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Showing posts from October, 2006

In Search of God

John Humphrys, the BBC broadcaster, is in search of the elusive laurels of ultra-gravitas that descended on David Frost, the greatest media figure from the British isles (along with Malcolm Muggeridge and maybe Alistair Cooke). Last week he broadcast his morning radio reports from Iraq (the safer British zone) and this week his BBC recordings include in-depth discussion with religious leaders from various faiths, on the question of God.

I am always glad to hear intelligent debate on the issue of faith, especially as the UK is a startlingly atheistic (and perhaps not coincidentally often very selfish and materialist) society. However, Humphrys, who entered into dialogue with the Archbishop of Canterbury this morning, is the pouting answer to his own question.

Rowan Williams, the Anglican who speaks with the media man, is tentative, light of touch, profound, agile, and above all, immensely patient. Humphrys wades in like a ten-ton baby grand crashing down some spiral staircase into a hote…

A Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Review (founded and edited by poet Philip Fried) is one of the best serious little magazines for poetry in America - and one of the only ones to that keep its finger on the pulse of contemporary British poetry.

Its latest issue, Fall/Winter 2006-7 (vol. 12, no. 2) features poems and/or translations by marvellous poets such as Mahmoud Darwish, Marilyn Hacker, Polly Clark, Pascale Petit, W.N. Herbert, Yang Lian, Penelope Shuttle, Ruth Fainlight, Hal Sirowitz, and many more.

It also has a review of the Oxfam CD, Life Lines, which I edited this summer and which has so far sold over five thousand copies since its launch four months ago.

The reviewer, Frank Beck, says: "it is hard to imagine how anyone with an interest in poetry in English could fail to find this recording fascinating."

To order this essential CD online, go to the link below:

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/online/poetry.htm

To learn more about The Manhattan Review and order it, go to:

http://www.themanhattanr…

Poem by Hal Sirowitz

Eyewear is thrilled and happy (not always a combination you'd expect) to welcome Hal Sirowitz as the Friday poet. Sirowitz (pictured) is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York. His latest book, Father Said, was recently translated into Icelandic. He's the most popular translated poet in Norway. He is also one of the greatest of the first wave of American slam poets, whose work arose during the heyday of the Nuyorican readings. His Mother Said poetry collection is a best-selling classic, merging humour and poetry in a new key. Time Magazine has called him "a bit of a cult hero". He's one of the truly unique voices in contemporary American writing today. I've included him in as many of my anthologies as I could, from Poetry Nation, to Short Fuse, to Babylon Burning. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, Hal Sirowitz...


Pride Not Deserved

You can't have
a sex life unless
you have sex,
father said. You
can't have a post-sex
life either. All you can
have i…

Stobb On Babylon Burning

William E. Stobb is a fine American poet, and a commentator on poetry. The link below leads to his thoughts on the e-book anthology I recently edited for Nthposition.


http://www.miporadio.net/WILLIAM_E_STOBB/index.html

Snorkel Is Back!

Eyewear thinks you'd enjoy Snorkel, the lively and innovative online magazine that aims to connect Australian, New Zealand and international poets generally. Oh, I have a poem in this issue, too, so an added incentive to check it out.

http://snorkel.org.au/004/

Poetic Artifice Can Be Fun

For those into constraints, of a poetic nature, the latest from Lance Newman...

http://3by3by3.blogspot.com/

So Which Is It?

Only in England would the literate (if not literary) media still be bamboozled about Paul Muldoon (pictured) or rather, flabbergasted or then again puzzled - by his command of word-play, puns and other linguistic paraphernalia in his writing.

How else to explain the contrasting versions of Muldoonland displayed in recent issues of The Economist (October 21st-27th) and The Guardian? The Guardian's Saturday book section (The Review) has rightly selected his latest collection from Faber, Horse Latitudes, as Book of the Week, snatching it from the ghetto of the poetry review demi-page. James Fenton, himself a former Oxford Professor of Poetry, and major English poet, welcomes the book, Muldoon's tenth, as "an event". But over at the (more conservative) Economist, the unidentified reviewer is more economical with their praise of another new Muldoon publication, his Oxford lectures, The End of the Poem. The reviewer of these 15 lectures seems slightly overwhelmed: "He d…

Poem by George Murray

Eyewear is very glad to welcome George Murray to its steadily growing pantheon of superb Friday-featured poets. I first met him in Paris three or more years ago, and we chatted at a sidewalk cafe near my flat, on the corner of Cherche Midi and rue St-Placide, a busy afternoon.

I was impressed then with what he had achieved, in terms of writing and publishing, for such a young man. Since then, he's done even more. He was one of the 20 poets in my survey of new Canadian poetry for New American Writing, in 2005.

Murray's books of poetry include The Hunter (McClelland & Stewart, 2003) and The Cottage Builder's Letter (M&S, 2001). His fourth collection is scheduled for publication in spring 2007 with Nightwood Editions.

He has been widely anthologized and has published poems, fiction, and criticism in journals and magazines such as Antigonish Review, Capilano Review, Contemporary Verse, Descant, Fiddlehead,Iowa Review, Jacket, New Quarterly, nthposition, Pequod, Prism Inte…

The Encantadas

Canada's most illustrious literary prizes are said to be the Governor General's (GGs). This year the poetry list features a few very good collections, including Ken Babstock'sAir Stream Land Yacht, which I reviewed for the Globe and Mail this summer. In the review I suggested it was one of, if not the, best books written by a member of this generation of younger Canadian poets. Glad to see the GG jury agreeing with me.

Sadly, the best book of poetry published this year by an older Canadian poet, The Encantadas, by Robert Allen, was not selected.

Allen is one of Anglo-Quebec's greatest writers of the 20th century - as a novelist, essayist, short story writer, and poet his literary contribution to Montreal culture over the last 40 years has been nearly unparalleled, and, when one stops to consider his additional work as creative writing teacher, as editor of Matrix, as series editor for DC Books and as a mentor to several generations of poets that includes Stone, Camlot, F…

In Cimarron

Eyewear had a good morning since the morning post brought many delights.

First, copies of my new chapbook from Rubicon Press, Natural Curve. First time I had seen them, smelled the ink, and checked for typos (none) - they look great, and more about that in future.
Secondly, a DVD of an episode of a TV show I wrote a few years back.
Then, and definitely not least, I opened my contributor's copy package from The Cimarron Review - one of America's best literary magazines, full stop.
A writer's self-induced pleasure does not get much better than seeing a poem here, and reader, I was pleased (I confess), to seeing mine on the film The Sun, about Hirohito, war, and memory, in its fine pages. I now look forward to reading the other writers in the Fall 2006 issue.
Look below for more information, and do subscribe:

http://www.webdelsol.com/CimarronReview/new_current_issue.html

Portrait as Poets

Eyewear always likes a bit of text with its photography - and poetry most especially.

The superb photographer Madeleine Waller has obliged, by assembling, as part of a special project, many of the UK's leading poets, her portraits alongside (actually superimposed above as well) handwritten or signed poems by the authors. The layering and the colour are striking.

The project is now up on the website http://www.madwaller.co.uk/ under colour/poets. Touch the corners of the book pages to make them turn.

I'm honoured, may I add, to be in such illustrious company.

http://www.madwaller.co.uk/

The Death of Pontecorvo

In the week that saw Orhan Pamuk win the Nobel for literature - for his melancholy threading of East and West lanes etc., - news comes of the death of arguably the greatest political film-maker yet to live and work: Gillo Pontecorvo (pictured).

His 40-year-old film, The Battle of Algiers (1966), is so real, so fully realized, and so subtle, that one forgets it is a movie - and yet, its superb suspense and dramatic structure, not to mention the cinemotography, acting, and extraordinary score by Ennio Morricone, make it one of the most powerful films ever made, and, as Edward Said has said, one of the two best political films - the other also by Pontecorvo.

Its resonance is especially noteworthy in our times, which once again turn to consider the issues of colonialism, The West in foreign lands, and the clash of religions, of power and weakness, of violence and resistance, of terror and hope.

http://film.guardian.co.uk/Century_Of_Films/Story/0,4135,345300,00.html



http://www.imdb.com/name/nm…

Eye On The Wolf

Eyewear has long considered The Wolf one of the best places for a poet to appear in print. Founded by Nicholas Cobic and James Byrne in 2002, it is now edited solely by James Byrne. It is a tri-quarterly, and has a website (designed by Matt Williams) which can be found at www.wolfmagazine.co.uk.

As the recent editorial in the Autumn 2006 (13th issue) puts it: "unlike certain magazines there's no inner circle ... Anyone is welcome to submit." And anyone does. The Wolf features a broad, if London-savvy, spectrum of poets, including Wayne Smith, Julia Bird, Sally Read, Niall McDevitt, Valeria Melchioretto - each worth reading. My work also appears in issue 13 (as in a few earlier ones).
The Wolf is mostly fearless, and says and does as it pleases. It bows to no ideological slant, school, or style, though it tends to like well-written poetry. This pleases the iconoclast within me, though it no doubt puts fear into those who wish to run the woods as their own poetry patch. Rece…

In The Diary

Eyewear is please to tell you that The Guardian Diary article by Nicholas Wroe, this Saturday, notes the launch of a new Oxfam reading series, in Bloomsbury, organized by - well, me.



http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1920820,00.html



Poem by Dimitris Lyacos

Dimitris Lyacos (pictured) was born in Athens in 1966. Eyewear is very pleased to welcome him this Friday to its pages. His trilogy Poena Damni (Z213: Exit, Nyctivoe, The First Death) has been translated into English, Spanish, Italian and German and has been performed extensively across Europe and the USA. The English version is out from Shoestring Press, UK.

A sound and sculpture installation of Nyctivoe opened in London and toured Europe in 2004-2005. A contemporary dance performance based on the same book is currently showing in Greece.

For more information see www.lyacos.net or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyacos ...

This poem is translated by Shorsha Sullivan, who was born in Dublin in 1932. He studied Classics at Leeds and has spent most of his working life in England. He has a special interest in Modern Greek theatre and poetry.



Z213: Exit (extract)


Tell those who were waiting not to wait none of us will return. The sky is leaving again, the newspapers rot in the corridor, the sam…

As The World Burns

George W. Bush alert: The American poet Ken Waldman has produced a timely intervention, so close to November: a book, CD and additional materials, As The World Burns:

www.kenwaldman.com/astheworldburns

Parliamentary poems online

One of my poems was selected by Pauline Michel, Canada's current poet laureate, for her site, which represents Canadian poetry by offering a poem a week.
Below is the link; browsing will yield many poets and poems of interest, in both official languages:
http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/people/poet/index.asp?lang=e&param=4&id=1&id3=3&id2=111

Reading Tonight

Monday 9th October
7.00pm for a 7.30pm start
Bloomsbury Oxfam Two Writers Series
Oxfam Books
12 Bloomsbury Street
London, WC1B 3QA


Hosted by Todd Swift - Oxfam Poet In Residence


Readings, Questions & Answers, Book Signings


Goran Simic
&
D M Thomas

D.M. (Don) Thomas is a poet and novelist. After reading English at New College, Oxford, he became a teacher until he became a full-time writer. His third novel, The White Hotel, was an international bestseller, translated into thirty languages and shortlisted for The Booker Prize. He has won a Cholmondeley Award for his poetry, and the Orwell Prize for his biography of Alexander Solzhenitsyn He is also a much-praised translator of Russian poetry. His poems appeared in the Penguin series in the 60s. His translations of Anna Akhmatova have been newly published in the Everyman Pocket Poets series. Other collections include Dreaming in Bronze (Secker and Warburg, 1981) and The Puberty Tree (Bloodaxe Books, 1992). Today also marks the launch of a ve…

Review: The Departed

As the saying goes, spoiler alert ahead.

Critics have written that The Departed by Martin Scorsese (released in the UK on Friday) is his best film since Goodfellas. I'd go further and argue that The Departed is actually his best film since Raging Bull, and in some ways is his late masterpiece, bettering Taxi Driver - in the same curious way that Welles made Touch of Evil as a pulp genre film whose stylish command of film language exceeds his youthful classics Kane and Ambersons.

A few things need to be noted early on in this review, to establish the signal importance of this great American movie. For The Departed is also, surely, the first great American film of the 21st century. 1) Scorsese is a master historian of American cinema; 2) Violence (in terms of power) is the central theme and trope of American cinema, from Birth of a Nation on; 3) The two great American film genres are The Western and the Gangster picture; 4) Directors of Scorsese's generation began to rethink viole…

Get It At Lulu

Babylon Burning
the new global anthology of post-9/11 poetry
will be available from 5 October 2006
National Poetry Day
from print on demand publisher Lulu
at http://www.lulu.com/content/447370

October Poetry At nth position

Poem by Carol Jenkins

Carol Jenkins lives in Sydney, concocts images (one of which is above) and writes various fiction, interspersed with facts, some of which are remnants from her former career in chemical regulation and assessment.

Her work has appeared in journals including Heat, Island, Cordite, Quadrant, Snorkel and Otolith, and will soon be broad-and-podcast on Radio Adelaide’s Writers Radio.

Eyewear welcomes her this Friday.


Esters on a Tree Dark Morning

The day starts early, some phantom interloper
firing colour off, lows the clouds
to a weasel wrung morning, a little empty
dust scuds under the table, must be spring
season of slammed plates, some great
para-aldehyde, like nature is an artificial
ester, or was the orange blossom
a gag of unrealized patrimony

if I was better practiced at forgetting
you wouldn’t be so displacingly apparent
I don’t even like the word I, I, I, the whey
of its cheese seepage, the whole remembrance

tulle and corelli work, a needle needed to
re-sew as spinal misalignments
for a some ripe p…

A Poem By Todd Swift On National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day 2006

When will poets get over words? They moon
And gloat on them, as if owners of origins, on
Top of the motion that moves the heavens, or
Moans in watershed winter. I tire of tongue-wet
Celebrations of glottals, the click, clip and clop
Of sounds throbbed together like rubbed lamps,
Jostled coins – poems a pocketful of poses. Too,
There’s been a lot of jocularity slash lightness lately –
Many mentions of popular figures, movies, and TV –
Getting overmuch of the world crammed into crawl
Spaces under the text, sometimes even on top of it –
How much hipness can any master muster, then use?
I was savvy before I saw those I love die and cease.
Now I leave my slip, suck, swoon outside for prose.


poem by Todd Swift, copyright 2006

Forward thinking?

The Forward Prize - the so-called Bardic Booker - has been showering poets with cash since 1991 - and in the process, bringing poetry to much wider public attention. It is often called the UK's "most valuable poetry award" though the prizes are tied in value with the T.S. Eliot prize, awarded January each year.

The 2006 winner of the "Best Collection Award" should have been District And Circle, by Seamus Heaney, a collection as impressive as the earlier books that made him world famous. There had been fuss in the English media over the fact that Seamus Heaney had even been short-listed because he is a Nobel laureate. Sadly, the jury seems to have looked into the whites of the Nobel prize, and blinked.

That is a shame, and casts some doubt on the judging panel, whose reading of poetry must be wider than it is deep, to have decided against what may be UK and/or Irish mainstream poetry's finest collection of the 21st century - and one which deals powerfully with…

Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day in the United Kingdom and this year's theme is "Identity".
There will be various events througout the day and evening: http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/npd/ukevents.php
note: photo is of poet and performer Nicole Blackman

Review: Sam's Town

The Killers (pictured) have grown beards and grown tired of their wildly succesful early sound, captured on Hot Fuss, one of the most delightful resurrections of goofy 80's indie ever put on CD. That's a good album.

Eyewear has had an earful of their second album, just out in the UK yesterday, Sam's Town, and concludes that, while Wild West barbering is one thing, such a sonic-shift in mid-flight is akin to that old cowboy trick of jumping from one pony to another, mid-stream - in this case, no Lone Rangers, they have slipped in the saddle, somewhat.

The Killers have aimed for a truly odd husbandry, breeding new pop out of dry lands, by attempting to fuse early Springsteen and recent Arcade Fire. Both acts are worthy genetic templates - The Boss is great Americana - and Arcade Fire is currently David Bowie's favourite band for a reason - but both have a slight fault that melded makes something good something bad: they're OTT. Killer's frontman Brandon Flowers do…

Cable Street 70 Years Later

Eyewear salutes the brave women and men of Cable Street ("premature anti-fascists" one and all) who banded together to defeat the rise of hatred in England.

Had such courage been shown against Hitler in his homeland, history would be different, to say the least.

May our brothers and sisters have the courage to stand against such infamy in future, when we are called on. May we be blessed with the Cable Street spirit!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cable_Street

iota

iota is edited by Bob Mee and Janet Murch of Ragged Raven Press.

I'm glad to have a poem in its latest issue (No. 75) along with poets like Nigel McLoughlin, Gill McEvoy and Cath Nichols. It's only £3.

To support small press poetry in Britain, why not start by ordering an issue?

Address is 1 Lodge Farm, Snitterfield, Warwickshire CV37 0LR, UK.

Natural Curve

I'm pleased to report that I have a chapbook of new poems, Natural Curve, now out from Alberta's Rubicon Press, edited by poets Yvonne Blomer and Jenna Butler.

http://www.rubiconpress.org/chapbooks.htm