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Showing posts from December, 2010

Happy New Year!

Eyewear has made it through another year.  Phew.  So far surviving epidemics, coalitions, sequels, anthologies, social networks, and all manner of stuff, there is much more to be done.  But not yet, not now - today and tomorrow call for sober and less-than-sober reflection, celebration and consolidation - for the time that has been, and the times still to come.  May you all find some good and joy in 2011, and have a great New Year's Eve.

New Poem by Sam Buchan-Watts

Worship Services If I draw out London like a cross the Old Kent Road would stretch the length of Christ’s sick body. Catching the 453 like a potential virus, I’m a slow shot up his spine. But the bus stops with deliberate ache of reason. The perpetrator has called it and drags my eyes to an ungodly paradox -church shop and ASDA side by side- where He stands (dispersed in glossy paperbacks) author of all; beaten by showcards. Through this valediction of faith thanks be to yellowed window, I witness the plastic gore of 4-way adaptors. Next door: Grisham tops some trial, life as I want to see it, loud and taut. Warm green colour schemes balance Mum with Dad, my potential kids well fed, not realising, that they themselves are a kind of food. I think of my mother, ten years back. Weekend day mistook- she got the wrong kind of mass- Attending Tescos for my weekly refill, of re-healing. poem by Sam Buchan-Watts .  He recently graduated from Goldsmiths College and co-runs Clinic Pre

Guest Review: Jones on Butler

Josh Jones reviews Aphelion by Jenna Butler I’ll come straight out with it – Jenna Butler’s Aphelion is one of the strongest, most assured and most promising debuts I have read. It begins with epigraphs from Denise Riley – not the easiest thing to follow – and never looks back. Which is telling in regards to the poems themselves: they are focused as much on movement as they are stasis and definable place, are acknowledgments of the impossibility of the present moment ever truly being represented, that refuse to be controlled or dictated to by the past or the future. Take, for example, ‘Heatwave’, the opener. It begins by situating itself in present tense, narrating the past: She almost makes it through the first week. The poem then proceeds to recount metonymically the various possessions of whomever ‘she’ is leaving: his set of Vonnegut; damp pages clinging like tentative hands. And so on, leading us back to the locatable ‘now’ in which the poem began. Only now we leave the


With oddly cruel timing, the Coalition government, showing its true colours this Christmas season of giving, has withdrawn funding for a charity which puts books into the hands of children to encourage literacy.  This is just not on.  However, Eyewear does believe there needs to be far more philanthropy from rich private citizens in the UK, as well as government support for the arts, and at least hopes that some one will step forward to keep this going.

Merry Christmas!

A Cold Coming

The Pope - for the first time ever - addressed a radio audience today in Britain, on the BBC - and his message was both warm and classically Christian.  His message was canonical: the Christ child entered the historical world, not as a conquering saviour, but a fragile, suffering human being, liberating the human condition in subtle, surprising ways.  The complexity of the Christmas message is in its paradoxes - which have made Christianity so endlessly attractive to artists and writers - for its ironies and ambiguities allow for rich and continuous rejuvenation. But, it also has a simple core, which is love.  Rather, love and forgiveness, for the two are not quite the same.  This Christmas message is often symbolised, in a secular way, as Santa Claus , that great outrider of Christian humanism.  Santa, who cannot be faulted, gives of himself each year for little children, showering them with gifts (if the kids have been well-behaved); the rest of the year, the childless man with hi

Verbatim: SLAMbassadors 2010 announced

The Winners of the Poetry Society's SLAMbassadors 2010 announced. Out of over 400 talented young people 10 were crowned the lucky SLAMbassadors UK 2010 by Judges Adisa and Joelle Taylor. Take a look and a listen at their videos here: Wishing you all a very happy christmas and stay poetic! Festively yours, Foyle Young Poets

Christmas Poem by Geraldine Clarkson

For the Lady       This old December, let ice shingle in the eaves, let frost sparkle on the ground, sprinkle diamonds in the fields. Let skies in the dark wink with stars. For the Lady. Let winter earth break open, heavy clay fall away, rock, crust, and mantle, crack: bud forth an Infant. Let flinty silence sing. For the Maiden. See, she’s kneeling by a Child, folds her cloak around Him, her immaculate breath mingles, in the midnight warm-straw air, with the Bairn’s. Her bright Sun. Clamber near the Crib, jostle shepherds in the night; tiptoe round the lolling oxen; bring a candle to the Light. Maybe He will smile. For the Lady. poem by Geraldine Clarkson

Desolation Heathrow

BAA, which runs Heathrow, has admitted it turned down an offer by the British Army to help shovel away the snow and ice on its runways.  Instead, it went it alone, and has cancelled thousands of holiday flights, spoiling Christmas for tens of thousands of people.  It also only invested half a million pounds this year in cold weather removal gear, but boasted of profits of over 350 million.  Heathrow should be ashamed.  The truth is, British companies offload the suffering onto the British people, when bad weather strikes, shrugging their shoulders and blaming an act of God or aberrant weather, when in fact the fault is in their own balance sheets - the weather is perfectly ordinary at Christmas (we had snow last year too) and such snowstorms, in American, Canadian, or Russian, cities, would be shrugged off, as minor, easily de-iced and cleared away.  This is incompetence with a human cost.


It seems like a very long time since my last Swift Report - and this was quite a year.  The year when Eyewear THE BLOG had its fifth birthday. It began with my esophagitis out of control, and my being treated with an experimentally high dose of medication to control the production of acid in my stomach.  I was in pain all the time, and lost a lot of weight due to problems with digestion and not wanting to eat; I was facing depression.  I was off work.  Fortunately, an excellent team of doctors in London centered in and around Harley Street established the correct treatment regime, and I am much better a year later.  I've put on some weight again, and am no longer in physical pain.  I went back to work  slowly, part-time at first in the winter semester at Kingston, but by the summer was back to regular duties. In April I turned 44, in the desert of Oman - I had wanted to kick-start my turn back to health with an adventure holiday.  The beauty and hospitality of Oman lifted m

Christmas Poem by Todd Swift

A Christmas Story They couldn’t get through Because of the snow So all that icicle day He stuck to the window Too shy to pray Too small to say Why have you abandoned me? Then, at the final hour, As eve lifted to morning Hooves clattered like squirrels In the eaves, soot rained And ho ho hos and bells Made truth beautiful As any white lie; a clot of coal Single and uneven on the mantel; Who had told on him? Had his sins been so thorough? Now, gifted judiciously By his untrim hero, A hirsute saint in a fat suit, He came to learn his worth Set about rubbing palms black Wherein the spark of a diamond (Hope) cut against skin’s frail grain. Better to believe, be damned Than rise to empty promise A chalky kiss in the garden; Heart pain unwraps as balm. poem by Todd Swift

Peter Oswald On Verse Drama

Actually Do. Advocating for Verse Drama     A difficult client. Firstly, the term is stone dead. Drama is ok, but ‘verse’ describes a kind of poetry in uniform, at drill not in combat. It gets worse, when you arrive at the term blank verse. Here the poor soldiers don’t even have live ammunition. Things improve alot when you get to the exponents. Euripides. Marlowe. Lorca. To name but a few. But they’re all gone. A Guardian critic, interviewing me, opened with, ‘Verse drama has an illustrious past, a dead present and no future.’ So how about new terminology? You could talk about Initiatory Theatre, Non-Realistic Theatre, DysCheckovian, but all these would fail to include the main point, which is incantation. Why chant, you may ask, in this modern day? The reason is that it lifts the spirits. I don’t wish to implicate my client in black arts. Actually I do. She can’t exist without incantation. It’s her culture, that’s how she was raised. It’s a balancing act.The unrhyming iambic pe

Guest Review: Rader On Jivani, Harrold & Turner

Harrold, a British poet Dean Rader reviews Insensible Heart By Maureen Jivani & Flood By AF Harrold & Difficult Second Album By Simon Turner When A F Harrold writes in ‘Atlanticism,’ ‘I have no way to measure the distance across / the Atlantic,’ it’s unintended allegory.  I know very little about contemporary British poetry—Americans rarely publish in British journals and Brits only slightly more often send work this way. I knew none of the three publishers of these books and had heard of only a couple of the journals the poets had published in. Harrold, Jivani, and Turner could have been a 70s Art Rock band for all I knew. In short, when I started reading these books, I was flying blind.             And it was exhilarating.             As someone who just went through the book-compilation process, I was curious not only about the micro aspects of the internal design of the poems but also the macro design of the book itself.  I was struck, for example, by A F Harrold’s aut

Featured Poet: Linda Black

Eyewear welcomes, this freezing and snowy British day, Linda Black , pictured, who was last featured here in 2007. Black is a poet and a visual artist. In 2006 she won the New Writing Ventures Poetry Award. The beating of wings (Hearing Eye, 2006) was a PBS Pamphlet Choice. She received an Arts Council writer’s award in 2007 and a collection of prose poems, Inventor y, was published by Shearsman in 2008. Her second collection, Root , is forthcoming from Shearsman next year. She is co-editor of Long Poem Magazine . Interpretation (4)    It’s years since she’s been and it hasn’t changed a bit: A fire warms from a recess cut into the wall, burns slow and glowing. Here is a different clutter; walls papered with pictures (look – there’s one of hers) surfaces laden with books. On the counter tentatively delineating kitchen from ‘living’ space, as though there’s no place else sits a family of carvings, like   miniature Henry Moore’s, grand in conception, small in stature; over-large fru

Swine Flu Is Here

I met with my doctor today to review my chronic condition, an Oxford-educated specialist, and a charming, elegant, and unflappable man about as likely to panic as the Rock of Gibraltar.  He advised me to get the new three-in-one influenza vaccine soon, as he has seen the latest government estimates.  While the current rate of infection is approximately 22 per 100,000, it will grow tenfold or more in 2011, and is set to overtake the epidemic numbers seen at the pandemic's height in mid-2009.  As healthy people under the age of 65 can die from this influenza, it seems worth being concerned.  However, vaccines, too, have their risks, however slight (and somewhat vague).  I am therefore, as a hypochondriac of sorts, between a rock and hard place.

Blake Edwards Has Died

Sad news.  The legendary film director Blake Edwards has died.  He was 88.  Edwards had a huge impact on popular culture, for roughly two decades, between 1961 and 1981, starting with his classic, best-beloved  Breakfast At Tiffany's , and ending his run of hits with Victor Victoria .  Between them came the hilarious quasi-racist The Party , and other Sellers hits, featuring the Pink Panther Theme, as well as infamous sex romp, 10 .  His last works were mediocre.  In fact, much of his work was, and often a little of its time (one thinks of the Chinese caricature of Mickey Rooney ), but at his best, he was a sort of emblem of the hedonistic zeitgeist.  For his Capote adaptation, and the Sellers farces alone, he will last.

For A Former MA Student of Creative Writing - Geri Lambert, R.I.P.

Geri Lambert – Former MA Student of Creative Writing at Kingston University By Jo van der Borgh On Tuesday 16 th November Geri Lambert passed away after a long battle with cancer at Guy’s Hospital.   The last time I saw her was at the end of September with a mutual friend, Emma Strong .   It was at the hospital and she was full of life, her hair curly from the chemo.   It suited her.   She spoke of her writing plans, the food she missed, the people she missed; her dear partner Trish and her mother.   She generously told me I was born to be a mother, as I gave my little, then eight month son Oscar a tub of baby food he wasn’t enjoying at all!   Emma had her little Eva with her and Geri was enjoying the makeshift nursery atmosphere. I first met Geri when she bounded into the room where I sat on my own waiting for our first workshop with Todd Swift.   Within moments I was told all about her background.   How she had given up a lucrative career as a sales director to pursue this M