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Showing posts from May, 2012


Readers of Eyewear will know that from time to time I like to sum up my current tastes and pop culture addictions.  As we move into the mid-point of 2012, June, I'd like to begin taking stock of this particularly fecund year for music. In a year that's seen LPs from Crybaby, Garbage, Springsteen, Cohen, Madonna, Jack White , and Lana Del Ray , my favourite album of the year so far is now Prisoner by The Jezabels , an award-winning Australian group, whose debut album this is. This is the LP I return to again and again and can listen to intently or at one remove. It has comforted me when I was down or lonely and it has also exulted me. The album is a subtle masterwork of shimmering consistency of tone. It is all of a flowing New Wave piece. A pop rock album, the songs, all with female vocals by Hayley Mary , are a mix of dream pop and drum-driven Joshua Tree era rock. The closest album to this may be New Gold Dream , in terms of the way the unifying mood is ecstati

Melita Hume Poetry Prize Shortlist: #5 DAVID SHOOK

David Shook lives in Los Angeles, but grew up in Mexico City before studying linguistics in Oklahoma and poetry at Oxford. His poems and translations have appeared in magazines like Poetry , PN Review , and World Literature Today . Wasafiri nominated his poem “Mutt Ghazal” for the 2012 Forward Prize. His translations of Mario Bellatin’s Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction and Victor Teran’s The Spines of Love will appear in late 2012. Shook is the Translator in Residence of the Poetry Parnassus, where he will premiere his poetry film Kilometer Zero , recorded secretly in Equatorial Guinea. He directs Phoneme Books. David Shook, shortlisted for the MHPP 2012

Melita Hume Poetry Prize Shortlist: #4 V.A. SOLA SMITH

V.A. Sola Smith, MHPP Shortlisted V.A. Sola Smith was born in 1988, in Lancashire. She took a Contemporary Prose Fiction MA at Kingston University, graduating with Distinction in 2010. 

June Torriano

June 2012 3rd – Lucy Hamilton and Aviva Dautch – introduced by Mimi Khalvati 10th – John Hartley Williams and Chris Hamilton-Emery 17th – Jude Rosen and Stephen Watts 24th – Oliver Bernard All readings start at 7.30pm - £5/£3 according to pocket Address: 99 Torriano Avenue, Kentish Town, London NW5 2RX Directions: From Kentish Town tube station walk up Leighton Road and turn left onto Torriano Avenue. Map Phone: 0207 267 2751

Lung Jazz Finale at the V&A May 31!!!

The LAST Selected Poems at the V&A Reading R ooms - Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam On Thursday 31st May at 7:30PM, the LAST Selected Poems at the V&A Reading Rooms will be celebrating thereaders of the new poetry anthology Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam. It will be co-hosted, and featu re a short reading, by the editor Todd Swift. The full line-up is as follows: Inua Ellams Sandeep Parmar James Byrne Claire Trevien Kathryn Maris Jenna Butler & Todd Swift ***How to attend*** Due to the limited capacity of the V&A Reading Rooms – RSVP’s need to be logged by emailing info.selectedpoems@gmail.c om 1 place per RSVP – A reply will confirm that your name will be on the guest list upon arrival.

Melita Hume Poetry Prize Shortlist: #3 ALICE MILLER

Alice Miller Shortlisted for The MHPP 2012 Alice Miller was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1982.  She earned an MA with Distinction from the International Institute of Modern Letters in New Zealand, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Glenn Schaeffer Fellow.  Since 2008, she has received the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize, the Creative New Zealand Johnson Bursary, the Landfall Essay Prize, and the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Premier Award for short fiction.  Most recently, she received a fellowship to write in Antarctica.  Alice’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Boston Review, The Wolf, The Iowa Review, Poetry Salzburg Review , and Best New Zealand Poems . 

Lung Jazz Launched In Manchester May 30: Another Major Night of British Poets

Northern Launch of Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam from Cinnamon/Eyewear @ The Anthony Burgess Foundation Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester, M1 5BY May 30, 7 pm, Readings by Paul Adrian, Jenna Butler, John Challis, John Clegg, Sarah Corbett, Michael Egan, Lindsey Holland, Evan Jones, Helen Mort, Kim Moore, Cath Nichols, Andrew Oldham, V.A. Sola Smith, Martha Sprackland, Claire Trevien, Ryan Van Winkle, Tom Weir and others tba All welcome Hosted by Todd Swift

Melita Hume Poetry Prize Shortlist: #2 JASON ENG HUN LEE

Jason Eng Hun Lee, MHPP Shorlisted Jason Eng Hun Lee was born in the UK in 1984. He is a co-ordinator of the OutLoud and Joyce is Not Here poetry groups in Hong Kong and has featured regularly in the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival. He has published poems and reviews in the U.K. , Singapore and Hong Kong , was nominated by Cha for a Pushcart Prize and his first collection was a finalist for the inaugural HKU Poetry Prize in 2010. He has an English MA from Leeds and is due to complete a doctoral thesis at The University of Hong Kong on contemporary twenty-first century literature.

Melita Hume Poetry Prize Shortlist: #1 COLETTE SENSIER

Colette Sensier was born in Brighton in 1988. She studied English at King’s College, Cambridge, and now writes and lives in London after stints in Crete and Bulgaria. While at school she won the Foyle’s, Peterloo and Tower Poetry prizes. She has been featured in Oxfam’s Asking a Shadow to Dance, Salt Press’ Best British Poetry 2011 and Salt Book of Younger Poets and Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam, as well as various magazines, and writes regularly for Poetry News magazine. She is currently working on her first novel, and poetry, with the help of Spread the Word’s Flight mentorship scheme, while working as a copywriter for a small charity. Colette Sensier, Shortlisted for The Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2012

The Shortlist For The Melita Hume Poetry Prize Starts Today

Eyewear Publishing has received numerous submissions from across the world - from China, Africa, Australia/ New Zealand, North America, Ireland, the UK, Europe and South America - from poets born in 1980 or since, whose first full collection this would be.  Submission was free.  The "sifter" is Todd Swift and Tim Dooley will judge the final shortlist, which cannot be more than 12 poetry collections.  The winner will be announced in August, and their collection will be published by Eyewear Publishing no later than in 2013; they will also receive a thousand pound prize.  The quality of the work has been eye-opening, and has made the compilation of even such a large shortlist challenging.  As part of the excitement of the run-up to the Jubilee holiday, Eyewear will begin announcing each winner on a semi-regular basis over the next fortnight, as if leaked by a papal butler.

Bowden On Best Coast

Lydia Bowden , Eyewear 's current music critic, checks out the second Best Coast album Summer: beer in hand and a small group of friends with Best Coast ’s brand new album The Only Place playing in the background- it’s where it belongs. Having been influenced by The Beach Boys , duo Bobb Bruno and Bethany Cosentino had something to build upon, and you sure can hear this in their second album. However this better produced set of songs wasn’t what the band had originally been going for. Their debut ‘Crazy for You’ has a much –how can I put this? - Dirtier , feel to it, with less of that sharp, nipped and tucked sound you hear in ‘The Only Place’. This was all with the help of producer Jon Brion , who has worked with some big names like Keane and Kanye West - to name a few. With his help, Best Coast were sure to create such a great album. With their clever play on words in the title, its obvious the duo love all things West Coast- I’ll let you work that one ou

Ten Best Tracks For A Hot Day

Eyewear loves music, as you probably know, and loves a good list.  Given the London BBQ moment, here are ten songs - arguably the greatest in the rock/pop canon - that go with hot times.  I should add that I am of the opinion that rock/pop has two key themes: sex and love.  Here then 10 recommended blistering summer songs, G & T optional: 1. '99.9 F' - Suzanne Vega 2. 'Mesopotamia' - The B-52's 3. 'Sex On Fire' - Kings Of Leon 4. 'Blister In The Sun' - Violent Femmes 5. 'Summer of 69' - Bryan Adams 6. 'Summer's Cauldron' - XTC 7. 'Whole Lotta Love' - Led Zep 8. 'Real Cool Time' - The Stooges 9. 'L.A. Woman' - The Doors 10. 'Sister Havana' - Urge Overkill

Too Darn Hot

Heard It On The Grapevine London has two settings: rubbish weather and Tropical.  Either it is rainy, gloomy and muddle-through intermittent sunny, or it is blazingly humid - which it is now.  We are in the throes of 28 degree weather+.  This is wonderful, but also, given the Sargasso that is the Tube, semi-deadly.  It's been a good time to watch The Rum Diary , a sultry, oddball film that is a strangely moving portrait of three SNAFU'd writer buddies in 1960 Puerto Rico, written by Hunter S ., and produced by J. Depp .  It has a brilliant character actor turn from Michael Rispoli , who should play Bob Holman in a biopic.  The film also features a splendid Amber Heard , who is as fine a starlet as one could wish for, in London or the Bahamas.  Readers of Eyewear from Day One will know that when we kicked off in 2005, the subject was about weather, too.

Battersea Press Release: A New Source of Poetic Energy

Press release: The Battersea Review : for immediate release The staff: Publisher and Managing Editor: Umit Singh Dhuga Contributing Editors: Ben Mazer , Philip Nikolayev , Todd Swift (UK), Jeet Thayil (India) Art Director: Drew Vanderveen Editorial Offices: USA Editorial and Business Contact: email Umit Singh Dhuga at The magazine will appear quarterly, in both online and print formats. The first issue will debut on the Battersea Review website, ; on June 1. The print version of Vol. 1, No. 1 will appear in September. Submissions are rolling, i.e. read continuously, as we are a quarterly. Exceptional criticism or prose is especially desired. There are two versions of the cover floating around facebook. The one that includes Todd Swift's name (the one that appears most recently on my own wall) is the most recent one, but three names are yet to be added to the cover: Greg Delanty , Anna Razumnaya , David Meltzer

Paul Buchanan's 'Mid Air'

My god, this is beautiful.  I never really knew The Blue Nile , was never a fan, but Paul Buchanan 's new album has as its title track this extraordinarily delicate love song that makes most lyric poetry seem stentorian.

F Is For Forgery: Jon Stone's Debut Reviewed By Eyewear

It is an apt time for Don Paterson 's Selected Poems to come out from Faber (mine is in the post) - because it cements his status as the next poet down the rung from Paul Muldoon , in terms of British/Irish poets of ludic excellence, working in the less-avant garde part of the field.  And now here comes Jon Stone , whose School of Forgery is the Poetry Book Society Recommendation currently.  I spoke with Stone last night, at the same time as Owen Sheers , and it was a pleasure to be in the company of two major if opposed English stylists, who both dress well.  Stone, in person, is slight, slim, dapper, and very pleasant.  He has the manners of a modest dandy.  His poetry is entirely predicated on the artifice, puzzling, and pop culture nous that one associates with Muldoon, Paterson, and, perhaps, Roddy Lumsden , but also, differently, is more directly influenced by Japanese culture. No British stylist since Wilde has so openly celebrated their Japonisme.  I would say that lu

Blurb Mania!

This blurb from Amazon for a forthcoming book deserves our attention... looking forward to seeing the finished product.... "Dear World & Everyone In It is a ground-breaking new poetry anthology presenting the work of over 60 of the most talented and interesting young poets currently writing in the UK. Chosen by one of the country's leading young poetry editors, inspired by American precedents, and growing out of The Rialto's recent series of young poets features curated by Nathan Hamilton, it is the first British anthology to attempt to define a generation through a properly representative cross-section of work and a fully collaborative editorial process. By drawing on the poets' own recommendations, this anthology represents more effectively and appropriately a new generational mood - hybrid, playful, collaborative, ambitious, inclusive, cooperative. Less top down, more bottom up, it speaks also of other movements in our world, and even ends up challenging paroc

New Poem by Umit Singh Dhuga

  Childs Hill Six months later out of the womb for eight hours and you're gone. I'm sorry I was late at Gatwick but I couldn't hit eject ... (our Starman days, they're gone, correct?) and stop the jet's petrol-blasting taxi nor advance in the queue for a taxi with sincere words—"Please, my nephew is dead". They don't believe me; after all, they've just read in flight about who fucked who and whether Rooney's bicycle kick came off his shin or "he done laced it!" This isn't London any more but a mobile with a tether to every other sputtering machine. . . The casket was painfully light at Golders Green. London, May 2012 poem by Umit Singh Dhuga, Classics scholar with a PhD from Columbia.  He is the founder, publisher, and managing editor of The  Battersea Review .   Ben Mazer is co-editor.

New Poem by Ben Mazer

Upon Waking with an Editorial Hangover Some think that meter's had its bloody turn, and that it should be buried in Keats' urn. They feel that the experiments of Shelley do nothing to assault the nerves to jelly. They'd gladly give up struggling through Lord Byron, prefer by far the simple prose of Styron. Milton stops their blood and turns it cold, while Wordsworth on his mountaintops seems old. Even when it's roughened as in Ransom, it is the New York Times that sets them dancin'. While there are those who read the avant-garde, excited that its formlessness is hard for nearly everyone to understand; like hungry wolves they travel in a band and howl with vital passion at the moon, finding in chaos beauty and a tune. While I am neither for it or against it, and call on language only as I've sensed it. It seems I take my language as I find it; mine is the more progressive form of blinded. I am reborn -- unmetered -- lacking form; I'll find my i

Avengers Assemble (The Avengers) Film Classic

It is clear that writer-director Joss Whedon knew he was making an American film classic when he wrote The Avengers (2012) , if only because Captain America recognises the reference to The Wizard of Oz , on which it is partly based.  Then again, Whedon's brilliant film mind has assembled a half-dozen other canonical film templates, including Citizen Kane , the Magnificent Seven , and Hidden Fortress/Star Wars .  The assembling of the reluctant heroes to save a beleaguered community (New York/Earth) is pure Western; the screwball comedy of the eccentric playboy millionaire is all Kane before the downfall; and Nick Fury is Dorothy, trying to make heroes of his motley crew - or is Natasha Dorothy, lost in a world of monsters and magic, seeking a redemptive home? But this is mainly comedy as art.  Indeed, there is as much Bringing Up Baby here as there is The Wrath of Khan .  What has to be said is that Whedon has written and directed the most intelligent, dramatic, and purely e

Whatever Sends The Music Into Time

Todd Swift on Leah Fritz 's New & Selected Poems from Salmon There are a number of Americans who have come to London over the past 100 or so years, and made an impact - one thinks of Robert Frost, Eliot, Pound , and then later, Donaghy .  Today, there are a good dozen excellent American expat poets who mainly publish in the UK, and are better known, sometimes, here than "back home" - Liane Strauss, Kathryn Maris, Tamar Yoseloff , Katy Evans Bush , Ruth Fainlight , and Leah Fritz, come to mind. Fritz is a very interesting instance of this expatriation.  Before she moved to London in the mid-80s, in her 50s, she had been a very vocal and visible member of the feminist movement in America, based for a time in New York, writing articles and books in the 60s and 70s. For instance, Andrea Dworkin 's great work, Intercourse , is dedicated to Fritz.  Fritz's archives are at Duke University.  When she settled near Sylvia Plath 's final flat, in Primrose Hil

Music Review: Bowden On The Civil Wars and Van Etten

Ms. Bowden likes music Lydia Bowden , guest music critic for Eyewear , weighs in on two recent albums An inspiring mixture of country/folk, The Civil Wars is made up of a duo featuring John Paul White and Joy Williams . Their album Barton Hollow at first listen is made up of a lonesome guitar and perfect melodies, both contributing to a rather haunting sound, but listen to the whole album, and you’ll hear something totally unforgettable. If I was asked to choose a song that both makes me cry and feel an ounce of hope, ‘Poison and Wine’ is my first choice. The heartbreaking tone to their voices makes you really feel what they are singing about, you can literally hear the pain experienced in their husky, yet, mournful voices. The song is backed by a simple guitar melody, with the line, ‘Oh I don’t love you but I always will’ sung over and over which is clearly a contradiction, but it hits you in all the right places. The entire album is a soundtrack to life, love and lo

No More Anonymous

Eyewear is tired of the sad and vindictive people out there in the blogosphere who think it makes sense to bravely stand up for themselves, anonymously, and insult me for taking a public stand.  The chief problem with the world of poetry (all worlds?) is transparency - there isn't enough of it.  I stand by my (admittedly evolving, like Obama ) views.  Nor do the contributors to this blog ever need to share these views.  I find it pitiful to be receiving very personal, nasty attacks, often daily.  I am a liberal Catholic capitalist - get over it.  I could pretend otherwise, but as the owner of a small business who regularly attends Mass, but is open to freedom of speech and votes for the Lib Dems - none of which ashames me - it would be madness to claim otherwise.  None of these views is without fault - show me which ideology, or belief, is flawless.  However, if I prefer not to roar approval of a victory for socialism in Greece and France which threatens the Merkel consensus for

May 16 in Bloomsbury: A Major Night for Young British Poets!

A message from Martin Penny, of Oxfam: We would be pleased if you could join us on Wednesday May 16th 7-10 pm, for a celebration of the launch of Lung Jazz , an anthology of young British poets, from Cinnamon and Eyewear presses. All proceeds from the sales go directly to Oxfam. Admission is free and refreshments will be provided. The  Lung Jazz Celebration will be at Goodenough College, London, in Bloomsbury, The Churchill Room. Some of Britain's best young poets reading one poem each in support of the anthology: FIRST HALF 7 PM Agnieszka Studzinska Alex Macdonald Alice Willington Alistair Noon Anna Johnson Ben Parker Chris Mccabe Todd Von Joel   Declan Ryan Eileen Pun Emily Berry Evan Jones Helen Mort Holly Hopkins Jacob Sam-La Rose INTERVAL SECOND HALF 8.30 PM James Byrne Jane Yeh Jon Stone Kate Potts Kathryn Simmonds Laura Bottomley Lorraine Mariner Liz Berry Neil Gregory Richard Lambert Sandeep Parmar Siddhartha Bose Stefan Mohamed Tiffany A. Tondut Clare Po

Big May 14 Music Day!

Lovers of indie pop rejoice, Monday May 14 2012 is a bumper crop day.  Consider that 9 new albums worth owning, from Beach House , Gossip , Garbage, Best Coas t, Mothlite , Niki & The Dove , Ren Harvieu , Simian Mobile Disco  and Zulu Winter , arrive on these UK shores then, and it frankly boggles the ear-drums.  Can't wait.  Thank god for Spotify.

Alien vs. Predator, review of a review

The Financial Times doesn't review poetry all that often, but it had George Pendle review Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins (Penguin, 2012), a book I have not yet read, and intend to.  This is a review of that review - or rather, a brief lament at so many of the assumptions and lazy claims made in it.  The main problem for me is Pendle's claim is that this collection "could take poetry to a new readership" because of its "ephemeral appreciation of pop culture" and that this pop culture poetry, that references "rap", is like "Wallace Stevens playing Xbox".   Paul Muldoon and John Ashbery and Ginsberg are cited as presiding spirits. Blogs and tweets are mentioned.  It is a "gory B-movie mash-up" with a "bouncing, colloquial firestorm of pop and poetical reference".  Sigh. Where to begin?  Firstly, there is nothing new about this sort of pop reference in poetry.   Gargoyle has been publishing work like this fo

Portrait of Todd Swift by Ryan Licata

Todd Swift, Launch of Lung Jazz, May 2 2012, Saison Poetry Library, London

Poets and Politics

It is an interesting truth, rarely commented on, that poets are allowed to have any political leanings they wish, so long as they are left-leaning.  Witness the reaction to my concern, expressed briefly enough, that the election of Hollande would a) galvanise the extreme right in France, and b) unsettle the European markets: both mainstream views that have been reiterated in The Economist , the FT and on the BBC this last week.  Indeed, opposition to a 75% tax rate for millionaires is enough to brand one, in the new lynch mob of Facebook, as an Il Duce -loving Pound figure. Frankly this is absurd.  Any reader of Eyewear over the years will know that my views skew to the centre-left.  I did not vote for Boris Johnson , for instance.  Nor do I support the darker anti-immigrant statements of Sarkozy (even his own party did not), which reminded me at times of David Blunkett .  Indeed, I have been an outspoken critic of a French ban on the veil.  Sadly, it seems that only being anti-b

Hollande Days

Bad news for France, Europe, and perhaps, the world - Socialists have won the presidency of France , and the high-energy diminutive characterful  Sarzoky , is history.   Mr   Francois Hollande , now President-elect, has declared himself the enemy of banks, and wants a 75% tax rate in place.  He also opposes the German handling of the Euro-crisis, and seeks to end the austerity measures in France which mirror those that the Tories have adopted in the UK.  Hollande 's victory will also lead to the rise of a far-right alternative in France, which cannot be a good thing - a trend we are seeing tonight in Greece, where the centre cannot hold, and thus more extreme alternatives are gaining public support.

100 Best Poetry Books... #2 THE BRIDGE

Big Sleep Until Brooklyn: Adam Yauch Has Died

Sad news, Adam Yauch , of the Beastie Boys , has died.  It is perhaps hard to recall but there was a moment, a genuine one, in 1986 and 1987, when they were the biggest sound in music, in the world.  I was in Berlin around that time, bumming around for a few months, and Licensed To Ill was the smartass-ultracool rowdy soundtrack of that summer.  Yauch, part of the first great white rap group, is now timeless.  No sleep, in peace.

Darkness With Noon?

Nine Arches Press and Sidekick Books present… Poetry Rodeo (London) Thursday 17th May 2012, at 7.00 p.m. Big Green Bookshop, 1 Brampton Park Road, Wood Green, London N22 6BG FREE ENTRY To celebrate the launch of Alistair Noon’s Earth Records, we welcome you to the Poetry Rodeo…. With special guest poets, Nia Davies, Alistair Noon, Edward Mackay, Andrew Frolish. Alistair Noon  was born in 1970 and grew up in Aylesbury. Besides time spent in Russia and China, he has lived in Berlin since the early nineties, where he works as a translator. His poetry and translations from German and Russian have appeared in nine chapbooks from small presses. Earth Records is his first full-length collection. Andrew Frolish was born in Sheffield in 1975.  After studying politics at Lancaster University, he trained to be a teacher in the Lake District.  His poems have been published in a variety of magazines, including PN Review, Acumen, Envoi, Tears in the Fence, The Interpre