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Showing posts from September, 2006

TLS Goes for TKO

The TLS (NB, September 29) has weighed in on my recent anthology for nthposition, Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years after.

The commentary opens: "We are puzzled by the notion, current since the attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001, that people resort to poetry in times of emotional distress. Poets and others of sound mind have suggested this as evidence of poetry's continuing 'relevance'. What happened to reading poetry for pleasure? Nothing could be more relevant than that."

J.C. at NB then goes on to excerpt poems from Joe Ross, Tony Lewis-Jones, Pauline Michel (Canada's poet laureate), Ken Edwards and bill blissett [sic]. I am also described as "Mr Swift, a kindly fellow" for my suggestion to donate to the Red Cross.

It seems an odd approach, both mildly humorous but also quizzical.

Surely the idea that poetry is chiefly intended to give "pleasure" is old hat? Or rather, given that poetry is a complex art form that operates o…

Eye on Cohen

I have a review of Leonard Cohen's latest collection of poems, Book of Longing, online at Northern Poetry Review. http://www.northernpoetryreview.com/

Poem by Fortner Anderson

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Fortner Anderson (pictured) to its pages this Friday. Known for the performances of his poems, read a cappella, he has been an active member of the Montreal "spoken word" scene for years prior to the use of the term "spoken-word".

In June of 2002, he was invited to Genoa, Italy to open the 8th edition of the Genoa International Poetry Festival. In February of 2004 he was a featured performer at the Festival Voix D'ameriques in Montreal reading works in English and French. In November of 2004 he was a featured reader at the «10° mondes parall√®lles» festival in Lilles, France.

He is a co-founder and a producer with the audio publishing venture Wired On Words (wiredonwords.com), and participated in the development of the Ultimatum II Urban Poetry Festival of 1985. He is the host of a radio show, Dromostexte, a one-hour show which plays only poems and spoken word recordings, heard each week on CKUT-FM (www.ckut.ca). His past project…

Life Lines: 7 Poets for Oxfam reading September 26

Life Lines: 7 Poets for Oxfam

Autumn Poetry Reading
Tuesday 26th September, 7-10 pm
Hosted by Todd Swift & James Byrne

Since 1980 Elaine Feinstein has lived as a full-time writer. In the same year, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She has written fourteen novels, five biographies and radio plays, television dramas. In 1990, she received a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry, and was given an Honorary D.Litt from the University of Leicester. She has been a Writer in Residence for the British Council in Singapore. Her Collected Poems and Translations (2002) was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Her biography of Anna Akhmatova, Anna of All The Russias, was published in July 2005.

James Fenton was Oxford Professor of Poetry for the period 1994-1999. He has won several major awards, including The Whitbread Award for Poetry. He has worked as political journalist, drama critic, book reviewer, war correspondent, foreign correspondent, and is presently a columnist f…

Review: The Black Dahlia

To say that Brian De Palma's film The Black Dahlia is all style and no substance is like saying water's all wet. The film is a virtual wet dream - whose thematic binary systems of fire and ice, body and no-body (or dismembered corpse), girl and girl, boy and good-girl, boy and bad-girl, cop and cop, voyeur and victim, are seamlessly sutured in to the filmic reverie with premeditated sadistic glee.

De Palma pries from the robbed grave of Hitchcock's body of work what he can - he is a master of the Oedipal drama and the trajectory that fingers the audience - our watching such visual excess is our culpability - we are the doers ourselves. The screeching crow on the cut-up corpse in the final scene of TBD is the spider in the skull at the end of Psycho - the unsaid shock image that is the last nail in the scopophiliac's coffin.

TBD is not a good movie. It may not even be a movie at all - in the traditional sense of having been written and structured to offer comfortable narr…

The Long Hello

Eyewear thinks Noir is the major film genre.

Eyewear thinks Brick has dusted it off for a new generation.

You did good, Rian.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0393109/quotes

Poetry buys clean water for 14,000 people

Who says poetry doesn't have efficacy in the real world?

Some extraordinary sales figures in today from Oxfam's Su Lycett - Life Lines: Poets for Oxfam, launched just a few months ago, in June 2006, has already sold around 5,000 copies, and made £10,000 in profit (around $20,000 USD) for Oxfam. That translates into clean running water for 14,000 people, or equipment for five schools, or livestock for eight farms.

With National Poetry Month coming this October, and then the Christmas sales season, there is every expectation the CD (which I edited on a volunteer basis) will sell even more. The nearly-70 major and emerging poets involved also donated their time and poems, and publishers donated their rights. The list of contributors reads like a virtual who's who of UK poetry, across a broad spectrum, from mainstream, to performance, to avant-garde. This will surely make it one of the most successful poetry CDs (let alone anthologies) of its kind, ever.

The CD is now available i…

Eye On Terence Malick

Terence Malick (pictured) is one of Eyewear's favourite directors in all cinema, and David Gordon Green is his de facto protege - more so even than De Palma (who also extends the work of his master Hitch through homage, pastiche and sheer bravado) becoming a remarkable second-generation director building on a considerable past oeuvre.

Malick is a poet of the cinema, sure, and one with few slim volumes to his name. His two 70s films are immediately unique signatures, that created their own cinescape, their own microcosm, their own language almost: Badlands and Days of Heaven. Fixated (this is the word) on the connections between the natural world, the fallen human domain, innocence, interiority, and the violent liminal stages which break through and defile the thin angelic membrane that is best in us, these two films chart murder, love, desire and death, in striking settings, as no other American films have ever done. I consider Days of Heaven the second most beautuiful movie ever f…

Eye On Jack Beeching

John Tranter, the editor of Jacket, recently drew my attention to the curiously-undervalued work of the poet Jack Beeching (pictured, above, with his wife of the time, Catherine, off Ibiza, in the 1960s).

Beeching's poetry is impressive, lovely and often unique, and it is hard to understand how or why it has been allowed to become so marginalised, unless one stops to consider how actually convoluted and concentrated poetry publishing - and more to the point, reviewery - often still is in England.

I'll be seeking out his Modern Penguin Poets 16 selection from 1970.

Here are some links to good articles on Beeching in Jacket, and some of his poems:

http://jacketmagazine.com/26/beech-l-w.html

http://jacketmagazine.com/29/beech-wood-luck.html

http://jacketmagazine.com/26/beech-5p.html

4 Poems At Jacket

Jacket continues to be one of the very best places on the internet for poems and poetics so I'm glad to be able to tell you that four of my poems appear in the forthcoming issue.

Take a peek here:
http://jacketmagazine.com/31/index.shtml

Canadian Strange

My work is featured along with a bunch of other Canadian poets, including (pictured above) Adeena Karasick

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Elizabeth Bachinsky, John Barton, derek beaulieu, Nicole Brossard, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Joelle Hann, Ray Hsu, Jeanette Lynes, Erin Moure, Trish Salah and Nathalie Stephens at:

http://www.drunkenboat.com

look under Canadian Strange.

De Palma D'Or, or A Certain Slant of Light

A.O. Scott is someone in The New York Times I enjoyed reading this long summer in North America. Recently, on a trans-Atlantic flight, I caught this article by him:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/17/movies/17scot.html?_r=1&ref=movies&oref=slogin

I've often thought Brian De Palma a cineaste worthy of auteur status - Femme Fatale was one of the best films of the last few years (its visual panache is lurid and Wellesian) and its non-release in UK cinemas was revelatory of the need for the director's status to be reconsidered. No one else does Vertigo-homage like he does, and no one else ever featured Frankie Goes To Hollywood so well. With the release of The Black Dahlia, which I have yet to see, now's as good a time as any for such a re-evaluation to begin.

So, I look forward to reading the articles at Slant, below:

http://slantmagazine.com/film/features/briandepalma.asp

As something of a post scriptum, let me note that Scott writes:

"[...] the movies that secured Mr.…

Poem by Jenna Cardinale

Eyewear is pleased to welcome Jenna Cardinale (pictured) to its Friday Feature.

Cardinale is the author of Journals (Whole Coconut, 2006). Her sonnets have appeared in Court Green, Blue Mesa Review, Coconut and Dusie, among other journals.

She lives in New York, where she teaches poetry writing at Lehman College and Explorations Academy, an experimental public high school.


She's Only Willing to Remember the War on Her Birthday


I am going on cleaning the weeds
off the terrace
so when the American army gets here
it can sit and then cough comfortably
on it. They will be tan,
the fatigues,
or another shade of tired.

Must we wear ribbons, glue
our thick brown blood
to wallpaper.

Will a baby
be sired
as part of the decorations.

Soft mud over old
mud is preferred.
I'll see it coming
in the house,
down the hall. It's like a city
on a hill that can't hide.
Sit, I'll say and call him by
a name like Mike.

Now I hang tarps of washed love
that are not flags
and bury the fruits
which will soon rot.

poem by …

To Boldly Go

Eyewear celebrates the 40th anniversary of Star Trek's first mission, and transmission, on September 8, 1966. Despite the claims from the site below, this televisual classic dramatic series, arguably the Shakespearean-standard by which all other shows must be judged, has not had the deep space impact of "Jesus"; Lennon-sized grandiosity aside, Star Trek is one of the five most significant cultural artifacts of the '60s - along with The Beatles, Mad Magazine, Bob Dylan, and the Viet Nam War.

For purists, all the spin-offs (and there have been more than for any other TV creation) cannot duplicate the magic of the Original Series, with its curiously perfect alchemy of personalities, namely, Spock's, Kirk's and McCoy's. Indeed, despite the jokes (boulders light as cotton; disposable lieutenants and ensigns; collisions that threw the crew about like popcorn on the bridge) what remains of the series is love. These characters, rounded, real, and flawed-but-heroic…

Palmer's Rich

Michael Palmer has been named the winner of the annual $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award of the Academy of American Poets. The accolade recognizes outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.

Palmer has lived in San Francisco for more than 30 years and is one of the Language Poets. His work is published by Carcanet in the UK.

He will read from his works at the academy's award ceremony on November 8 at 7pm in the Lang Auditorium at the New School, 55 West 13th Street, in Greenwich Village.

Babylon Burning: 9/11 Five Years On

Nearly 90 poets from around the world have contributed new, unpublished poems to Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on, an anthology of poems on the Twin Towers atrocity and its consequences. But they aim for more than pious hand-wringing: the anthology will be free, but there will be a request to donate to the Red Cross.

Babylon Burning will rely on readers to spread the word – the site is completely unfunded. A print-on-demand paperback of the anthology will also be available from lulu.com, with all profits going to the Red Cross.

Contributors to Babylon Burning are:

Ros Barber, Jim Bennett, Rachel Bentham, Charles Bernstein, bill bissett, Yvonne Blomer, Stephanie Bolster, Jenna Butler, Jason Camlot, J R Carpenter, Jared Carter, Patrick Chapman, Sampurna Chattarji, Maxine Chernoff, Tom Chivers, Alfred Corn, Tim Cumming, Margot Douaihy, Ken Edwards, Adam Elgar, Elaine Feinstein, Peter Finch, Philip Fried, Leah Fritz, Richard Garcia, Sandra M Gilbert, Nathan Hamilton, Richard Harrison, Kev…

Faludy Has Died

Gyorgy Faludy, the Hungarian-Canadian poet, pictured, has died. Eyewear was based in Budapest for some time, and recalls hearing the poet read.This from the CBC:HUNGARIAN-CANADIAN POET FALUDY DIESGyorgy Faludy, the Hungarian poet who was an icon of the Nazi and Communist resistance in his native country, has died at the age of 96.The poet, who became a Canadian citizen, passed away in his Budapest home on Friday, national news agency MTI reported on Saturday."Gyorgy Faludy was considered a master, the last member of Hungary's2 0th-century generation of poets to which all later generations compared and [will] compare themselves," Hungarian Prime MinisterFerenc Gyurcsany said. Known as George Faludy in the West, the poet fled his native country twice. Faludy, who was Jewish, left in 1938 during the rise of Nazism. He returned after the war and then fled a second time in 1956 as Soviet tanks crushed an anti-Communist uprising.Before returning to Hungary in 1989, Faludy roa…

Poem by Emily Berry

Emily Berry (pictured above) is twenty-five and lives in London, where she works for a small publishing company.

Her work has been published by Brittle Star and Nthposition, and she has poems forthcoming in Ambit.

Eyewear is very glad to feature this promising emerging poet this first day of September.


Communication

That day we didn’t speak and ate sandwiches swiftly.
I have always struggled with the roaring woman within
who might emerge and say her piece, impossible to understand.
I tried to convey this to you:

I have pinned her down with a series of pegs
so she lies flat like a wire against a wall.
This way all her anger is channelled into a phone that rings;
I pick it up: “Hello?”

You said you were peopled with other personalities; I knew them all as one,
like coloured sections of an umbrella that meet at the spike.
Under the shade of your muted colours, I stand in the rain,
talking to myself on the phone.


poem by Emily Berry

Reply To Perloff

Eyewear usually enjoys the work of Marjorie Perloff.

Her 21st-century Modernism is one of the key books in the Eyewear household.

Now to her recent review in the TLS of September 1, 2006, which arrived today in the post - her review of David Lehman'sThe Oxford Book Of American Poetry; printed beside three new poems by John Ashbery, the preminent American poet of the present age. Eyewear's own review can be read as an earlier post.

Perloff's review itself is critical, but perceptive, noting, particularly, Lehman's twin faults of favouring powerful contemporaries, and giving short shrift to major innovative figures like Stein and Pound (and in the process fetishizing the lyric form, and witty poems by "clever, well-educated" people - Silliman's School of Quietude by another name).

A few things. The TLS (and by the way Eyewear) exist primarily for clever, well-educated people; very few dull, uneducated people read literary theory and modern poetry - and, elitism…