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Showing posts from July, 2010

Eyewear Wide Closed

Eyewear needs a summer break.  Call it gone fishin'.  Or less confusion.  Unless North Korea actually drops its nukes, or Don Paterson declares that Chuck Bernstein is his favourite poet, I will be unlikely to post much here for a while.  Don't panic.  There are enough featured poets, reviews, and other stuff here to browse - Eyewear has a long tail wagging back five years.  And, oh, yeah, Inception is growing on me.  And, is Pulled Apart By Horses a sort of dumb Pixies rip-off, or something altogether better and more complex?  My last weighing in for a while on controversies of the day: editors and the Queen shouldn't go back on their invites and their acceptances - but nobles oblige.  Where was Walcott on the Forward list?  White Egrets is a great book.  Maybe it will fare better at the Eliots.  Have a good summer time!

Suzanne Richardson Harvey Has Died

Sad news.  The American scholar and poet Suzanne Richardson Harvey has died.  She was a very fine poet, and I published her often at Nthposition.  I thought her recent collection was excellent and deserved a wider readership.

She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1934 and married there in 1956.  She was a member of the Academy of American Poets as well as a member of the National Council of Teachers of English.  She died on Saturday, July 17, 2010, in Walnut Creek, California.

She received an MA from Northeastern University, with a thesis on George Meredith; and a PhD from Tufts University, where she specialized in Elizabethan poetry and wrote a dissertation on Edmund Spenser.

After teaching at Pine Manor College and Tufts University in the Boston Area in Massachusetts, she and her family relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where for almost two decades she lectured in the English Department at Stanford University.  Nearly a decade of her time at Stanford was spe…

Small Press, Big Talents

CB Editions, run by Charles Boyle, the poet and writer, has an updated site worth visiting.  A small press, they publish some very talented people, not least of whom is Christopher Reid.  Boyle will be reading for the Kingston-Oxfam Series in Marylebone, 29 September, 2010.

Featured Poet: Stephen Burt

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome the younger American poet, critic, and essayist, Stephen Burt, pictured, this late July Friday, as London's heatwave turns a bit (a lot) rainy.  Burt, who has a PhD from Yale, and is a tenured Professor of Literature at Harvard, had a central role in the last decade or more in suggesting new schools or styles for contemporary American poetry - with his influential Boston Review essays on Elliptical and New Thing poetries, for example.

His own poetry has fused an interest in mid-century modes, and pop culture, to great effect, in books such as Parallel Play and Popular Music.  His literary studies and books on adolescence and poetry, the sonnet, and Randall Jarrell, and the 40s confessional generation, are all engaging and eye-opening, and recommended reading (the summer awaits).  Readers of leading literary journals, like the TLS, will be familiar with his essays.

Burt is rare, these days, for being a poet-critic who is as comfortable writing abo…

Cleggal Problems

Nick Clegg, Deputy PM, stood at the disptach box yesterday for Prime Minister's Questions and called the Iraq War "illegal" - something I have been writing (and saying in print) since 2003.  This is an odd moment.  Yesterday the ex-head of MI5 said much the same thing.  It appears that the cracks in the Establishment are showing.  However, Clegg has backtracked - since most Tories supported the war, and Cameron - he can hardly do otherwise and remain in government.  Still, it was a glorious slip of the tongue.  Will time tell the truth?  Will Tony Blair ever face the justice meted out to Saddam?

Clinic Presents Is Essential

For those collectors of little magazines, poetry ephemera, and other curious anthologies, zines, and one-offs, there is something you need: Clinic Presents.  I have rarely seen, if ever, such a beautifully-put-together collation of new daring poems by young (British) poets, and eccentric, indie photographs.  It recalls the best of Matrix magazine, likely Canada's hippest alternative poetry-and-arts journal.  With a Foreword by the excellent Jack Underwood (Faber New Poets 4), and poems by Gregory winners like Matthew Gregory, Sam Riviere, and Heather Phillipson, it also features poets I am glad to have read work by for the first time, like Rachael Allen, and Olly Todd.  Check in.

Leftfield Foward

The shortlists for the 19th annual Forward Prizes for Poetry, one of the UK ’s most valuable poetry prizes, was announced yesterday. "On the Best Collection short list two former category winners compete with poets on the list for the first time, while the short list for Best Single Poem brings many new faces to the fore."  It is especially good to see the small presses represented, as well as Lachlan Mackinnon, there - he's long been an Eyewear favourite.  However, it seems that for the main category, it may go to either Sampson or Shapcott.  Of course, one can never rule out the other strong contenders, especially Heaney.  I have yet to read all the debut collections, must get those.

"The shortlists are:
The Forward Prize for Best Collection £10,000 – sponsored by the Forward Arts Foundation
Seamus Heaney         Human Chain                                       Faber & Faber
Lachlan Mackinnon     Small Hours                                         Faber…

Mercury Prize 2010

The Barclaycard Mercury Prize has had its shortlist announced yesterday, and Eyewear is pleased to see a few of its faves in contention: Paul Weller's Wake Up The Nation and The xx's xx album.  Also particularly good are The Foals and Laura Marling.  Strong field.  I predict The xx will win.  They're one of the most striking and refreshing bands of the last decade in the UK.

John Cooper Clarke Redux

Poetry legend John Cooper Clarke was on the BBC this morning (Radio 4) - back out there performing regularly, after years of silence.  This is very good news.  Clarke is a major talent and an influence on witty performance-interested poets like Luke Wright and Tim Wells today.  A dream: to have him appear for the Oxfam series.  I am working on it.

Black out!

Conrad Black has been released (for now) from prison after a Supreme Court ruling that the law under which he was charged was vague.  Black is the most infamous, and controversial, Canadian of the 21st century - and arguably the last as well.  Although I often disagree with his views, we both share a few things: being Montrealers; being debaters when young; and having an interest in Nixon.  Indeed, after I wrote a positive review of his Nixon biography, Black sent an email saying no other reviewer had understood the book as well.  I though the book brilliantly stylish.  Hopefully Black will write more.

Not His Finest Hour

David Cameron, British PM, has been over there in the US of A this week, bigging down his role as a junior partner.  Not a history boy, Cameron yesterday talked about, on TV no less, how Britain was even junior partner in fighting the Nazis in 1940.  Well, maybe to the Russians, but not the Yanks.  As every schoolchild knows, or once did, the Americans only entered in 1941, after Pearl Harbour.  Instead, the 1940 war period was Britain's "finest hour".  I wonder, will Cameron also acknowledge that WH Auden is really American, and thank the States for loaning "us" Eliot?  Indeed, is British poetry, postwar, junior partner to the American stream?

212!

Eyewear now has 212 followers.  This is great news.  Keep the community of eyewearers growing worldwide!

The Writers Handbook 2011

The Writers Handbook is an invalauble source for British-based writers and poets, and I have most of its issues for the last decade. 2011 is quite a departure - at least in one way.  Chris Hamilton-Emery's poetry section provides an extraordinary list of the ten best things in poetry of the "noughties" - which I found somewhat eyebrow-raising, to be sure.

Among the people and events and developments selected as the most important of the last decade are Andrew Motion, for being a great poet laureate (which he was); a key figure at Faber & Faber; and Keston Sutherland - the only poet singled out as such - for all he has done and does, etc.  Also mentioned are the publishers Salt and Shearsman, and the appearance of digital networking communities.

The article goes on to predict that in "ten years" there will not be much in the way of printed books of poetry, in the UK, and they will not be sold or marketed in "bricks and mortar" ways.  Instead, almos…

Guest Review: Chingonyi On Chivers

Kayo Chingonyi reviews How To Build A City by Tom Chivers [editor's note: this is a Salt collection - buy it and help Salt out of its summer financial crisis]
As you might expect from a volume entitled How to Build a City, the metropolis is a prominent motif in this Crashaw Prize winning debut collection from Tom Chivers. Throughout the book there are references to city workers, business deals and mass transit. This is not to say that Chivers is a poet whose only concern is the urban sphere. Indeed, as the collection progresses, Chivers shows himself to be a poet of genuine range. The reader is never allowed to rest too easily on the overarching thread of the book but rather is challenged with poems covering themes as disparate as honour killings, the nature of photography and the poet’s relationship to his or her influences. On this last, the reader is treated to ‘On Kinder Scout’, a poem which pays fitting tribute to the late Barry MacSweeney with its blunt lyricism:
Bold wiry sheep…

Summer Books?

Why is it that when newspapers like The Guardian ask famous writers to list their recommended summer books list, they tend to end up listing nada in the way of poetry, or barely any, anyway?  It tends to confirm my creeping dread, my suspicion, that poetry, like nothing, happens everywhere, to paraphrase.  Anyway, here are a few of the books, poetry or otherwise, battered and dogeared or brand spanking new, I hope to skim through this August, with suncream on (Factor 50):

Flicker, by Theodore Roszak (thriller about film);
Ludbrooke & Others (latest poetry collection) by Alan Brownjohn;
Twenty-one Locks (debut novel by Guardian music journalist Laura Barton);
The Idea of a Christian Society by TS Eliot;
The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan;
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood;
New Light for the Old Dark (poetry) by Sam Willetts;
Expressway (GG finalist) by poet Sina Queyras;
Patient Frame by Canadian novelist and poet Steven Heighton;
Fifth Busines (novel) by Robertson Davies.

Tr…

Of Sundays - The Third Ben Mazer Poem In As Many Weeks

Eyewear is glad to continue the new, and slightly eccentric tradition, of featuring a poem by American poet Ben Mazer on Sundays.  I love his exploration of rhyme, mania and poetic excess in this poem, which has a Paterian flavour to its style.


Gethsemane You were insane, and I was sane, now you are sane, and I'm insane. I met you first in Gethsemane when you are gone, and I remain. The gardens there were lightly flush at introduction of your blush the kissing shadows nightly touch time shadows render from the flesh. The very bushes seemed to move with attitudes approaching love at the last moment to reprove as if they didn't want enough. Where earlier entering the town calm was embedded in reknown (directly it descends from this perfect betrayal of a kiss). The stirring petal on the bush ignited by the kiss of flesh the fragrance stirring in the air shimmering like a distant star the evidence that you are there though even now it seems so far. When you are gone, we meet again when like a shadow fame …

Review: Inception or Royal Road To Your Skull

Watching a movie is like dreaming in the dark with eyes wide open.  This oneiric element of film has a long tradition.  I had planned to write a lengthy, somewhat academic, and very clever review of Inception, the new Christopher Nolan blockbuster about dream-spies - one that would reference Freud, Lacan, Kubrick, Welles, - you name it.  I am less sure I need to now.

Having read Cosmo Landesman's review in The Sunday Times, I think we concur on the following: 1. Inception's representation of dreams, and dream states, is unconvincing - a weird mistake, since everyone dreams and will recognise this problem - in the sense that the film refrains entirely from any sexual or much repressed or symbolic content in the dreams; and also, presents very few non-linear (non-narrative) episodes.  2. The film's filmic references to Kubrick and Welles (i.e. the new Rosebud in the safe at the end, the Lady from Shanghai mirror references, Mr Arkadin billionaire-quest plot), Hitchcock (Vert…

New Poem by David Lehman

Eyewear is very pleased, and more than a little delighted, to feature a new poem this Friday by David Lehman (pictured on the right with Charles Simic), one of America's major figures in the poetry world - as third wave New York School poet, anthologist, teacher, scholar, critic, and impresario.


David Lehman was born in New York City in 1948. He graduated from Columbia University and attended Cambridge University in England as a Kellett Fellow. He also received a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University.


He is the author of several collections of poems, including When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005), Jim and Dave Defeat the Masked Man (with James Cummins, Soft Skull Press, 2005), The Evening Sun (2002),The Daily Mirror: A Journal in Poetry(2000), Valentine Place (1996), Operation Memory (1990), and An Alternative to Speech (1986).


His books of criticism include The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (Doubleday, 1998), which was named a "Book to Re…

Public Service Announcement

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award – opening up doors to exciting opportunities for new poets. Deadline for entries 31 July 2010 www.foyleyoungpoets.org
"Becoming a Foyle Young Poet is about more than just winning a competition. It is like being given the keys to doors you didn't know existed - suddenly there are clear directions you can take your poetry in. Entry is free and can be done instantly online - what are you waiting for? Let your poem be heard!"Phoebe Power, Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2009
If you are 11-17 years of age, the Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets ofthe Year Award opens up exciting opportunities for your writing to be recognized and given the chance to flourish.
Since it began 13 years ago the award has identified some of the most exciting new voices in contemporary poetry. These include Caroline Bird, who after winning the award had her first collection of poetry published aged just 16, Jay Bernard whose first collections Your Sign i…

Emergency Verse

The first great UK political anthology of 2010 is shaping up to be Alan Morrison's Emergency Verse.  There is still time to submit.  Protest against this Coalition of the savage-in-a-suit.  Apologies to the savages.

Summer Salt

Is philanthropy the coming thing, or dead in the water, in British Arts?  Never have the filthy rich in Britain given as much as say the American Rockefeller or Carnegie did for the arts.  Try to name equivalent family dynasties here that support dance, music, poetry?  Okay, - but what about poetry?  Where are the new patrons?  For a while now, it has been HM - via a government that can no longer really afford to pay out, and then get spit in the eye.  Cameron's cuts will see some small presses and magazines fold, no doubt.  Even Salt, that innovative younger press with the great covers and wide list, faces ongoing difficulty - see its recent Facebook message:

Chris Hamilton-EmeryJuly 14 at 2:23pm

I hoped I'd never have to write this note. The recession has continued to have a very negative impact on sales at Salt and we're finally having to go public to ask you to help support us.

Our sales are now 60% down on last year and have wiped out our grant and our cash reserv…

Seth's Death To SoQ?

Seth Abramson has brilliantly, wittily, and I think pretty comprehensively, tackled the whole Ron Silliman-generated "School of Quietude" issue over at his blog of late.  For British readers not in the know, what is often called over here the mainstream-postmodern (by Paterson) or the mainstream-experimental (or avant-garde, or linguistically innovative or late modern) split - so, in shorthand, Auden vs. Pound, Seamus Heaney vs. JH Prynne, or Wendy Cope vs. Denise Riley - is often now termed by some in certain circles in the States as the School of Quietude vs. the post-avant - i.e. Frost vs. Hejinian.  Abramson's most important claim is that this term is about poems, not poets - and then claims almost all of O'Hara, for instance.  Secondly, he traces the rhetorical roots of this tussle to the Ancients (as does Derrida, of course).  His main point is that this is an argument between transcendence contra immanence of the Word.

Language is obviously of central concern …

Some light on the letters

Irish poet-critic David Wheatley has written well and long on the Letters of Louis MacNeice - long a key link between the poetries of the Auden England and the later Muldoon Ireland - his influence as talky-yet-lyrical common man of the time with a wounded heart and a stained sleeve has made him a dour-if-erotic Anglo-Irish version of Frank O'Hara (his journals and letters ways of doing this and that with poems, instead of journalism); and he connects so many strands and styles, not least the pre and post war ones, that he can't be left out of anyone's core anthology of the last century; and a few of his lyrics are as good as anyone else's.  It is good to hear he wrote well and long himself, in the letter form.

Guest Review: Brinton On Duggan's Martial

Ian Brinton reviews Martial Arts: The Epigrams of Martial Translated by Laurie Duggan
When D.R. Shakleton Bailey’s three-volume prose translation of Martial’s Epigrams appeared as an addition to the series of Loeb Classics in 1994 Charles Tomlinson reviewed it for The New Criterion under the title ‘Martial in English’ noting that this edition ‘offers an occasion for thinking about the way Martial’s presence shows itself in English poetry’. He praised the unpretentiously accurate approach of the translator by suggesting that it ‘helps the reader to the mental possession of the original’ as well as making one conscious ‘anew of how splendidly some of our English poets responded to Martial.’ A matter of weeks ago Pressed Wafer’s reprint of the Australian poet Laurie Duggan’s translations brings back into the market-place the variety of tones to be found in the Latin poet, the mixture of biting wit and scarifying disdain, a concern for humane values and a compassionate understanding of human…