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Showing posts from February, 2014

CRIMEA OF THE CENTURY?

After a pretty good winter games, Russia faces the hangover - trouble in their backyard that threatens to turn into conflict with the West, and perhaps, even, war.  Famously, the Crimea belonged to Russia (in the former USSR) until as the stories have it in the 1950s a drunken Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine within the same system, a tactical blunder to be sure.  As we have seen in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Balkans, and even, Quebec and Scotland, seccesionism has an ugly side.  Civil wars happen when one group claims to speak for the majority, but leaves a sizable minority out of the equation.  In this case, that Russian-speaking minority is based mainly in the Crimea, and is strategically located near the Black Sea Fleet, not a thing Russia is every likely to let go of easily (Russia has long fought to secure its access to that body of water).  The revolution in Ukraine appears to have unseated a flunky and a bit of a despot with expensive tastes, but it has also unleashed explosive

A THOUGHT I JUST HAD ABOUT SELLING POETRY BOOKS

I think marketing poetry always has a flaw in it (the flaw of commodification is a given besides). Which is that you can't really "sell" someone a poem. You can't sell a trick or a joke. You can sell a BOOK of tricks, or jokes, though. So, marketing poetry/ poems is selling books. Not poetry. And here is the flaw - what people want from books is mostly fiction or non-fiction - they want either a) escape/ entertainment or b) information and/or advice or c) both. When you open a Book of Poems, you don't get either, exactly - you are pulled into something far deeper. A Book of Poems is like a book of deep water. Not something you might actually want on your shelf. This is why Books of Poetry need to be "sold" carefully, and for different reasons that many other kinds of books. You don't just "read" a book of poetry. You swim, or drown, in its depths.

Juvenile Poems

A reminder, my (Todd's) early poetry can be found here .

BECK'S MORNING PHASE

Moving from mourning into morning, as the poem by Barker goes, Beck , the magpie musician who rose to fame in 1994 with the cult hit slacker classic Mellow Gold , with silly but fun songs, has become, over time, arguably the best singer-songwriter-composer of his generation, a post-modern Bob Dylan .  Oddly, he is a scientologist, but then again, Prince is a Jehovah's Witness - musicians are an odd lot.  I liked some of his albums a lot, especially the moody, dreamy ones. Anyway, as everyone knows (the media blitz has been huge) he is back after six years with Morning Phase , an album modelled on the Wilson classic Laurel Canyon style of the moody 70s.  This is the sequel to his best album, and least zany, Sea Change , from 2002, now considered something of a classic.  Beck's albums are now prized events, because they are so well-wrought, and lovingly crafted.  Morning Phase will be on Eyewear 's list of the best albums of 2014 - it may well top it. This album is ce

RUSSIAN BARE

The world has many divisions - one of them is between those who love the Olympics, and their idealism, and sporting opportunities for the youth of the world - and those who detest them, seeing mostly their propaganda value and their money-wasting potential.  Obviously, anyone in the second camp was going to be particularly indisposed to a winter games (the 22nd) held at a Russian resort in a land whose, shall we say democratic experiment (to be tactful) has yet to fully succeed (to be hopeful).  Many of these bitter commentators and protesters - often supporting the hard done by gay community in Russia, where to be gay is to be potentially killed or beaten - failed to see that Putin is not Stalin , and Russia is not Nazi Germany circa 1936.  Much more needs to be done in Russia, but it is not run by a madman who has published a book calling for genocide, nor does its society practise euthanasia of the mentally ill. Indeed, as the games reminded us, Russia, despite its many faults (a

THE DEATH OF JUDITH MAPPIN

This just in... "The Literary Scene Loses an Important Ally It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the death, on Feb. 14, of Judith Mappin , who helped put Canadian writing on the map and was a friend and loyal supporter of Blue Metropolis. In 1974, along with Hélène Holden and Joan Blake , Judy founded the Double Hook Book Shop , which specialized in literature by Canadian writers. For many Montreal writers and readers, the Double Hook became a home away from home. The shop survived – and thrived – until 2005, when it closed its doors. That same year, Judy received a President's Award of Distinction from the Association of Canadian Publishers, and in 2008, was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2013, Blue Metropolis paid tribute to her with a special homage. Through her devotion to and passion for Canadian writing, Judy made a major contribution to Montreal’s literary scene, and more broadly, to Canadian publishing. "

NORTH KOREAN DEATH CAMPS

If as the new comprehensive UN report claims, North Korea's regime is a criminal one, regularly committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and based partly on the Nazi model, complete with death camps, mass starvation, sadistic torture, and other sinister brutalities, what are we to do in The West?  Going by past actions, nothing, sadly.  There has long been a law for Europe, and a law for the Asian world - a double-standard, where the West either inflicts cruelties and crimes in that theatre of war it would not elsewhere, or tolerates them there when it would not elsewhere.  No atomic bomb was dropped on Germany; no Napalm used on enemies of European descent.  A subtle racism continues - people of Asia, Africa and the Middle East are treated as sub-human, or, more bluntly, sub-American.  If France, Italy, or Greece were doing what North Korea was doing, it would be defeated militarily, as to stand by would be seen as an impossible moral failing; however, the assumption is Nor

GUEST REVIEW: DIXON ON MCCABE AND REED

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Oliver Dixon reviews WhitehallJackals by Chris McCabe and Jeremy Reed As Mark Ford’s 2012 anthology London: A History in Verse amply demonstrates, poetry depicting or set in London is one of the richest veins in our tradition, from Langland and Chaucer through Keats and Blake to TS Eliot and – in more recent times – David Gascoyne, Rosemary Tonks and Iain Sinclair . As well as the celebratory pomp of Dunbar ’s ‘To the City of London’ or Wordsworth ’s ‘Composed on Westminster Bridge’, there have always been politically-oriented poems intent on unearthing the more scabrous aspects of metropolitan society and the radical disparities of economic circumstance it throws up – the medieval ‘London Lickpenny’, for example, Samuel   Johnson’s Juvenalian satire ‘London’ , Blake’s Song of Experience of the same name or Douglas Oliver’s counter-Thatcherite ‘The Infant and the Pearl’.      Whitehall Jackals by Chris McCabe and Jeremy Reed arrives with such an overwritten

THE BOY BAND INCIDENT! - NOW A SINGLE FROM TODD SWIFT & KENNEDY

Fans of sexy, smart, chic LA-based pop star and music producer Kennedy (aka Jack Kennedy ) - he of the Silversun Pickups and other cool stuff - will be pleased to hear that he has teamed up with none other than bespectacled poet and vocalist Todd Swift, he of Boyband-champagne-attack fame, to create a single, called The Boyband Incident ; now available at iTunes, that just may become one of the weirdest leftfield novelty dance tracks to generate worldwide buzz.  There are now plans afoot for a video.  But in the meantime, and in the absence of radio airplay on BBC 1 etc, the way to poetic justice is gonna have to be achieved one click at a time. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-boy-band-incident-single/id821185894

JAMES A GEORGE ON THE MCCONAISSANCE - REVIEW OF DALLAS BUYER'S CLUB

EYEWEAR'S FILM CRITIC JAMES A GEORGE ON A GREAT INDIE FILM The Lincoln Lawyer and The Paperboy really depended on him, Killer Joe and Mud electrified because of him, and his cameo in The Wolf of Wall Street was apparently the only scene not cut down for the sake of running time. The Matthew McConaissance has reached a peak, and with McConaughey playing the lead in the upcoming Christopher Nolan epic Interstellar ; it’s likely he’ll keep climbing. Perhaps his most fully fledged, head-rattling and enigmatic performance so far is as Rust Cohle in new television series True Detective – a landmark achievement in a somewhat stale medium (despite what the idiot-box machine might be trying to tell you). Detective aside, the flag at the top of McK2 is in the shape of Ron Woodroof in the biographical Dallas Buyer’s Club .             Ron Woodroof, a rodeo bull rider by day, drug, drink and sex addict by night, is informed he is HIV+. After much resistance, declaring only “fagg

LOVE POEM FOR VALENTINE'S DAY BY ELIZA STEFANIDI

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Eliza Stefanidi (pictured) was born in Liverpool in 1980 and currently lives in Athens, after studying and writing in London. She is British-Greek.  She studied ballet at The Royal Academy of Dance and is also a visual artist.  She has been published in several anthologies and online places , and I intend Eyewear to bring out her debut pamphlet this year.  She explores images of pop culture, song lyrics, love, sex, mental crisis, and wider crisis, in her playful, expressive, quirky, surreal, and very welcoming poetry. All I care for is music All you care for is music All we care about Are rescue boats   The ones that rock your guts That stop your heart, you know From zero, to minus zero  All we care for is stupid love, true love   No love at all sir, madam, kids Figure two, figure four, figure eight Figure it out, love All you care for is stand-up   All we are is comedy Boats sink; guts wrench; n

LOVE POEM BY TODD SWIFT, VALENTINE'S DAY 2014

LOVE They say love comes in threes. Such trilogies extend Times into books four to seven. Erupt into eight in dreams. I’ve seen love compared   To what was once Heaven And now belongs to lies. Also, love appears in songs At intervals so regular It must be true.   Always, the argument goes, Love is the first, second, third And final thing of value In the singer’s world. Mountains, friend   Are nothing When the sea comes Yet love will climb Far above such lower levels. Love is even, it has been said,   Delivered by the devil, Or some equivalent minion, From fat boy to lolling tart. They hate love so much They tend to kill it   With a dart Drawn straight through The designated heart. I have seen dissection tables In labs where trained   Believers in natural laws Ha

Dufour-Lapointe Double-barrelled Sisters' Double Triumph Tonight In Russia!

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Hats off to the Montreal sisters - Dufour-Lapointe - who have just won Gold and Silver in the Mogul finals!  Great work ladies!  You have made Montreal, Quebec and Canada proud in one of the fairytale moments of any of the Games. http://olympic.ca/2014/02/08/justine-wins-gold-chloe-silver-dufour-lapointe-sisters-go-1-2-in-womens-moguls/

YES TO SCOTLAND

As someone who had three grandparents with Scottish roots (one was a Fraser, the other a Hume, and the third, my paternal grandmother, was born in Motherwell), I am a British-Canadian with 75% Scottish ancestry (the last fourth is English - my paternal grandfather Stanley was a Cockney born in London) - so I feel some interest in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence.  I was opposed to Quebec separation, for the same reasons I am in favour of Scottish secession - history.  Quebec, although colonised by the French over 450 years ago, was soon after defeated by the British; but ultimately belongs to the native Canadians who had lived there for tens of thousands of years, and still do in great numbers; the Crown promised these peoples their lands in perpetuity as they agreed to become Canadian.  In Scotland, the indigenous peoples are the Scottish themselves, and, while there are complex reasons for the entanglement of the destinies of Scotland and England, it is a cultural, so

POETRY FOCUS: MAYA CATHERINE POPA

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Ms Popa is a Romanian-American poet Eyewear , one of the most widely read poetry blogs in human history (to be ostentatious this Olympic Saturday), is continuing its ongoing mission to feature poems by really exciting new and/or established poets from anywhere and everywhere.  Today we have a real treat for you. Romanian-American poet Maya Catherine Popa (pictured above) graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College, Columbia University, in 2011. She went on to pursue an MFA from NYU, where she worked with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan under a Veterans fellowship, and an MSt from Oxford University under a Clarendon Scholarship. She is the 2014 winner of the Gregory O’Donoghue Prize and the 2013 winner of the Oxford Poetry Society Martin Starkie Prize. Her poems and criticism appear in The Kenyon Review , Poetry London , Oxford Poetry , FIELD , Carcanet Blog , Colorado Review , Southword , The Rumpus , and elsewhere.  She is currently an editorial fellow at Poets & Wri

TEN YEARS OF FACEBOOK POETRY

Ten years of Facebook has become, in some ways, like ten years of the horseless carriage, or ten years of the jet plane, or ten years of the television... a decade goes a long way towards normalising, embedding, some new fangled thing into our lives.  Facebook has tended to do more good than bad, though it continues to suck up a lot of spare time, and offer a forum for trolls to hector and vilify.  Also, the deadly unfriend button has done more to ruin friendships than the poke button has marriages.  Still, it seems to me that Google remains the more powerful tool, and while Facebook has certainly done much to link poets around the world, a vast alternative poetscape has not developed, though myself and some computer guys in California thought that would happen back in 2003.  The reasons are cultural, and based on how poetry books get published, reviewed, distributed, and prized.  The scene remains local, then national, and few poets become "international" figures.  Anyway, h

Elegy for Philip Seymour Hoffman

For Philip Seymour Hoffman, on his death by overdose in Greenwich Village The pain that held The arm that rang The mouth that said The ace that fell The eye that read The chest that could The lungs that banged The arm that sprang The heart that caused As mean as hard As hard as that As heavy as tried As dismal as can’t The love that stung The bit that played The lungs that clanged The harm that hammed The ham that harmed The charm that gave The grave that stood The beckoning vein The rented digs The role of blood The man that held The hold that failed The hard that was done The doing that came late The work spared The body bare The bare bodkin The barely lit stage The stained page The uplate night The morning haze The crying shame The crust of fame The tip of bone The broken bread The street drug cred The harming head The heavy as lead The soul of night The break of doing The dawn of crime