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Showing posts from June, 2016

RIGHT TO REMAIN

No one can predict the Spanish Inquisition, famously, and no one, probably, could have predicted the intensity of the current EU referendum campaign in the UK, which culminates in a vote on 23 June; currently the Remain and Leave camps seem perilously tied, at about 44% support each, with many in the undecided middle.The most tragic result of the astonishingly vicious, often dishonest, sometimes racist, claims made in the UK media and by some Leave campaigners, was the assassination of the 41-year-old Labour MP Jo Cox, the first woman MP to ever be killed in office in Britain, and the first of any gender for over 25 years. The apparently far-right killer seems to have targeted her for the advocacy of refugee and immigrant rights she was widely known - and admired - for.Eyewear, THE BLOG has long supported the EU, and more bluntly, EU integration. There was never a question of this blog endorsing the Leave campaign, but we do wish to underline here a few points for the undecided.One of…

POEM FOR ORLANDO

ORLANDO

Intolerance, like heat, rises.
No one should have to –
No, but, they do....
Without having to reload…

Almost a double entendre
But who hears twice
When they are dying (dead)?
To be killed for love

Or to be honest desire
Is an outrage; is there
A kind of killing permissible?
Revenge itself is outrageous.

It’s all a circle, or some shape,
Not the shape of bodies
Held together, as if by glue,
Stuck by blood or sex,

Or yes, the loving grimaces.
Is there pity for ignorance
When it results in such loss,
And arises from belief?

Bad beliefs, like bad music
Are immediately apparent
To the soul’s ear;
We cannot dance to hate;

Only love has a beat
And a groove worthy
Of proper physical attention.
No one may make light

Of atrocity, poetry out
Of such blindness
Seems obscene; but terror
Is the porn of our age,

Clicking its way to hits
And hitting out; snuffed,
Those viable, visible lives
So various in their options,

The multiple mouths, truths,
The hetero and homo of coming
To terms with ecs…

IN BAD TIMES

2016 is shaping up to be one of the worst years, at least from a Western historical perspective, since 1936.

The deaths of major figures (Bowie, Ali) aside - and sad as these are, deaths of major figures happen annually - there are several possibly disastrous events about to occur, within months.

One of these is the election of the sinister Donald Trump.

The second is a BREXIT for the UK from the EU, which could trigger a European, and at the least, British, recession, even depression. And also trigger a cultural collapse of arguably equal horror.

Meanwhile, the terrorist-hate attack in Orlando on the weekend, in which 49 people were killed, and as many injured, some awfully, for apparently their sexual preferences, is just sad, dreadful and heart-crushing on many levels.

What a year, what a month.

It is possible the UK will narrowly avert self-destruction and isolation, and vote to Remain, though currently polls strongly suggest otherwise; and it is possible Trump will lose, though such te…

POEM WRITTEN ON READING DENISE RILEY'S LATEST COLLECTION

POEM ON READING DENISE RILEY'S LATEST COLLECTION

It won't be when it is;
it, it - identify the culprit.

That's mystery, not this:
we know what does the deed;

deeds are legal instruments also;
no day is quieter or more sad

than a May Bank Holiday Monday
when it is about to pour down

or the rain has just barely ended.
Gloom. The day presents badly,

won't look us in the eye.
Don't say autistic.  Closing down

the long weekend, time like
a French Play amuses with doors.

I have no business (being an I)
intruding or hiding here.

To conceal is to claim I am
a thing worth keeping from someone

or some thing.  Some body.
Bodies are extended metaphors

for extension, just as bank loans
are tropes for needing money.

It is all the same to me.
This landscape is a painting

in a gallery wandered about in
by lawyers here for the wine

and the chance to hit it off
with someone for a variety

of reasons, not one remotely
to do with the art. Which is okay.

Art is hardly interested in them, either.
It is a two-way street…

Chrissy Williams' review of Andrew Shields' collection from Eyewear

I enjoyed Chrissy Williams' review of Andrew Shields' collection from Eyewear. I was surprised though to see quatrains viewed as a traditional form. Well they are but it is also 50 years or more since Olson gave us his projective verse. Poetry cannot be judged by how it looks on the page. I call that the fallacy of form: that somehow some poetic options are more or less quaint. We are post-experiment now.

Conceptual poetics has opened the door to every kind of option. For a poet to return to a stately older form to work in is no less bold or noble than for a person to wear gloves in winter. Sometimes it is cold and the gloves serve well in their chosen task. Poetry reviewers do not understand it seems to me the paradox their instrumental task boxes them into: to describe something heretofore unfamiliar and new.

The critic enters into a rhetorical maze that is a trap: however they wander they aim either to the exit that says original or old hat. But the maze itself is fixed. I t…

MAZER REVIEWED IN NYRB BY VENDLER

Good to see brilliant poet and scholar Ben Mazer get a review in a recent issue of the NYRB from Helen Vendler no less for his scholarly Collected John Crowe Ransom.

She admires Ben's editorial work but is almost comically prim in doling out praise to Ransom himself, who she seeks to place as resolutely minor-minor. Her understanding of his Christian ironies is oddly limited. For instance she asks what a poem that references roses and hay has to do with Christ? Anyone familiar with religious symbolism can answer that in seconds.

She claims it strange to title a book Poems About God in 1919; yet that collection is a collection of poems about religious belief. She later accuses Ransom of writing as God in "a language never heard on earth or heaven" which is a rather odd complaint. If God does not exist poets can surely invent any language they want for Her; if She does exist, explain Miltonic rhetoric as being any less eccentric?

Indeed, Vendler's main quarrel seems to be…

EYEWEAR BRIEF REVIEW: DENISE RILEY'S LATEST IS A MASTERWORK

Denise Riley's new collection, Say Something Back, from Picador, is not just a good book of poetry. It is, in a very quiet way, truly great.

Line after line, phrase after phrase, pivot and lift with a certain extra sense of all the ambiguities, ironies, and possibilities, not just of deploying those particular words in that order, but of saying anything, at all - and deeper, of even the possibility of constructing any kind of sensibility at all; especially when the tongue and the poet come up against death's impasse.

Or is it one? If language has any chance of outlasting what ends us, Riley's new poems, believe it or not, with terrible solemnity, much learning and bravado, and not a little black-comedy, offer options for what kind of poetic ectoplasm might gather and remain. If at all.

They say the brain is plastic and grows smarter in the presence of intelligence. Every poet, every writer, who wants to grow into using words, and feeling words, and feeling being itself, co…

FOR SHAME: THE CLOSURE OF A POETRY CHARITY IS A TRAGEDY

Here is a wake up call for British poets, and British society over-all - the closing down today of the Poetry Book Society charity (founded by TS Eliot and friends in 1953) is a cultural tragedy. The PBS was not without controversy, and some argued it favoured mainstream presses and poetry books over the avant-garde and the performance-oriented; but it did much to foster poetry reading nonetheless, and its aims were noble in the main.

It is hardly to be understood how a nation of tens of millions of university-educated readers cannot find time or money to keep alive a few fragile poetry organisations that form a bulwark against the general ignorance flooding in from the world of sensual-visual pleasures that roil about us. For shame! Put down your EL James, JK Rowlings, Lee Childs, and Dan Browns, and set aside a small penance for poetry. When a society's poetry organs wither, the head is ill. Yes, booklets and prizes have been harvested, shorn off for other bodies to run. But when…