Skip to main content

Poem By Hamish Wilson

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome major British poet Hamish Wilson (pictured) to these pages this day. Wilson was born in 1958, and educated at Oxford, Cambridge and London Metropolitan universities. As a child he suffered from night fears, but his brothers made that go away, as he writes in his poem "Mind Robbers".

Wilson is one of the leading exponents of the "Light Bulb Makars" school, which, in the last few years, has become so influential on these isles. In his dour, sometimes grumpy, and often brilliantly dazzling reviews for the major papers (and BBC radio), Wilson has attacked any poetry which "uses language like frippery, like a girl's pink ribbon" and denounced "the fake makers, the fun-havers".

For Wilson, poetry is "science - and not just science - rigorous making, like hammering a sawblade back into shape after it has been bent by a fool." Wilson names his heroes as "Yvor Winters and Adam Smith", and bases much of his anti-rhetorical stance on Smith's own belles lettres lectures and the works of Popper. "Popper got it basically right," he's written in his study Sharp Vision: How To Write Poetry True To Experience.

Wilson has had three collections published, Break Bright Windows (1994), The Mind Robbers (2000) and, in 2007, his multi-award-winning Ovid In Scilly (2007). Indeed, Wilson has won all the prizes that the UK has to offer poets of his kind, often twice, sometimes three times. His proudest achievement is The Wallace Stevens Prize. He has also been the judge of all the leading prizes.

He is also an active editor - of poets, non-fiction writers (he favours salmon fishing books, and works on atomic physics) and novelists, all winners of prizes. He has put together the astonishingly rigorous anthology Lean Young Mean, which celebrates his belief that poetry is best written "by young men without fat on them, men fighting trim, men who think God is a sissy, and Dylan Thomas weak-minded." Drawing inspiration from Horace, then Hardy, then Larkin, he's written "Christ may be dead, but Homer was a Scotsman." His ideal poem is "clear as piss-water, clearer, like ice in a fist" and warns that "to read a poem is to engage in mud-wrestling with Lucretius."

He's also said "there's only one or two poets now writing of any worth." Not everyone agrees. Bjorn K. Bernstein, a leading avant-garde writer, has described Wilson as "a boob who thinks words are meant to mean, not buzz". The title poem, below, is in his trademark style, the "postmodern double-sonnet". Enjoy the genius.

Ovid In Scilly

No poems about makers -
making is more precise,
makes snow
look like ice
in a glass of Scotch.
Scotch that, break
the glass,
it is too colourful,
and creation, like space
should be dark, clear,
and not stuttered
like a signing, a bed
with stars, with oodles
of unheimlich fakers.

Mind robbers,
poets with words,
here, in wind and rain
I prefer to commence
again, unheard,
stark as an iron filing,
a central nail,
burrowed in the brain
of a lean young man
who shuns pastry;
whose sense of scansion
is less expansive
than a nun's
in a vast, erudite mansion.

poem by Hamish Wilson
6 comments

Popular posts from this blog

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

OSCAR SMOSHCAR

The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…