Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2006

"free of the war life"

Colin Wilson , one of my favourite authors, once wrote of "outsiders". Recently, Outsider Music became a kind of quasi-genre, roping together socially marginal figures who make mavericks seem like the elite. Now I have come across the oddest outsider of them all (odd in a good way?). The title of this post is from one his songs. Have you heard (of) Y. Bhekhirst ? The link below will take you to a site that has MP3s of all the ten songs on his under-the-underground classic Hot In The Airport tape, recorded and then re-released in New York. The sound is as disconcerting and discordant and disturbed as a private language. This is Private Music. Is there such poetry, as well? Is this a hoax?

Mahfouz Is Dead, Times Are Hard

Mahfouz , the great Arab novelist, pictured here, has died, but not before seeing a different kind of result from that of the Arab-Israel war of 1967, which plunged him into relative silence for five years. Meanwhile, cluster bombs continue to kill innocent people in Beirut - even as Iran defies the West over its desire to possess nuclear power. But, Chavez's new friendship with Syria may be a step too far. A fraught week, indeed, in the Middle East.,,1861607,00.html,,1861571,00.html,,1861804,00.html

Does Climate Change Require You To Change Too?

A friend of Eyewear' s recently wrote this article for The Guardian . UK readers may wish to attend the Camp for Climate Action, running until September 4.,,1855816,00.html

Review: Modern Times

Every artist (infinite in potential) limits their range and delineates their limit. In this way the tradition is revised, enhanced and made bountiful in conserved seriousness which establishes new norms and points to farther reaches. Modern Times by Bob Dylan , released yesterday, is a supremely modest, mature and controlled offering of ten songs whose generous appeal and broad, open manner present the most crafted, popular sound of his late career. Those who come to this album hoping for explicit expressions of critique or contempt for these modern, fraught, American times will be turned away not empty-handed, but handed signs and symbols wrapped in tuneful enigmas, swaddled in traditional folk, blues, swing and country sounds and tropes. Of Dylan's three great albums of the decade begun in 1997, this is the second strongest, the least cryptic, and the most romantic: deeper, socio-political losses figured as absenteed women on the road of a lonesome cowboy band. However, critics

Eye On New Gold Dream

Q , the music bible with which Eyewear likes to quibble, recently suggested that Simple Minds was a guilty pleasure. They are not. Their album, New Gold Dream , is a shimmering masterpiece of new wave iconography from about a quarter century ago: from signal cover to its deeply-crafted songs that hint at Christology by way of Bonhoeffer, and still calls for attentive recovery. It is now time to establish it as a recognized classic. It is a wonder, all of a piece, this transcendent album, full of Kerr's whispers and new, resonant sounds. Each song builds on a crashing wave of revealed theology and subtle synth-sound - from the alliterative call-and-response of "someone somewhere in summertime" to the promised miracles, to the dark-night-of-the-soul doubt of "Big Sleep" to the redemptive, eschatoligical fervour that is the bold title track's luscious line: "she is your friend" (that wondrous promise still makes me swoon - oh to hold her hand). Each


The actress Penelope Cruz (pictured here) is the best thing about Volver , Eyewear believes. Pedro Almodovar's latest Cannes-winning vanity project (each of his films is a homage to his own sensibility sustained by self-reflecting lenses) may be his best, in that the mise-en-scene, while ravishing (especially the hot reds and cool blues) is never entirely overwhelmed by camp. Instead, a humane, and sober, web of intrigue, spun from the themes of incest, murder, hauntings and mother-love, creates a moving and thrilling picture, which plays on the style of TV sit-coms and soaps, while never entirely descending into laff-riot comedy or bathos. Almodovar has never been my favourite director; he is my least favourite, of a generation of major auteurs that includes Lynch , Ozon and Wong Kar-wai . I am not merely aping Sight & Sound (whose recent issue asks whether PA is over-rated): indeed, I have avoided reading the article until after this post is done, so as not be influenced

Poem by Togara Muzanenhamo

Togara Muzanenhamo (pictured here) was born to Zimbabwean parents in Lusaka, Zambia in 1975. He was brought up in Zimbabwe, and then went on to study in The Hague and Paris. He became a journalist in Harare and worked for a film script production company. His work has appeared in magazines in Europe, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and was included in Carcanet's anthology New Poetries in 2002. The poem below is taken from his debut collection, recently out from Carcanet, The Spirit Brides . Eyewear is very glad to welcome him to these pages this Friday. The Laughing Wood A rock and a river, And on the rock a blade of sunlight intensifying the colour of moss. The sound of water Flowing down into the valley where they found the bags. I have never seen a fairy, But she professed to seeing fields of them, at play, in flight. And to talk of them in the sparkle Of sunlight amid the dreamy sound of water; that was a great pleasure. The moss was warm and soft, She lay with her head in her pa

UK Gets Bigger and Pluto Gets Smaller, Plus Tea

The BBC news has been fascinating today. First Pluto is demoted from planet to just a bit of dirt way out yonder (in Kafka's Prague, no less, by scientists who think Xena is a good name) - and you thought your ego was fragile, how about goofy Pluto's now? Then the UK gets bigger than 60 million people for the first time ever. Now for some good news. Tea is actually better for you than water. That may explain the thriving British population, eh?


Eyewear has long considered innovative Paris-based American poet Michelle Noteboom one of the younger contemporary poets to watch. Over the past five years or so, I have published her work in several anthologies, including Short Fuse and Future Welcome , and at Nthposition . Now, her debut collection Edging is out, with a new press, after winning a competition. Her tour starts soon, so do see link for more information.

New Canons and Conifers

The TLS has run a good review (in its August 18 & 25, 2006 issue) of the major new anthology of Canadian poetry edited by Carmine Starnino , The New Canon . The review, headed "Beneath the conifers" is by Patrick McGuinness . It ends with the following: "Canadian poetry deserves to be better known. .... [Starnino] has offered us a book of unusual vibrancy and range ..."

Pre-Modern Times

As I - and the world - await the coming of the third in Dylan's late series of masterworks, it is appropriate to once again ask: what is the greatest work of art of the 21st century? I confess to a short list of one: Bob Dylan's album, which had been set for release on 9-11, "Love and Theft". There have been major works in cinema, by Wong Kar-wai and Lynch and Ozon ; several good collections of poetry, a handful of novels, some art installations - but without a doubt, the most troubling, complex, uncanny and relevant work has been "Love and Theft". This is an album I return to, often, for a simple reason. Bob Dylan is the American Shakespeare , in the sense that Harold Bloom has talked about Shakespeare, and this is his late masterwork - his King Lear , if you will. Nothing I can write will sustain these claims - you must listen to the album. What I will say is that Dylan has achieved an extraordinary texture and flow of voice, music and meaning here - a


Sir John Betjeman (pictured above) is one of England's most charming and popular 20th century poets. It is his centenary this year. He was Poet Laureate, as well as a succesful media personality, and sold millions of books. One of the poetry albums made of his recordings was titled Betjemania , which quite accurately reflects the general public regard for this rumpled, Teddy Bear holding, lovable eccentric: taught by T.S. Eliot and Muse to Philip Larkin . The great Atlantic drift between Britain and America yawns wide on the question of his reputation, thought it also seems up for grabs at home, too. Arguably, Betjeman is little read or valued in America. Meanwhile, the BBC's flagship morning radio news slot, Today , today featured a rather long and winding debate, during its most valued minutes (the last ten before the nine o'clock news) on Betjeman's enduring legacy as a poet. Oddly, one of the commentators expressed the view that Betjeman could not be considered a

Grass, and Higher Maths

In the last few days, several major English-language writers, like John Irving , have come to praise G. Grass , ex-Waffen-SS soldier, and novelist, for doing the right thing, and admitting to having once been 17 and harbouring urges to join the most infamous and criminal gang of war criminals known to history. These literate advocates observe that the Nobel prize-winner (never shy of publicity) has been the conscience of post-war Germany; figured thus, anything he was to say, or do - or to have said, and done - is both apt and exemplary - and supremely literary. It seems Grass has not only mastered the art and craft of fiction - but of shaping reality, as well. Meanwhile, other Nazi-sympathizers, such as Ezra Pound , have never been brought in from the cold, presumably because they never admitted to having joined the wrong side, or never wrote about themes of guilt - though, of course, Pound is by far the greater writer of the two. It seems not all 17-year-olds are to be forgiven - Mao

Review: Factotum

Why are drunken, randomly-employed, ill-shaven sociopaths - in a low-rent sort of way - deemed to be (in brief episodic bursts) so very entertaining? Worse, why does every two-bit "writer" model themselves on the ill-starred yet-famous Charles Bukowski ? And why is it that when arty, highbrow film-makers want to make a European-type film, they turn to his dingy-but-sex-filled life - biopic as malignant biopsy - to glorify his sad-sack existenz, shuffling about low-lit rooms with tapioca-stained wallpaper peeling away to expose infested walls while lounge music plays from 50s-era radios? Factotum isn't a good movie, okay. But it is the perfect one to watch on TV (via DVD say) any given late evening, when drunk, bored, alone or on riveting decongestant tablets that create on-off headaches; one soon adapts, merging with the neon, the fleabag hotels, the gin parlours. It is, perhaps due to its nature, part-repellent, part-winning. It is hugely watchable, as sleaze can be. Bu

On Planes

For those of us who fly trans-Atlantic - as I did yesterday - the thought that "criminals" from Britain, essentially bright young militants from middle-class families, were - in ultra-code-red fashion - intending, any day now, to set off liquid bombs on ten flights, mid-air, mid-Atlantic, en route to New York, LA, or Washington, DC - well, the thought is horrifying; and, had it happened, the crime would have been mass murder, and unforgivable. What K-H Stockhausen unfortunately uttered in 2001 is now, in a sense, true - these crimes do not have to happen, to have impact - that is, as the odd German composer said at the time, the Twin Towers massacre was greater than art - for its power. Like the best - and worst - conceptual artists, this new band of 24 (plus the five on the run) have out-Hirsted Hirst - they merely conceive of a terrible thing, and behold - every plane traveller in the world is transformed, into a denuded creature, clutching a plastic bag, without water, ha

He Made It Strange

50 years ago today, Brecht , pictured here, the greatest political writer of the 20th century (and yet arguably the one with the worst hair cut) died. Viva Bertolt!

Poem by Nathaniel Tarn

Eyewear is very glad to be able to feature a poem from such a fine poet as Nathaniel Tarn , pictured above. It first appeared, in print, in The Poker , edited in Boston by Dan Bouchard of MIT and then in the book Recollections of Being from Salt (2004). It seems all-too relevant again today. Tarn is a poet, translator, critic, anthropologist. He has led a distinguished literary and academic career studying and/or teaching at the Universities of Cambridge, Paris, Chicago, London, SUNY Buffalo, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Jilin (P.R.C.). Among some 35 books are The Beautiful Contradictions (Random House); Lyrics for the Bride of God (New Directions) and Selected Poems: 1950-2000 (Wesleyan). He was founding editor of Cape Editions & Cape Goliard, London-New York, in the late Sixties. He lives near Santa Fe, New Mexico. from: War Poems Yet Again 3] The Asphyxiation Needful, while it is taking place, that the process be invisible both to the executioner and to the victim.

I saw the Farine Five Roses / in red

The Montreal Gazette does not usually share the same opinions as I do, but one of their editorial leaders for today - "Long Live Farine Five Roses!" - is right up my alley (or should I say narrow urban transit route?). As the editorial writer says: "It's easy to dismiss the passing of industrial symbols as no great loss. They are neither great art nor great architecture. But they are humble monuments to the working world of thousands ... they deserve a place in our hearts, if not on our skyline." The FARINE FIVE ROSES sign - a giant, neon-lit series of letters in red retro style - pictured here - has stood over the Bonaventure Expressway for 60 years and is in some ways as iconic for Montrealers as the HOLLYWOOD of LA; sadly, the company that owns and illuminates the sign has sold the trademark to another company, and so, to save money, and avoid advertising a competitor's brand, has switched off the power, rendering the great tall words dark in the night.

Portrait from Hydra

Poet and artist Henry Denander (who sketched me on Hydra I now discover) has recently posted a new portrait of yours truly on his site, see below. And yes, it features my Alain Mikli eyewear.

Visual Pleasure and Miami Vice

Adorno once said he never left a cinema without feeling less humane; Seneca warned against the visual pleasures of violent blood-sports and crowd spectacles. Michael Mann is clearly no respecter of Seneca or Adorno, having tossed us several dozen bodies to enjoy seeing employed in illicit activities, in his latest auteur-voyeur semi-classic, Miami Vice . First, I confess to having enjoyed Audioslave on the soundtrack - but feel the sound in the sight and sound helix that is film was severely cropped here - what was MTV-cops is now more like illegal-downloads-intercepted - so songs dribble in, as if Tubb's iPod was low on juice. The truth is, no one films the surface of things as well as Mann in legitimate cinema; and no one else explores the circles of hell bad men travel to work each day through - Bogota Unreal City - with such cerebral venom in the veins: half the film is Crockett and Tubbs (re-enacted like mannequins by stars of the day) being patted down, escorted and forced

August Poems Now Online at Nthposition

10 poets, up at Advice to the Prime Idiot by John Hartley Williams Tree house of the dream child & Rochelle’s movie by Rose Solari Terminal by Douglas W Gray A moon song & Material by Jill Jones The hostages by Andrew O'Donnell The life cycle (Nova Scotia) & A guide to breaking the banking industry by Jacob McArthur Mooney Please talk eerily amongst yourselves by Jake Kennedy To John Tranter, after reading 'Late Night Radio' & debbie jaffe by Adam Fieled Idol & The lost planet by Patrick Chapman good friday, prize & you're so beautiful by Tom Harding

Audioslave to the music

James Bond is not meant to shoot himself in the foot - that's the other guy, and it's not meant to be the foot, either. Since the latest Bond film was announced, many, including Eyewear , have felt it represented a kind of low, in terms of vision - the casting, for one, has been so dire, a website has been created to deny the very existence of the Bond they claim will be Bond (very Baudrillard this). Now, amidst so many misfires, comes the most laughable of all - the choice of theme song. Often the theme song has been given to has-beens - but, at other times, Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney, Madonna , and Duran Duran have been invited to belt out something trite and so-bad-it-is-great about dying or killing or living (always with the Monty Norman backbeat and the double-entendre that the only mort is petite) - and some of these songs are wonderful (including the classic by undisputed musical genius Louis Armstrong ). So, who do the Bondsmen chose to master their new song but

Poem by Jake Kennedy

I included some poetry by Jake Kennedy (somewhat pictured here) in the .DC anthology, Mooshead X: Future Welcome which I edited in 2005. I liked his work the first time I read it. Jake is teaching in Peterborough, Ontario, in the Cultural Studies Department at Trent University. He recently received his doctorate, in English literature, from McMaster University. Eyewear is pleased to feature him this Friday. TV Jack Ass, after Nam June Paik 1. People translucence waking hee haw People flashlights heautoscopy People electrical matter People are I believe meat aerosol and hair fallacies My dear drowning and poets in blue flickers. This is not the age of Rilke. People more batter. 2. So what are these assignations? Windows against people People that green and grey intentionally, old people— what people are people are —but young Mars bars People fight flies People canyons, with noodles. People into rag-tail-swat-nuisance. poem by Jake Kennedy

The Passion of the Madonna

First Mel Gibson does an Ezra Pound and broadcasts (albeit drunk and via one cop) his wild-eyed anti-Semitism; now, another major American celebrity has raised the stakes (as it were) and gone and done an anti-Gibson - crucifying the crucifixion, to mock the most profound symbol (or reality) of the Christina Faith - and Rome is damned if it's going to let that go uncondemned. Now, I have always enjoyed Madonna's corpus (anti-Christi?) of work - some pictured here - but perhaps it is time to ask of her the question which she is so lewdly spelling out in splayed fashion on her stage - Quo Vadis? - that is - may we begin to interrogate the interrogator, take down the taker-downer, mock the mocker - and beg the question from the queen of buggery? In short, Madonna: what do you believe? What is your alternative philosophy for the good life? Drawing a conclusion from both her work (music, films, videos, books) and her life (etc.), the answer is relatively clear - Madonna represent

The Oxford Book of American Poetry, 2006

Eyewear has been looking at (even reading) The Oxford Book of American Poetry (2006), edited by poet and editor-extraordinaire David Lehman of NYC (and creator of The Best American Poetry series, that essential thing) which The Economist (which tends to be economical with its praise of new poetry books) has recently recommended. With a few reservations, Eyewear is able to second The Economist - it is certainly a bang for the buck, at over 1,000 pages. First, the bad news (there is much good to follow, fear not and read on): Lehman has chosen not to include Vachel Lindsay , pictured, one of the great pioneers of spoken word poetry, an inspired sometimes surreal poet, as well as being the first poet to ever write intelligently about cinema; he has also not included some first-rate contemporary poets, (perhaps some of these too young?); the only Canadian included is Anne Carson (unless one considers the little-known Joan Murray ), though he mentions the idea of a "North Americ