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Showing posts from November, 2005

Fry Declines To Debate Swift For Charity

The man pictured to your left is very busy, indeed.

I received a very polite letter from his publisher, at Random House, stating: "Stephen's time is fully booked and I must therefore decline your offer".

My offer was for Stephen Fry, celebrated poetry expert, to come to the soon-to-open flagship Oxfam Bloomsbury bookshop, and debate myself, or another cultural figure of poetic repute, on the question: "Be It Resolved That Modern Poetry is Arse-Dribble" - or something of the sort.

Pity.

I think Fry stood a very good chance of besting me in debate. And we would have raised interest in both his new book, poetry in general, and some money for a major and important charity.

I am glad Fry is fully booked, if not fully bookish.

More Adventures in Sound Recording: Poetry 2

The poetry archive which Charles Bernstein directs is indicated below:

http://www.writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/

New Adventures In Sound Recording: Poetry

This from The New York Times, online (see below, in a slightly smaller font):

[The T.S. Review recalls a lecture given a few years ago, by the American innovative poet Charles Bernstein, about the coming age of the digital revolution in poetry recording, where he called for all poems to be spoken and recorded and archived, in an accessible universal format. He also praised the pioneering work of Swifty Lazarus in its poetry recording experiments. It is good to see British and Irish poetry also launching such an enterprise, and one hopes it will link to Mr. Bernstein's site.]

A new Web site under the auspices of Andrew Motion, the poet laureate of Britain, will collect recordings of poets reading their own works. The Poetry Archive (www.poetryarchive.co.uk) goes online today with recordings of Margaret Atwood, above right, Harold Pinter, Simon Armitage, U. A. Fanthorpe and Seamus Heaney, who is listed as the organization's president.

The site also has historical recordings by Robe…

Seven Poets For Oxfam Tonight

OXFAM BOOKS & MUSIC POETRY SERIES
YEAR-END FINALE

Tuesday, November 29, 7-10 pm

SEVEN POETS FOR OXFAM

Featuring: Lavinia Greenlaw, pictured here, (author of Minsk, Faber, and Forward Poetry Prize winner); Sinead Morrissey (author The State of the Prisons, Carcanet); Sophie Hannah (Penguin Selected Poems forthcoming); Charles Bennett (author of Wintergreen); Briar Wood (New Zealand-born poet and lecturer); Leah Fritz (London-based American author of The Way To Go); Polly Clark (author of Take Me With You, Bloodaxe, current Poetry Book Society Choice).

This finale will close the official run of the highly succesful two-year 2004-2005 poetry project in Marylebone, and inaugurate new poetry events for 2006. The series has so far raised thousands of pounds for Oxfam.

Oxfam Books & Music
91 Marylebone High Street
London, W1, near Baker Street
Admission free - donations gratefully accepted - all proceeds to Oxfam.

To reserve a ticket, call 020 7487 3570
or email Martin Penny at
oxfammarylebone@h…

Magma, Magma Everywhere

Magma 33 is now out.

It features my interview with Al Alvarez, as well as Philip Gross "on Basho and William Carlos Williams" and many poems by many good poets, such as Moniza Alvi, Michael Symmons Roberts, Tobias Hill, and reviews by David Boll and others.

A very worthwile issue to borrow, or better, own, if you don't mind me saying.

Magma has a website now, www.magmapoetry.com, too.

The launch for 33 is at 8 pm on Monday December 5 2005 in the Coffee-House Poetry series, at the Troubdadour Coffee House, 265 Old Brompton Road, London.

The Queen's English

I was the guest speaker at the Queen's English Society meeting the other night, at The New Cavendish Club.

It was a good mix of people, some very articulate indeed, such as Dr. and Mrs. Bernard Lamb, the Times Crossword expert Roy Dean (who presented me with a copy of his book Mainly In Fun), and the golden-voiced former BBC radio broadcaster Peter Barker, who read poems between the music on BBC 3, along with other clever and oustpoken men and women, including a chap who is a tram driver and a lady who confessed (privately) to being an atheist - her secret is safe with me.

After lecturing on my subject, "Trends in 21st century Poetry" for 45 minutes, I was asked to read my own poems, for about another 25. I read from Cafe Alibi, Rue du Regard, and a few new poems from my UEA MA dissertation.

Then there was a coffee and biscuits break, then we debated the state of contemporary poetry, and finally had sandwiches and port in the library.

Those interested in learning more shoul…

Is Modern Poetry Mostly "Arse-Dribble"? Revisited & Revised In The Light Of New Information

The man to the right of the page is none other than Stephen Fry.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, October 23, 2005 (just brought to my attention today) Mr. Fry has had it up to here with modern poetry which is mostly "arse-dribble".

He is also "sniffy about" the poet laureate Andrew Motion, and thinks that the series of e-books I edited, with Val Stevenson of Nthposition, the 100 Poets Against the War series "pathetic, naive, like small noisy tantrums". He thinks modern poets are lazy: "you cannot work too hard at poetry".

No, you can't. First task on the road of manual labour (after all, Fry once played a witty genius in a film, Oscar Wilde) is to actually read some "modern poetry" which Fry clearly hasn't.

Simply put, Dr. Fry has made the cardinal error of conflating the speed of delivery of poetry in the Internet age (i.e. e-books and poems on web sites and blogs) with the time, or care, taken to actually write said poems. Gi…

George Szirtes T.S. Eliot Lecture

The lecture by George Szirtes is now online, see link: http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/news/poetryscene/?id=168

T.S. Eliot Prize Shortlist Announcement

The T.S. Review is pleased to share this announcement with you, below.

I am glad to see so many of the excellent poets who have supported the Oxfam Poetry Series in London over the last few years, by donating their readings, featured on this year's list, such as Polly Clark, Pascale Petit, John Stammers, Sinead Morrissey and David Harsent.

It is also interesting to see the shortlisted poets so evenly spread among the major publishing presses.

It seems a particularly strong list, though, the judges have chosen to not represent any writing by either more experimental UK poets, or those who work in the margins of performance based poetries. It represents the main stream of current British poetry, in its more lucid, lyric, form.

There is a neo-classical tendency at the moment, in the UK,which worships form, wit and order at the expense of the less-controlled aspects of imagination, content and vernacular insight - the diction of the margins, be they multicultural, multimedia, or multiling…

Link Wray Is Dead

There were not many Wrays as famous as Link - though the one in King Kong's clutches must count as a distant second.

The death of Link Wray is the end of an era of sublime trash-noise simplicity whose cultural value will only rise with time. He was a musical genius, and more interestingly, a man with a fascinating personal story.

The fortunes of Quentin Tarantino, and his masterpiece, Pulp Fiction, would have been very different, if Wray had not supplied some of the major musical moments, which, along with Miserlou, are the leitmotifs of the film. It is no puffery to say that Wray had the opportunity to create signature sounds that were iconic in at least two key decades, one of them being the 90s. His influence on garage-punk-surf, both originally and during its revivals, is comparable to that of Ezra Pound on Imagism - which is to say, he almost single-handedly (as it were) strummed the power chords of his genre into existence.

I have long felt that, should the thin walls between …

French Letters

A site with world poetry features a poem of mine translated into French by the fine writer Robert Paquin.

Thought you might enjoy reading it.

http://www.poesiedumonde.com/temp/article.php3?id_article=58&id_rubrique=112

Review: The Consequences of Love

The Consequences of Love, the Italian film released in 2004 and now out from Artificial Eye as a DVD, receives Four Quartets from The T.S. Review.

It is one of the most poised, stylish, suspenseful, and under-stated European films of the last five years, with an extraordinary series of final images that reminds one of Pasolini's Christ, if not for the reasons one might expect.

The central roles are cast perfectly, with Olivia Magnani and Toni Servillo, as the Beatrice-waitress-figure and the Dante-middle-aged-business- traveller, respectively.

I welcome haunting films about isolation, desire, the gaze, despair and transgression set in hotels, Death In Venice perhaps being second only to The Night Porter. Now, add a third classic to this genre.

Revillo invests his face, manner, body and stylish dress with an exhaustive but invigorating melancholia; and Magani is utterly astonishing in her long, languid silence, and speech.

Moving, elegantly but with feline-immediacy, from the most subli…

Switch or Fight?: Ever More New Canadian Poetry

It seems 2005 is shaping up to be the "Year of New Canadian Poetry" and canon-revising anthologies - first my own section for New American Writing this spring, then Sina Queyras'Open Field from NYC, and soon, The New Canon from Carmine Starnino, and, altogether less-expected, Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry. As a long-time enthusiast of the anthology, I am particularly pleased to see this series of alternate publications unfolding.

The introduction, by the editors, contains the following by Jason Christie:

"Most introductions include all manner of caveats to anticipate or deflect criticism, to comfort egos that may have been bruised during the selection process, etc. Editors often apologize for what isn't included in the anthology and why it wasn't included. In introductions to anthologies where the editors presume to a project of capturing distinct, new voices, of encapsulating a new generation of writers, or ensconcing an elderly, threatened generat…

A Perfect Night To Go To China

The T.S. Review is pleased to announce that David Gilmour has just won the 2005 (Canadian) Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction for his novel A Perfect Night To Go To China. Gilmour has long been a fixture on Canadian television. He lives in Toronto.

I recently reviewed this novel for Books in Canada, where I said: "This seems one of the most refreshing, moving and supple works of fiction written since the 21st century began; it is lovely to see it achieve so much that is uniquely Canadian by handsomely converting great American and European works, without missing a beat. " I stand by my words. This is a Canadian masterpiece. Bravo to Mr. Gilmour.

Future Welcome Is Coming

The Future isn't what it used to be. No more Buck Rogers. Now it is all nanotechnology and innovative poetry...

Do consider the link below, which leads to information about the new anthology, Future Welcome, which I recently edited for DC Books.

www.dcbooks.ca/futurewelcome.html

Poem by Bernard Lamb

Eyewear is pleased to present a limerick from Dr. Bernard Lamb, Reader in Genetics, Imperial College London (as pictured here).

I met Lamb at a dinner, as part of a literary festival where I was "Poet-at-large" and we sat next to each other, where we struck up a lively conversation, about poetry, and genetics.

Dr. Lamb is a prolific writer of limericks, which combine his interests in science, word-play and edgy humour.


Defective DNA

The mutation ‘hyperkinetic’
Makes fruit flies really phrenetic;
Their legs kick and beat
As if they’re on heat -
The problem’s deeply genetic.

poem by Bernard Lamb

New Writing Ventures Poetry Prize 2005

The winner of the recently-announced New Writing Ventures 2005 £5000 cash prize for poetry is Valeria Melchioretto. The judges were Andrew Motion (pictured to the right), Jacob Polley and Eva Salzman. The competition, out of East Anglia, was national, and had many hundreds of high level entries.

The T.S. Review is very pleased with this news.

Melchioretto has had poems published in various publications including Poetry London, Wolf Magazine and The Salzburg Review - and in anthologies and/or online journals which I have edited.

She attended a number of workshops and courses, including workshops with Pascale Petit, and has worked for years at the Poetry Cafe.

She has been, to my mind, consistently under-rated for some time in British poetry, because her complex, verbally rich imagination no doubt worries the more cautious. Now, hopefully, she has begun to receive the recognition she deserves, and her work will begin to reach a wider audience.

To read her work click here.

Review: The Constant Gardener

The Constant Gardener, directed by the now-great Fernando Meirelles - famed for his co-helming of City of God, is one of the most visually rich, beautiful, and morally challenging ever presented in the context of a "Hollywood" production, and, arguably, some of the textures, colours, and cinematographic palette in general, represent the finest work done since Gregg Toland's reinvention of the style-content balance in Citizen Kane.

That is, as an exercise in an epic revaluation of how rich Western eyes see the "poor" world of Africa, the film is an aesthetic masterpiece - the drained cityscape of a Waste Land-like London contrasting explosively with the stunning, riotous splendour of colour that is the African landscape.

The film is also significant for presenting situations and images which are strikingly alien to the Western gaze, simply because they constantly seek to pull focus from the (mainly) white characters and situate the action in the faces of the "…

Books In Canada Review and other news

My review of the new book by Al Alvarez, The Writer's Voice, is available in the latest (October) issue of Books In Canada, on newstands now.

In other publication news, my poem "The Expedition" has just appeared in the October/November issue of The London Magazine; and several poems in The Manhattan Review.

Fado-Masochist

I confess to being a fado-masochist. Fado, the traditional song of profound, passionate, melancholy expression, born in Lisbon's taverns in the old Mouraria district, has found a new voice to keep its traditions alive: Mariza (pictured above).

In the week where we recollect the 250th anniversary of the terrible devastation (100,000 dead, and a giant tsunami) of the Lisbon Earthquake of November, 1755, which helped inspire Kant's ideas of the sublime, the T.S. Review is glad to report that Lisbon has recovered, if it can produce such vibrancy.

Mariza, who performed last evening at the Barbican in London, is a visually striking, engaging, and fiery entertainer, who literally had her audience begging for more.

Her songs, often reinterpreting the fado form for the 21st century, and using the poems of Pessoa, remind poetry how its best course is to utter out from the self, fully integrating with life, without let or hindrance, and yet keeping the shape tradition allows.

With some of th…

Attention All Typewriters Tonight

The T.S. Review has long considered Jason Camlot a triple threat, as poet, scholar and song-writer/singer - a sort of cleverer Leonard Cohen for the 21st century. His poetry is where whimsy, wit, worldliness and wordplay wrangle, well.

It is for this reason he was inclued in the New American Writing section of younger Canadian poets. His latest collection, which I have been reading with glee (Davids Antin and Trinidad both have good things to say about it too), is just out, and is now to be launched in my hometown, of Montreal - see below for details.

The other book out tonight is written by a brilliant former professor of mine, and anyone who is savvy, hip, well-read or wants to be, will be there, on that infamous boulevard. I would gladly be there, and you who can travel freely, in North America should seek to.

DC Books is pleased to announce the Montreal launch of Attention All Typewriters
by Jason Camlot

With Host David McGimpsey and ‘Live Funk’ dance party after the reading

How to be …

The New Canon Is Coming!

The New Canon - from one of Canada's best young poet-critics, Carmine Starnino - is due out later this month.

Introducing the fifty major new voices in Canada's poetry (poets born between 1955-1975) - it will prove to be most contentious, an invaluable resource, and the one to beat, I suspect.

More when it is out. At the moment, do see the publisher's link, below:

http://www.vehiculepress.com/


[editor's note: I should add my own work is included]

The Envelope Please

The men pictured here are Swifty Lazarus. I am one of them. The other is Tom Walsh, one of Canada's most visionary Jazz musicians and composers.

I met him in rainy London last night, to speak of future grand projets, MacLuhan and Dylan and Hermann.

In the meantime, do check out the review of the first studio album at Adam Fieled's site (see link, then fish around a bit).

Meanwhile, it is a big day for this oft-neglected duo of lonely noir practioners: arriving in the afternoon post, Royal Mail brought more good news for the Men in Shades: a review of their album The Envelope Please, in none other than poet-performer Dave Reeves'Raw Edge Magazine (the new writing magazine for the West Midlands), #21 [autumn/winter 2005] - suitable for these dark-seasoned lads, and it says: "it is well-written, well-produced... probably one of the most consistently pleasing and interesting spoken word albums that I've ever heard".

If you wish to hear it yourself, please go the re…