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Showing posts from November, 2010

New Poem by Peter Oswald

Eyewear is very glad to offer readers a new sonnet by Peter Oswald .  It's very beautiful, I think. Sonnet She’s somewhere in the house. I will not go To find her, right now. Let her be alone, We will meet later, so I can be slow, Not even bother with the phone, Or shrieking of a child or animal, Unless insistent. I will often stir For no good reason, she is beautiful, Focus my vacant gaze to look for her, As if love was a novel I was loving, Left in the wrong place, under towels or something, And it concerns me, it will tell my ending, Like a sky full of fires. But for the time being, Let her be everywhere, fill all the rooms With various possible sweet and bitter dooms. poem by Peter Oswald; published with permission of the author.


A lot of fuss over this Wikileaking resolves down to the core question of secrets: should there be any kept?  I recall the 1992, and prescient, cyber-espionage thriller, Sneakers , which explored a world "without secrets" - a trope of many thrillers being the code-breaking device that renders all codes defunct.  The Enigma machine was built to render all Nazi codes transparent, and that was viewed as wholly to the good.  However, a thought experiment would quickly reveal that if all our private thoughts could be overheard, chaos would ensue - same for our private conversations? It seems to me that what has been flooded out is eyebrow raising but confirms what we have suspected - that diplomats spy, and that some dodgy leaders and nations really are, well dodgy, and that some world leaders favour "voluptuous" Ukranian medical companions.  Privacy and secrets are the enemy of "truth" - but Ibsen , in the The Wild Duck , has Gregers destroy lives when he ex


Eyewear is now followed by 268 people - a good number of subscribers for any "little magazine" - and hopes to be followed by 270 by the end of December.  Let's keep growing.

Nielsen Rating

Leslie Nielsen has died - sadly - and he must be rated, all things considered - one of Canada's greatest popular figures of the 20th century, along with William Shatner - a world famous comedian, and serious actor - who became globally synonymous with straight-faced hilarity.  Nielsen was the captain in my favourite shlock film, The Poseidon Adventure , whose reaction to the terrible capsizing wave later made him ideal in Airplane! - often voted by critics as one of the ten best comedies.  He will be missed.

Two New Poems By Mike Loveday

Eyewear is glad to offer two new poems by Mike Loveday this chilly Sunday.  Loveday is the editor-publisher of 14 magazine, a published poet, and a student on the MA in Creative Writing at Kingston University.  His debut pamphlet is out from HappenStance in 2011. Fool's Errand Beyond the requests - issued my first day at his factory - for striped paint, or a ham salad doughnut, it’s the glass hammer and rubber nails which come to mind now, as I’m fixing his image into this. Doubting Thomas A middle-aged man, balancing on a twelve-foot pillar with his hands. Not many people have stopped to watch. In a white hat, white suit, he is giving birth to a clock. The clock doesn’t want to come out, but when he finally squeezes it free, it is wearing a red hat, and reciting a poem in Welsh. “Y nos dywell yn distewi” The poem scans the audience, grabs the man’s collar and pushes him off the pillar. poems by Mike Loveday; published with permiss

225 YBPs

I have now updated the Young British Poets list , and there are 225 poets listed.  Other recommendations welcome. I hope that, in time, this list will help critics, readers, and researchers to explore this generation.

The Rialto Autumn 2010

Nathan Hamilton 's ongoing exploration of young British poets has its second iteration in the Autumn 2010 issue of The Rialto , one of the UK's best poetry magazines.  Part Two of "Look Out" introduces poems by Paul Batchelor, James Brookes, Tim Cockburn, Swithun Cooper, Emily Critchley, Andrew Fentham, Charlotte Geater, Matthew Gregory, James Harrison, Emily Hasler, Luke Heeley, Ian Heames, Agnes Lehoczky, James Midgeley, Beverly Nadin, Eileen Pun, Sam Riviere, Marcus Slease, Ben Stainton, Tom Warner and Thomas Yates .  I had read the work of perhaps half of these - Cooper, Gregory, Heeley, Riviere, Warner, Lehoczky, Brookes, Geater, Hasler and Midgeley were especially on my radar.  Glad to learn of the work of the others.  Hamilton's intro is valuable as it explores various sorts of approaches to contemporary poetry, and discusses the stylistic hybridity of the younger poets.  Unfortunately, the essay is a bit undermined by typos ( Don Patterson ?).  Still, all

Read The Book First

Modern Canadian Poets: An Anthology has caused a bit of a national stir in Canada's media, with major columns in both national papers, The Globe and Mail , and now The National Post , dealing with it.  Both columns say the anthology is, ultimately great, but take it to task for a variety of faults, that, frankly, don't quite compute.  The reason - the commentators in Canada haven't read the book yet - it was launched a week ago in Britain, and is not yet available for sale in Canada (it will be in the new year), though review copies are now winging their way over.  Questions about its ethos, its evaluative methods, its remit, etc, are all explained in the Introduction - explaining why, for example, we include poems by French-Canadian poets for the first time in a Canadian anthology of English poetry in more than 20 years; or why we stop at the birth year 1962.  We discuss the younger generation, and encourage readers to pursue their work.  We also introduce a number of oth

Featured Poet: Sylvie Marie

Eyewear is very glad to welcome, this ice-cold London Friday, Sylvie Marie (pictured above) born in Belgium in 1984.  She has published poetry in several magazines and anthologies. Her first collection of poetry Zonder (which means Without ) was published in 2009 and was received with great praise by the Dutch press."this may be the most remarkable poetry debut of the recent years", one critic said. Marie is also editor of the Dutch literary magazines Meander and Deus Ex Machina . She writes a poem every week for the widespread Flemish magazine Humo .  I met her in October at the Maastricht International Poetry Nights, where we were both guest readers.  The poem below was translated into English  by  Zoran Ancevski with the poet. soms soms wil ik je dood, schat, niet dat ik je dood wil maar ik zou je lichaam wel eens willen dragen wanneer je hand ontkracht naar beneden bungelt en je tong eruit. ik zie me je al jaren torsen tot oog en vlees vergaan, de schilfer

Pottering Out

The world divides between those who think Harry Potter rubbish, and those who love it.  In fact, this could be further split, into those who feel this way about the books, and those who feel this way about the movies, or both.  I personally find the books beneath contempt, amazing only in terms of their unprecedented cultural success, which renders them worthy of study if not approval; and the movies a dull second.  It is good to see this series come to a close, as lifeless, draggy and ponderous as ever.  As one critic put it, it is just one damn thing after another.  The struggle between good and evil has never been more long-winded and lacking in dynamism.  It is a sign of the weak-minded times that a whole generation grew up on this twaddle, when, for instance, previous generations had Tolkien , Lewis , and Frank Herbert , to enjoy.


It seems unlikely that North Korea will continue to press its aggression on its neighbour - given the pressure from both China, and America, to do otherwise.  However, it is an erratic, fragile and attention-seeking state, and anything could happen.  If war does break out, then it would be potentially a trigger for a "third world war" - precisely the reason why China, a rather cool and moderate customer on the world stage, all things considered, would not let that happen.  Still, yet another reason why nuclear weapons in the wrong, infantile, hands, can be a bad thing.  In any hands.  The Republican urge to sink recent arms reduction treaties for short-term gain, in the light of rogue proliferations, appears ever more craven.

Pitt Stops

One hopes that Heaven will be letting in Ingrid Pitt - surely the right one - who has sadly died today, the Queen of Hammer Horror, and the Countess Dracula.  Pitt, whose buxom figure emphasised the diabolic sensuality on offer to her victims, was synonymous visually with the tantalising transgressions of a certain tendency in semi-erotic horror films - a far cry from today's dismal and dehumanised "torture porn".  Pitt, who was Polish, appeared in several of the classic films of all time - such as The Wicker Man , and Where Eagles Dare ,   and also acted in television, appearing in Dr Who , and Smiley's People .  Her three most famous roles are likely in The Vampire Lovers , Countess Dracula , and The House That Dripped Blood , at the start of the 1970s.  Indeed, her major period is brief, 1968-1973.  She had earlier taken small or uncredited roles in Welles ' Chimes at Midnight , and Lean 's Dr. Zhivago .  She will be missed.

Cromwell, The Famine, and 12.5% Tax

The Irish in Britain have been welcomed and included, at the highest levels of cultural activity, for more than a century - one recalls Yeats in London, one thinks of Faber's healthy Irish list now.  The green passport has allowed a comfortable sense of kinship to develop, so that more than one contemporary poetry anthology of British poetry has felt the need, indeed, the wish, to include Irish brothers and sisters.  It must come as something of a rude awakening, then, to see that this friendship was fickle, and about a nickel, or pound, deep, in some quarters.  No less than The Guardian's Polly Toynbee has argued in today's paper that the Irish have been "terrible neighbours to us" (Britain) because of the tax rate of 12.5%; and, many less-left politicians and public figures, in the Tory party and mad media, have expressed outrage that so much largesse should be shown, so much noblesse obligingly proferred, to Ireland. I find talk of bad neighbourliness a bit

Guest Review: Chonchúir On Wells and Perry

Nuala Ní Chonchúir reviews When God Has Been Called Away To Greater Things by Grace Wells and The Last Falcon and Small Ordinance by Paul Perry Two Dedalus Press collections under review, one a début and the other – Paul Perry’s – the poet’s third full collection. Each volume is beautifully produced and they are a credit to the publisher who has taken care with the design of the books. Books are consumer items and the reader wants to own a well-made, attractive book as much as anything else.             Grace Wells is a poet of specifics; her collection When God Has Been Called Away to Greater Things is a journey from dark to bright times and, ultimately, to love; all of which is invested with concrete, engaging detail. Along the way there are poems of domestic violence and fear, loss and hope. She never shies away from the raw detail of sexual violence and, in that sense, her work is revelatory. In the poem ‘Rescue’, the narrator returns, ghost-like, to the scene of the violent m

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Alan Baban  - poet, writer, medical student - was at the Modern Canadian Poets launch last night wearing the best geek chic eyewear I've seen lately, and after we went out for some talk and dinner (I don't eat before events) the subject of the year's best music came up - Alan is a music critic for cokemachineglow, and we're lucky to have his comments at Eyewear , too.  Anyway, he's heard a review copy of what is apparently going to be the kick-ass album of 2010 - Kanye West 's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy .  The reviews so far have been ecstatic - as if this was Pet Sounds - Thriller - Okay Computer  as second coming.  Let's hope so.  If it is, it will confirm my suspicion that this has been the best year for popular music, ever.  The new effects that can be achieved in production, combined with the new immediacy of transmission, have led to the scene breaking open in so many ways, sounds, and styles, that the cornucopia has become narcotically, insa

Featured Poet: Judy Brown

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Judy Brown (pictured) this foggy day in London with a new poem.  Brown was born in Cheshire and has also lived in Northumberland, the Lake District and, in the early 1990s, Hong Kong, where she worked as a lawyer.  She now lives in London and Derbyshire.  Her pamphlet Pillars of Salt (2006) was a winner in Templar Poetry's first pamphlet competition and her first full collection Loudness is due from Seren in Autumn 2011.  This year she won the Manchester Poetry Prize for a portfolio of four poems.  She also received first prize in the Poetry London competition in 2009 and the Poetry Society's Hamish Canham prize in 2005.  Her poems have appeared in the Bloodaxe anthology (editor Roddy Lumsden ) Identity Parade (2010) and the Forward Book of Poetry 2006 as well as in various magazines. Hers will be one of the debut collections of the new decade in UK poetry. THE WORST JOURNEY IN THE WORLD             “ And now the reader wi

Dooley's New Book Out With Others, verbatim

Salt Book Launch: Matthew Sweeney, Padraig Rooney and Tim Dooley Date :Tuesday, 23 November 2010 Venue: The Betsey Trotwood Pub, 56 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 3BL 6.30pm for 7pm start / Free Come and join celebrated Salt author's Matthew Sweeney , Padraig Rooney and Tim Dooley as they launch their new books in London. We will be in the upstairs bar. For more information on the venue please do check out their website: Penned in the Margins Event Date : Wednesday, 24 November 2010 Venue: Aubin & Wills 188 Westbourne Grove W11 2RH 7pm / free Penned in the Margins presents Tim Dooley George Ttoouli Julia Bird Hannah Walker at Aubin & Wills. Nearest tube: Westbourne Park / Notting Hill Gate Refreshments provided. Please RSVP to .uk Please do visit the Penned in the Margins website:

Guest Review: Saphra On Oswald

Jacqueline Saphra reviews Learning Gravity by Helen Oswald Death, that often visited subject of poets, stalks the pages of Helen Oswald’s Forward Prize nominated ‘Learning Gravity’. This is a collection that explicitly attempts to get to grips with the subject of loss, as signalled at the front of the book with a dedication to Oswald’s brother, who died in 1992. In fact if any poem in the collection could be said to sum up its overall thrust, it could be the sonnet, ‘Not Wanting to Write about Truffles’ which describes the imagined process of terriers looking for truffles, and ends touchingly and with an echo of Eliot : ‘Their value is not scarcity but in that saving, exhuming delicacies from dead ground. Try as I may, I still go down there with the hope of it.' And ‘down there’ is exactly where many of the poems go. The subject of death and mortality becomes - to borrow the poet's metaphor - the book’s centre of gravity, pulling much of the material in towards it. The the

Launch of Modern Canadian Poets Anthology in London Tonight

Modern Canadian Poets: An  Anthology , edited by Evan Jones and Todd Swift (Carcanet, 2010). London Launch Event Thursday, November 18th, 2010 6.30-8.30 pm Oxfam Books & Music 91 Marylebone High Street London W1U 4RB near Baker street tube Telephone: 020 7487 3570 Wine reception, book signing, with brief readings from George Elliott Clarke , Marius Kociejowski , David McGimpsey and Eric Ormsby All are welcome; free admission with support from Kingston University


Not to be missed event for those in London: the last Poetry in the Crypt reading of the year, which features Tim Dooley, Rosemary Norman and Penelope Shuttle .  Three excellent readers, plus floor spots and the traditional selection of tasty cakes at the interval.  And all in the good cause of supporting Hospice Care Kenya.   7 pm November 20th in the crypt of St Mary's Church Upper Street Islington

Review: Let Me In

Director Matt Reeves was tasked impossibly with remaking a universally acclaimed horror masterpiece, Let The Right One In , for the American market.  The original is sombre, pensive, sensitive, and artful - perhaps the most profound meditation on love, desire, ageing, adolescence, and evil, in all of the horror film canon - so the idea that a new version would have anything to add was obscene.  Instead, Reeves has turned in an unusually sensitive reappraisal, which subtly readjusts the setting, and some of the scenes, without altering the themes, the mood, or the mise-en-scene. The new version, Let Me In , has not been embraced by audiences - though it has made ten times as much as the art-house precedent.  This is too bad, but perhaps inevitable - Let Me In is not just a horror movie, but a character study, and a potential love story (as signalled by the introduction of the Romeo and Juliet theme here) - and it unfolds at a solemn, almost funereal pace.  Reeves directs with a com

Henryk Gorecki Has Died

Sad news.  The 20th century Polish composer Gorecki has died.  At first an obscure modernist, he became an unlikely "star" in the popular realm when his "symphony of sorrowful songs" stopped traffic in Los Angeles and was a world-wide phenomenon of the early 90s.  It seems hard to believe this haunting, deeply spiritual and humanist work should have been famous for 18 years, when it seems like yesterday when I first heard it, at the age of 26.  I was deeply moved - no surprise there.  The promised "new age" of spiritual wisdom never materialised, instead we had the Balkan wars, and then the "clash of civilisations" marked by 9/11.  The music continues to transcend its moments, though, and while Gorecki never completed another work of universal acclaim, he remains a key cultural figure of the pre-millenium period, and the creator of the darkest, most sublime piece of music created in the post-Holocaust era.

Featured Poet: David Wheatley

Eyewear is very glad to welcome Irish poet-critic David Wheatley - pictured above - to its wind-blown pages this blustery November day.  Wheatley, one of Ireland's impressive younger literary figures, was born in Dublin in 1970, and is the author of four poetry collections with Gallery Press : Thirst, Mocke r, Misery Hill and A Nest on the Waves . He has edited the work of James Clarence Mangan , also for Gallery, and Samuel Beckett ’s Selected Poems for Faber and Faber. He often reviews for, among others, The Guardian Review section - where his reviews tend to be judicious and thoughtful, and non-representative of his edgier side.  Wheatley is - as many of his Irish generation are - an outspoken opponent of the Catholic Church, and a far-ranging (sometimes madcap) satirist, at least on the Internet, where he has run a lively blog.  In his combination of erudition,  sense of play, and seriousness, he makes a tantalising offer to the future, of growing into the next importa

Dino De Laurentiis Has Died

Sad news.  One of the greatest producers of camp, and schlock, films, in the history of cinema, has died.  Dino De Laurentiis , among other films, produced La Strada , Serpico , Flash Gordon ,  Conan movies, a King Kong remake, Barbarella , Dune (one of my favourite films), and four Hannibal Lecter sequels.

Guest Review: Pugh on Haynes

Sheenagh Pugh reviews You by John Haynes Haynes’ first collection, Letter to Patience , was a long poem in terza rima addressed to a friend in Nigeria. The present book is again a long poem, this time in rime royal, the stanza of Troilus and Criseyde , addressed to his Nigerian-born wife. As in his first book, the classical form is given a more contemporary feel by being handled quite freely. Rhyme is anything from full to a vague approximation of vowels, while the metre, though basically iambic, is also often irregular and, above all, uses a lot more enjambement than Chaucer would have contemplated.   This is where one of the problems comes in. Rime royal seems less able to accommodate constant run-on lines than terza rima was; Haynes’ version of it may sound more contemporary, but it also often sounds awkward: Not sure she’d woken up, he called out "Kakka" very softly just in case, then when her voice creaked from the dark The first line there is perfectly sayable; th

New Poem by Peter Daniels

Eyewear is glad to welcome British poet Peter Daniels today with a new poem of his.   Daniels took a break from poetry but came back to win the 2008 Arvon Competition, and recently the 2010 TLS Poetry Competition. He is now working on new poems and translations, especially from the Russian of Vladislav Khodasevich.   His 2010 pamphlet Work & Food is a mini-retrospective from Mulfran Press, and another will appear in 2011 from HappenStance, to add to pamphlets from Smith/Doorstop and Vennel Press in the 1990s. Given the current state of unrest in the streets, this poem seemed apt. Emergency Respectable ladies are raiding the shops for regency figurines, red shoes, red meat, and whose respect do they need, now? Up on the castle terrace it’s unclear which way to go. Skirts full of peaches to pelt the palace walls, or to eat in the gardens. poem by Peter Daniels; reprinted with permission of the author.

Will English Be A Dead Language?

Heard on the BBC this morning - English may become "a dead language" in a thousand years, or at least, a minority language, like French.  Dear me!  I am not sure becoming like French is such a disaster.  The English have relied a little too much lately on the soft power of their mother tongue, and it might do us all some corrective good to brush up on our Chinese, and learn some international and cultural humility.  That being said, I doubt that the poems and novels of the English language will be as dead as the Greats for some time, and I am sure that this new Classical English, however quaint and obscure, will be studied for a few more thousand years, if only by scholars and saints.  Though, it must be said, I am not yet convinced that human civilisation in its present consumerist form will survive.

Guest Review: Jindal on Bartholomew-Biggs

Kavita Jindal reviews Tradesman's Exit by Mike Bartholomew-Biggs Tradesman’s Exit is a collection imbued with personal memories and nostalgia for the past, and these base notes which flavour almost every poet’s work are harnessed here to motivate the strongest poems in this book. Published by Shoestring Press, this is the second full collection by Bartholomew-Biggs. His accessible style and easy humour are evident from the early poems, such as ‘Say It With...’ which starts out “What you done wrong then, mate?”, a question addressed to the narrator holding a bunch of flowers. Bartholomew-Biggs has an undoubted gift for inventive similes too, as in ‘Gas Station’: him in that rosary  whose beads are wayside accidents and graces strung on a time-lapse image of your tail-lights Or, as here, “...coarse-grinding dreams made extra dark / by roasting in my skull too long” from the poem ‘Broken Rhythm’. Occasionally this talent for metaphor is stretched and over-used so they