entertainment or the arts that can rely on such a relationship with the British public. Firstly, as an art form, or literary genre, it is widely perceived as either elitist, difficult, or remote from most person’s lives – and the several anthologies (for funerals, weddings, and the like) which try to testify to the contrary – while often selling well – do so despite this general suspicion that poetry is a challenge. Secondly, few of its living practitioners are household names. No living poet is known to the mass general public in the way that Tom Cruise or Madonna is. Thirdly, there are few or no contemporary poems that play a part in most people’s imaginary world, in the way that a favourite song or movie does. Ask any person to list their favourite films, or music, or novels – and most will be able to present a list of 100s of selections. Only a close follower of poetry could do the same for a list of poems.

Who is the current audience for poetry in the UK, then? Poets, poetry editors (often the same), students, and, generally, a slightly older, better-educated person – and, perhaps, a few bohemians (such as a rock star here, a painter there). I would estimate the interested, engaged, audience at between five and fifteen thousand persons. As most poetry collections sell a few hundred (or no) copies, it can be concluded that, except in instances when a great deal of marketing has been done, or the poet in question is known (perhaps for having won a major prize), the actual audience for most British poets is, optimistically, between zero and five hundred readers (not including close family members, and friends).

What is to be made of this state of affairs?

I believe two conclusions can be drawn from this:

One. The attempt to try to market, even spin, poetry, by certain presses, organizations, and arts bodies, as some kind of feel-good art form for the masses has failed – for two reasons, to be discussed below;

Two. Poetry is a specialist art form created by experts for a small coterie audience, whose particular traditions and values are little known or understood by the general population.

The two reasons why the marketing has failed, are these: a) since poetry is in fact a specialist art form, and poets themselves know this, even their own best efforts to popularise poetry cut against the grain of their own artistic practice, which tends to complexity, thoughtfulness, and an artfulness that cannot be widely sold. In short, there is a limit to how dumbed-down a good poem can be, before it ceases to be a poem and becomes instead an advertising slogan;

b) the poetry "establishment" (the so-called gate keepers) of Great Britain is more conservative with regards to the distinctions between high and popular culture than in America, and, notwithstanding the remarks of point a., above, have generally resisted attempts by practitioners within their own ranks to integrate an appreciation of poetry into the wider culture at large – hence, “performance poets” and more “urban” slam poets have tended to be marginalised, as have major political engagements with poetry (the anti-war poetry events, for instance), and electronic, or digital forms of poetry, which do appeal, somewhat more, to younger readers, and writers.

This is the core contradiction at the heart of the current poetry world in the UK: it tries (perhaps half-heartedly) to be more “popular” without, in fact, embracing most or any of the current popular cultural trends – including the diction and subject matter of interest to most people. This leads to a schism such as can be seen in that other faltering, great, traditional institution, the Anglican church, which has its wars between modernisers and evangelicals.

My conclusion from all this is that the poetry communities in Great Britain need to have more dialogue between themselves, to clarify their goals, and open their books, as it were, to greater scrutiny. – or, perhaps, not. Too much energy is taken up with promoting and marketing and selling poetry – and attendant polemical hustling and bustling - and not enough with writing, and reading it.

Poetry, basically removed from the capitalist market agenda, is only a frustrating profession for any practitioner hoping for celebrity, money, or wide public support. Left alone with the poems and poets of the past, the poet herself must always return to the endless resources and challenges of language, form, style, and subject, and in that way, find a way out of the seeming impasse, into the pleasures and rewards of “pure” creativity itself.

What will the language do to us next?

Monday, 9 July 2007

Review: The Good Shepherd

Eyewear recently watched The Good Shepherd (2006) - the Robert DeNiro-directed film tracing the origins of (the) CIA, from the late Thirties at Yale (with its secret cloak-and-dagger collegiate society) to the Bay of Pigs Fiasco (the film conveniently side-steps the contemporary era, when a former Director of the agency became President of the USA, and his son, also became President). Matt Damon stars, as an American Smiley figure (Wilson) sad, stooped, seemingly suburban, matching wits with his equal number in Moscow, his personal life empty as his stare on the bus to work.

The film ends on a note of resounding sorrow and defeat - even despair - as the entirety of a man's life (his soul) is rendered to ash - and the pseudo-Christian message shadowing the film reveals itself (Mark 8:36) - "for what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?" - a good question the film-makers think could be applied to American foreign policy, as well, restated as: for what shall it profit a nation if it gain control of the world, and suffer the loss of its soul.

Of course, this was the theme of Citizen Kane, America's greatest classic film, as well the theme of The Godfather, arguably its finest post-WWII movie. It is also the theme of The Conversation (also about government criminality and surveillance, and faith - Caul is a Catholic - this time during the Watergate era). The director of The Good Shepherd famously starred in both these last films, and indeed the film is co-produced by Francis Ford Coppolla (who, tellingly, refused to direct it himself, as it was too bleak - so you can sense how bleak this is).

The film is curiously dull, needlessly confusing, and lacking in incident (though there are several spectacular murders of women, and several deaths by falling, no doubt symbolic). It is also filmed in a gloomy, yellowish sepia-tinted style familiar to fans of The Godfather trilogy, and stars those necessary accessories of any character based in the Sixties, the black half-rimmed Malcolm X specs (see Costner in JFK for their best use). Still, it is worthy, often intelligent, and, despite soft-pedalling in places, subtextually a strong indictment against America's spook community and its foreign policy since 1945 (basically, assume dominance of the world, and generate wealth via a military-industrial-complex that increases rather than reduces conflict).

Its main interest to me, though, is its view of poetry. Michael Gambon plays a homosexual British poet teaching in America in 1939 at Yale, who is modelled it seems - oddly - on W.H. Auden - although in this instance the poet-professor is a secret Nazi mole / British spymaster, who (unlike Auden) returns to London for the Blitz (where he is murdered with Wilson's quasi-blessing). Wilson - a poetry student at Yale - is in love with a beautiful deaf girl who is Catholic, chaste, and represents what is good in the world. He is recruited into ambiguous Nazi-gay practices by the Audenesque spy-prof, but rejects the caress of the older man's cane, and sees through the charade, when the poet plagiarises work ("Song") by Harvard poet Trumbull Stickney (written in 1902) - taken from his only book, Dramatic Verses.

Stickney was brilliant, and, had he lived, would have been a serious rival to Eliot. His French-language PhD was based on two dissertations taken at the Sorbonne - the second, Les Sentences dans la Poésie Grècque. Damon turns away, after this moment, from poetry, and gives up his life plan to marry his deaf college sweetheart, and move to a college town, to be a professor of literature, to instead fight fascism abroad and then return to help start the CIA. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the entire film is this use of the Harvard-Yale rivalry, and a somewhat obscure poet, as well as the life of a teacher of poetry, to create a kind of binary moral scale - the least moral route being a spy, the least immoral being someone who studies, and professes, poetry (which, pace Auden, "makes nothing happen" and is therefore above the fray of worldly things happening - including power and money).

Ironically, this would have seen Wilson working as a New Critic, likely under the sway of the Kenyon crowd, and taking orders from Mr. Eliot, not Mr. Kennedy. Would Wilson have exploded in the 60s, as his buttoned-down contemporary, Robert Lowell (another WASP establishment figure) did, and let in expression of personally-confessed material into the modernity of the work? Would he have lost his wife, his soul, his mind, anyway, like Berryman? Killed himself?

The Good Shepherd, by extolling the virtues of academe and poetry, simplifies these worlds, these choices - for poetry is also filled with struggle, ambition, and more aesthetic agonies - and in the process renders suspect its mirror-opposite vision of the role of intelligence gathering in a powerful modern democracy as uniformly negative.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Poem by Stephanie Bolster

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Stephanie Bolster (pictured) this Friday. Bolster is one of the very best, and most popular, of the new generation of Canadian poets. Her first book, White Stone: The Alice Poems (1998), won the Governor General's Award (Canada's top literary honour) and the Gerald Lampert Award - and will appear in French with Les Éditions du Noroît this autumn 2007, translated by Daniel Canty.

She has also published Two Bowls of Milk (1999), which won the Archibald Lampman Award and was shortlisted for the Trillium Award, and Pavilion (2002).

Bolster recently edited The Ishtar Gate: Last and Selected Poems by the late, very fine Ottawa poet Diana Brebner. She is also editing an anthology of poetry about zoos - and is guest editor for the inaugural The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2007 anthology.

She teaches creative writing at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. The poem below originally appeared in The Fiddlehead, and appears here with permission of the author.

Lingua Botanica

Words in the palm, loose gravel.
Words rising, the shapes unnatural.
Look at this, what I found, listen. Smell this flower-of-no-scent.
The mellion-ground, the ha-ha, the great bastion.
My kingdom for the knowledge what it means.
My kingdom for its lack of meaning – a pure
knot of music. Though I have not gone, I know
what is there. I eat it with my meal.


poem by Stephanie Bolster

July Poetry Now Online at Nthposition

Ten new poets now online at http://www.nthposition.com/ including Claire Crowther, Tony Williams, Kavita Joshi and Michael Kavanagh. Enjoy. I'm currently reading new poems for the autumn and winter issues, October, November and December 2007. Submission guidelines at the site.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Review: An End Has A Start

Editors (pictured) burst onto the scene in the last few years as the band that sounded most like Joy Division, other than Interpol. Their highly-anticipated second album was recently released. Eyewear had been very hopeful it would be even better than their haunting, morbid first album.

The current English guitar band style is, broadly-speaking, to be angular and anguished - and always anthemic - this period style starting with Radiohead, moving to Coldplay, and then erupting in a variety of bands like Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, and now Editors. This English Line of moody, introspective, yet ringing bands is perhaps inspired by U2 (though often borrowing heavily from great unsung Simple Minds).

The new album under discussion here, is ten songs that each lay claim to being stirring and existential. Most are about air disasters, imminent death of loved ones and one's self, and the general morbidity of late capitalist society. The songs are propelled by dramatic drums and churning guitars, and the vocals ache with solemn - if somewhat neurotic - suffering ("I need you to tell me it's okay"). Teenagers everywhere will enjoy these songs while reading Ecce Homo. I admire the seriousness, even the portentousness, of this work. It is just right for the Brown Age of wicked NHS criminals intent on blowing young female dancers in night-clubs to decadent bits. It has the grandeur and tedium of the age down pat, if not its inconsequential inanity.

Is it a great album? No. But it seeks to plant the seed of a heart in very dark ground. Perhaps even consecrated ground. It may be a grower. "Bones", the fourth track, is already sounding better, as is the fifth, "When Anger Shows". Something sad-tender is rubbing against the world's contemporaneous terrors to start a fire, make a noise.

Eyewear gives it four specs.

Banksy Is A Great Artist

An article in today's Guardian suggests that Banksy, ultimately, is not a serious artist, and his works are not great art - and may even threaten the values that tether true art to society with his parodic style.

This is nonsense, and dangerous thinking. It's the sort of quasi-traditional, pseudo-conservative twaddle that mars so much British thinking (and critical writing) on practitioners who bother to extend the limits of their chosen creative fields.

Rather than wagging a finger at Mr. Banksy, the Guardian (supposedly left-leaning) might want to hand him a flower in the barrel of a gun - his aesthetic revolution has not only been televised, it's been put against the very walls where many would be shot ....

There are, I suggest, four measures by which all great art and artists can be evaluated:

1. Does the work engage with the recognised tradition within the art form, and then extend, refresh, or challenge it?

2. Does the work make innovative use of materials or dissemination?

3. Is the work visually memorable, striking, original, or (even) beautiful?

4. Does the work bring about new ways of thinking or feeling, or both, about any or all of the following: society, being human, political, religious, philosophical, aesthetic, or ethical concerns?


By any of these measures, Banksy is a great artist. - just as Francis Bacon was.

He has refined the methods of graffiti art, presented innumerable memorable, fresh and astonishing new images to the public, and done so in a way to make those who encounter his radical work confront themselves and the world.

He is the equal, or better, of Emin or Hirst. He is a national treasure. England should be proud of its latest genius.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

A Kind Of Slow Motion Launched Tonight

you are invited to the launch of
Janice Fixter’s first full poetry collection
a kind of slow motion
at the Poetry Café, Betterton Street, Covent Garden
at 8pm on Wednesday 4 July

where Janice will read from her
collection together with special guests
Wendy French, Todd Swift, Anne-Marie Fyfe

for further details contact 020 8297 8279
or events@tall-lighthouse.co.uk

a kind of slow motion £7 ISBN 978 1 904551 30 0
available from 4 July from www.tall-lighthouse.co.uk

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Organic Form

I am just back from hill (and vale) walking in the Lake District with some good friends, and A. Wainwright as guide (only in book-form, alas).