Saturday, 23 March 2013


Eyewear is on Spring Break.  When we come back in April, prepare yourself for brilliant poety features on major US poets, some insightful reviews of recent poetry, and other stimulating stuff for the eyes and mind.  Enjoy the holidays.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Great to look at, even better to read

Spring Poem


(written after reading Don Share's Union) 

Okay, here goes -
something new, which is always
better than the old,
unless the old is you, or me,
and one zooms to Tut and his wrappings,
which had their spring awakening
only when the tomb was broken into
which is a bit like a tuber, or bulb
or whatever flowers really are
being decrypted from the soil;
and sometimes birth and flowering
appear creepy, sort of B-Movieish,
but we don't mention that so much
when dancing in the spring rain,
with e.e.'s balloon man, who,
nowadays, would be, bluntly,
creepy too.  Very.
I am forcing a thing here, a style,
because my head has no voice,
only desires to appear reasonable
when being strip searched,
or ordering decaf lattes.  I want,
in all fairness, to get along,
little doggy, with the days as they go
from out of my skin and diaries,
flying off somewhere like those blossoms
that represent what's best about spring
and then enguttered, filthy-pink
after some rain bashing, enhance nothing,
and appear as my thoughts often do,
unintentionally grubby, barely hidden,
flung out suddenly for all the world
to see, which all the world doesn't, though,
since, all things being equal, why would
the world bother to notice such things?

March 20, 2013
by Todd Swift

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Poetry Focus: Paul Muldoon


Eyewear is delighted to feature Paul Muldoon.  Muldoon (pictured here as a young man) is, in my opinion, the most significant poet from Ireland and Britain born since 1950.  This is his 60th year.  His style - witty, linguistically complex, musical, allusive, and filled with puns - is the most rhythmically original since Lowell's and Auden's.  He is the funniest Irish writer of genius since Flann O'Brien; and the most alert to language's depths since Heaney and Joyce.

He has developed a way of patterning words and images by alluding to myth, legend, and also personal experience, employing a syntax that is playful and sometimes mesmeric.  He might be the most verbally seductive of poets since Swinburne.  His influence is apparent on a whole generation of poets, and the work of, say, Don Paterson, is unimaginable without the Muldoon template behind it.  Since I started reading his work in 1985 or so, when I was 19, he has been a key influence on my thinking about poetry.  I met him a few times around then, first at Cambridge, and then in Vermont, where he was doing a reading.

One of my early highlights was having Chinese food with him after the Burlington reading, along with Martin Mooney, co-editor of our anthology of Northern Irish Poetry, from 1987; I saw him next in New York in 2002, and again when his Horse Latitudes was up for the TS Eliot Prize in London.  In the 21st century, Paul Muldoon has become one of the major literary figures in America - as professor based at Princeton, and poetry editor of the New Yorker.  Before then, he had won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and been the Oxford Professor of Poetry.

His book of criticism, The End of the Poem, is deliriously brilliant, and useful for practicing poets in a way that not all such criticism is.  Sometimes criticised for being smarter than he is heartfelt, I feel his work develops the requirement for difficulty that Eliot noted long ago.  The English language's post-modern master of poetry, Muldoon furthers the traditional lyric, mid-Atlantic.  It's therefore an absolute delight to feature a poem from his latest collection, Maggot.

The Fish Ladder

Forty years since I proved a micher
and ate blackberries
along the plank road by a dilapidated weir
that had somehow failed to pave
the way from being a local eyesore

to something on which we might rest assured,
a corduroy causey thrown down by Caesar
across the Fens
being cut and dried by comparison.
Though a flax dam

in which our enthusiasm may be damped
as we grope
towards clarity with the high-strung
sea trout and salmon
is not to be confused with the bog hole

in which my father proved a last ditcher
during World War II, a flax dam may be the very
pool in which we find ourselves in the clear.
Less and less, though, will bog water stave
off the great gobs of gore

that come and go like Jonah's gallows gourd
from the wound where a doctor still views his tweezer
through the lens
of day-today life in a Roman garrison.
Even Jonah has run himself ragged as he swam

against the workload with which he'd been swamped
those last few months in the hope,
I expect, of skipping a rung.
Sometimes the more we examine
things, the less we understand our dual role

as proven escape artist and proven identity switcher.
Just look at how two ferries
have gone down within plain sight of the pier
but only one tatterdemalion wave
has managed to stumble ashore.

poem by Paul Muldoon; reprinted from Maggot (FSG: New York, 2010), with permission from the author

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Inspired Choice

Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope, the first Jesuit Pope, the first Francis as Pope, was an inspired choice this evening.  At 76, he is unlikely to overstay his welcome.  As someone who has devoted decades to working with the poorest people of Argentina, he brings a message of humility, charity, and kindness.  He is, in person, mildly charismatic - gentle, intelligent, and capable.  He has started well.  For those against the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, and its Church, however, even this miracle of sagacity - a choice made almost in heaven - is darkness in the light; some are already alluding to the Pope's past as linked to the Junta.  This is very nasty unproven stuff, a real smear campaign, and misses the point - the Church's move into the 21st century has started today, on the 13th of March, 2013, only 13 years late.  God bless Pope Francis.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Eyewearers at Albion Beatnik, Oxford

Travis Elborough, Caleb Klaces, and David Shook at the Albion Beatnik, Walton St., Oxford. April 26, 2013. Doors at 7.30 PM, readings begin at 8.00 PM. Travis Elborough, "the hipster Bill Bryson," reads from and spins records related to his critically acclaimed new book, The London Bridge in America. Oxonian Caleb Klaces reads from his Melita Hume Prize-winning debut Bottled Air, from Eyewear Publishing. David Shook reads from and plays whimsical Mexican records related to his debut collection Our Obsidian Tongues, also from Eyewear Publishing. Host Jenny Lewis, Oxford Poet and Oxford University tutor, introduces readers.

Guest Review: Houghton On Sluman

Nick Houghton reviews
Absence Has a Weight Of Its Own
by Daniel Sluman

Daniel Sluman’s debut collection brings an unsparing eye to bear on sickness, death and dissolution. The preface, ‘Absence has a weight of its own,’ sets the tone for the whole, that of a child who has experienced a sense of its own mortality, trying to fill the void created by this formative experience.

The poet’s voice is intimate and relies on personal anecdote, conveying the early established sense of incompleteness and loss via a number of scenes, notably in ‘Summer at the Farm,’ where loss of innocence is dealt with,

…or that afternoon we watched 
Wendy’s blood wisp, bloom ringlets 
on the white of her thighs…,

and, ‘After the Wedding,’ where the narrator feels bathos after the headlong rush of romance and marriage,

Back then, you were so London 
with your ecstatic white teeth…

…we find ourselves
 stalled in the marriage bed;
your maiden name

a peppercorn crushed
in my mouth…
…I guess what I’m asking is 
where do we go
from here?

The emotional and physical scars caused by isolating experience, whether they are self-inflicted or come through illness are a recurring theme. Roman, a libertine, is only ever present at moments of dissolution and debauchery as in, ‘Cocaine Roman,’ where,

…the Genesis of each eye 
blooming black, 

the tachycardic heart swelling
veins to chase themselves…,

and is presented as some sort of automata, representing emotional distance; Roman does not indulge his narcotic and fleshy pursuits alone, however. Trauma:  blunt force, survivor and post stress are examined in, ‘Transcript,’

…we turned
the windscreen 
full of veins…

                          …the metal missed, 
but he didn’t look right,

at his slick palms…

…Choke the words,
& there were 
no words.
Part three of the collection explores love and relationships and has an empathic quality that balances and brings closure to the overarching narrative. In, ‘Dedication,’ love is seen through the prism of domesticity,

…dropping bacon in hot oil, dashing cutlery 
on an epiphany of china… 

…If you cleaved me in two
you’d smell your perfume on my bones.

The poet is coming to terms with the world, letting the outside back in. The collection is closed with, ‘This View,’ bringing romantic resignation, and a tight focus on what, in other hands, could have been cliché,

‘A million people are laying heads 
on the tender of their arms, staring
 at their lover’s back as they sleep…, 

…I hear the screams of my unborn children,
their blood films my hands.  Tonight,

mortgages will swell & plates will loosen…,

but here evokes the kind of romantic peace to which only a fool would not aspire.
Sluman’s voice is modern, able to describe sex, vitality and youthfulness, while at the same time being mature in its treatment of relationships. A voice with this range is rare, and I was both moved and excited; I look forward to reading more of his work.

Nick Houghton is a third year creative writing and English literature student at Kingston University. His first novel, Dirty Tuesday, will be completed in September 2013.          

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Guest Review: Bury On The Open Door anthology

by Dominic Bury

The Open Door, an anthology of one hundred poems, painstakingly cherry-picked from the one hundred year archive of the esteemed American magazine Poetry succeeds wholly on the premise on which it was conceived. In placing emphasis on the poem, and not seeking (as is common within the poetry coterie) to clump together poets into distinct historical groups, teams or even factions, with their associated influences, successors and champions, editors Don Share and Christian Wiman have produced something not only fresh, but critically important.

Granted, many of the previous century's leading figures are in. Ezra Pound's 'In a station of the metro' opens the anthology, Yeats's 'The fishermen' ends, and the pages are filled by among others T.S.Elliot, Sylvia Plath, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams. Yet the anthology does not feel like a homage to fame, where a few lesser lights are reluctantly inserted for padding. Instead, as Wiman attests in his introduction the archive has been approached just as they approach the hundred thousand submissions that come into their office each year. They seek 'poem by poem, with an eye out for the unexpected - the one off masterpiece that juts up like a mountain from the landscape you thought you knew'.

During a recent writing course, I was shocked to hear the current British poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy proclaim 'I have written a great deal of poetry, but I am still trying to write just one real poem.' Yet this brutal and wonderfully humble confession is the exact bones about which The Open Door is formed. In seeking poems that have both mastery and mystery, where language is 'honed to unprecedented degrees of precision, but exists within - and in some way acknowledges - some primal and nearly annihilating silence' Share and Wiman produce an anthology with more electricity and palpable energy than the majority of comparable 20th century offerings. It is this ethos, this direction, that makes the anthology tick. It acts not only as heavy evidence of the magazine’s principled aesthetic but the result is an anthology that acts as testament to what a poem is, what it can achieve, and as a manual with which future poetry can be written.

Quite as interesting as what the anthology may provide the future is what it tells of the past. Within both the poems themselves and the editing choices, the all encompassing influence of modernism is found. That Edwin Arlington Robinson is the only poet to be included between 1912 and 1928 other than Ezra Pound, T.S.Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Butler Yeats, Hart Crane and Isaac Rosenberg is highly significant. Not only is Robinson's poem 'Eros Turannos' the only poem in the anthology unaffected by modernism, but its publication in the magazine in 1914 and the publication of 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ in 1915, is indicative of a seismic and irrevocable shift in the poetry landscape. For fair analysis, take the first stanzas of each poem. Stanza one of Robinson's poem reads:

                                    She fears him, and will always ask
                                         What fated her to choose him;
                                    She meets in his engaging mask
                                         All reasons to refuse him;
                                    But what she meets and what she fears
                                    Are less than are the downward years,
                                    Drawn slowly to the foamless weirs
                                         Of age, were she to lose him.

Take in contrast the first stanza of 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’:

                                         Let us go then, you and I,
                                    When the evening is spread out against the sky
                                    Like a patient etherized upon a table;
                                    Let us go, through half deserted streets,
                                    The muttering retreats
                                    Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
                                    And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
                                    Streets that follow like a tedious argument
                                    Of insidious intent
                                    To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .

The two are as different as clay and wind, and despite its profundity, Robinson's poem, with its opaque metaphor and simple end rhyme pattern seems now in comparison to be archaic, overwritten, and inelegant. The fact that all the other poets included between 1912 and 1928 are considered to now to be arch-modernists highlights how much of an impact the movement had, erasing almost two-hundred years of poetic tradition.

As alluded to in the anthology's introduction, there are always those who will seek to react against modernism, even if they cannot totally elude its grip, and fruitfully, it is this reaction that produces what is, if not the best, then certainly the most unnerving poem in the book. Don Paterson's fabulous poem 'The Lie' shows how formal metre and rhyme pattern are still potent vehicles. A narrative of a young boy's incarceration by the poem’s speaker, it is both the repetition contained within the final line and the slight alteration of the 'AABA' rhyme pattern in the end stanza that so affects the reader. 'The Lie' is among perhaps five poems that in their own unique ways come to the fore. Along with the aforementioned 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock', P K Page's 'My chosen landscape', Basil Bunting's 'Brigg flats' and Craig Arnold's 'Meditation on a Grapefruit' stand out.

What a poem is remains hard to put a finger on: a dark patch in the corner of the eye, that when looked towards moves further and further away. Yet what ties these and all the poems in the anthology together is that they are all unequivocally poems. They feel like poems, they positively reek like them. For all their wonderful variety, each of these poems catches the dark patch, holds it to the light and say 'This, dear reader is a bloody poem. Yes, yes, god damn, a thousand times yes.'

Dominic Bury is a young British poet.  He recently graduated from an MA in CW at Kingston University, and is currently an editorial assistant (intern position) at Eyewear Publishing, as well as a professional Governor.

Friday, 8 March 2013

International Women's Day

Today was International Women's Day.  Many women inspire me - perhaps, most especially, my wife, Sara Egan.  However, my wee niece, Elizabeth Ann, is the most welcome and beloved new woman in the world, to me.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Poetry at The Rose sponsored by Eyewear: Stone & Irving!

14/03 - 20:00 to late

Brand new event : MOSAIC brings you the finest in music, art, comedy, poetry, dance and theatre... a mish mash melting pot of special performances drawn from far and wide!

Poetry presented by EYEWEAR ~ at 20:30-21:00

JON STONE was born in Derby and currently lives in Whitechapel. His collection School of Forgery (Salt, 2012) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and also won him an Eric Gregory Award. He has also edited and published multiple small and large poetry anthologies through Sidekick Books, the press he co-runs, including the Birdbook series and the forthcoming Coin Opera 2, an anthology of computer game poetry.

KIRSTEN IRVING is one half of the team behind cult hand-made magazine Fuselit and collaborative poetry press Sidekick Books. Her pamphlet, What To Do, was released in 2011 by Happenstance Press and her debut collection, Never Never Never Come Back, was published in 2012 by Salt Publishing. She won the Live Canon poetry prize in 2011 and currently works as a freelance copywriter and proofreader with the collective Copy That.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Eyewear Recommends a workshop with Sam-La Rose

Reading, Writing, Responding in Poetry

Monday 25 March | 5pm – 8pm | £30 / £20 concessions | Poetry Library, Level 5, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX
Discovering new and diverse perspectives in your work.

In this workshop Jacob Sam-La Rose will lead you through practical writing activities using the Southbank Centre Poetry Library collection to explore ways of writing and responding to page poetry. You’ll be challenged to not only generate new work but also to refine your craft in this stimulating session. You’ll be asked to read outside your comfort zone and take creative risks. You’ll leave the workshop with a new perspective on how to write in response to the poetry and writers that inspire you.

To book please visit: or call 020 8692 0231 (ext 249)

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

New Poem by Todd Swift

I have been having terrible dreams of late; woke up last night at 5 am, and wrote this... it is a rougher draft (fourth this morning) but wanted to share it with you...

Night Mares

Each night I wake in sweat and fear
to sense my own godhead cruelly near.
The beasts and fates my chafing soul
breeds in Lethe let out of stables
foaming manticores no saddle brakes,
no bridle slows. We run a gamut

of gross nightish shows to bolt
in darkness crying for any light.
Our uncivil dreams prove the world
mad if unmade or made by us.
I lie down in peace and rise in fright
to recognise my mind a bad lover

to me in our bed, doubling terror
in one coupling head of woe.
No god would make worlds as lost
or wanton as my dreams become:
so close they are in feeling thought
to being thrown out far away from home.

new poem by Todd Swift; March 5, 2013.


A WORK IN PROGRESS... I am writing this first part on the eve of New Year's Eve day - and as new remembrances come to me, I may well...