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Showing posts from March, 2007

Poem by Elaine Feinstein

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome the significant poet Elaine Feinstein (pictured) to its pages this Friday. She read for my Oxfam series last year, and then again recently in London at Foyles (with Michael Schmidt ), where she launched her excellent and moving new collection from Carcanet, Talking to the Dead . Feinstein was born in Liverpool, brought up in Leicester, and educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. She has written fourteen novels, such as The Border , Loving Brecht and Dark Inheritance . She has written radio plays, television dramas, and five biographies; one of these, Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet , was short listed for the biennial Marsh Biography Prize. In 1993, she was Writer in Residence for the British Council in Singapore, and in 1996 in Tromso, Norway. She was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at Bellagio in 1998. Her novels and biographies have been translated into French, Spanish,German, Italian, Danish, Hungarian, Czech, Hebrew, and Chinese; and her poetry

Oxfam Reading Time Out London's Critic's Choice

Good news, this reading has been selected as a Time Out London Critics' Choice for the week of March 28-April 3! 7 POETS FOR 2007 SERIES Oxfam Spring Poetry Reading Thursday, March 29, 7pm Oxfam Books & Music 91 Marylebone High Street, W1 (near Baker Street tube station) Featuring: James Byrne is the editor of The Wolf magazine and a respected young poet in London. His first collection Passages of Time was published by Waterways in 2003 and he is currently finishing a second book. He has worked for the Poetry Translation Centre and has recently given readings at the Groucho Club, The Green Mill (Chicago) and for Poet in the City. Earlier in 2007, James received a shortlist for this year's Eric Gregory competition. Melanie Challenger is an award-winning writer. She co-authored Stolen Voices with Zlata Filipovic. She adapted the Anne Frank diaries into a choral work which was televised by BBC from Westminster Palace in 2005. She won an Eric Gregory Award for her poetry

Not Since 1878

While all media attention in the UK was yesterday on Northern Ireland and its cleavages, Quebec, a multilingual province of more than six million people the size of Europe, went to the polls in an election that, once again, confronted the issue of whether it should secede from Canada or retain its union with the federal government. Last night, the (somewhat) pro-federalist Liberal's Jean Charest (pictured) won light backing for a minority government - the first in the province for 130 years. It will be curious to see how Charest manages to keep things going for more than another 18 months or so, like this - but he may learn a trick or two from Harper, Canada's right-wing PM. The good news is that the PQ (the separatist party) came third.

Congratulations to Derek Mahon

Eyewear is glad to report that Derek Mahon , the Irish poet, pictured, has been awarded The David Cohen Prize for Literature at an award ceremony hosted by the British Library on March 22. According to the prize's site: "this biennial prize, valued by writers as the most coveted literary award in the British Isles .... is awarded to a writer from the UK or Ireland in recognition of a lifetime’s achievement in literature. The winner of the 2007 David Cohen Prize for Literature will be presented with a cheque for £40,000. ... The winner of the David Cohen Prize is selected by a panel of judges comprising distinguished authors, literary critics and academics. The prize does not accept submissions, nor does it publish a shortlist. The panel for 2007, chaired by the Poet Laureate, Professor Andrew Motion , includes Liz Calder , Anne Enright , Jackie Kay , Hilary Mantel , Rt Hon Lord Chris Smith , Sir Peter Stothard , Boyd Tonkin and Jeremy Treglown . ... Previous winners of the D

Poem by Barbara Smith

Eyewear is glad to welcome Barbara Smith (pictured) this Friday. I met Smith recently in Galway, where we both read, and enjoyed the conversation. Born in Dublin in 1967, her work has appeared in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland, in journals such as Borderlands Texas Poetry Review , Garm Lu , Agenda , nthposition , The SHOp and west47online. A chapbook, Poetic Stage came out in 1998, and a collection, Kairos , is forthcoming. Trench Monument It wasn’t the flies so much as the reek caught downwind that giddied passers by. The lush green of new moulted shoots smoothed the vale down to the river. Behind, a stand of pines on the crown of the hill. The buzzing became an engine purring closer towards the hill crest. Carcass caverns loomed stark lying as they had done, in November permafrost. But now, in spring, white maggots blindly crept from thawing flesh remnants, writhing, vying for their own stale warmth, feeding the biomass, reducing the remains to a future fossil. Particles of

Tanya Reinhardt Has Died

Sad news. Regular contributor to nthposition , Tanya Reinhardt died in New York on 17 March age 63. She wrote her doctoral thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Noam Chomsky , and taught at the universities of Tel Aviv and Utrecht. In December 2006, she left Israel and taught at New York University. Tanya was married to the poet and translator Aharon Shabtai.,,2038790,00.html


Chapman 109 is just out, with a cover feature on Stewart Conn , at 70. Chapman is "Scotland's quality literary magazine" and I am glad to note that I have six poems in the current issue. Do check out their site at and subscribe. As per an earlier post, it is important to support the magazines that form, and inform, poetry in the UK.

Poets in their youth

I am reading soon as a featured poet as part of the Shot from the Lip festival, associated via this month's New Blood - the fresh happening series, Wednesday, March 21, 7.30pm - start of a spring awakening, no doubt. This at the Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London. In keeping with the Wedekindian theme, I will be joined by two young poets - Ashna Sarkar , described as "ridiculously young, ridiculously talented, ridiculously good" and the thrillingly-named Scroobiou Pip, a previous winner of Shortfuse's Poetry Idol.

St. Patrick's Day and Niagara Falls

Eyewear wishes you a happy St. Patrick's Day. Reflecting on the Irish genius in language, it is striking to consider that the greatest poet of the 20 th century is arguably Yeats , the finest prose writer Joyce , and most influential playwright, Beckett . Should that be controversial, you might say that, waiting in those wings are Shaw, Heaney , Banville , Friel, Kavanagh (pictured) and Muldoon .... or - well, the list is implausibly long, if not endless. Ireland and the Irish diaspora continue to yield much - recent books of 2007 include Maurice Riordan's The Holy Land (Faber), Eavan Boland's Domestic Violence ( Carcanet ) and Ian Duhig's The Speed of Dark (Picador). Each of these is a poetry collection no reader of contemporary verse would want to be without. In today's Guardian , Duhig's poem in memory of the great Irish-American poet, Michael Donaghy , is published (see below, also made available online). As an Irish-Canadian (if such a hybrid i

Poem by Alison Pick

Eyewear is very glad to present Alison Pick (pictured) this Friday. Pick, a true rising star, was the winner of the 2005 CBC Literary Award for Poetry, the 2003 National Magazine Award for Poetry, and the 2002 Bronwen Wallace Award for most promising Canadian poet under the age of 35. Her 2003 collection Question & Answer was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award and for a Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award. Alison's first novel, The Sweet Edge , was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of 2005 and has recently been optioned for film by Four Seasons Productions in Toronto. Originally from Kitchener, Ontario, Pick has lived, read, published, and taught across the country. I am particularly pleased with this poem, as it deals with something that, even in March, resonates with my Canadian memories: snow. So Much More To Say The final snow-removal trucks arrive like liberating troops. Up and up the streets they charge to roses tossed from windows. Winter’s a war finally won. Thro

Paris Reading Monday

I will be reading in Paris in a few days, with Claire Potter and Rufo Quintavalle . Details below. Hope to see you there. Berkeley Books of Paris 8 rue Casimir Delavigne 75006 Paris Metro Odeon 7 PM, Monday March 19, 2007

Tradition and the Individual iPod

PN Review 174 (just out) has an editorial that all those concerned with poetry, in the UK and beyond, should read carefully. The Arts Council is in the process of "restructuring". Some of this is good news, but the shift in emphasis is also leading to unexpected casualties: first, universally-respected (among poets and poetry publishers that is) Literature Director Gary McKeone was given his walking papers; next, "traditional" small magazines like The London Magazine have had their funding cut, completely. This signals a transition to support for new media outfits, performance poetry, and poetry that excites youth, and gets them involved. Salt Publishing, for instance, has been awarded a "large grant" to develop its print-on-demand and online operation. David Lammy , the Culture Minister in the Blair government, and a big supporter of the Iraq war, is ironically overseeing the transformation of the publisher of 100 Poets Against The War - but then again

Poem by Revathy Gopal

Eyewear is sad to report that another poet has died. Revathy Gopal (pictured) was a winner in the All India Poetry Competition , a contributor to Nthposition, and a good poet. She died earlier this week, of cancer. Gopal was born in 1947 in Bombay, a few months before India became independent. She lived for most of her life in that city. She wrote: "I grew up listening to and reading the great legends of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as the mythology of Greece and Rome. I am fascinated by the strangeness of the poetic imagination. If poetry is a different way of seeing, there is still a measure of artifice in the way a poem is finished and presented. The struggle between ‘pure’ consciousness and the language and craft used to define and refine a poem is what makes a poet.” Her recent collection is Last Possibilities of Light (Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 2007). Lines on Meeting a Cousin, Long-Lost “You have your father’s mouth,” she says, “and the family nose we have

Review: Neon Bible, Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire's Neon Bible , released on Monday, has received the sort of reception one supposes that Jesus might get, should he wander into The White House - or rather, it exposes precisely why such a reception might be more in line with that meted out to the Messiah in Dostoevsky's fable of the Grand Inquisitor. In short, this is a critically-lauded album of eleven songs by the world's most famous Canadian band (with a Texan frontman) that, based on a novel about false religion by an American suicide, critiques the current age from the position of the pulpit (paradoxically, recorded in Quebecois and Hungarian churches) while at the same time questioning the rock on which America's foreign and home policies lie. The Killers must be gutted that The New York Times has accused them of forging a false-voiced sound, whereas Arcade Fire has married Springsteen and The Talking Heads effortlessly, and in exuberant, original stride. The New York Times has compared them to

March Poetry at Nthposition In Like A Lamb...

During the war by Peter Grieco Girl & Epiphany by Ben Wilkinson Driving from where I was born to where I live by Patricia Goodwin The Torture Channel by Baron Wormser Modern Lovers & Ariel out of synch with the sun by Rufo Quintavalle Poem for love and money & Any word of which could explode by William Stobb Linear thinking & Pray for our hometown heroes in Iraq by Andrea Porter Wish by Helen Ivory You may revere me by Andrew Bailey Which mirror by Adam Dubrow


enRoute , Canada's leading in-flight magazine (Air Canada), has an article on me for the month of March. Photos by the talented Joseph Ford - as above. I am described as, among other things, "the nightclub manager of modern poetry".

25 years at the Barbican

Eyewear was glad to have raised a glass of cheap fizz last night, toasting the 25 th birthday of the Barbican Centre in London, whose 25 th birthday party concert it was. Sir Colin Davis had the baton before the London Symphony Orchestra . The highlight of the evening was Mitsuko Uchida on piano, playing Mozart's K467 , which dates from March 1785 - that is, precisely 222 years ago. Uchida was sublime, as was the music. The LSO seemed more comfortable with the kettle drums and pizzicato of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 4 in F Minor, Op 37 , which was first begun in 1877 (130 years ago). Its passionate struggle with desire and Fate is as moving as then, no doubt. Also played was the curious incident of the premiere of James MacMillan's Stomp (with Fate and Elvira) which interweaves (rather obviously it seemed to my untrained ears) elements from the two pieces mentioned above.

Poem by Julia Casterton

Eyewear is featuring a poem by Julia Casterton , the much loved poet and creative writing tutor, who died last Saturday in London. Julia (pictured) was born in 1952 in Nottingham where she grew up. She studied at Essex University and worked as a creative writing tutor at the City Literature Institute since 1981, at The Poetry School, and also had a twenty year association with Ambit magazine. A winner of the Poetry Business pamphlet competition in 1990, her first full collection The Doves of Finesterre (2004) won the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize in 2004. Her books on writing include Writing Poetry: A Practical Guide (The Crowood Press, 2005) and Creative Writing: A Practical Guide (Palgrave MacMillan, 2005). Julia was one of the most striking, electric, intriguing and engaged people I have ever met. Brilliant. Sympathetic. Critical. Funny. Kind. She was instantly compelling. I taught with her on a shared course at London Metropolitan University last year, and she also read for my Oxfam

World Book Daze

The poll for World Book Day, as published in today's Guardian, lists the 100 books that voters "could not live without". No poetry (or philosophy, essays, Freud , Marx , Darwin , or OED ). "Books" has obviously become - in most minds - a debased concept that means "novels". And, not just any kind of novels. Three kinds, basically: a) books for children; b) classic books read in school; and c) recent non-literary airport-type genre fiction. The list is wearyingly familiar, almost as bad as one of those clone town high streets we hear so much about in Britain. It is a clone mind, or clone library. The fact that the top "100" has space for the Harry Potter books, Birdsong , and The Time Traveller's Wife is just dumb. They're in the top 20! The Great Gatsby is only at 22; The Da Vinci Code is one place ahead (at 42) of One Hundred Years of Solitude . On what denuded moonscape of the mind is Dan Brown something a reader can