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Showing posts from October, 2010

Bill Manhire In England in November; new poem

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Bill Manhire, New Zealand's leading poet of his generation, to its pages today with a poem.  Manhire will be appearing at various events next week and beyond in England.  Here is his schedule:

November 2: a reading, as part of the launch of Simon Armitage's Poetry Parnassus project; Poetry International.

November 3: talk and reading, Kingston University, Kingston-upon-Thames, Penrhyn Road Campus, John Galsworthy Building, JG4002, 4-5 pm; all welcome; admission free.  Introduction by Anna Smaill.

November 3: Reading poems by Edwin Morgan as part of a tribute evening called The Scots Makar; Poetry International.

November 5-7: Aldeburgh Festival

November 9: the Gerald Finzi Reading at the University of Reading, 6.30 pm.

The Ruin

Storm roared in the roof: a rocking of towers.
Giants stood then stumbled. Once they strode into weather and wind. Where stairs went down, only these mounds.
Then more is missing.

Walk toward the baths: they are missing.

Guest Review: Brown on Higgins

[editor's note: I've posted this review gladly, as it offers an alternative position on a collection that I personally admire a great deal.]
Phil Brown reviews Frightening New Furniture byKevin Higgins
My first experience of Kevin Higgins was through the anthology Identity Parade (Bloodaxe 2010). The sample we get of Higgins in this anthology is enough to leave any reviewer somewhat excited at the prospect of getting their teeth into his latest collection. Poems like 'Almost Invisible' and 'The Great Depression' emit such a visceral bleakness wrapped in aural excellence as to leave you with the feeling of being in the presence of ‘the real thing’.
And so, it was with great excitement that I awoke one day to find that the generous Mr. Swift had posted me a copy of Higgins’ latest collection, Frightening New Furniture for review.
That was four months ago now. How na├»ve I was. I started off by reading the thing cover to cover in two sittings. ‘Hmmmmm’ I thought, ‘There …

New Poem by Suzanne Richardson Harvey

Eyewear is glad to publish a posthumous poem by the American academic and poet Suzanne Richardson Harvey (1934-2010).


As I carve a path through the jungle
Of creditors' threats and lay off notices
Resignations and legal briefs
I remember my tenth birthday
The party with undrunk lemonade
Left over toll house cookies
Unblown whistles and horns
Favors no one took home

I was fresh from a New England village
Where the fate of an elm on the Old Post Road
Was the Holy Grail in someone's Crusade
I was a toll house and lemonade guy
A whistle and horn kid

These days lemonade comes laced
With maraschinos and grenadine
Mrs. Fields caters the cookies
Whistles and horns arrive enshrined
In cellophane from Saks

These days kids sip guava punch
Nibble mandarin orange and anisette bars
Crave exotic flavors
And horns with the Hallmark label.

poem published with permission of the estate of Suzanne Richardson Harvey.

New Poem by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Eyewearis glad to feature a new poem byChris Wallace-Crabbe, the Australian poetthis chilly Monday in late October.  Wallace-Crabbe (born 6 May 1934) is an Emeritus Professor in The Australian Centre, University of Melbourne.  He was Visiting Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University. He is now chair of the Australian Poetry Centre.  HisNew and Selectedwill be out from Carcanet in 2011.


What is it, then, to love the world
sipping its colour-patched enchantment
from nub and frond, sepal or wavelet,
to pierce unutterable blurring
and perceive things clear?

To do so will not stop the bombs
nor silence fatal scripture-freaks.
Oh, no. Seeing this fretwork patterning
of jacaranda on macadam
is no more than good in itself.

To lounge and think about beauty,
"the unplumbed salt estranging sea",
or a spider's wiry legs, twitching,
only means owning art's eye,
so there some of us are:

neither a diplomat nor a killer be -
a good thing, on the whole -
but …

Review: The Social Network

David Fincher has been making Hollywood films since 1992, but it was fifteen years ago that he became a critical and commercial favourite with the stylish, dark and shocking Se7en.  Since then, he has made a handful of classic films, as good in their way as anything by Hitchcock or Kubrick, the directors he is most often compared to, in terms of theme and visual originality: Fight Club, and Zodiac.  He has also made a few mediocre films, like Panic Room and that Benjamin Button fiasco.  Zodiac marked a new level of maturity for the director - for that film is justifiably admired for its open-ended, Checkovian (nothing much happens) manner, combined with a low-thrumming menace.  Fincher is, notably, best at mise-en-scene.  He is, like Michael Mann, a stylist first and foremost.

Therefore, his new film, The Social Network, seems an anomaly, though it is about male competition, a regular concern.  It is not about violence (physical anyway) and is not particularly twisty; it also affords …

Guest Review: Quintavalle on Mazer

Rufo Quintavalle reviews Poems by Ben Mazer
There are worse role models than T. S. Eliot but reading through Ben Mazer’s Poems his presence can get a bit overwhelming. In “Crushed Rains” for instance where the narrator finds himself
wondering what’s become of failed romances, missed opportunities, lost chances, now twenty years of dinner and of dances, the felt but never undertaken stances
the reader is left to wonder where Prufrock ends and Mazer begins.The two “Rhapsody on a Winter Night” poems make their allegiances even clearer by borrowing not just their mood and diction but also their title from the older poet.
Another openly acknowledged influence on Mazer is John Ashbery whom he invokes in the poem “Death and Minstrelsy” – “there is not a single other/contemporary poet who I do admire” –and whose disjunctive, campy, cinematic style can be felt throughout the book.Ashbery returns the favour via a back cover blurb – “To read him is to follow him along a dreamlike corridor where everythin…

Featured Poet: Robert Sheppard

Eyewear is very glad to welcome Robert Sheppard to these pages this Friday.  He was born in 1955 and educated at the University of East Anglia.  Sheppard's most recent books are the Complete Twentieth Century Blues from Salt which collects work produced over a decade or so and Warrant Error from Shearsman Books, his response to the 'September 12' we have been living through, whether we will or no. Also a critic, he has published recently a monograph on Iain Sinclair from Northcote House and has edited The Salt Companion to Lee Harwood. His Poetry of Saying is one of the major statements, along with Duncan's Failure of Conservatism, in the struggle of critique against the complacencies of the Movement/post-Movement mainstream.

He is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Edge Hill University, Lancashire, and edits Pages as a blogzine.  He can be heard reading poems on The Archive of the Now.  Sheppard's writing -  of the left, and engaged with the ethics of poetics, …

TS Eliots 2010

The TS Eliot Prize - there were apparently 123 eligible books this year.  I'd like to see the longlist of the other 113 - it would be far more refreshing.  What's set in?  Acclaim fatigue.  Heaney and Walcott, with their Nobels, don't need the attention or the money.  Either, of course, has a book good enough to win such a prize.  As do all of the other eight on this list. It seems sad the big news angle is that one of the poets is a "recovering heroin addict"!  Most poets I know are recovering from, or entering into, one addiction or another, at any given time, or facing some life crisis - as are we all.  That is the media's fault, the media that has managed to almost kill poetry dead in the UK with its stop-start attention.  Is it good that Annie Freud and Fiona Sampson and Pascale Petit - three of the best poets now writing in England - are noted?  Yes.  I think most exciting is the presence of Brian Turner here - a poet not widely known in the UK, yet.  T…

Bob Guccione Has Died

As a Catholic feminist it might raise some eyebrows to say the following, but, like St Augustine, I was not always thus; there were days of stolen pears, so to speak, in my youth.  So, let me briefly say, that, apart from my father, and my Uncle Jack, and perhaps Oscar Wilde, Pierre Trudeau and Alistair MacLean, I can think of no man more influential to me before the age of 14 than Bob Guccione (not even Hugh Hefner).  It was - no longer I imagine - a boyhood rite of passage in Canada, in the 1970s and 1980s, to steal and swap copies of one's Dad's Penthouse magazines, and, frankly, to enjoy them.

Guccione's aesthetic had a great impact on my teen imaginary - he had wanted to be an artist, and had a strange overlush taste, and photographed his nudes both provocatively, but, in the early days, with a respect that placed the solitary women in picturesque settings - the Penthouse sublime involving pearls, and nylons, and peacock feathers, and wrought iron beds, and big pillow…

Film Illiteracy

Now that the Guardian has listed its top 25 films in 7 categories (Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Action, Art-House, Comedy, Crime and Romance) I must observe the following - any list of the top 175 movies which does not include, in no order, Shane, The Third Man, The Silence of the Lambs, 20 000 Leagues Under The Sea, Fantasia, Rambo, The Shawshank Redemption,  Lawrence of Arabia, Mr. Majestyk, Ice Station Zebra, The Poseidon Adventure, The Wrath of Khan, Pretty Woman, The Elephant Man, Out of Africa, Sophie's Choice, Schindler's List, The Sting, Jaws, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Midnight Cowboy, Titanic, or An Officer and a Gentleman, can hardly be said to represent the best of genre films.  On the other hand, it is good to see Mulholland Dr., Pulp Fiction, Touch of Evil, Vertigo, Peeping Tom, Days of Heaven, and a few other classics, there.

New Poem by Peter Oswald

Eyewear is very glad to feature a new poem this Wednesday by Peter Oswald.  He is a playwright, poet, and performer. He has had verse plays performed at the Globe Theatre, National Theatre, and on Broadway. His many plays are published by Oxford University Press, Methuen, and Oberon Books.
Cold May
Cold May comes through the window - trembling panes Have marked its passage through the glass and through The water of our glances, down the lanes Of lungs, trees shaken by its nowhere-blue. The sight of its no-face where cloud-thoughts pass Through its unmind, will wipe your face away,
A finger-picture on the misted glass, And put you where it was, so that cold May Is looking out at you. See where it stares Out at you now, two children eating toast, Normally noisy but now hushed as hares.
Cold May has filled them with its shivering ghost, And you must change and come back to them soon,
With all the shouting sunlight of warm June.

poem by Peter Oswald

Guest Review: Naomi on Petit

Katrina Naomi reviews What The Water Gave Me: Poems After Frida Kahlo by Pascale Petit
That Pascale Petit originally trained and worked as a sculptor is evident in these finely wrought poems. While many of us may work in response to paintings (or other art forms), I suspect that few would be able to create and sustain such a vivid and varied full-length collection as What the Water Gave Me.
Every poem takes a painting by the celebrated Mexican artist Frida Kahlo as it starting point. I’m an admirer of Kahlo’s paintings and feel I know her work fairly well; therefore I wondered what Petit could show me that I hadn’t already ’seen’ or experienced for myself. The answer is, plenty.
I’ve thought about writing a collection in response to two of my favourite (very different) painters - Paula Rego and Stanley Spencer - but would worry that a whole book dedicated to each would be dull. Yet there’s no such worries here. I don’t think Petit could write a dull poem if she tried. And for the most pa…

Do we dig them too?

Sean O'Brien's review of the latest (12th) Seamus Heaney collection, Human Chain, in this weekend's Financial Times - a rather blue chip journal - opens with the statement, unqualified, that Heaney is the English-language world's greatest living poet.  The certainty of the statement (unverifiable?) took me aback, though I am sure that many poets, critics, and readers enjoy the idea of there being such a poet, and that great poet being Heaney.

I find the rectitude in some of Heaney's work to be too fine, too crafted - as if his genius had been sifted through a mesh that categorically removed the grit and rage and lust, and left only nobler particles.  He is without doubt one of the greatest.  The Greatest?  Ali had that title, but he was Ali.  I recall a time when, in the late Thirties, co-living poets would have included WB Yeats, TS Eliot, WH Auden, Dylan Thomas, Wallace Stevens and Ezra Pound, as well as HD, Marianne Moore and Robert Frost.  Now, that time is not…

Mandelbrot Has Died

A genius of mathematics - the literal visionary who allowed us all to see the world anew - Mandelbrot has died.  Fractals inspired countless writers, artists, as well as scientists.  Here is a link to Alice Fulton's essay on Fractals in poetry.

The Death of Mandelbrot

Within shape the shape in-widens its own owning of imagination the slice of ginger gingerly slid off a knife as each blade is the lawn, as fern informs infernal logic, fanning out sloughing green.  Lightning makes its mark marking sky-light. Snow flakes off snow to make and break ice small and right, hot at heart with the thump of delight – each jag and messy turn or spin a boomerang that bangs back the yin.  I think I cannot understand how all spreads: peacock's flamboyance, shell's hard-luck contours, a brilliant argument of whorls – contains its own brand making as the hand made
fingertip's twirling private name speaking breaking into bigger complications that turn small and smaller, snick down. Unnatural how nature sna…