Wednesday, 6 July 2016


Eyewear, the blog, loves to recommend new songs for you, our loyal and scattered readers, residing in various places across this wondrous globe. Erm, anyway, it has been a shit few weeks (again) in terms of the Year 2016 - a crap rubbish low year, which is killing more beloved celebrity musicians, film-makers, writers, boxers, actors, etc, than ever before.
Someone should call time on 2016 - can we vote again for 2015? Anyway, the musical year is top notch - I cannot recall when more major artists brought out new material in such proximity - and it keeps coming (Radiohead, Tegan and Sara, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Drake, Rihanna, etc).

Perversely, as always, these are not on the list below, which is actually simply the 16 songs that currently form what we in our office would call Earworm Brexitania.

These are songs we turn to, in this awful dire chaos of the sun, and listen to a lot, because they are cool, and we like them. The 16 tracks below, in alphabetic order of artist, are not the best, the smartest, or the finest, works of popular music out there in the ethereal void NOW, maybe, but they arguably could be darn close to that 16, also... enjoy! All are on Spotify. Here is part one.

1. A$AP Ferg, Missy Elliott - 'Strive'
In this Post-Brexit climate, no song out at the moment is more haunting, with its refrain of "you're missing opportunities, I know you're rich in opportunities" - this is a beautiful, complex hip hop work.

2. Anohni - '4 Degrees'
If you wanted to be reminded that there is something more important than having rubbish plebiscites, here comes the most stunningly bleak, poignant and ironically-intense song in years. Sung with the sort of passionate operatic tones we associate with Philip Glass musical works, and shockingly claiming to want to see lots of helpless animals burning and gasping etc, as the world heats up, this is the ultimate global warming work. "I want to burn them, I want to burn them" is a great refrain - "I want to see the animals die in the trees" is the lyric of the year.

3. Blossoms - 'Getaway'
This British boy band type rock group has managed to compose a quick succession of pop tracks OF ULTIMATE catchiness. They have the melodic gifts of The Archies, with just the slightest edge of Bryan Adams. You could sneer for hours at how this is cheap artifice, but actually, let its shallow vibes indecently sweep you along. It is great within its remit.

4. Bob Mould - 'The End of Things'
No one on this list has superior indie-alt cred to Bob Mould. And no other song is more potently aligned to the mournful post-Brexit moment we find ourselves in. As driving, relentless, and effective as his best Hüsker Dü work.

5. Clarke:Hartnoll - 'Do-a-Bong'
The synth pop genius of Ex-Depeche Vince Clarke here aligns with the genius of part of Orbital, and manages to establish the zaniest, catchiest, dancefloor joy of the summer, in true acid-jazz retro style.

6. Fat White Family - 'Whitest Boy on the Beach'
No other band in this list so exemplifies, or skewers, the ugly underbelly of rancid White Britain - shall we call them the 52%? This band, political, superlatively arch, angry, and smart, is like mainlining Fad Gadget and Sex Pistols bootlegs. Perversely catchy, this weird song is such an attack on the privileged status of Leave UK and its stupid pomp (from low to high) it reeks of the age; and, better still, it borrows The Munsters surf rock tune.



Sunday, 3 July 2016


Eyewear has always been a proudly British company, since its founding in the Olympic year of 2012.  But from the start, it had the backing and support of a small group of Dutch poets, artists and eccentrics.  Every one of the Eyewear pamphlets (over 30 so far); our over 40 poetry collections; and our key prose titles, has been typeset and/or designed by one person - the Dutch poet-artist Edwin Smet.

Smet's clean, stylish, modernist, and retro book cover designs have, over the past four years, rightly made Eyewear one of the most iconic and best-loved indie poetry presses of the new century. But his talents are deeper than his commitment to our small press.

Smet, who is a melancholy, handsome, witty, and wry man, enjoys privacy, and long walks in the midnight streets; his art works have won him admirers at many exhibitions and galleries; and he is a good poet, worth seeking out. Now today is his birthday, and we doff our hat and raise a toast to this most talented of 21st century persons - the excellent Smet!

Saturday, 2 July 2016


The Eyewear blog is no stranger to hyperbole - I can go over many of our past posts, as editor and chief writer, and see claims of looming disaster, downfall, or war, that never quite materialised; crisis is the loom on which a poet spins his best writing.

The past week in Britain - to be dramatic, in British history - has been different.  It rendered me speechless. While there were some facebook declarations, I could not face this blog, or gain the strength to compose lines on this debacle. I have been profoundly hurt by this nasty decision. It has all been said, and at least as well by others. I think the Downfall video meme, featuring Boris Johnson, may be the best, but Jonathan Freedland, Polly Toynbee, AC Grayling, and others, have also done a good job of sketching out the horrors ahead, and the horrific causes of them. But the past week has just been plain bad for England, the UK, the world - and me personally, too.

Since last Thursday I have lost my 12 week old kitten Woody; and seen two great poets die, Sir Geoffrey Hill and Yves Bonnefoy; almost comically, the English football team lost to Iceland in a majour tournament; racism unleashed itself like the rabid pitbull it is; meanwhile the Labour party is tearing itself to pieces; and the UK's barely supported cynical plebiscite has ushered in remarkable chaos, economic, social, and political. Now the far-right in Austria and France look set to gain from a dark momentum. As poet George Szirtes reminds us, this is all very 1932.

Speaking to the eminent historian, Dr Green, recently at the London Review Bookshop, I gathered that this is the worst crisis since the 1930s in Great Britain; with more to come if as seems likely Scotland votes to leave; and rage over border and identity issues returns to the North of Ireland.

It is nonsense to feel shackled to this so-called "will of the people", as if the whistle had been blown and we now had to rush over the top to our Somme fate. There is a peculiar madness in English conservative thinking, that abides by the rules of even rigged or pernicious games.  And the tragedy for us all is that the Tories who masterminded this referendum (with the help of the mendacious mountebank Farage) did see this as a game; we know this now, now that freakish Gove, loyal Iago to Boris, body-stabbed his friend; and now that we see how ill-prepared bumbling Boris was to lead his troops over the top, when the whistle went; he was an officer AWOL from his own jolly war.

A few Etonians played a game with the UK, to propel their own careers - each wanted to be prime minister, or close to the top seat. In a playbook too often compared to House of Cards, they sacrificed too many for an outcome they only marginally expected or even wished for. The result is perhaps no longer debatable  - but how to proceed sure is.

The good 48% of voters who wanted to Remain have a mandate to defend a very sizeable majority of the educated youth of Britain, and the rest of us to boot: no vote that excluded majorities in NI, Scotland or London reflects a genuine UK consensus. Instead, the English heartland - mostly white, often bigoted, clearly angry, and let down by 30 years of Thatcherism and Blairism, revolted. Their explosion of disdain for reality (expertise) has led them off a cliff. Everything the Leave voters were told to expect they will now not get, not: money for the NHS, control, less immigration.  It is a nightmare of bad thinking and very bad faith that only Mr Orwell could really do justice to.

This is a civil war - it may only be an Interregnum before sanity returns to the land. But Gove was our weird Cromwell, and he is every inch as cruel and driven; he is also set to fail. Soon we will have icy PM May, a Tory Remainer who is set on following this threadbare result to its unravelling extreme conclusions, like a moron in a broken funhouse. What should be done is legal: only the parliament can vote to trigger the now infamous Article 50 (rarely if ever mentioned during the referendum debates), and it need not do so, since the referendum was never binding.

Often in the West big referendums require 60% of the popular vote for major decisions; and also, when a kingdom has four nations, it might be wise, politic and polite to have a nation lock - two of the four (NI and Scotland) do not want to leave the EU - why should they have to? If Eyewear believed that a genuinely reflective, considered, informed and balanced cross-section of the entire kingdom had voted to leave the EU, despite the knife-wounds to the tapestry of our lands that would be self-inflicted, I would consent to be governed by this Tory poll.

But instead, without the liar Boris, some nasty newspapers owned by wicked billionaires whipping up jingoism and race-hate, and more lies than a lifetime of politics usually sees, this result would not have occurred; it just edged over, and even now, many Leavers admit they are mistaken. This is not a resounding, definitive call for change; it was a blunder; a one-night stand with thrilling iconoclastic punkish rebellion; a prank. England was dreaming.

Some MPs, including the Lib Dem leader, want to resist Brexit. And there is time.  The UK and its people require sober, brave and strong leadership now to resist their own ruination. It is a test of character that few of our current or looming leaders seem to have. Resist Brexit. Save the UK. Empower parliament to reject Article 50's trigger.  We can salvage from the wreck something almost resembling what we had... a week ago.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016



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 the oddest developments in the last decade has been "post-fact politics" - Trump is the latest employer of this rhetorical way of thinking and speaking.  It has now come to England, in the form of Boris and Gove - two highly-educated toff Tories whose various lies on the sides of their battle bus, and in interviews, are eye-opening and gobsmacking. As part of this way of debating, experts are trashed as being elitist and somehow in the pockets of the sinister EU, which has been demonised as if it was headed by SMERSH, SPECTRE or Fu Manchu.
There are two ways to debate - one either appeals to authority, or one trashes expertise as suspect.  Usually the side with the facts on its side supports authority. Eyewear is not unused to rhetoric, and will not lie.  What follows is blatantly an appeal to authority. So, let us consider who tells us that a vote for "Brexit" will be terrible for the UK economy, its NHS, and society in general?:
President Barack Obama
David Cameron, the current (Tory) PM
Jeremy Corbyn (the Labour leader)
Gordon Brown, former PM
John Major, former PM
The leaders of the 27 other nations in the EU
David Beckham
The Bank of England
The Economist
83% of British scientists
90% of the British Tech Sector
90% of those working in Higher Education in UK
Bill Gates
Meanwhile, the Leave side is endorsed by:
Nigel Farage
Donald Trump
The Daily Mail
Boris Johnson
Michael Gove
It is clear who we wish to believe, trust, and side with on this issue: the large majority of sane, rational, intelligent people, around the world, who oppose Brexit as A VERY BAD  IDEA INDEED.
Moreover, Eyewear - in publishing its pamphlet  #refugeeswelcome - made explicit its belief that human beings seeking safety, fleeing war zones and violent, failed states, cannot but be welcomed, and empathised with.
The Leave campaign has made it a crime, even a sin, to simply wish to travel, cross borders, and settle in a new home.  To be British and oppose this migration is historically ignorant, as well as cynical and unfeeling - no other group has moved around the world in greater numbers over the centuries than the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish - UK's nations (now playing football in the Euro cup). It is simply not the case that economic EU migrants (who are not refugees) are loathsome leeches. Rather, they are net contributors to the economy - they work hard for the NHS, do jobs Brits tend to avoid - and also bring their rich and various cultures to these shores.
The UK's entire cultural history is one of enrichment from outside influences: Celtic, Roman, Viking, French, Italian, and latterly Asian, Caribbean, African, Eastern European, and American. One does not "take control" of one's relationship to the world by barricading the door. Leave has left a bad taste in the mouth, and has no superior arguments - it seeks to win by an appeal to ignorance and hate.
Remain is the right thing to do.

Monday, 13 June 2016



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 ecstatic union;
Always rising above condemnation

Of pleasure, the final outcome
Of God’s giving us new bodies
That entwine even as they die.
Cry out Orlando, in pride.

13 JUNE, 2016
by T Swift


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 terror attacks on US soil only embolden his virulent rhetoric and make him, grotesquely, appear more oracular, and popular.

But what of this hateful ideology that wishes ill towards members of the LGBT communities across the West, and beyond? Have we really done enough, as open, rational, and humane societies, to push back against bigotry and ignorant fear?

Even the British Anglican church is in bed with gay-bashing communions in Africa; and in America, many born-agains espouse gay-hate. This is no longer acceptable, after Orlando. One is either on the side of ISIL, or one is on the side of tolerance, love and equal human rights. To sit on this sort of fence is tantamount to allowing evil ideas to fester.

I am loathe to search for silver lings after a brutal massacre.  So I won't search for one. Today is simply very sad.  Let us wish for love for all love. And keep rowing away from the rocks.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016



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, indifference.

Most things remain remote
from the world of other minds;

it is unclear what things feel
about being inhuman, inanimate.

What would they say to Disney
or any two-bit Michelangelo

who might disturb their dull stasis
with reverse Mimesis, fantasy?

Guess what? My heart aches
with regards to legal matters

of the head; the hands do cartwheels
on the grass and the brain

half-believes the spirit is the soul
when suddenly, pig's organs

deliver themselves unto our selves
like ripostes from life itself,

a sort of mass-engineered
roller coaster of the damned

we are strapped into at birth
for the sheer hell of it.

Have no words. For it all.
The colossal shame of death,

the word I thought (I again)
might leave unnamed

as if that would be a defeat
for this non-linear thinker

which is only a disease, a knife,
heroin, a streetcar, a fall, a crate;

thin ice is one skate away
from being a simile for tragedy.

The woodchuck would, but won't.
Quite quaint, working in couplets.

They twin the mirrors they relate.
They spin their tectonic plates

like twins isolate their differences
in subtle acts and ways too shy

to be declaimed or claimed exactly;
a red not blue blouse; a moustache;

well, not that subtle, not too loud.
The cloud of objections to any vehicle

or tenor is diminishing as fewer
comparisons are made.

Quite how it ever got loose is
anybody's guess. Bad luck about

the box, the vase, the lamp, the cage,
whatever broke at this late stage

to let it out to roam at will like words;
the swords of pillage in the early days.

JUNE 7 2016

Friday, 3 June 2016

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 try instead not to evaluate in terms of originality which is a bogus pursuit devised by Chevrolet salesmen.

I ask does it sing? Does it serve? Does it bring pleasure? Is it good within its chosen bounds? My kitten will never bark. My dog will not purr. I feed them both.

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Eyewear THE BLOG is the most read British poetry blog-zine of all time, getting more than 25,000 page-views a month. It began in 2005 and has now been read by over 2.5 million.

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