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Showing posts from 2019


I get that the world is angry, and I get that people want to rip the facades, lies and subterfuge away, across the world, to expose truth, no matter the pain it may cause - in search of a better world, one that is more just, more safe, more fair, and more ecologically sane. This can be called the Justice pole - one side of a living moral planet - and it is a pole I have often sought to visit - when I worked to express abuses of many kinds, in my editing, and writing, and publishing. There is the twin, alternate pole, though, also - that of Love. Setting aside any snickering when you read about the Love pole, the metaphor spins bigger than the awkward appellation. On this planet, Justice calls for punishment after exposure, but Love calls for understanding, sympathy, concern, and, ultimately, forgiveness. I'd argue you can't really have one without the other, or the global vision implodes on itself. Too much love, and no sense of justice, and you get lost in a sort of nihi


In the past, but increasingly less extensively, I would sum up each year that had been, since this blog began. This year, I paused, to reflect on what has meant the most to me. I set aside all anger, hate, hostility, cruelty, war and division in our world - there is too much of it, as we mostly all recognise; like many of us, I was saddened at particular deaths, lapses, losses - sometimes this year felt almost too much to bear. Escape - into an unreality, beckons more to us all, as the disposable, instant worlds of the digital realities, infused with fiction, play, lies and propaganda - is one way to cope. There is another, the more needle-sharp poignancy of trying to face, directly, the best in us, and sharpen our own lives, to their better edges. A struggle, to be sure. Like all humans, I strive to not succumb to my dark side, to my despair. The light is a two-edged weapon. Duality demands we decide, finally, what side we will come down on, who, and how, we will love. So I w

TOP 12 SONGS OF 2019

listening to music since 2005! As with every caveat, disregard the dilemma and stay for the nub of the post: these twelve tracks, all available on Spotify, are surely worth listening to. The caveat: no list is complete without Springsteen, Madonna, Beck, Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Deerhunter, Burial, Joe Jackson, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, George Michael, Stormzy, Vampire Weekend, Pixies, Perry Farrell, Michael Stipe, The National, Lana Del Rey, Karen O, The Killers, Will Young, Richard Dawson, Weyes Blood, Ariana Grande, Wire, Stereophonics, slowthai, Tame Impala, Sharon Van Etten , - to absurdly mention just 30 of the acts and artists who released notable new tracks this year, sometimes posthumously - yet the list below leaves all these talents out, and hundreds more you might arguably add. So, what makes an 'Eyewear song of the year'? A variety of factors, recklessly applied in no order, but basically: catchiness, replayability, cultural impact, genre-mastery, and

poem after an election

Day After Election Day poem there’s no Heineken language that hits all the spots - it is sad great news - one nation’s landslide another seat’s crushing defeat; who can speak for unintelligible masses except a monoglot despot or popular turn of hate; December is bitter and bright - election day darkens like paganism into night. The wolves that bay are starving brothers. We must lie to one another to make even marginal gains.  14 December, 2019, London t.s.


is this man happy now? I would like to congratulate my Tory colleagues and friends on their landslide victory in this most divisive, and distressing election. Boris at his best is brilliant, compelling, and compassionate, so let us hope for the best, if bracing for the worst; his acceptance speech was rousing, and promising, and if he works for his newest ridings in the once-red wall, he may be a truly great one nation figure; or, he may slip into scandal and incompetence - though that seems less likely at the moment - powerful politicians sometimes slip into magnanimity. For those who like their certainty certain, Brexit will get done in January, and we may well have a no-deal trade arrangement in a year. Certainty - friend to those businesses not made from chaos -may momentarily raise the pound, but we need a relationship with the EU based on mutual respect and mutual self-interest. As for Jeremy Corbyn , the Labour leader, well, despite his gauche idealism, he lacked the n


after dropping out of the Tory leadership campaign, he joined the Dublin Murder Squad... 2019 is no one's idea of a good year, and enough nonsense, high crimes, and yes, conduct unbecoming, has washed under the bridge so far to make it a low-water mark of the new century, so far. But, as often happens, when the times are darkest, the popular culture is best (see the 1940s and American film). Television has been having a golden age for so long now, it is almost trite to mention it, and Netflix is offering so many great movies on TV (including the latest Breaking Bad semi-squib), it is hard to keep up. In a year of absurdly-superb televised plenty (and then there's that odd guilty pleasure, Evil ...) a few shows stood out, even so, from the pack (though others came close, morally or aesthetically and could and will make many end of year lists). The three that struck me most were: 1. Chernobyl The sense of dread, horror, realism, and scientific and political accuracy

Sean Bonney has Died

It is always sad news when a fiercely experimental, committed, and talented poet dies, and so it is that I was sad to learn that Sean Bonney has died, aged 50, in Berlin. Bonney and I often crossed pens online, in the past, and he was no friend to my ideas on poetics. But, he was a poet with conviction and brilliance, and every death is the death of a world. I wish sincere condolences to all who knew him, and loved him, and hope that his poems live on, in memory and print, discussion and study, for years ahead.




The highly-influential and important poetry critic, editor, anthologist, scholar, writer and poet, Alfred Alvarez (Al to friends), has just died. He was very welcoming to me when I moved to London, and we met often for a time in Hampstead and elsewhere. I arranged for him to do readings and talks for the Oxfam series, and at Kingston university. Al was a funny, gracious, helpful guy, and a great talker - a real mensch, and a one-off character with a touch of genius and more than enough brilliance and bravery. He mentored my collection - the most personal and distressing of my life - about my breakdown and despair on receiving the news I was infertile - his advice was strict and invaluable. I already miss him. Here was a guy who had been friends with Sylvia Plath, Zero Mostel, and John LeCarre, who still had time for the lesser-known, the smaller fry. That was because he was a maverick, outsider, and shit-disturber - he was frank and daring, and had great taste, but also heart.


ON THE SUPREME COURT RULING AGAINST THE PROROGATION OF PARLIAMENT, two sonnets Rain is impartial, it falls On the client, the accuser, And the bewigged court, Without favour, without fervour; The rain functions like law, It delivers its decisions On days of death, days of birth; It touches the heavens, the earth, The in-between citizen; Unlike snow, love or hatred It never thaws; it flows Where learned minds have led… It arises, in distant tumult, Above mortal struggles of those Who would play gods to ants; To go below Machiavel faces, Reading past their blank pages, As a void, to where morals plant Forests that build up parliaments, The wood that grows strong vaults. Rain is not passionate, It is sane, measured, sober… You can drink the rain Unlike wine, and not go wild; Though sometimes, supreme, It makes people run in streets In what is only apparent chaos, To partially plan, partially drea

9/11 - 18 YEARS LATER

much has changed... 18 YEARS AGO, like most everyone else, I watched the planes hit the twin towers on this day, on television, and was stunned. I felt instantly this was a different level of historic event I was witnessing - the world had changed. That gets said a lot, but 9/11 was a major shift - the start of the 21st century that has led, one way or another, to where we are today. IRONICALLY, the rise of the digital social media world, and the collapse of the banking system a decade ago, coul d not be foreseen then, nor Trump, Brexit, or the resurgence of Russia and China, and the relative decline of America, in the world. Nor that a Black President would be twice elected in a once slavery-owning nation. IN SOME WAYS, 9/11 feels like a much-more-distant event, now - like Pearl Harbour, or the Charge of the Light Brigade - because the 2003 illegal war in Iraq, and then the tragic destruction in Syria, as well as the enduring Palestinian-Israeli conflict, not to mentio


Anyone looking for an astringent corrective to the postmodern hypertrophies of the Tarantino style will find it in the beautiful and profoundly intelligent new film from Joanna Hogg, The Souvenir , executive produced by, among others, Martin Scorsese, and starring Tilda Swinton and her daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, as a fictional mother and daughter in 80s London. Like Once Upon A Time In Hollywood ... The Souvenir is especially interested in framing a narrative around film, and directing film - in this instance, the hero is a young woman, from the English upper class, who has become a film student, and is seeking to make a film about working class life in a part of the country she barely knows. Hogg allows us to see how a film student (her in actuality looking back in memory) might film and tell the story of her own aesthetic awakening, through the medium she loves - through the story of her sentimental education, as it were, as a naïve lover, swept up by a Heathcliffian slight