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Showing posts from June, 2015

NEW POEM BY TODD SWIFT

Want: 2; Have: 1

For James Brookes
Last year tossed many friends into bin bags...
for all their sins, they were better alive;
thrived in the sun, dirt annoys the skin,
erodes faith. I have never met a dead

believer. We love God most when living.
The dead know the bald mysteries.
You get rich with washboard abs
and blonde curls. 90% of porn

is police handcuffs and suffering
in falconry hoods; fellators paid
to appear illegal but just over the line.
You want to be oriental potentates
with power and slaves to kneel and adore
an engorged sense of self. You crave being craved. Wish to be Gosling,
or whoever the next Gosling is, will be.

I have been accused of murdering
my love hearts, as if I doodled scum
across my forehead on Wednesdays;
no, I am innocent of all surplus crimes

except grandiosity. Pere of my own
ubiquity, grossly over-privileged;
in the blind and dumb mirror of the networks
where I am bound by gimpy Hephaestus,

who locks up our faces in smart wire
we cannot break out of, no matter how hard

BAD SEX WRITING

In today's Sunday Times Culture section, there is a dismissive review of the latest E.L. James novel, Grey, which as you already know follows the 125 million-selling paperback trilogy about S&M, naïve virgins, haunted billionaires, and contractual sexual punishments and rewards. Rather wittily following on from Freud, it implies that what women "really want" is very badly written prose. On the same page, there is a review of the "traditional" light-verse popular British poet and crime novelist (she did the new Agatha Christie and an anthology of Sex poetry) Sophie Hannah, and it is of course a slim volume of selected and new poems that here is offered, from Carcanet.

One of these books has sold a million copies or so already, the other, in all likelihood (and even given the charm, talent and fame of the poet as prose writer), will sell a few hundred, perhaps a few thousand.  If one believes, as I do, that intelligent poetry represents the deep end of the swi…

OUTRAGE, ELOQUENCE, GRACE AND GOODNESS

President Obama is a great orator, and he more than rose to the occasion of his eulogy for the nine killed in their bible class in Charleston by a racist youth. He went beyond the call of duty, and gave a speech that is the equal to some of Lincoln's.

It touched on issues of morality, and decency, and in some ways, reminds us that though life can feel meaningless, those who feel touched by God's grace can find healing purpose even in tragedy. Ending with the song 'Amazing Grace,' which he sang, President Obama fittingly, and movingly, brought his eloquence into the form of address most suited to the occasion, a song that all in the great African-American church could sing along with as well.  He exemplified the power of words to move into song, into community, and to spread ideas of communion, and goodness.

It is a matter of record that, meanwhile, the world is being ravaged by a religious murderousness that does not seek community, communion, peace, accord, forgiveness,…

TEN GREAT SONGS SUMMER 2015

Readers of Eyewear, the blog, know we love to recommend new tracks, as we find them on Spotify.

It's been a good year for pop, rock and indie music, with The Darkness back, and Brandon Flowers, and Carly Rae Jepsen and even Chic and Moroder, but here are the ten key songs of the moment we find essential for summer listening. Put another way, these are the ten best songs of the year, so far, judged solely in terms of the love swoon factor:

1. 'SPRINTER' - TORRES - Torres is a young woman now based in Brooklyn whose second album this title track hails from.  With assistance from persons associated with PJ Harvey, the sound is avant-indie, with intense lyrics, and emotive vocals. I love the lyrics, which explore a young Baptist girl's relationship with her pastor, a good man brought low by pornography - "there's freedom to, and freedom from" - it has several transcendent moments (in the classic soft/loud mode) and a soaring sense of theology and feminism inter…

DARK DAYS OF SUMMER

Of course, life goes on - there is dancing, and there are joyous occasions, and music and poetry etc - but forgive me for saying the last few days have been bleak, news-wise (leavened by the Trump buffoonery, arguably).

The racist massacre in South Carolina, especially, is horrible. And leads on to inescapable conclusions about the Catch-22 America is in, with regards to its gun laws.

In a lesser way, the doubts now hovering over our British Olympian, and all-around lovely guy, Mo Farah, are also troubling.

And, in general, wars, terrorism, murder, and cruelty rage.

And, my friend, a poet, died.

Yes, yes, we must go on - but are we reaching a tipping point of savagery?

A Wayward Pines style devolution of humanity?

Perhaps not, but news of more nuclear weapons being deployed in Russia is again a symbol of bridges breaking down.

I am not sure poetry is the solution to much or anything, except, in this small (and it may be small gestures that comfort us, now) way - craft, attention, care, creati…

Hans Van de Waarsenburg HAS DIED

Terribly sad news. The brilliant Dutch poet Hans Van de Waarsenburg has died. I loved him. He was brilliant, kind, generous, funny, and a great friend to poets world-wide. Dutch poet Hans van de Waarsenburg was born in Helmond in1943, and has died in 2015, June 15. He published his first collection of poems, Gedichten (Poems), 50 years ago, in 1965. His collection De vergrijzing (The graying) was awarded the prestigious Jan Campert Prize for Poetry in 1973. In March 2004 he received the first Municipal Award of the Helmond Town Council for his entire work. Between 1997 and 2000 he was chairman of the PEN Centre of the Netherlands. In 1997 he became chairman of The Maastricht International Poetry Nights - an impressive biannual international poetry festival. In 2013 Eyewear published his Selected Poems in English, translated by Peter Boreas, The Past Is Never Dead. We launched it at a gala event in Bloomsbury at which over 100 people attended.

'Hans van de Waarsenburg is quietly wor…

THE WINNER OF THE MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE 2015 IS A TIE: MARIA APICHELLA AND TONY CHAN!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - JUNE 8 2015

THE MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE 2015

WE HAVE TWO WINNERS, TIED FOR FIRST PLACE
MARIA APICHELLA AND TONY CHAN

ONE POET IS BASED IN WALES, THE OTHER, ORIGINALLY AUSTRALIAN, NOW LIVES AND WORKS IN ENGLAND

BOTH WINNING COLLECTIONS MERGE TRADITIONAL FORMS (PSALMS, OR SONNETS) WITH STRIKINGLY CONTEMPORARY CONCERNS, AND CREATIVE PASSION.

CHAN'S WAS COMPOSED IN 78 DAYS OF WALKING ACROSS ALL OF THE UK

APICHELLA'S EXPLORES FAITH AND DOUBT IN THE CONTEXT OF WAR AND LOVE

BOTH POETS WILL HAVE THEIR COLLECTIONS PUBLISHED IN EXACTLY ONE YEAR (JUNE 2016) AND WILL SHARE THE PRIZE MONEY OF £1,500

2015 JUDGE'S CITATION
BY TOBY MARTINEZ DE LAS RIVAS:

'It has been a pleasure – a difficult pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless – to have judged this year’s entries for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize which is beginning to make itself an increasingly important part of the annual literary calendar for poets who are yet to publish a first book. Before I proceed to talk briefly …

2015 MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE SHORTLIST FOCUS: DAVID SPITTLE

As they say in show biz, last but not least.... and it is true, David Spittle is among equals as he completes our list today - this gloriously sunny hot London day in June -  of the 12 superb young poets shortlisted for this year's Melita Hume Poetry Prize... who will the winner be, come Monday? Only our Judge Toby de las Rivas really knows for sure, at this stage, as we draw our breath, and await his considered report...

David Spittle (pictured) is currently completing a PhD on the poetry of John Ashbery in relation to Surrealism at Newcastle University. He has published reviews in Hix Eros and regularly contributes to PN Review. David’s poetry has been published in 3am,Zone, the delinquent, and is soon to be translated into French courtesy of Black Herald Press. In addition to poetry, he has written the libretti to three operas, performed at various venues around Cardiff and at Hammersmith Studios in London. In 2014 David was commissioned to write a song cycle for the Bergen Nati…

OUTSIDER ART NEW POEM BY TODD SWIFT

Outsider Art

It's been what - decades? -
since she lifted that dress
in summer and desired herself
as if I was a mirror

in Darger's dishevelled room.
Her lithe innocence armed
with a drawn pistol
as she fingered danger

like an artist teaching herself
to make insistent actions
of a lonely hand not some
remote errors only

of eccentricity, also
achieved release; passionate
as any acolyte, showed me
the new work her brushstrokes

made, materials not yet dry.
I, the appreciative critic
of her rude education.
It's sad to reflect on moments

not so art-preserved; not stored
even dustily in homely attics
to be ignored; most incidents of sex
or pathos have no catalogue

or connoisseurs; static in time
are still left just where they happened
at first blush, never flow like art
forever outwards into an always now.

No one recalls her crouching
as she gazed down at her clitoris
and enjoyed a homemade bliss
of blossoming isolated chance,

her tennis shoes curling
as her feet inside curled as well;
her gasping, unrelenting, a…

2015 MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE SHORTLIST FOCUS: MICHAEL NAGHTEN SHANKS

Michael Naghten Shanks is a poet and the editor of The Bohemyth. His writing has featured in various journals and anthologies, including gorse, The Quietus and elsewhere. In May 2015 he will read as part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series during the International Literature Festival Dublin. 
I AM YOUR REFRIGERATOR AT 3 A.M. WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY
I could not consume the stars above the beach in Enniscrone
or stop the soot of London mixing with Camden coke.
In different seasons, love is ice-cream: we want to lick
our favourite flavour all year, even if it makes us sick.
I give you a call and you come over. We watch
a Werner Herzog documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams,
about simple drawings of extinct animals. One of us says:
Do you think the artist ate the art or the art ate the artist?
We know the beginning and the end before we press play.
We consume designer drugs not designed for us; our bodies
separated by a punnet of mixed berries the colour of our bruises.
You sprinkle sugar over every…

2015 MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE SHORTLIST FOCUS: ELIZABETH PARKER

Elizabeth Parker has a BA in English and Creative Writing from Warwick University and an MA in Mythology from Bristol. She taught secondary English for eight years and is now a private tutor. She has had a poem published in Magma 59 and was shortlisted for last year's Bridport Poetry Prize.

ONE SUNDAY
we write inside the shadow of a tree
a flea of light waits on your knuckle I pass you a fresh cartridge

and you squeeze the plastic tube

until a black bead swells from the nib

we barely speak, you sneezing

throat flecked with pollen

my eyes sneaking onto your page

into thickets of ink.


poem copyright the author 2015