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Showing posts from May, 2011

Leah Fritz At 80

Leah Fritz , British-based, American-born, Poet and Writer, is 80 today!  That's wonderful news.  Fritz has been an active, popular presence on the London poetry scene for long before I arrived here in 2003 - and was one of the first to welcome me when I arrived.  She is funny, acerbic, brilliant, and an excellent judge of what makes a good poem.  Her poetry collections include From Cookie to Witch Is an Old Story (1987) and Going, Going... (2007).  Her works on feminism included Thinking Like A Woman (1975) and Dreamers & Dealers: An Intimate Appraisal of the Women's Movement (1980).   Andrea Dworkin 's classic, Intercourse , is dedicated to Leah.  Her New and Selected Poems is out from Salmon, in Ireland, in 2012, which is more cause for celebration.  I offer the following poem of hers, below, as a gift to Eyewear 's readers (with thanks to poetry pf ). Whatever Sends the Music Into Time Whatever sends the music into time, not just in metre but through

New Poem by Todd Swift

Moments In The Life Of Considerably later, having fallen from the train. The water cooler ran like a river of ice. Dancing among ourselves, how jolly. Passing judgment on the elevator man. Brushing rain from our lapels we snorted. Once, a passing thought fixed itself in your eye. Several packages went missing, duly missed. There was that altercation over a pay rise. Hat stands may need to be adjusted occasionally. Filter tip does not mean tipping out on the carpet. She stayed long enough to leave an impression. The favourite air conditioning unit broke. Time passed in such a way it was barely noticed. Over the weekend we all did our own thing. Dancing on that occasion left her breathless. He looked a bit like that fellow in the pictures. Dashing back and forth on the avenue. Buzzing him in she forgot to mention Christmas. Snow came across a little ham-fisted just this once. After all was said and done it had been a lark. Rain in lashings and a steady line of mourne

Gil Scott-Heron Has Died

Sad news.  The great American poet-musician, Gil Scott-Heron has died, at the age of 62.   Scott-Heron was a ground-breaking artist who pioneered spoken word and rap, and achieved world fame with his 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', perhaps the most influential spoken word/rap performance.  After years of challenge and addiction, he returned brilliantly the last few years with several albums created with a new generation of musicians.

Featured Poet: Zoë Skoulding

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome poet  Zoë Skoulding  (pictured) this sunny London morning (after a day of thundershowers).  Skoulding’s most recent collection is Remains of a Future City (Seren, 2008), following The Mirror Trade in 2004. Dark Wires , a collaboration with Ian Davidson, was published by West House Books in 2007. She is a member of the group Parking Non-Stop, whose album Species Corridor was released in 2008, and also performs her poetry in various cross-artform contexts. She is one of the best experimental poets writing in the UK today.  She is the Editor of Poetry Wales .  As a poet born in Montreal, I can't help but be pleased by the subject matter of the poem below! From Mont Royal They call the surface of the landscape a skin (the hugeness of that organ). But it is a lung. 25 times the surface of the skin, 500 million passageways into the blood.                                                                                       Erín Moure Take a wa

New Poem by Jason Monios

A CHESS BOARD EXPERIENCES BAD WEATHER On the labour strikes against foreign workers in the UK, February 2009. Rain drives down, a perfect tilt diagonal, forty-five degrees. Snow heaves itself across, a spirit-level’s eerie grasp of fluids and forces on the horizontal. Rain and snow in simulcast, refusing to mix until impact shatters their self-belief, the illusion of selfhood, the repressed bigotry latent beneath histrionic claims of nationality. Outside Sellafield the rain and snow still fall separately. Workers strike, refuse the right of other men to work along with them. A working man will stop another working, throw his pottery chip into the urn alongside his countrymen, any and all countrymen as though he has more in common with his boss who is English, than with his colleagues who aren’t. How many pawns bedeck a standard chess board and how many kings? How many pawns are tricked into laying themselves down, numbly creating paths with their coats for queens to walk upon? F

Dylan At 70

I am trying to compare Bob Dylan to anyone else.  As a poet, he is not more memorably gifted than Leonard Cohen, Yeats, John Berryman , or indeed Dylan Thomas .  As a singer, he is no match for Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley , or Pavarotti .  As a songwriter, he is equalled by, perhaps,  John Lennon , Kurt Weill , Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley,  and Elvis Costello .  Why is it then that he is singled out as the paramount genius of popular music?  The answer, my friends, is 50 years.  Dylan, that enigmatic, sexy, sly trickster figure has been in constant transformation for fifty years of unequalled song composition and performance, or reperformance, his interpretations and variations creating Borgesian complications.  His personal journey has had more make-overs than Lady Gaga .  He has been a Christian, a cowboy, a peacenik, a fierce Zionist, and a praiser of Scotland.  He is, arguably, the Shakespeare of song - an uncanny talent of unlimited potential.  At 20, at 40, and at 70, he amazed and

Rapturous Applause

The end of the world did not come yesterday, as the blogosphere, and Facebook etc delighted in reporting.  A tsunami of anti-Christian jibes and jokes spewed forth.  The Rapture is a beautiful if troubling idea.  It is a miraculous end to the world, and beginning of judgement, that is harsh, punitive, and, obviously, unwelcoming to non-Christians.  One of the most troubling of aspects of fundamentalist religions is that they are predicated on the idea that those who are not signed up will be damned.  This tends to go down badly among enlightened, secular, broad-minded people who are clearly doomed to hellfire.  So of course, a certain amount of mockery is to be expected when such predictions sputter out.  However, the age of enchantment is over when the world assumes that such hopes or fears as a catastrophic, God-driven teleology are just silly.  Yeats was silly.  But great poetry can derive from seemingly mad or implausible spiritual expectations.  The tissue of reason that seems to

Six For The Best

Eyewear will be six in June, the six month. Send new unpublished poems in English to toddswift at clara dot co uk marked Eyewear Poetry as word docs. One poem per poet. Poems should be no longer than 36 lines long, and use the word six in the poem. The competition will be judged by Irish poet Barbara Smith , a regular contributor to Eyewear. First prize will be £6 and publication online at Eyewear. Open to everyone in the world. Submissions must be received no later than the last day in June by midnight.

JCS reviews Lady Gaga's New Album Born This Way

James Christopher Sheppard reviews Born This Way by Lady Gaga; and recants his earlier opinion... At last, after months of ultra-hype, Born This Way , the brand new Lady Gaga album, has arrived. Let’s see if it lives up to the expectations. ‘Marry The Night’ Straight into a haunting melodic club track, Gaga sets the pace for the album in style. This is a great song to bridge the gap between The Fame Monster to Born This Way , showing evolution in sound, but playing to Gaga’s strengths. ‘Marry the Night’ eases you into the new album with a soft start, but that quickly turns into those hammering beats Gaga has been promising for months. ‘Born This Way’ The title track and first single, which went on to become Gaga’s biggest hit in the USA, was met with controversial comparisons to Madonna ’s ‘Express Yourself’. While it is less edgy to her previous headline grabbing singles, ‘Born This Way’ seems to have established itself as THE guilty pleasure. You shouldn’t love it, but eventu

Guest Review: Bailey on Capildeo

Andrew Bailey reviews Undraining Sea by Vahni Capildeo When Undraining Sea fell out of the envelope I was already delighted; Capildeo's Person Animal Figure was one of my highlights of 2005 when it appeared as a Landfill pamphlet, and it was a further joy to find that it makes up a big chunk of this second full collection. That poem is a remarkable sequence in which post-office queues share space with oneiric creatures, laughter with darkness, beauty with anger, through the interaction of three strands: the animals that make up a dreamlike bestiary, the stream-of-consciousness voice of the person, and a whisper of dark in the form of the shadowy figure.   Running over 13 pages in its new hard covers, it's impossible to do justice to its effects with fair use length quotations, but not to try would be unforgiveable, so: The animal who kisses persistently is much to be avoided.   The more it is avoided, the more it comes back.   It will seek out its prey in the middle of dr

Strauss-Kahn Test

According to the latest polls, a majority of the French think Mr. Strauss-Kahn is innocent, stitched up by some sort of elaborate conspiracy.  That's ironic, since under French law, the arrested do not get the assumption of innocence.  However, and noting that this is still only an alleged series of crimes, it doesn't look good for someone once one of the ten most powerful men in the world.  As more emerges about his victim, a widowed mother apparently with AIDS or HIV, an immigrant to America from Africa without any sense of who her attacker was, a brave but scared woman, it is hard not to side with her David to his Goliath. It is true that the crimes are not those usually associated with busy serious people on the verge of running for office - though politicians are known to have large sexual appetites from time to time - but the accused has, unfortunately, a track record of allegedly aggressive dealings with numerous women previously.  The term sexual predator comes to mi

Guest Review: Hirschhorn On Adonis

Focus on Adonis by Norbert Hirschhorn Selected Poems . Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa . If Only the Sea Could Sleep: Love Poems . Translated from the Arabic by Kamal Boullata, Susan Einbinder, Miréne Ghossein .  The Pages of Day and Night . Translated from the Arabic by Samuel Hazo .  An Introduction to Arab Poetics . Translated from the Arabic by Catherine Cobham . Adonis, known as the T.S. Eliot of Arab literature, was born Ali Ahmad Sa’id Esber in 1930, in Syria to a family from the disadvantaged religious minority of Alawites (who now run the country).  After being jailed in 1955 as a member of the irredentist Syrian Social Nationalist Party, on release he fled to neighbouring Beirut where he established the ground-breaking Majallat Shi’r (‘Poetry Magazine’) devoted to experimental poetry. During the Lebanese Civil War, he left for Paris where he now lives.  Twenty volumes of poetry and thirteen of criticism later he is a perennial candidate for the Nobel Pri

Hitchcock Mosaics

I was in Leytonstone, in London's far East End, out past where the Olympics will be held next year, in 2012 ( Eyewear readers may recall that one of my first ever posts, in 2005, was about the announcement that London had won the bid).  I was reading out there today with John Stiles , and with a band, Public Speech (worth checking out for their online hit, ' The Queen's Speech ').  Anyway, the Leytonstone tube station features 17 mosaics honoring Alfred Hitchcock , the greatest British film director of all time, who was born there in 1899.  There are some lovely buildings in Leytonstone, but trying to locate the house where Hitch was born was sad, because 517 High Road is now a petrol station (it must have been an area bombed in the war).  Anyway, the mosaics are brilliant, and really should be on every visitor's radar.  Above is the one for 'North by North-West' with the famous crop-duster scene.

Ira Cohen Has Died

Sad news.  The Beat artist, editor, musicologist, and poet, Ira Cohen , has died this month.  I was friends with his son, Raphael , in Budapest, in the late 1990s, and met his father at an event there.

Guest Review: Loveday on The Best American Poetry 2010

Mike Loveday reviews The Best American Poetry 2010 edited by Amy Gerstler “Anthology” – the word is derived from ancient Greek: flower-gathering ( anthos-logia ). Since 1988 David Lehman has carried armfuls of the very best flowers to readers each year, carefully nabbing them from American poetry fields like a passionate, wise, maverick botanist. The annual Best American Poetry anthology (BAP hereafter) is a now classic series, the format freshened each year with a new guest editor (Lehman remaining the constant, behind the scenes). Since John Ashbery in 1988, the roll call of editors reads as a who’s who of great American poets – here are five particular years selected to give you a sense of the variety of poets who have been involved: Louise Glück (’93), A.R. Ammons (’94), Richard Howard (‘95), Adrienne Rich (’96), James Tate (’97). And here’s a reviewer’s confession – Richard Howard is a poet whose name I didn’t know before. Howard has written eleven volumes of poems, is a