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Thursday, 1 December 2016

THE BEVERLY PRIZE SHORTLIST 2016!

The Beverly Prize (named after an Irish-Canadian writer and book-lover) may be unique in the publishing world (you tell me) in that it is likely the most inclusive and open:
 
Any nationality can enter; any age 18 or older; and you can enter (so long as it is mostly unpublished and original) ANY FORM OR GENRE of writing for consideration - from non-fiction to a novella, a short story collection, a novel, a play, a screenplay, a memoir, a biography, or a pamphlet or full collection of poetry. The only caveat, is it must be written in English.
 
This year, we received a good number of entries - and after a good deal of hemming and hawing, re-reading and debating, the three editorial team judges (Oliver Jones, Rosanna Hildyard, and Todd Swift) were able to cleave to a decision not to have a shortlist verging on the rather long, but still keep a wonderful range of voices, emphatically new and old, more and less established.
 
So, we have 14, a baker's dozen plus one for good luck - and, overall, it is a pleasingly fascinating, international list for our final judge to read through over the hols.  Ms K. Davio will announce the winner in early 2017, and they will be published within 12 months.  Not bad, eh? Here they are in no order particularly, to emphasize the eclectic nature of the prize - do spread the word on social media. We will soon add the names of their manuscript and genre as well. They're all talented.


Urvashi Bahuguna's poems have been published or are forthcoming in Barely South Review, Jaggery Lit, Kitaab, Cadaverine, The Four Quarters Magazine and elsewhere. She is a journalist and poet from India, who has studied on the MA in Creative Writing at the UEA.

 
 
 
J. A. Bernstein’s novel, Rachel's Tomb, won the 2016 Hackney Literary Prize and 2015 Knut House Novel Contest. His essay collection, In Josephat's Valley, was runner-up for the 2015 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Book Award. His stories and essays have appeared in Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, Shenandoah, World Literature Today, Tampa Review, and other journals, and garnered the Gunyon Prize from Crab Orchard Review. He has also published academic articles on Joseph Conrad. A Chicago-native, he is an assistant professor of English at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the fiction editor of Tikkun.
 
 
Andrew D. Miller was born in Fresno, California. He did his Masters of Fine Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, and then went on to complete an academic PhD in the Institute of English, German and Romantic Studies at Copenhagen University in 2010. His poetry has appeared in many magazines, such as River Review, Prairie Schooner, New Orleans Review, Nimrod, and Hunger Mountain. Miller is the author of Poetry, Photograph, Ekphrasis, Lyrical Representations of Photography from the 19th Century to the Present and the co-editor of The Gazer Within, the Selected Prose of Larry Levis, a volume of Michigan Press’ Poets on Poetry Series. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.
 
Ian Harrow was born in 1945. He was educated at a grammar school in Newcastle upon Tyne and at Leeds University. From 1983-1990 he was Head of the School of Art at Lancashire Polytechnic (now University of Central Lancashire). He has published four collections, the most recent being Words Take Me (Lapwing, 2013). He is of Scots-Irish extraction and lives in York. His work has appeared since 1975 in many publications, including the Times Literary Supplement, Stand, Poetry Wales, Poetry Ireland Review, London Magazine, Rialto, Oxford Magazine, and The Spectator. Bernard O'Donoghue called Words Take Me 'an utterly absorbing book that stays hauntingly in the memory. It is a major achievement.'

 
Sohini Basak has poems and short stories in the 3:AM Magazine, Aainanagar, Missing Slate, Ambit, Lighthouse, as well as in anthologies of Emma Press and Poetrywala. She won second prize at the 2013 RædLeaf India Poetry Prize; was shortlisted for the Melita Hume and the Jane Martin poetry prizes in 2014; and was a 2015-16 fellow of the (Great) Indian Poetry Collective. She studied literature and creative writing at the universities of Delhi, Warwick, and East Anglia, where she received the Malcolm Bradbury continuation grant for poetry. She is a social media manager for Asymptote journal and lives and works in Delhi.
 
 
Charles Wilkinson’s publications include The Pain Tree and Other Stories (London Magazine Editions, 2000), Ag & Au (Flarestack Poets, 2013) and A Twist in the Eye (Egaeus Press, 2016). His poems have appeared in many magazines, including Tears in the Fence, Poetry Wales,The Raintown Review and Poetry Salzburg. He has had short stories in Best English Short Stories 2 (W.W. Norton, USA),  Best British Short Stories 2015 (Salt) and Best Weird Fiction 2015 (Undertow Books, Canada).  He lives in Powys, Wales.



Les Bohem was a small part of the great Los Angeles music scare of the 1980s, with his own band, Gleaming Spires, and as a member of the band, Sparks.  Somehow that evolved into a career writing for the movies and television.  Les wrote Twenty Bucks, Daylight, Dante’s Peak, The Alamo and the mini-series, Taken, for which he won an Emmy award.  He’s had songs recorded by Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, Freddy Fender, Steve Gillette, Johnette Napolitano (of Concrete Blonde), and Alvin (of the Chipmunks.)  His first novel, Flight 505, was published last year by UpperRubberBoot.  He created the series, Shut Eye, now streaming on Hulu.  His new album, Moved to Duarte, has just been released on Jack Rabbit Day Records.
Rich Murphy has taught writing and literature at colleges and universities for thirty years. Murphy’s book-length collection Body Politic will be published by Prolific Press early in 2017. His credits also include three books: Americana, Prize Americana 2013 winner; Voyeur 2008 Gival Press Poetry Award; and The Apple in the Monkey Tree, Codhill Press; chapbooks, Great Grandfather, Family SecretHunting and Pecking, Rescue LinesPhoems for Mobile Vices, and Paideia. He also publishes essays on poetics in journals. Derek Walcott has remarked, “Mr. Murphy is a very careful craftsman in his work, a patient and testing intelligence . . . .”

 
Winner of Able Muse and Fiction International ’s 2015 Fiction Prizes, Andrea Witzke Slot is author of the poetry collection To find a new beauty (Gold Wake Press) and a recently-finished novel manuscript titled The Cartography of Flesh: in the silence of Ella Mendelssohn. Publications include Mid-American Review, Ambit, Southeast Review, Under the Radar, Meridian, American Literary Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and books by SUNY Press and Palgrave Macmillan, which include her essays on poetry and social change. An American expat and permanent resident of the UK, Andrea lives in London but visits Chicago regularly.
 
Joseph Harrington is the author of Things Come On (an amneoir) (Wesleyan UP, 2011) and the critical work Poetry and the Public (Wesleyan UP, 2002). His creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in BAX: The Best American Experimental Writing 2016, Bombay Gin, Hotel Amerika, Colorado Review, The Rumpus, 1913: a journal of forms, and Fact-Simile, among others. Harrington is the recipient of a Millay Colony residency and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair. He teaches at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Chris Preddle’s second collection is Cattle Console Him (Waywiser, 2010).  His work has appeared in Irish Pages, Little Star, PN Review, The Poetry Review, Scintilla, The Shop, Stand, The Yellow Nib and other magazines.  In 2012 he came second in the Strokestown competition and was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize.  He has won first prizes in the Scintilla and Poetry on the Lake competitions.  He is working on translations of Sappho’s songs.  He lived until recently in Holme on a shoulder of the Yorkshire Pennines.
 
 
 
 
C.P. Mangel was counsel for a pharmaceutical company for over twenty years, and then received her MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, four children, and two rescue mixed-breed muses.
 
 
Robert D. Kirvel is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net 2016 nominee for fiction, 2016 winner of the Fulton Prize for the Short Story, and a 2015 ArtPrize winner for creative nonfiction. He has published stories or essays in the UK, New Zealand, and Germany; in translation and anthologies; and in a score of U.S. literary journals, such as Columbia College Literary Review and Arts & Letters.
 
Stuart Ross is a writer whose work has appeared in The Awl, DIAGRAM, Eclectica Magazine, Funhouse Magazine, HTML Giant, Pioneertown, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and other places. He is co-author of the novella Markson’s Pier, published by Essays & Fictions. He was awarded first place, non-fiction in the Summer Literary Seminars 2013 contest. He has been a resident of the Ragdale Foundation and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Stuart is a graduate of Queens College, City University of New York and the Creative Writing program at the University of Notre Dame.

 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

JENNA CLAKE WINS THE MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE 2016!

MS CLAKE IS DOING A PHD WITH LUKE KENNARD AT BIRMINGHAM UNIVERSITY, ON THE FEMINIST ABSURD IN AMERICAN AND BRITISH POETRY

JENNA CLAKE IS OUR WINNER THIS YEAR!

GREAT NEWS!

READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

THE BEST OF 2016

WHAT HELL IS THIS, SO BRIGHT AND RICH AND EMPTY?
 
UPDATED AND REVISED

Eyewear, The Blog, usually enjoys compiling end of the year lists; though we tend to avoid mentioning prose works, drama and art. 2016, now arguably the punch line to a Kafka-Beckett comedy routine, doesn't seem the sort of place to lodge too many enthusiasms, but of course some of the finest films, songs, and poems, have been created during wartime, and The Great Depression, and other major moments in recent history. This year will be remembered in 200 years, even, for the Dylan Nobel, the slaughter of Aleppo, and the Trump election - probably little else.
 
 
BEST MUSIC
 
A cruel trilogy of masterful albums, two almost posthumous, are clearly in the top five - by Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, and David Bowie. Then there's Lemonade, by Beyoncé. Iggy Pop had a great last gasp, and Drake was at full height. Warpaint, PJ Harvey, MIA, Animal Collective, and Rihanna created superb LPs. Lady Gaga reinvented herself. Massive Attack and Hope Sandoval created one of the best dream pop songs ever. Weezer, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones, Wire, ABC, Pixies, The Monkees, Gwen Stefani, Metallica, Radiohead, Kings of Leon and Barry Gibb all returned with good work - reminding us never to assume people are finished. Merchandise crafted a very cunning fusion of The Smiths, Simple Minds and Joy Division. A young Muslim lad, wonderfully, in this year of hateful Trump/Farage, produced the best Top 40 single: 'Pillowtalk' by Zayn.
 
 
BEST TV
 
The BBC started the year with two great mini-series - War and Peace, and The Night Manager. These got attention, but were promptly eclipsed by The Game of Thrones episode, 'Battle of the Bastards' - easily the finest one hour of TV action ever filmed; and then came the nostalgic favourite, Stranger Things - a perfect synthesis of all that made us love the 80s. Best TV movie - Netflix's The Siege at Jadotville. The final season of The Fall, Humans, The Americans, Designated Survivor, all good... but I think Stranger Things wins.
 
 
BEST FILM
 
It is too early to tell - too many of the best films come out in the UK late December, early January. At this stage, the best, darkest, and most angry-American film of the moment is Hell and High Water. Adam Driver is clearly the man of the moment, in terms of film acting. We will update this in February 2017.
 
 
BEST POETRY BOOKS and books about poetry*

(work-in-progress)
 
The Poems of Basil Bunting, edited by Don Share
 
The new book of essays by Stephen Burt, the poem is you
 
Cain by Luke Kennard

Moments of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo

Holy Toledo by John Clegg

Through by David Herd

Trammel by Charlotte Newman

Exile and the Kingdom by Hilary Davies

Selected essays by Richard Price, Is This A Poem?
 
The new book of essays by Charles Bernstein, Pitch of Poetry

Paul Muldoon, Selected Poems, 1968-2014
 
Stephen Heighton's GG winner
 
and major new poetry collections by:
 
Denise Riley
Rachael Boast

 
 
*Excluding Eyewear titles.

Friday, 25 November 2016

WHO WILL WIN THE HUME POETRY PRIZE THIS YEAR?

Mark Ford - world-renowned poet (Faber), editor (Ashbery), critic, and professor (UCL), has been reading a stellar group of poets, and will be sending his judge's report to us next week.... get ready for the announcement of the winner NEXT WEEK. Here is a list of the brilliant shortlist OF TEN BRILLIANT UK/IRISH POETS 35 YEARS OR UNDER:
 
Niall Bourke is from Kilkenny, in Ireland, but now lives in London. He teaches English Literature at St Michael’s College in Bermondsey and in 2015 he finished an MA in creative writing and teaching at Goldsmiths University of London. He writes both poetry and prose and has been published in a number of journals and magazines in the UK and Ireland, including; The Galway Review,  Southbank Poetry, Magma, Three Drops From A Cauldron, Prole, Holdfast Magazine and Ink Sweat and Tears. In 2015 he was longlisted for The Short Story competition and has been twice shortlisted for the Over The Edge New Writer Of The Year Award (for both poetry and fiction). He has also been shortlisted The 2015 Costa Short Story Award and The 2016 Bare Fiction Poetry Prize and has had poems selected for the Eyewear Best New British and Irish Poetry Anthology 2015 and 2016.
 
 
 
 
 
Jenna Clake is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on the feminine and feminist Absurd in twenty-first century British and American poetry. She is also the Poetry and Arts Editor for the Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language. Her poetry has appeared in Poems in WhichThe BohemythQueen Mob’s Teahouse and more. 
 
 
 
 
 
Tom Clucas completed his D.Phil. in English at the University of Oxford, where he won the Lord Alfred Douglas, Graham Midgley Memorial, Eugene Lee-Hamilton, and English Poem on a Sacred Subject prizes for poetry. Most recently, he has published poems in the Oxford Magazine, the Literateur, and Mistress Quickly's Bed, as well as a range of articles on British poetry in academic journals. He currently runs the St Edmund Hall Writers' Directory and Forum, and has given numerous poetry readings in England and Germany.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Patrick Davidson Roberts was born in 1987 and grew up in the North-East of England; in Sunderland and Durham. In 2014 he was awarded a PhD in the poetry of Philip Larkin and others. He established The Next Review, a bi-monthly print magazine of poetry and criticism, in 2013 and is its editor. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton's Poetry Centre, and a contributing editor to The Poetry Archive. His poetry and criticism has been published widely both in print and online. He lives and works in London.
 
 
 
Afshan D'souza-Lodhi writes plays, prose, performance pieces and poetry. She runs the Women in the Spotlight programme - a BAME/LBT woman's writing for performance programme at Commonword/Cultureword. She has performed and written pieces for Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Z-Arts, The Southbank Centre, The International Poetry Festival, Ilkley Literature Festival, Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, Manchester Literature Festival and Contact. Catch her on twitter @ashlodhi on her website, one she hardly ever updates www.afshan.info 
 
 
Maker, worker, writer, Ben Gwalchmai has worked with international opera and theatre companies, written for national newspapers and international journals, had several fiction and non-fiction publications as editor and writer, produced innovative pervasive media projects, and has won awards for his work. His satirical novel, Purefinder, is available in all good bookstores and online.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Anna Mace was born in Devon and is a writer and poet.  Having studied Fine Art in Oxford, Anna Mace is keen to merge the boundaries between text, art, science and performance, experimenting with different creative media and seeking to engage with a broad audience.  Inspiration comes from modernist, symbolism and experimental poetry traditions.  Between writing she works as a teacher and has lived abroad in Asia and Europe but now resides in Bristol, UK.  This year she is involved in a number of projects including: writing poetry alongside fellow poet Steven Fowler for the bookart edition two and three, Revolve:R (collective of 30 international and UK based artists).    Revolve:R has held exhibitions (2014) nationally and internationally and will be exhibiting work from its current edition (including her poetry) in 2017.  Her poem 'Elements: 79' inspired Rammatik (Film and Media winners 2014), to create a video work entitled Eclipse (2015, music composition Thomas Garside).  The UK based, installation filmmakers OneFiveWest created a short film in response to her poem entitled, Not I  and Maria Anastasiou to create the film,  Gravity, to her poem, 'The Earth Hums Mohini'.
 
 
 
David Spittle has recently completed a PhD on the poetry of John Ashbery and Surrealism. He has published reviews in Hix Eros and PN Review. David’s poetry has been published in Blackbox Manifold, Datableed, The Literateur, 3am, Shadowtrain, Butcher’s Dog, and has been translated into French courtesy of Black Herald Press. In addition to poetry, he has written the libretti to three operas, performed at various venues around Cardiff and at Hammersmith Studios in London. In 2014 David was commissioned to write a song cycle for the Bergen National Opera, which has since been performed internationally. He blogs at http://themidnightmollusc.blogspot.co.uk
 
 
 
 
Jacqueline Thompson is from Arbroath in Scotland and recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at The University of Edinburgh. Her poems have appeared in The Scotsman, New Writing Scotland, Gutter, For A’ That (Dundee University Press), In On the Tide (Appletree Writers Press), Double Bill (Red Squirrel Press) and From Arthur’s Seat (Egg Box Publishing). Her work will appear in Poetry Ireland Review in December. She was shortlisted for the Grierson Verse Prize 2013 and the Westport Arts Festival Poetry Prize 2016.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alex Wylie grew up on the Fylde coast, Lancashire, and now teaches modern literature at Queen’s University Belfast. In 2011, he was included in Carcanet’s New Poetries V, and has published widely in journals and anthologies in the UK and Ireland. As well as writing poetry, he is also a critic, and has recently published critical work in such journals as Essays in Criticism, Cambridge Quarterly, English, Literary Imagination, and PN Review.
 
 
 
 
 
 

VAHNI CAPILDEO WILL BE THE JUDGE FOR THE HUME IN 2017! THE ENTRY PORTAL WILL OPEN IN EARLY 2017....

 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

LETTER FROM AMERICA, POST-TRUMP VICTORY...


Ironically, "Make America Great Again" will mark the end of American Exceptionalism. 


NED HARTLEY, AMERICAN WRITER AND MUSICIAN

President Obama gave a press conference at the White House on Monday, November 14, before leaving for a series of state visits overseas. His intelligence and grasp of the minute details of governance only highlighted the fact that Donald Trump is going to look like a complete buffoon at his first news conference. Maybe he'll get impeached for mental incompetence. 

Growing up in the years following World War II, one of the persistent questions that was always just below the surface was, "How could good people allow the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust to happen?" Well, now we know. There's not a lot you can do to stop it. Not everyone is enlightened, and sometimes the mob underbelly wins. I hate to sound defeatist, but all I can come up with is that Germany survived it. It took a generation or two, but Germany's still here, and better than ever. Better than us, in terms of education at least. It's gonna suck. People are going to die. People have already died. From the Emanuel 9 to the 49 at the Pulse nightclub, and all the black men killed by the police in between. Hopefully it won't be six million, but make no mistake, this is exactly how it happened before. Hitler was popularly elected. It is only a matter of time before a picture leaks of a Confederate battle flag being displayed at the White House. Steve Bannon may not survive the scrutiny, but there are going to be plenty of people who would like to mark their territory. 

I can't even. With a Republican president and the Republicans in control of both the Senate and House, they are going to have a free-for-all and enact all the batshit extremist policies they have been wanting to enact for decades. Already Trump has appointed a climate-change denier as head of the EPA. It's just going to be a mess. The only hope is that even Republicans will see how crazy it is and we'll elect a Democrat in 2020. I don't even want to talk about who right now. That's what got us in trouble this time, having a presumptive nominee for eight years. Let's see who does the best job in congress pushing back against the madness, and nominate her. 

Ironically, "Make America Great Again" will mark the end of American Exceptionalism. We will cease to be the leader of the world. Our universities will probably begin to suffer as the best students from around the world (who, admit it, are the best students at our research universities) will be afraid to come here. Our leadership vacuum will lead to political instability around the world to the extent that some other nation is going to have to step in and be the voice of reason. The scary thing is, policy and administration discord aside, our military is still wrapped around the globe like no other country's. What do we do with that? 

I woke up again this morning just about ready to smile because I'm awesome and I live in an awesome town and have an awesome job and have awesome friends like you, but that all lasted for about 15 nanoseconds before I reminded myself that I now live under a fascist regime that isn't going anywhere for at least four years. Now I know how intellectuals in Nazi Germany felt. Resigned and grateful that they were not Jewish (those who were not Jewish). I'm a white male. I'll be fine. And Jews will probably be fine this time around as well. But Muslims and blacks are rightfully scared for their lives. There is going to be a new, American Kristallnacht in our future. And it will go down in history. And America will not be the same. America is already not the same. Rachel Maddow said it best on the night of the election: "If you're a Muslim-American right now, I think that tonight has to feel not just like a seismic political event but like a seismic event about what America means."  

JFK famously said, "The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war." That is the United States that I grew up in. I took it for granted that we were the good in the world. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney negated that. The other thing you could always say about the United States--what Rachel is talking about when she refers to "what America means"--is that we were open to immigrants. America wasn't so much a place as an idea: the idea of freedom. We no longer represent that idea. We're just a bunch of pigs, and now we have a pig for our president. 

I'm just going to try to continue to be nice to the people I interact with daily. Beyond that, I don't think there's a whole lot I can do. The forces of history are too strong. 

Ned Hartley

 
Ned Hartley is an independent scholar, writer and musician living in Staunton, Virginia. He was educated at the University of Virginia.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

DEATH OF THE LADIES' MAN: LEONARD COHEN, 1934-2016

LOUIS DUDEK WAS COHEN'S EARLY MENTOR, AND MY FRIEND
There was never a time when I did not know about Leonard Cohen.  I was born in 1966, and he had been famous (in Canada) as one of our best poets even before then; by 1967, he was world-famous, arguably Canada's most-beloved figure ever on the world stage, and he kept on being so, up until his death yesterday. My mother was a huge fan, and his music and poetry (less so his prose) was always in my childhood.

Since I was born in Montreal (as was he), and shared his passion for debating and writing (less so, strumming guitars), he was never far from my thought - indeed, as a teenager trying to write poetry, and wondering if such a role was feasible for a Montrealer, Cohen showed the way (along with Irving Layton, and Louis Dudek, his mentors, later both mine as well). Mostly, like most Canadian poets, my affections were of the love-hate kind. He was the absentee father, who rarely did or said anything to promote younger poets from his homeland, even while laying the ground for their muted successes - no one was as famous as he, and his very presence always somewhat invalidated the idea that "lousy little poets" could in fact compete with a major recording artist's career of movie star girlfriends, and homes in LA.

But Cohen was a driving influence in my life - I honeymooned on Hydra, and I lived for a decade around the corner from his apartment (flat) in the same district of Montreal, off The Main.  I ate in the same delis, and drank in some of the same clubs and cafes.  I knew many of his closest friends, and some of his lovers; oddly, I never met the man myself. I could have on many occasions, but somehow never did. He was often at the same restaurants or parties within minutes of my arriving, just disappeared.

I did write to him and receive a kind message once; and I also published some of his poetry. At various times, in various reviews I wrote, I adopted, suitably, various positions on his work and career, and ultimate canonical status. It is my opinion that Montreal Jewish Anglophone modernist poetry and prose is the greatest single contribution Canada has ever made to global culture - starting with AM Klein, who is Canada's major English-language poet. Cohen was influenced by this rich, intelligent tradition, and took it to heart; he never sought to move beyond its tents or styles, albeit later in song.

Cohen is a master lyricist - and a master of the lyric poem. He was always a neo-formalist, fond of rhyme and the well-turned couplet and quatrain. He clearly was more influenced by Blake and Auden, than by Eliot. Although his fusion of sexual and religious energies is akin to that of Dylan Thomas, or Donne, his language was always lucid. He was rarely if ever complex; and he was witty; you suspect he read Larkin.

Cohen is not a lightweight poet - he is one of Canada's best. But as a singer-songwriter, infused with an awareness of poetry, he is second only to Bob Dylan, and, with Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Morrissey, Elvis Costello, and Springsteen and John Lennon, one of a handful of poet-writers to charm their way into the great tower of song. However, his mastery of a personal style in terms of dress, simple production values, and focus on wisdom and wry satire, made him as a sum larger than his parts - and he became Canada's finest export.

Cohen is universally admired by younger musicians, and by many poets. Only in certain grumpy and austerely fastidious poetry circles, in arrogant academia, have I encountered limited love for the man's work.

I suspect Cohen was a charming, funny, and pleasant man to work with - but he was not a creator of movements. It may be he was often humbled, depressive, and aware of his many intellectual limitations, and so refrained from doing more. I wonder if his being by-passed by the Nobel was a final cruel blow. It is arguable he was the more literary singer-songwriter, and the poetic equal of Bob Dylan.

The death of Cohen is a tragedy for the cultured world that could always look forward to another bleak, deeply-humane and humorous take on the human condition. His life was stylish, enigmatic, nomadic, and somewhat mysterious.  Cohen was both an everyman, and an elitist. This was his ultimate recipe - you could imagine seeing him in the café near you - but you also knew his dining companion would be more intriguing than yours... I once saw him dining with the PM of Canada, Trudeau senior... himself aware of life's bounty.

His songs will last, because they are rather artfully produced to sound timelessly minimalist. His message was barely hopeful, but limned with the need for a spiritual post-carnal dialogue, and this sort of secular drive for transcendence in a breaking world, gnostic and subdued, may be the only post-Holocaust sublime he felt was possible. We can surely use such hopeful pessimism more than ever today.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

NO SILVER LINING

THE STORM-TRUMPERS CHEER THEIR MONSTROUS WIN
The old adage that history repeats, the second time as farce, almost rhymes with this nasty nightmarish moment, the election of President Trump by a whitelash landslide, except the American Caligula now in our midst - the most dangerous and dishonest person to be democratically elected to such a powerful leadership role since WW2 - is no farcical figure.
 
Comedians might wryly note that Donald J Trump is very presidential - he has the moral compass of Nixon, the sexual ethics of Bill Clinton, the intelligence of George W Bush, the cultural sophistication of Reagan, the political experience of Eisenhower, and the family-decency of Kennedy - but this approach lacks depth or clarity.  There has actually never been a president like Trump before. There may never be a presidency, again, after him.
 
There are two ways to treat this most horrible of events - and one is with cautious optimism; however, since this blog correctly predicted that Trump would win, we also wish to err on the side of cautious pessimism.  There is very little in the Trump resume to suggest any other way. It is possible, of course, that, like last night's muted acceptance speech, he can now moderate his Barnum-like excesses, and prove to be a capable, even strong, manager and CEO of America Ltd.
 
Trump, however, ran a campaign marked by too many evils to be let off that lightly.  We need not repeat his offenses here - but it is alleged he is a child rapist; a serial sexual offender; a sociopath; a bully; a cruel and vengeful man; a selfish egomaniac; a cheat and liar; and arguably, a hate-monger and exhorter to violence. He has flirted with the far-right, and white supremacist symbols.
 
His win was obvious to anyone who understands the Nixon silent majority plan to recruit a block of white, male, working class, bigoted, and angry voters; Pat Buchanan and his pitchfork revolution wanted to do this decades before; Newt Gingrich tapped this same vein. Reagan, also. As we have seen, there is a slim majority of adult Americans who apparently want a racist, woman-hating bully in power. So, after America's mostly noble experiments, we now see the American soul yearns like the Russian peasant for a potent father-figure, a Tsar.
 
Trump ran openly as a father figure - as a potent male - and did not hide his belligerent, highly-sexed, driven Darwinian aspects. He is the Uber-American. And the people who voted for him in droves knew this yesterday, and they cheered. Tragically, a relatively good woman, Mrs Clinton, has been defeated. She was no saint, but she was smart, capable, and has spent her entire life trying to improve life for many, especially children, and women. She is too complex and ambitious to be considered a likeable person - which was her downfall - but buried depths of racism and woman-hate drove the attacks upon her.
 
Anyone who does not see this as the worst moment in the history of the West since the death of Kennedy, or Dr King, about 50 years ago - or even since 1933 - is being naïve.
 
The new Republican army has all three power levers in the US government now, and can destroy environmental laws, stack the Supreme Court with bigots, tear down all the fine achievements of the Obama years; cause wars, religious and civil strife; stoke racism; and permit other tyrannies to prosper, unchecked. The level of spiritual and intellectual poverty on display in this election is actually vomit-inducing.
 
It is true that such anger and ignorance can only be bred in swamps of neglect; and that the establishment has much to answer for, as with Brexit. But now, the UK and America are under the sway of populist anti-rational movements, and worse is yet to come.
 
I fear for all those decent Americans - a majority of women, Hispanic, African-American, and Millennial, voters - who hoped to follow the decency of the Obama terms with a reasonably sane President.  Washington, DC is now Berlin, just before the night of the long knives.  What purges to come, what intolerance, what walls, what wars, what blood running in the streets? Shame on all who did this.