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Showing posts from 2012

The Shortest Day

Here we are - having survived the end of the world.  And, fittingly, we made it, on the shortest day of the year.  Rejoice: the light starts coming back as of tomorrow, and Christmas is coming too!  Eyewear will be back in 2013, with more posts about poetry, film, music, and politics, and the new books we'll be publishing - we have some eye-catching reviews lined up.  For now, it's time to start hanging up the stockings by the chimney with care.  Also, spare a moment for those who a re ill in body or mind, in prison, h omeless, away at wa r, lonely, or depressed.  Try and give someo ne you may know who is having a hard time a bette r time of it . May I wish you a very happy time with y ou r families and friends, and all the best for the new year.

Christmas Poem 2012 by Todd Swift

The Fourth King I could have done more, following that star; pausing, let my eyes wander, at the oasis, though, to other, closer flashings.  Light on the gold around a girl’s throat.  The pomegranate’s myriad redness, interior stars clotted into fruit; the way that water when it rises from a well weighs nothing in its sweet necessity.  The swell of her breast as she breathes.  Night cold as a blade, and all the other stars, though never as bright, strangely alluring in their alternative light. So, I stayed days and nights among the travellers: some with tangled slaves; others rich in stories alone; our opulence was limited by our place in the desert; we would fast again before winter had brightened off, as each chose when to leave this slivered ideal of a paradise, no larger than a small market in a dusty town; but flourishing this time in green and moist insouciance,

Ben Parker's The Escape Artists

Ben Parker is a gradate of UEA's Poetry MA, and was shortlisted for the prestigious Melita Hume International Poetry Prize in 2012.  His debut pamphlet The Escape Artists now comes from tall-lighthouse, who have given us great such debuts in the past, from Liz Berry, Emily Berry , and Helen Mort (who all studied with me in my Poetry School workshop and have since gone on to establish themselves as significant younger poets).  I have not ever mentored Parker, but I wish I could say I did, for his is a very impressive debut.  The poems tend to come in two or three forms - mostly, they flow down the page in one large block, without stanzas - each line punching out a firm sense of its sound.  They work like the short stories of Kafka , or the poems of Charles Simic - as surreal, unsettling parables, teetering on the edge of the recognisable.  They are not merely edgy or sinister - overused terms for such a manner - but they are uncanny, and they leave the reader haunted. The word

Perhaps The World Should End

Apparently, as we all know, the Mayan calendar tediously predicts the end of the world this Friday - or, rather, tediously, the media of the West has inundated us with stories and films about this for the last few years.  The end is rather an anti-climax.  Except, a horrific massacre of children in America reminds us that doom is not farcical, but horrifically potential, in all our lives as individuals, if not as whole communities; after all, America is in mourning but it has survived this onslaught.  Calls for gun control are worthy but a little naive, though gun control is an essential step for America as it seeks to become a mature and civilised nation - naive, because American culture, and by extension, the cultures of Britain, Canada, Australia, and Europe - are exceptionally violent.  As Frankie Goes To Hollywood said about thirty years ago, "sex and violence are the new gods."  Not quite new.  About as new as the Mayans, probably.  However, the point of this post is, a

Two New Poems By U.S. Dhuga

I am very glad to offer you two new poems from the Anglo-Indian poet U.S Dhuga this bright, crisp London morning a week before Christmas. Dhuga is a classical philologist, and classical music critic. He received his PhD (2006), MPhil (2005), and MA (2002) in Classics from Columbia University. Professor of Classics at Calvin College, Dhuga is also the founder, publisher, and managing editor of The Battersea Review . His recent book entitled Choral Identity and the Chorus of Elders in Greek Tragedy was published through Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies in the series "Greek Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches" (Lexington Books, 2011). Rue Sedaine Insomnia Up at six and 'us' Fills the space that sleepless leaves. Fall's precipitous. Herringbone This morning breakers off of Polzeath shore aren't breaking as they broke before those hours which we spent ashore alone and watched the rippled herringbo

Eyewear's Top Songs of 2012: #40 'Yeah Yeah' by Willy Moon

There were other tracks, like ''Serpents' by Sharon Van Etten , or 'Poison & Wine' by The Civil Wars , 'Husbands' by The Savages , 'Wrath of God' by The Crystal Castles , a new song by the Stones , several by returning heavy-hitters Public Image Ltd., ZZ Top, Soundgarden, Sinead O'Connor, Dexys, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen , Van Morrison , Bill Fay , Blur , Bobby Womack , Scott Walker , and Leonard Cohen , as well as universal hits from Gotye , Carly Rae Jepsen , Usher, or Taylor Swift , as well as songs by Jack White , that might have found a place in Eyewear 's Top 40 affections at the end of 2012; and each came very close to slipping in. However, at the last moment, it seemed utterly essential to include Willy Moon 's outlandishly upbeat pop song, 'Yeah Yeah'.  The song is preposterously in-yer-face, and entirely joyous - it celebrates musical entertainment as the purest form of instant gratification, and does

Eyewear's Top Songs of 2012: #39 'Hollow Talk' by Choir of Young Believers

Was there a more haunting, crypric theme song on telly this year, than 'Hollow Talk' for the arty, very cerebral / visceral Nordic Noir, The Bridge ?  Chanelling A-ha and Talk Talk , the se young believers managed to forge something new a nd yes, poetic .  Lovely.

Swift Reviewed In Poetry Review

I have received an excellent review in the latest Poetry Review , volume 102:4, Winter 2012, the UK's leading poetry magazine, just out; exper tly guest-edited by Bernardine Evaristo .  Rob A. Mackenzie says the following about When All My Disappointments Came At Once (Tightrope Books, 2012): "...the poems pave a via negativa through times when sources of hope seem absent." "Swift's manipulation of rhythm here is impressive." "...a tragically perfect image for depression." "this powerful and painfully honest odyssey through brokenness, love and recovery". I am moved and relieved to see this hard-won collection receiving some notice in the land I live in, though I had to return to the land I was born in to see it published. Perhaps others struggling with their own life challenges will derive comfort from th is boo k.

1983 Is Coming...

It will soon be time to dust off those golden oldies from 1983, via Spotify - and what a year it was, 30 years ago.  Just 20 classics from then to consider, each of which remains with me as one of my favourites still, and raises the question, wasn't the singles chart better then?  I mean, how to compete with Gaye, Jackson, Bowie, etc...: Safety Dance - Men Without Hats I'm Still Standing - Elton John Hungry Like The Wolf - Duran Duran Our House - Madness Goody Two Shoes - Adam & The Ants Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These) - Eurythmics Down Under - Men At Work Rock The Casbah - The Clash She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby Little Red Corvette - Prince Billie Jean - Michael Jackson Every Breath You Take - The Police Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners Let's Dance - David Bowie Mickey - Toni Basil Steppin Out - Joe Jackson Maneater - Hall & Oates Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? - Culture Club Sexual Heali

The Hobbit, Part One, reviewed

SPOILER ALERT I loved The Hobbit when I read it as a child.  It remains one of my favourite books as a consequence, and, though I have not read it in decades, it retains a hold on my imagination, though I no longer clearly recall the conclusion very well.  I also enjoyed The Lord of the Rings , the books, but not as much, and probably skimmed them over.  They felt too adult to me then.  Now, I am older, and came to the screening of Peter Jackson 's fourth Tolkien adaptation with much anticipation, not least because his first trilogy of films was brilliant - arguably the most faithful and beautifully executed of any literary adaptation for film. Jackson has tried new things here, technically - 3D, and a faster rate of film speed - and neither, to my mind, caused any of the aesthetic or medical problems some audience members have reported.  The film did not look shoddy nor did it occasion nausea.  However, I cannot say the film is as much a triumph as before.  A t times the movie

Eyewear's Top Songs of 2012: #38 'Young Man In America' by Anais Mitchell

One of the most intelligent Americana singer-songwriters of our times i s Anais Mitchell .  Her song 'Young Man In America' is an epic dramatic monologue - "everyone will know my name" - of the rise of the eponymous American - and his disturbing ambitions for power and love - as if penned by Theodore Dreiser .  It feels timeless, essential, very poetic, almost biblical, and relevant to this age of fiscal corruption.  Two more songs to go...

Free Wlodzimierz Umaniec!

T he artist behind Yellowism, a small but legitimate art movement, Wlodzimierz Umaniec , has been imprisoned for two years in Britain, for defacing a small corner of a painting in The Tate. I love Rothko 's work and would never want to see his paintings ruined.  I do not support vandalism.  However, a two year prison sentence for the damaging of insured property seems sickening, at a time when no Bankers have been sent to prison, or any Politicians, over the financial disasters of the last four years. A man's life seems to me more important than a work of art, even two years of it.  There must be better ways to punish and protect in such cases.  Where are the artists and poets of the UK now, eager to save Pussy Riot , when Wlodzimierz Umaniec needs them?

Letter Machine

I received this interesting email today - perhaps some UK readers may fancy this? Hello there: Order Peter Gizzi's Ode: Salute to the New York School now for $16 (includes shipping) here . We also have a new special deal for Peter Gizzi's Ode , Andrea Rexilius's Half of What they Carried Flew Away, and Juliana Leslie's More Radiant Signal. All three for just $35. Click here . Peter Gizzi's Ode: Salute to the New York School An abecedarian cento of New York School poems, this piece was first delivered in March 1996 at The Popular Culture Association Conference. As Gizzi notes: "Ode: Salute to the New York School is a cento, a late Roman verse form made up of lines from other sources. First, I put together a chronological bibliography of over 100 books published by New York poets from 1950 to 1970. Many of these books are deeply out of print so I had to do some real digging. Then I extracted lines from each book to compose th

Lazy Bastardism

Lazy Bastardism is the startling title of one of the books anyone interested in Canadian poetry criticism should read - that may seem like a narrow, even laughably narrow, genre, but Canadian poet-critics have a long and impressive history of polemical writing, at least since the 1940s.  This 2012 book, beautifully produced by Gaspereau, is a readable selection of essays by Carmine Starnino , an editor for Reader's Digest , Signal Editons and a prize-winning poet.  Subjects include John Glassco , Margaret Atwood , and Modern Canadian Poets .

Eyewear's Top Songs of 2012: #37 'Yet Again' by Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear came to prominence several years ago with a brilliantly nuanced Jazzy album of indie pop with an obscure title; but this year they returned with an album of songs that had critics comparing them to a new Radiohead or Coldplay (though they themselves are American).  'Yet Again' more than confirmed such claims - it's one of the richest, smartest and most satisfying songs of recent years.

New Poem by Todd Swift

Another Poem Mak ing Important Claims About Language, Sort Of    Frankly, tedious how this becomes that with a twist of tongue; drop of the hat; lingua spat out; nowt here for us, they say up North.  Aboot becomes about if you go South; house is unhomed in what a word does. And every poem claims as much – the splendour in the hiss, the Sibyl of sibilance; the affront of click or grunt. The lyric is linguistic; how oeuvre is work; a quirk makes cheval hoarse in a new throat. Don’t go out much, old words.  They’re ancien regime .  It all seems spoken more than heard. I’d make a point, then point at a sign, then use my fingers but that would be Helen Keller’s sort of thing; and I’m too dumb already to sing absurd. No speak Anglesea .