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Showing posts from September, 2014


Ashley George Williams reviews Belmont by Stephen Burt IN BRIEF Stephen Burt’s latest collection Belmont displays a style which has evolved seemingly between the boundaries of two critical theories he is famous for.   When reviewing a copy of Susan Wheeler’s book Smokes for the Boston Review in 1998, Burt defined what he believed should be referred to as the ‘elliptical poet’ or ‘elliptical writing’. The ‘elliptical poet’ he writes:     ‘…manifest[s] a person—who speaks the poem and reflects the poet—while using all the verbal gizmos developed over the last few decades to undermine the coherence of speaking selves’ Burt continued to list Wheeler , Liam Rector, Lucie Brock-Broido and Mark Ford as such writers with Dickinson, Berryman, Ashberry and Auden noted as major influences. Later in 2009 in an essay entitled “The New Things” he outlined a growing trend of contemporary American poets whereby writers: ‘Eschew sarcasm and tread lightly with iron


I am pleased this post-referendum Friday in London to feature a surprising new British voice in poetry, Elliot Hurst , a former student of mine. It's a voice that seems to erupt without much interest in decorum or politesse, guided by Surrealism, nihilism, punk, black comedy, the Beats - and, a what have you got, I'm against it - sort of vision - except, the fluent imagery is striking and effective.  It may be indie, but it's not fake. Elliot Hurst has a BA in Creative Writing and Film Studies from Kingston University and is currently studying for an MA in Publishing at Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies. Favourite themes include human behaviour and relationships, consumerism, industry, deterioration and body horror. Photo to follow.   THE NORTH ZOO The great apes were petrol-bombing the historic North Zoo eating handfuls out of neighbours' wheelie bins, for the dinner-dance.  My eyes became useless, hi


Those who read this blog regularly may know it is chiefly edited by the poet, teacher, and critic, Todd Swift. Swift's The Ministry of Emergency Situations: Selected Poems from Marick Press is being launched next week in Chicago and Detroit; it is over 200 pages long, and has endorsements from, among others, the great Terrance Hayes, Annie Finch, AF Moritz, and Mark Ford . Ford describes Swift as "the Orson Welles of Contemporary Poetry" - a pretty impressive statement (if only about weight gain) coming from one of the key poets of our time (Ford happens to be a professor of English at UCL, one of the ten best universities in the world, and his Selected was praised in the New York Times last month). The two key events of this modest tour will take place back to back, Tuesday 23 September, 7 pm, with John Wilkinson , at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, one of the great places to read poetry in the USA - see link.  This is connected to a major new essay on four new


As the world now knows - sadly or happily depending on your affiliations and ideals - the majority of voters in Scotland have said No to the question of whether Scotland should be governed as a separate country, and thus leave the "United Kingdom" of four nations. Tellingly, the pound soared on the news, and David Cameron looked pleased. Anything which makes financiers and Cameron happy is likely to be suspect. I wanted a Yes vote, because I cannot imagine any good reason why the Scottish people, with one of the major cultures of Western Europe, are unable to govern themselves, and because I believe that he governs best who governs least far from home. Far-flung empires and federations are never as accountable to their citizens as more local governments, which are usually preferable, except where state or provincial urges tend to the unethical (one thinks of segregation in the Deep South). In this case, the Scottish government seemed motivated by a rather benign sense of


Interesting.  The British poetry blogosphere seems about as divided as Scotland currently.  I'd say it's about 48% Yes and 52% No to the Next Generation list.  Some poets, like Ben Wilkinson , are happily ransacking their career best reviews for prestigious journals, and featuring the listed great and good; Charlotte Runcie in the Daily Telegraph (online and beyond) is questioning the inclusion of famous stars like Daljit Nagra ; and then it gets increasingly bitter. Perhaps too obviously, approval breaks down to collegiality - the more people know others on the list, professionally, the less likely they are to set fire to 20 bridges at once.  The excluded marginalised and genuinely cheated, feeling little to lose, are more vocally critical.  The teeny size of the UK scene makes it hard to get an objective response from so close up.  I've weighed in already.  See below.  But I think anyone who applauds the list entirely, and doesn't try to problematize it at all, is p


So, like it or lump it, 20 poets from Britain, first published here between 2004 and 2014, have been singled out for media hype, a book tour, and general praise. A disclaimer, I was not eligible for this prize, though several excellent poets Eyewear publishes were. The 2014 Next Generation Poets list in full: Tara Bergin ( This is Yarrow , Carcanet) Emily Berry ( Dear Boy , Faber & Faber) Sean Borodale ( Bee Journal , Jonathan Cape) Adam Foulds ( The Broken Word , Jonathan Cape) Annie Freud ( The Mirabelles , Picador) Alan Gillis ( Here Comes the Night , Gallery) Rebecca Goss ( Her Birth , Carcanet) Jen Hadfield ( Nigh-No-Place , Bloodaxe) Emma Jones ( The Striped World , Faber & Faber) Luke Kennard ( The Harbour Beyond the Movie , Salt) Melissa Lee-Houghton ( Beautiful Girls , Penned in the Margins) Hannah Lowe ( Chick , Bloodaxe) Kei Miller ( A Light Song of Light , Carcanet) Helen Mort ( Division Street , Chatto & Windus) Daljit Nagra ( L

September 11th, the 13th time

9/11 now has become to many secular - like other major dates in the Western calendar (Easter and Christmas come to mind) there are true believers and those who seek to simply capitalise on the frisson of its aura, or who, perhaps worse, utterly ignore it, like shopping on Sundays.  Generally speaking this divide is most evident between the British and the Americans. For some reason, even though many British citizens died that day, it is more or less now seen as an American event, and one that is (I have heard said) exaggerated in import.  Well, not so.  The 13 years since 9/11 (the original) and its uniquely shocking images and events of cruelty have been one long slide into further disasters between the Western powers and Islamic states and militants, between extremists on all sides, and, generally, this has been a far bloodier century than was expected when the Berlin wall fell 25 years ago. So, we have an odd bonanza today of news stories, including the release of the new U2 alb

Eyewear's new Indiegogo campaign

Our last Indiegogo campaign raised over £800 in 60 days. Here is the new one: Eyewear Publishing is one of the best indie presses in London. Help us publish 10 books in 2015.   Short Summary   Eyewear Publishing, founded in 2012, is already one of the best-known, and most respected, indie British poetry presses.  With over 21 books already published in stylish hardcover editions designed by Dutch artist-poet, Edwin Smet , we have created a very strong list and brand.  Our poets and authors are young and old, British and international, starting out and established, traditional and avant-garde.  We've published professors at Harvard and Cambridge; and a hitherto unknown lady from Hull in her 80s.  Our books have been listed for major prizes, and well-reviewed in the TLS and Times. One of our books has been adapted to appear on BBC Radio 4. We launch our books at shops like Foyle's, Blackwells and The LRB. Superbly edite


Eyewear's blog is very pleased to be able to feature, this Sunday, four poems by the recent Eric Gregory winner, Chloe Stopa-Hunt . She grew up in Oxfordshire, Dorset, and Hampshire, and was educated at New College, Oxford. She was twice a Foyle Young Poet of the Year, subsequently winning the University of Oxford’s English Poem on a Sacred Subject Prize and the University of Cambridge’s Winchester Reading Prize. In 2014, Stopa-Hunt won an Eric Gregory Award. Her poems have appeared in a range of journals, including POEM , Oxford Poetry, Envoi , Magma , and Ambit , and I she has also contributed reviews or review-essays to Asymptote , Poetry Matters, The Oxonian Review, Mslexia , and Poetry Review . Some recent poems can be read online at Ink Sweat & Tears and Visual Verse , and her poems have also appeared in several anthologies, including Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam and Best British Poetry 2013 . Ms. Stopa-Hunt is currently doing graduate research into R