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Showing posts from March, 2011

Review: Vices & Virtues

James Christopher Sheppard reviews the new  Panic! At the Disco album Vices & Virtues In 2005, Panic! At the Disco burst onto the music scene and rose quickly to the very top of the huge emo/rock genre. Their debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, had a theatrical and upbeat fun rock vibe, which went hand in hand with their groundbreaking shows. With lyrics on their first two albums penned by now departed member, Ryan Ross , it’s going to be tough for the new line up, Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith , to match the same depth of lyrical issues the band were known for. Second album, Beatles inspired Pretty. Odd., featured a departure in sound for the band, plus they dropped the much-loved exclamation mark from their name. As a result, the album had underwhelming sales and a luke-warm reception from their fans. Vices & Virtues see’s the band re-instating their original name, Panic! At the Disco, and sounding more theatrical and rock orientated, employing the same style a

Cut It Out

The news that the severe arts-funding cuts of the Tory-led British government have led to the Poetry Book Society (established by the Arts Council in 1953 by TS Eliot ) losing all its funding have set up howls of rage and surprise from Britain's best and brightest poetry lovers.  Meanwhile, same perplexed poets have noted on Facebook, with something akin to rebel-Libyan rage, that commercial behemoth Faber and Faber have been given £40,000. There is an irony here - the PBS is about as establishment as one can get in British poetry - it awards the TS Eliot Prize that often goes to Faber poets ( Walcott this year for instance), and which, if any organisation does, brings poetry to "poetry lovers" in the UK.  I don't belong to the organisation, for reasons that it would seem mean-spirited to mention now - one doesn't kick a horse when it is down, unless one wants to upset a philosopher.  Yet, I think it is a part of the landscape one wouldn't want to see go.

Share and share alike - six poets for Oxfam this March 30

Oxfam Marylebone's Spring Into Poetry! Season supported by Kingston University Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 7.30 pm Six poets for Oxfam from America, Australia, Ireland and the UK Anne Stevenson Barbara Smith Don Share Emma Jones Jacquelyn Pope & Malika Booker OXFAM BOOKS AND MUSIC 91 Marylebone High Street London W1 Nearest tube Baker Street £5; £2 concession; for tickets call the shop

Guest Review: Hirschhorn on Protest Poetry

Poetic Injustice. Writings on Resistance and Palestine by Remi Kanazi reviewed by Norbert Hirschhorn A debate among poets – interminable as those between formalists and free-versifiers, hermetics against popularizers – is whether poetry should be engaged with the social and political issues of the day.  Should the poet, a member of the polis , devote at least some part of her creative power to addressing the urgent issues of the time. Or should the artist and art remain above the fray, unsullied by historical, political, and social forces , in the sarcastic words of Carolyn Forché , doyenne of Poetry of Witness ? [1] Of course, poetry has always dealt with the political, from Homer onwards, in some expectation that words beautifully wrought can represent the human condition.  Even Auden , who in his elegy to W.B. Yeats claimed, poetry makes nothing happen , could lament in September 1,1939 of a low dishonest decade , understanding that All I have is a voice/ To undo the folded lie

Human League's New Album Reviewed

James Christopher Sheppard reviews Credo by The Human League Original new wave band, The Human League, have just released their ninth studio album, Credo , their first release in ten years. Best known for their huge 1981 hit ‘Don’t You Want Me’, The Human League have enjoyed continued moderate success for the past thirty years. Never straying from their new wave synthpop roots, this release should keep fans of their past work happy, but will it offer them anything they haven’t heard before? In a pop landscape where electro synth 80s descendants, Hurts and La Roux , are making waves, how do one of the first groups that first established synthpop music in 1979, stand up against their new contemporaries?  Credo 1.       ‘Never Let Me Go’ Electro perfection. Building and building, this synth-infused track is literally how 2011 meeting 1981 should sound. Brought up to date with clean production, a catchy melody and a grimy bassline, it’s easy to see why this was chosen as the second s

British Summer Time

It's here at last!  The Great British Summer springs forward today.  Here comes the sun little darling!

A New Poem by Ben Mazer

A new poem by Ben Mazer is always a treat.  See below. Dinner Conversation Dinner conversation. A blank slate on which to install the empire. Josephus dreams of decorating silk screens with battle scenes. Arminius and Varus. Hilda and Hildegaard turn slightly green but take it not that hard when Harry with jet-streaked curls of Roman silver flicks thick ashes into a samovar. Piles of ripe fruit. How many poppy seeds will we require to satisfy our needs. Archie and Jughead analyse the field. All is statistics, with a fudge sundae sealed. Silence and talk are two different kinds of power. "I have to work." The ruling class wishes to suffer. The poor sit on their ass. History and archaeology revive fear of the gods, the instinct to take a wife. A rich man's daughters are posted to inventories. The visiting statesman approves of the lawn frieze. The Botticelli bursts another spring. It is of florentine silks that I shall sing. This rough a

Featured Poet: Kimberly Campanello

Eyewear  is glad to welcome  Kimberly Campanello  (pictured) this very early Friday (so early it is Thursday!).  She was born in Elkhart, Indiana. Her chapbook  Consent  will be available from Wurm Press’ mimeorevolution in April 2011. She was selected to read in the 2011  Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and was featured poet in the summer 2010 issue of T he Stinging Fly . Her work has also appeared in  nthposition, The Cream City Review, Italian Americana, and GulfStream , among other journals. Campanello is an assistant editor of  Rowboat , a new magazine dedicated to poetry in translation. She is completing a PhD in Creative Writing at Middlesex University in London. I've much enjoyed meeting her - she's smart, vibrant, and very talented. * Comme le feu, l’amour n’établit sa clarté/que sur la faute et la beauté des bois en cendres…  –Philippe Jaccottet The orange on the horizon—a boat with curved Viking sails in flames. No, it’s the moon rising. I still want to cr

Elizabeth Taylor Has Died

the eyes have it Sad news.  Elizabeth Taylor , major Hollyood star, has died, at the age of 79.  Taylor was perhaps best known for her roles in National Velvet, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf , and Cleopatra , and for her famous marriage bed, which saw her severally wedded to co-star Richard Burton.   In later years, Taylor was associated with good causes and for lost causes, like befriending Michael Jackson .  Her beautiful eyes and voluptuous figure made her world-famous, and she stayed that way, until the end, though she starred in few if any quality pictures after the early 70s.  It feels like the end of an era.

Tokyo Water

For all those who love Tokyo, and Japan, the news this morning that Tokyo drinking water is no longer safe for infants to drink due to radioactive levels is more than alarming - it is tragic.  One can only hope that somehow the reactors get back on the grid soon and some sort of control replaces the radiating chaos.

Guest Review: Loveday on Crucefix

Mike Loveday reviews Hurt by Martyn Crucefix The first time I was going to a Martyn Crucefix reading a few years back, I asked a poetry tutor of mine what he was like as a poet. She said (I’m paraphrasing) “Same generation as Simon Armitage . Never quite had the same publicity but his poems are just as good. In fact his poems are sexier.” I think it was the first time I had heard poetry described as “sexy”. It reminded me of Ruud Gullit ’s coining of the phrase “sexy football” at Euro ‘96, and the words stuck in my mind, perhaps because most of the poetry I seemed to be reading at the time was decidedly unsexy. So I have to tell you now that Martyn Crucefix’s new book Hurt is not really “sexy” in the traditional sense. I don’t know if you find this disappointing, but you shouldn’t. This is a wonderful book of poems – charged with a quiet intensity, with a sense of drama filtered by intelligence. The poems speak with a voice of battle-weary, passionate celebration. It seems to me

Notable Deaths: Gough and Tulin

So many people die, it is often hard to keep track.  Two lesser-known figures in popular culture were recently the subject of obituaries in The Guardian : Michael Gough and Mark Tulin .  I met Gough once years ago after a play in London - he was very kind.  I knew him best from Brideshead Revisited and, later, the Batman films.   Mark Tulin was the bass player for the greatest American garage band of the 60s, The Electric Prunes , one of my favourite bands.  They heavily influenced some of the music my brother later played, in Montreal, as a bass player in the 1990s.  Both talented men will be missed.

The New Duran Duran

Watching the ITV special last night on Duran Duran - timed for their launch this morning of their 13th album, produced by Mark Ronson , hep-cat du jour - I couldn't help thinking: these guys have staying power.  Indeed, as we all know now, Duran Duran have been going, with hits and misses, for 30 years.  This is five times longer than The Beatles , or The Doors .  Of course, The Stones keep on.  However, it is true to say that it is mainly the 80 bands - once derided - who have managed to turn their names into brands, and their styles into perennial favourites.  The 80s is the new 60s - it favours nostalgic recovery.  Ronson is the man for that.  Duran Duran, like Depeche Mode and maybe one or two other 80s bands ( The Smiths for instance) created a new genre, more or less, with their sound.  The Duran Duran song is bombastic, hedonistic, optimistic, and, yes, poetic.  It is like no other - and usually more textured and complex than one might think.  Their main themes - exotica

Guest Review: Westcott on Hymas

Sarah Westcott reviews Host by Sarah Hymas Host , the first collection by British poet Sarah Hymas, is a book of two distinct parts. The first section, Bedrock, is an epic sequence of 57 poems, a bravura sweep from the late Victorian era to the present day, detailing the lives of four generations of a mining family. Taking on the disparate voices of one family is an ambitious task for a writer with the risk that assuming multiple dramatic personae may weaken or dilute the single perspective. However, Hymas successfully inhabits the varied minds of paterfamilias Harold through to his disaffected granddaughter Hannah, a child of the sixties. Bedrock is also an exploration of personal and social heritage - as Hymas quarries the deep strata of family folklore to create an extended narrative sequence that sometimes reads like a play.   Her motif of geology is interesting and unusual as each character probes their rootedness with the Yorkshire landscape, the ‘local diamond’ of limestone.