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Showing posts from January, 2015

BACK FROM THE RAINS

Hullo, we're back - we haven't posted for awhile, as we settle in to a new year of editing, publishing and teaching. Too much has happened in the world to recap, and you don't need a modest poetry blog to do that for you.

But, here's some good news, we are publishing a book of poems by Dutch poet Hester Knibbe, translated by Jacquelyn Pope, and yesterday Ms Knibbe one a 25,000 Euro prize, the largest for poetry in the Netherlands, so we're very proud.  Of course, we are no stranger to publishing major international poets and authors - in December, we launched books by Mark Ford and Alfred Corn.

Our very own Tedi Lopez will be reading as part of the London Book Fair, in support of her Eyewear book, and, we are also publishing Mario Bellatin, Benno Barnard, Jan Owen, Sean Singer, David Musgrave, and others this year (Google them, you will be as impressed as we have been).

We also promote the new, the unknown, the marginal, the emerging, the young, the old, the local, th…

CHARLIE SURFS

The whole point of the Charlie massacre, when it was safe to be a pen-waving protester in the Paris squares a few days ago, SEEMED TO BE that a bunch of funny, rude and brave men (they were mainly men) drew and published cartoons making fun of religious figures; and some lunatics that couldn't take a joke and hated Voltaire and Liberty and the West had killed them in their offices.  It was like the scene in Total Recall when the  new-born saviour is brutally killed. It was gross and totally wrong. Totally.

And so a sort of childlike mania swept a lot of the world, and we all claimed to be Charlies.  Nevermind that 99% of us had never read Charlie Hebdo, didn't speak or read French, and didn't realise that a lot of the Charlie cartoons were probably illegal under hate laws in some Western nations, we all saw a moment of group love, a sort of Titanic of political engagement.  We are the world, and we don't like Muslim cartoon-killers, ok? Group hug time.

Then, suddenly, th…

Roll Over Eliot and Tell Costa the News

A serious lack of intelligent critical engagement on the part of some players in the British poetry world has led to a situation of dumbing down, and aesthetic compromise. There is no genuinely engaged scholar of contemporary British poetry who could possibly think the ten-strong shortlist for tomorrow's Eliot Prize represents the ten best books of poetry published in Britain or Ireland this year - there are just too many glaring omissions. Further, the recent furore over Kate Tempest - a rapper and slam poet whose page-based work is mediocre and often lamentable - has been nothing short of disgraceful. Meanwhile, a perfectly pleasant, and amiable, and often funny poetry collection by a young man has won this year's Costa Poetry Prize - which is nice for him, but vaguely odd.  Again, the people who are selecting judges and selectors for most of the main prizes, book clubs, and festivals, seem either about 25 years out of date, or, far worse, guided by motives and poetics that …

WE ARE CHARLIE

Make no mistake, the terrorist massacre of at least 12 French journalists, editors, and cartoonists - writers and satirists - working at Charlie Hebdo in Paris (think a  socio-political combination of Mad Magazine, The Onion and Private Eye, with some of the cruder elements of Hustler), on the 7th day of the new year, is a seismic event.

As one cartoon had it, the twin towers were now two towering pencils, about to be destroyed. Of course, the deaths in themselves are sad and tragic. But the symbolic (as well as practical) impact of this attack is far greater than a count of the bodies, high as that is.  For, unlike the Brevik massacre, which was horrifying and cruel, but ultimately proved to be the work of an isolated madman without wider social connections, this was the work of a terror cell that may be linked to ISIS.

The massacre was timed with the precision of a military exercise - it occurred in broad daylight in the heart of one of the world's busiest, greatest cities - and w…

TIMBERMAN ON THE YEAR THAT WAS IN TV

STEVEN TIMBERMAN ON TELEVISION IN 2014

How good was 2014 for TV? So good that there is no critical consensus. Years past saw a relatively small list of television shows dominate the critical conversation – The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Deadwood, maybe a sprinkling of Friday Night Lights or Lost if the critic wants to feel particularly transgressive. Shows written before 1999 are seen not as genuine predecessors but chicken scratch compared to the gorgeous calligraphy to come. It remains one of the things I love about American television – with ample time and a steady hand a relative newcomer can easily track down and absorb the medium’s accepted canon. A medium in relative infancy has no room for the gloriously messy and anarchic world of literary publishing.
And then 2014 happened. With Walter White’s conclusion told with deadened clarity, critical consensus collapsed. Critics went from arbiters to advocates – for the single-minded True Detective, the offbeat Fargo, t…

JANUARY SIXTH, A POEM BY ANDREW SHIELDS

JANUARY SIXTH


Johnny's in the attic now, and the snow
has started to cover the skylight with the slightest
sound disappearing into silence.
A bare bulb shines on an unlabeled box—
a set of Pyrex tubes. He pulls one out,
looks through the still clean glass at all the dust
he's stirred up by digging around up here,
seeking nothing in particular
but whatever feeling he might find.

The air begins to summon back the Christmas
cough that laid him up till New Year's Day.
He pulls up the cord behind his Bauhaus lamp;
out comes a badge that someone must have worn
since he was a kid—or just held up
to the light to see one corner of the star
had broken off. And on the wall is Bogart—
what's the use of a man in a fedora
no one ever smiles to recall?
He used to dream of repartee, of friendships
that were beautiful enough to end.

There's a paisley cloth on Dad's old trunk,
and the lid only opens with a slippery effort
and a cut on his knuckle. Sucking a trace of blood,
he fingers a pair of old sand…