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Showing posts from January, 2009

Poem by John Tranter

Eyewear is pleased to feature one of the true pioneers of online poetry this Friday, and one of the English-speaking world's most active, engaged and compelling contemporary poetic talents.

John Tranter (pictured) is the founding editor and publisher of the online literary magazine Jacket, at http://www.jacket.zip.com.au/ and is the leading Australian poet of his generation. For more than thirty years he has been at the forefront of the new poetry, questioning and extending its procedures.

He was born in Cooma, New South Wales, in 1943. He attended country schools, and took his BA in 1970 after attending university sporadically. He has worked mainly in publishing, teaching and radio production. He has lived in London (1966-67) and Singapore (1971-72), and now lives in Sydney.

He has published many volumes of poetry, including Urban Myths: 210 poems: New and Selected. A selection of his poems appears in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (New York, second edition, 1988). His recent…

Cope Can't

Wendy Cope has been quoted by the BBC as suggesting the position of poet laureate be binned (or banned). What a pity. Cope - one of the truly beloved poets in the UK of the last 40 years (in the company of Larkin, Hegley and Hughes in terms of public esteem) - often uses her public profile in ways that endorse a conservative view of the world - witness her public opposition to copyleft poetry online.

I admire her a great deal, and consider her a friend, but often find myself disagreeing with her opinions, if rarely disagreeing with her poems. Ironically, she seems to undermine her own position - that poets should write poems, not become statement-machines - by actually being that rare thing - a poet the press and people want to hear from, on any number of topics, not all of them poetic. Anyway, her latest jibe at the poet laureate position is, I think, sad, because she would have made a great one. She's wrong, in my book, to think the "role" of the poet is merely to …

Eulogy For Jack Swift

Jack Swift was a Montreal lawyer and art collector, who died over Christmas, in the Eastern Townships, at the age of 72. He was also my father's brother, and my closest family friend. He was more than an uncle, but also my mentor, introducing me to many of the key interests of my life so far: Ireland, literature, theatre, music, film, and the genius of queer culture. Below is the eulogy I wrote for his funeral, edited a little, as some of the comments are too personal for a blog.

...

Those who knew Jack Swift will know that, in his dying, the world has lost an extraordinary figure. We are so often informed by the media that X or Y is charismatic or larger than life that we sometimes forget to test such claims against our own experience. John A. A. Swift was truly larger than life - the sort of brilliant, compelling enthusiast, bon vivant and interlocutor who instantly dominated - no other word will do - almost any situation he found himself in. In his modes of personal and public co…

Guest Review: Naomi on Women's Work

Katrina Naomireviews
Women’s Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English
edited by Eva Salzman and Amy Wack

This is a whopping great book, twice the size of the last women’s poetry anthology that I read, and features 271 poets. I don’t envy the editors’ task: Eva Salzman and Amy Wack have set out to provide a modern-day canon, and I’m impressed with the variety of poetry which they’ve chosen. Eva Salzman tackles the potential ‘own goal’ of producing a gender-segregated anthology head on.

Her introduction is impassioned and thought-provoking. In my pre-poetry life, I worked as a gender officer. Yet I still found my eyebrows gravitating skywards when I heard of a new women’s anthology. Isn’t this just a teensy bit out of date? But Eva Salzman’s rigorous essay shows why such an anthology is still needed. I won’t rehash all the arguments here, buy the book and read them for yourself - it’s well worth it. But even a cursory glance through any number of anthologies will show that male p…

Not Since 1945

This is, perhaps ominously, the 1,221st post at Eyewear - perhaps apt for a 21st century blog reporting on the worst economic crisis of the postmodern period. Indeed, there's an argument to be made that, since Britain is now about to enter a period of economic slump not seen since the austerity years of 1945 (according to the IMF), this first decade of the new century ends, ushering in a new era - one curiously mixed in outlook: exciting because Americans seem about to renew themselves, but dire as the world grinds to a halt. Will 2010-2019 be the decade of Green fightback, as we address the climate and remake the market economy in the new image of Obama? Or is this a new Great Depression, Mark II?

Peacock on Canadian Poetry

Molly Peacock has blogged about the ways in which American and Canadian poets relate to their British peers. Now, blogs are always a bad place to locate someone's poetics, or deepest thoughts, but I for one was a little disappointed by this simplistic take on things. Now, I need to say, I am in the book she has series edited, Best Canadian Poems in English 2008, and am very proud to be; I admire her work immensely, as poet, and editor.

Still: I feel it's not enough to observe the cultural and aesthetic differences of American and Canadians, by commenting on the fact Canucks have the Queen on their money, or "stayed at home" with "mom and pop" while the noble Yanks broke free of the British empire. I think American poetry is a lot more complex than that (many American poets draw on British and European traditions) - and I know for sure British and Canadian poetry is far more complex. For one thing, Peacock doesn't really observe the biggest shadow of all …

John Updike Has Died

Sad news. Poet and prose writer John Updikehas died. Updike's was the epitome of a suave, suburban, East Coast style, cannily sexual and alert to the mores and foibles of a post-war period of boom and lust. The attention to detail in his writing was often half the fun. The poems, while often slight and merely clever, were of their age, and will likely be studied with renewed attention now. His work, it seems, may have been eclipsed in seeming importance this last decade, as his peer, Roth, emerged as a writer of greater range and output, but Updike was still a major figure to many, a man of letters who, had he lived, would always have been a potential winner of the Nobel.

Hooray For Horovitz!

The Oxfam Winter Poetry Festival 2009 continues tonight, with its second event. All events at the Oxfam Books and Music shop 91 Marylebone High Street, London W1 5 minutes from Baker Street tube station TUESDAY, 27 January – 7 pm start time 3 Performance Poets for Oxfam “Hooray for Horovitz!” Night with the Australian Tug Dumbly The UK’s very own John Hegley and Special Guest Michael Horovitz Please reserve seats for these events by contacting shop manager Martin Penny by phone at 020 7487 3570 Admission free. Suggested £8 donation for the events. All money raised goes to Oxfam, a registered charity.

Robert Burns at 250

Today is the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns. An article published today thinks about his legacy. Few poets "last" more than their own lifetime, or even a few decades. To be read, and loved, 250 years later, is extremely rare, and therefore both impressive, and worth thinking about. For the general public, poets who last like Burns are symbols, or emblems, of whole ways of life - they represent, for instance, Scotland, or even joyous living. They can become cliches, that actually block the way forward for new poetry to be equally read and understood.

As the years go by, what gets neglected, in a way, is the poetry itself. Even now, this is happening, I fear, with Yeats. It long ago happened to Tennyson. Fewer people can now recite, from memory, lines or poems by these once-popular figures. As they recede, they become memories and imagos, the figures on the Arundel Tomb, but not the living force. I wonder which, if any, currently living Scottish poet will be so beloved in 22…

Poem by Jared Carter

Eyewear is pleased to welcome, this Friday, Jared Carter (pictured), who lives in Indianapolis. The photo is by Diane Carter.

During a long writing career that began in the early 1960s, when he was living in France, he has published three collections of verse – the first with Macmillan in New York, the second and third with the Poetry Center at Cleveland State University. All three volumes remain in print.

A fourth book of poems, entitled Cross this Bridge at a Walk, is now out from Wind Publications in Kentucky.

In the UK Carter’s work has appeared in Stand Magazine, Agenda, and Outposts Poetry Quarterly. Over the years, Carter has written in many poetic styles and forms, from the traditional to the experimental. A selection of his poems, stories, essays, and photographs may be found on his web site at Jared Carter Poetry.

http://www.jaredcarter.com/

Carter believes the future of poetry and of publishing in general lies with the world wide web. Cyberspace offers great opportunities for ne…

The Oxfam Winter Poetry Festival 2009

The Oxfam Winter Poetry Festival 2009 starts tonight

All events at the Oxfam Books and Music shop
91 Marylebone High Street, London W1
5 minutes from Baker Street tube station

THURSDAY, 22 January – 7pm start time
6 Poets for Oxfam
Featuring UK debut of American poet Annie Finch, with readings by
Emily Berry, Mimi Khalvati, Sarah Law, Sandeep Parmar, and Kathryn Simmonds


FIRST HALF

Sarah Law
Sarah Law is a senior lecturer in creative writing at London Metropolitan University, and an associate lecturer in creative writing for the Open University. She writes both lyrical and more experimental poetry; Bliss Tangle was published by Stride in 1999, and The Lady Chapel in 2004, also by Stride. Her latest collection is Perihelion (Shearsman, 2006) with a fourth collection due to be published by Shearsman later this year. A selection of her poems is included in the forthcoming Bloodaxe anthology Identity Parade. She also researches issues of gender and spirituality: a chapter on medieval mystic Julian …

So, how was it for you?

Never such tristesse! The post-mall swearing-in of President Obama has left the world collectively experiencing a disappointed lull. Did the earth move for you during Yo-Yo's sub-Star Wars turn? How about the poem?, which I could barely follow.

Odd, how the actual words seemed to stumble from the great man's mouth, as he swore on Lincoln's bible. Did you enjoy Reverend Warren's brimfire valediction? Still, the speech - though delivered at a rat-a-tat pace and with the solemnity of a News on the March announcement - was rhetorically and poetically superb - though apparently written in Starbucks.

The power of it, from a literary perspective, was in its use of allusion, allegory, intertextuality, and, symbolism. It was a truly multi-dimensional text, hyper-potent because the speaker's performance of the words had an uncanny echo in so many other aspects of the traditional spaces he was filling, and by his presence, changing forever - that is, the very monuments and buil…

Kathleen Byron Has Died

Sad news. The actress Kathleen Byron, unforgettable as the sex-maddened nun, in British classic Black Narcissus, (pictured), has died. This is one of Eyewear's favourite films, since its exotic blend of garishness, artifice, the perverse, religiosity, the far-flung, and Englishness combine to make it a truly strange and potent blend - subversive popular cinema.

Transformation

The greatest politician of our time is about to become president. This is the pivotal TV and online event of the digital age, and rivals the moon landing as a key shared moment of the global village. Godspeed, Mr. Obama.

Guest Review: Pugh on Corbett

Meryl Pughreviews
Other Beasts
by Sarah Corbett

By this, her third collection, it is clear that Sarah Corbett has gathered around her a compelling set of personal motifs; childhood, animals (horses, in particular), hills, moors and the night. It would be lazy to call her work Gothic, because it doesn't deliberately set out to create unease, but her poems accept the blood-and-guts surrounding life (a single eyeball, a dead hare), and often find solace in the strangeness that night brings.

Corbett is adept at the well-placed, acute image; two girls caught by lightning are 'a puzzle in each others' arms' in 'Lightning', rabbits have unnerving, 'bead-berry eyes' in 'Nocturne', and she uses juxtapositions that are often startling – and startlingly beautiful. For example, a fox tosses a sheep corpse over its back 'like a crown of blossom' in 'Fox at Midnight', and the 'Mountain Pony' settles 'the bird of its fear' on a conc…

The Swift Report 2008

In the past, these reports of mine have blended the personal with the public - and this year will be no different, except that I have less and less time for self-advertisement (though I am sure some followers of Eyewear will arch an eye at that suggestion). Basically, 2008 ended none too soon - it was a dreadful year in some ways.

My beloved Uncle Jack went into hospital in December. Then, Jack died, three weeks ago. I plan to write about him more later - his loss is too recent. But let me just say he was my best friend, and poetry mentor, since I was a child, and his death is the death of a second father.

So, what was the good of the year? I want to pause and note I have very good talented kind friends, and an extraordinary wife (who never appears at this blog only because she insists on it). I have, also, though this is often roughly-shaken, a faith, that, with stoicism as its backbone, and 21st century theology as its astringent companion, somehow muddles through. I continue to want …

Andrew Wyeth Has Died

For some, Andrew Wyethis a mere purveyor of trite Americana, of kitsch, of illustrative, sentimental pap. Okay, he's no Rothko. He was not abstract. However, as the painting above shows, Mr. Wyeth was one of the finest American painters of a gothic-realist school, that managed to convey the uncanny aspects of the natural world once peopled, in a manner that is both classic and strange. Wyeth, whose work I love and so do not resist, is the Robert Frost of painting, with all the sins and positives that suggests. Then again, I grew up near the countryside, and spent much time on farms and in woods, as a boy. I knew such people, with their weathered faces. I saw those homes, those fields. As David Lynch (an unexpected cornpone-weirdo follower perhaps) proves, there is much power and artistry in mining the odd surface of everyday rural and small-town America.

Poem by Annie Finch

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Annie Finch(pictured) to its pages this Friday, not least because she will be headlining a special event on 22 January in London for the Oxfam Winter Poetry Festival 2009. Those able to attend should: this will be her first time reading in the UK, and it is an opportunity not to be missed - her work is important.

Annie Finch’s books of poetry include The Encyclopedia of Scotland, Eve, and Calendars, as well as a translation of the Complete Poems of Renaissance poet Louise Labé. Her collaborations with theater, art, and dance include the libretto for the opera Marina. She has also published books of poetics, most recently The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self, and five anthologies of poetry and poetics.
She is a Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine, founder of the international Discussion of Women’s Poetry listserv, and Director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing.

Shallow Sky
In the…

Sullenberger's Heroics

Move over, Lindbergh and tell Earhart the news - Chesley B. Sullenbergermay be the finest American pilot of all time - as his brave, smart, and noble actions have shown in New York yesterday. Is this the start of the Obama effect? Good news seems to be breaking out like the measles.

In the meantime, hooray for the hero of the Hudson! Safety Reliability Methods - has a company ever had a better frontman?

Patrick McGoohan Has Died

Sad news. The great TV actor and star of Danger Manand The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan, has died. He was also very good in one of my favouriteAlistair MacLeanfilms, Ice Station Zebra - a movie that Howard Hughes was said to have watched hundreds of times in his private cinema. What I didn't know, and this obituary shows, is that McGoohan was also an intelligent writer and director, who turned down the role of James Bond in Dr. No, because of its sexist and thuggish nature. Impressive.

Seaway At Tower

Not sure how long this will last - but then again blogs are the new ephemera - anyway, my Seaway: New and Selected is currently a "Top 100" best-seller - indeed, top 25 - at Tower Books, which seems like a cool site. Oddly, most of the others are also obscure poetry books. Is this an alternative reality?

V F-T Alert!

There is always need for more talk and writing about Veronica Forrest-Thomson, and this Saturday, there'll be lots of it at the symposium about her at Cambridge. Meanwhile, we need to get Poetic Artifice back into print.

What Do We Mean When We Say Sooty?

A member of the British Royal Family has been calling a British-Asian "friend" of his "Sooty" for years. Some suggest this is racist, others that "political correctness has gone too far". What does someone mean by calling a friend - however affectionately - such a name? Why the disquiet? I think it comes from what the act of using such words implies - a statement of difference - a difference which needn't be remarked upon, in the first place. However, and this is not a justification - I think the Princes are wrong to speak and act as they do - nicknames have always been problematic. They are, often, gently mocking, with the gentleness really mixed with aggression - "shorty", "Little John", "lefty" - and so on - all implying a noticed quality of differentiation, which the friend then chooses to take as the "name" of the person he befriends. This act of renaming is an imaginative imperialism - a taking over from t…

Surprise Win At The TS Eliot's

Eyewear was at the Eliot awards last night. Jen Hadfieldwas not the expected winner of last night's TS Eliot. As almost every commentator had noted, including Sean O'Brien in the Sunday Times, and Eyewear, Mick Imlah seemed to be the frontrunner. It made for a strange, sad night, in one sense, that Imlah did not win for his brilliant book, and had also died the same day.

However, if it was possible for a prize winning announcement to lift gloom and spread joy, Andrew Motion's that Hadfield, the youngest-ever winner, at 30, had actually taken the Eliot prize for best book published in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2008, did so. Hadfield is impossible to dislike, as a person or poet. She is personally warm, genuine, fun and imaginative - a breath of fresh air. Her poetry is playful, imaginative, original, and delightful. Her win is exciting, because it almost marks a break with an older generation, and signals the arrival of a new one - a generation that really began to e…

Mick Imlah Has Died

Tragic news. The poet Mick Imlah died yesterday. There is a good obituary in today's Times. This is the second shocking loss of an important younger British poet this decade in London - I recall Michael Donaghy's untimely death.

God On The Bus

As a thoughtful opinion piece in The Guardian today observes, there is something just a little arrogant about well-educated middle class (and super-rich celebrity) liberal atheists pooling their resources to place atheist advertisements on the side of London's buses, which tend to be used most often by older, and working class (and often religious) people. The campaign, welcomed by some Christians as provocative, is intended to celebrate the feelgood factor of a universe without a God - and is weakened by the fact that a) the statement is wishy-washy (the famous probably) and b) almost all literature of existential atheism (and deism) since the 1800s has observed that a godless universe, albeit a possibility, is hardly a walk in the park - but instead a terrifying void that demands active, creative human engagement to fill.

The idea that new-look atheism simply commands us to "relax" - like some 80s pop slogan - is unfortunate and unimpressive. Instead, the challenge for …

Stop Googling And Thumb Some Books!

I Google, therefore Eyewear is. Hard not to, in this day and digital age eh? However, stop the presses. According to today's Times, to Google is to expend major carbon footprints. Forget about flying - lazy students and idle narcissists everywhere are killing the planet, one search at a time. What is a blogger to do? It may be curtains, soon, for the whole Internet thing. Meanwhile, let's face the music and dance.

Poetry Books 2009!

There are poetry books coming out in 2009, that will elicit groans and cheers in equal measure. Some of the ones I've seen listed in the press include a new Andrew Motion, a new Luke Kennard - and of course Ruth Padel's wonderful telling of Darwin's life. Do let Eyewear know of any forthcoming books you think we should be looking out for.

Detour

Detour

In Memoriam Ann Savage

Since we still die
or fail to procreate
and coffee is still black
until the cream

I ask where existentialism
went, and why the Bogart
dream of a man going it alone
(or woman) in an alley-world

gaunt and unshaven
has ceased to pack
the punch it used to;
often I feel there’s no way

out, and no detour too;
if not for affection, humour
and forgiveness, the tally
would be one-sided in favour

of buying it straight away;
the early pleasures of skin
are knocked sideways
by indigestion, and ulcers;

only so much gin before
the clever liver says goodbye;
but you’ve got to soldier on,
and employ a few words

on a daily basis,
picking the ones from the back
of the truck that look ready
to work, sending the other

sorry sons-of-guns
to loiter on the margins
of long, toothless cities;
but even language quits

when the season’s done,
the time for harvest fits
in the palm of one torn hand,
in the swiped wallet you lost,

and the rest of the year
is all about chilled fear mostly,
and trying to cheat more shadow
from …

Poem by Alan Baker

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Alan Baker(pictured) this first Friday of the New Year, by featuring a poem of his that is all-too-seasonally apt (some parts of the UK have not been this cold or snowy in two decades).

Baker was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and lives in Nottingham. He co-edits Leafe Press, which he founded in 2000, and is editor of the webzine Litter. Publications include The Causeway (1999), Not Bondi Beach (2002), both from Leafe Press, The Strange City (2002) from Secretariat and Hotel February (2008) from Bamboo Books of California.

His translation of Yves Bonnefoy's Début et Fin de la Neige was published jointly by Leafe and Bamboo Books. He has a pamphlet forthcoming from Skysill Press.

Baker represents an alternative ("other") British poetry tradition, and poetics, that, often quietly, in the so-called margins of a mainstream, continues to do excllent work. Baker follows Pound's example, of course, of being editor, publisher, and poet. His work,…

Nthposition's January Poems Now Online

Make Nothing Happen

The Oystercatcher Press publishes pamphlets worth reading, by poets like Kelvin Corcoran, Carol Watts, and John Welch. I just received a copy in the post of Rufo Quintavalle's pamphlet from them, titled Make Nothing Happen. I know many of the poems already, having published a few at Nthposition, but look forward to reading it soon, as a whole. I also have a review copy, for anyone out there interested, let me know.

Guest Review: Evanson on Lykiard

Tanya Evansonreviews
Unholy Empires
by Alexis Lykiard

Athens-born, British poet Alexis Lykiard’s 12th book of poetry pokes fun at rulers, royalists and religionists. A Facebook poke would have been preferable. Let me explain.

The book begins with charming pieces: “War Fever” and “Defining Terms” remind us of our human folly and that in the end, everything is known. There are secrets being revealed here in strong, simple language. There are also moments of beautiful wordplay for which Lykiard is a true master in the classic sense. He touches Shakespeare in “Surplice Requirements, or, Access of Evil:”

Bigot, devout fool or peasant,
Sing your cross or chant your crescent;
Choose to wail at a saintly wall –
Irrational superstitions all.

But the difference is that Shakespeare was usually speaking through characters - drama. Instead here we get a cranky poet - one SO tired of all of humanity’s bullshit yet one who puts so much energy into chastising it.

There are moments of true playful inspirat…

Ron Asheton Has Died

Sad news. One of the greatest guitarists of all time, Ron Asheton, of The Stooges, has died. Anyone who has heard his work on those early recordings, of the late 60s and early 70s, will be struck by the raw power, and premature-punkness of it all.

Poetry Centenaries in 2009

2009 has its fair share of poetry centenaries - 100th anniversaries of births and deaths - of notable poets. These include (feel free to add more):

Births in 1909 of - A.M. Klein; Stephen Spender; and Robert Garioch. Deaths in 1909 0f - Davidson; Swinburne; and Meredith.

Of these, A.C. Swinburne's seems the biggest, and perhaps the least likely anniversary to be properly feted (time will tell). Is it time to reclaim greatness for the recluse of Putney? Perhaps ironically, or fortuitously, the infamous bircher died just as Hulme and Co. were meeting with Pound to plan a ways to trim the Victorian (perceived) excesses of Algie's erotic diction. Instead, they wanted "hard" (not effeminate) language. This sexist, misogynist modernist tendency tends to suppress the radical artifice, and excessive textual erotics at play, in Swinburne's powerfully "queer" poetry.

Meanwhile, Klein, arguably Canada's greatest 20th century poet, is hardly read or known beyond t…

Heartless in Gaza

Israel has a right to exist, and defend itself. The Palestinian people need a home they can safely call their own. These two statements begin most editorials, and most political speeches. However, there's a gulf between both statements - the gulf of goodwill. Nations project their power, to protect their citizens, but at a cost - and in today's post-9/11 world of so-called terror, that prerogative (Bush's doctrine, that Palin did not recall, and that Obama senses is already his Achilles heel) too often is a causa belli of extreme bellicosity, unrestrained by any obligation to act with humanity, caution, or care.

The Red Cross says what's happening in Gaza is terrible. What needs to happen is for Israel to be accepted as a fact the Holocaust makes morally essential - no point in trying to blot out an undeniable political entity defended by America - and for the Palestinian people to be, finally, accorded the dignity and security their complex location requires, for …

Guest Review: Adams on Pollock

Derek Adamsreviews
Designs for Living
by Estill Pollock

Estill Pollock is a mature poet, secure in his abilities, assured enough to play the long game (witness this volume concludes the Relic Environments Trilogy), and like an angler with a lure he spins ideas through sequences of poems, confident his readers will follow.

The opening poem “Face” explores identity, wearing the faces of the dead, of others ‘These others as we, dreamers in their comas’, it concludes ‘The man you were, the face in the mirror: there you are. // Here I am’.

These others whose lives and memory affect our identity, who we wear on our faces, are at the heart of this collection, they are ‘the past, its ghosts/ devolved to son and daughter, these/ others of the blood.’ In “A Space in Time” these others inhabit a dream. ‘…faint energies/ (some I saw right through)/ to share a space in time, its senses recollected.’

Pollock is precise with his descriptive images - in “Everything Else” when lovers walk through rain, it’…

New Doctor Tests Patience

Who? Doctor Who fans must be scrubbing their heads. Matt Smith, hardly a household name despite his sub-Twilight neck, jaw and hair -line, has jumped past hopefuls such as women, black actors, and thespians of note, to become the next Doctor in the British classic series. I hope the next Poet Laureate is not some equally inauspicious and undeserving whipper-snapper. Smith was good in those Pullman TV shows, but not stellar. The BBC should have done more.

Happy for Leigh

Good news. One of the best British films of the new century, Happy-Go-Lucky, has just received four awards from a prestigious circle of film critics in America. Leigh's film is both humane and upbeat, while exploring madness, evil, power politics, and everyday life (and love). It did well in the UK, but was not as celebrated at home as abroad, where the director's genius is becoming ever-more evident. Eyewear wishes it very well at Oscar time.

Nothing Changes on New Year's Day

If U2 are to be believed, New Year's Day is a little like poetry making nothing happen (why not begin 2009 with a cliche?) - and yet, of course, the ambiguity in that line of theirs: "nothing changes on New Year's Day" is a clever one: the lover's love remains, just as the world (underway) is ongoing in its beauty and its terror. So, both love and evil do not change, so much as calibrate their relationship, even as the years go by.

Eyewear wants to wish you, dear reader(s), the best possible of years ahead, in the full knowledge that war, credit crisis, environmental degradation, mass unemployment, and general despair are in pretty full swing just about now (as in Gaza currently). As poets and readers, we have an especially challenging task - to maintain some form of literate communion with the past, while innovating responsibly for the future (and the present). I was recently in a bookshop that had no poetry books for sale (well, one).

That's not a good sign. …