Monday, 15 February 2016

First Annual Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology POETS ANNOUNCED!


A NEW BRITISH OR IRISH POET BETWEEN POEMS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 15 February 2016 


50 Rising Stars Win Spots in the First Annual Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology


Judged by Kelly Davio, Senior Poetry Editor, Eyewear Publishing LTD, and Todd Swift, Series Editor. 


Modeled on the famous United States competition, the first annual Best New British and Irish Poets competition was open to any poet of British or Irish citizenship and/or U.K. or Irish residency who has not yet published or will not publish a full-length collection prior to 1 June 2016. Poems submitted for consideration could have appeared in print before, or in a pamphlet, but not online. Poets about to have full collections out from Eyewear Publishing, including Ben Parker and Maria Apichella, were ineligible for inclusion.

A large number of poems came in from all corners of Great Britain and from across Ireland, from thrilling new voices and established older writers – all poets likely to soon publish full collections in print. These poets are, if you like, the “rising stars” of poetry in these isles. What was impressive was the age range and geographical range of these poets, as well as that of their styles – from lyrical to avant-garde and performance-oriented work. Traditional poems rub shoulders with prose poetry and innovative forms and styles.

In the light of his role in encouraging poets across the UK for decades, we wish to dedicate this year’s edition to RODDY LUMSDEN, one of the greatest poets of the age.

The final fifty poets selected for inclusion in the 2016 Best New British and Irish Poets are, in alphabetical order by first name: 
 
  1. ALAN DUNNETT
  2. ALEX BELL
  3. ALEX HOUEN
  4. ALI LEWIS
  5. AMY McCAULEY
  6. ANDREW FENTHAM
  7. ANNABEL BANKS
  8. BECKY CHERRIMAN
  9. BEN ASHWELL
  10. CATO PEDDER
  11. CLAIRE QUIGLEY
  12. CLARISSA AYKROYD
  13. COLIN DARDIS
  14. DAISY BEHAGG
  15. DAVID SPITTLE
  16. DEBRIS STEVENSON
  17. EDWARD DOEGAR
  18. ELIZABETH PARKER
  19. ERICA MCALPINE
  20. ERIN FORNOFF
  21. FRANCOISE HARVEY
  22. HOLLY CORFIELD-CARR
  23. IAN M DUDLEY
  24. ISABEL ROGERS
  25. JAMES NIXON
  26. JASON LEE
  27. JEN CALLEJA
  28. JESS MAYHEW
  29. KARL O’HANLON
  30. KATHERINE SHIRLEY
  31. LIZ QUIRKE
  32. LORNA COLLINS
  33. MARIA ISAKOVA-BENNETT
  34. MATT HOWARD
  35. MATTHEW PAUL
  36. MATTHEW STEWART
  37. MICHAEL NAGHTEN SHANKS
  38. NIALL BOURKE
  39. PIERRE RINGWALD
  40. RICHARD SCOTT
  41. RISHI DASTIDAR
  42. ROISIN KELLEY
  43. SAMANTHA WALTON
  44. SAMUEL TONGUE
  45. STEWART CARSWELL
  46. TESS JOLLY
  47. TIFFANY ANNE TONDUT
  48. VA SOLA SMITH
  49. VICTORIA KENNEFICK
  50. WES LEE
 

 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

TRUMP UPS THE STAKES

Donald Trump is usually wrong in his manner and his statements, goes the thinking of most British people - and he may well be. However last night in the widely-televised Republican Presidential candidates debate in South Carolina, Mr Trump, no stranger to stating shocking things, made two comments that, at least to the ears of left-leaning Corbynistas, will sound familiar.

Mr Trump claimed that Mr GW Bush had lied and that the recent Iraq War was wrong - and also that under Mr Bush, America had not become safer. That is like a Democrat saying Obamacare is rubbish, or Clinton should have been impeached.

It just isn't done. So that was amazing and intriguing.

The debate was also worth watching to see Mr Jeb Bush rise to the occasion, and come out confident and strong. Mr Kasich would be a compelling candidate if he had a chance - a smart, and nuanced moderate, his ideas seem more suited to compromise than the current culture wars warrant.

Mr Rubio stated - always dapper and acute - perhaps incorrectly - that the US Constitution is not "a living breathing thing" - but set in stone. If so, how does he explain amendments, and the fact that time changes, and so new discoveries and issues arise, that may not have been foreseen by the admittedly wise founding fathers? Originalists, like the recently-deceased Justice Scalia (the most reviled of the remaining conservatives on the bench), tend to see everything through prose-coloured glasses.

Meanwhile, all contender claimed Mr Obama has no right to submit a name to replace Scalia, though he has 11 more months in office - as if his Presidency had abruptly stopped just when it might have the power to discomfit right-wingers. Not so. One theory is he could appoint himself, or wait for Mrs Clinton to appoint him if she wins the Presidency in November.

Likely Mr Cruz, Trump or Bush will be the nominee to beat Mr Sanders or Clinton, and both have a shot, given the current issues facing the land.

We predict that in the SC primary forthcoming, Cruz will come in first, Trump a close second, Bush third, Rubio 4th, Kasich 5th and Dr Carson, the strange soft-spoken surgeon, last - we then predict Carson will drop out, but the other 5 remaining candidates will try and stay in for Super Tuesday.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

NOT-SO-SUPER BOWL


One of the best films of 2015 is called Concussion, and it stars Will Smith (the famous African-American actor) as a Nigerian (now-American) doctor, Bennet Omalu, who worked as a coroner's assistant doing forensic pathology in America's ageing rustbelt at the start of this century.

In a year when the Academy infamously declined to nominate any Black actors in their four categories, it is startling to report that this extraordinary performance from Smith - which sees him barely resemble his usual self - was overlooked in favour of the hammy ham-fisted work in Trumbo, for instance. Concussion, however, is more than an opportunity to observe, yet again, America's ongoing cultural and racial splits and struggles.

Instead, it is a film as terrifying in its ways as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, though based in real science this time; and as shocking and revelatory as The Insider, Michael Mann's late 90s story of whistleblowing and Big Tobacco. This time, the villain is so insidious, so powerful, so endemic, so ingrained, the disease cannot be cut out with any number of knives. The peril is ongoing. The last time a final shot of an American film was this powerful was perhaps The Hurt Locker, and even that has less impact - without giving it away, it leaves our hero facing, half-bemused, half-stunned, the intractable idiocy of human nature.

The facts are now basically established (as late as 2015 a major study confirmed Dr Omalu's discovery) - playing football professionally leads to massive and chronic brain trauma, consistent with a disease that Dr Omalu himself named about ten years ago, CTE, and which the football authorities in America have since attempted to deny even exists. In short, the brain lies in the skull (the brain case) in a liquid, and has no "seatbelt". The impact of tackles in football means that a person playing the sport for ten to twenty years might suffer the equivalent of 70,000 blows to the head with a hammer.

Almost as improbably farcical as that may sound, the disease triggered involves the growth of fatty tissue across the brain - leading to anger, despair, violence, suicide, and loss of self. In short, CTE first deprives the athlete of their sense of self, and then drives them to madness and terrible suffering.  It is Alzheimer's for healthy men in their 40s and 50s. New studies show that about 28% of all former NFL players are likely to die of the disease within the next few decades - that is, thousands of otherwise famous, respected, healthy, and wealthy stars of America's most lucrative and popular televised sporting event - football.

The horror of this film is that it is both real and symbolic of other societal blindness and self-inflicted wounds (such as mass gun crime) - the hard science is now there, and yet, as recently as the other day none other than maverick Lady Gaga, tasked with singing the anthem at the looming Super Bowl, described it as a great honour. Football is a killing field. She should know better. But has been shown the money.

Millions of American children and young people are encouraged to play it at local, state and national level. It serves as a metaphor for American strategic might. It generates billions of dollars for companies and people of influence every year. Even Concussion - no doubt aware of the oddball iconoclasm of its message - shys away from saying the mega-popular game should be stopped, though Dr Omalu in the film thinks it should be allowed to die out, as a barbaric throwback to a more stupid age. He has conceded it has beauty, but he also is the first person (in the world it must be said) to publically argue, at great risk to personal safety and career, that football generates a deadly disease. About 98% of recently examined former footballer's brains had CTE.

Over the next few decades, thousands of American athletes may well die, or suffer horribly, from a completely avoidable disease; instead, they will "play" a "game" that will smash their brain around their skull thousands and thousands and thousands of times. Would you let your child hit their head a hundred times a day with a hammer? Is it enough to say the players now "know" the risks (for decades hidden away in dusty industry reports) - the pressure on young men , especially from poorer backgrounds, to play, means only a few will be able to resist the pressures and avoid the risks.


We call upon writers, artists, poets and thinkers to see this film, review the evidence, and then decide how vocal they wish to be about this issue. Meanwhile, Concussion is a great film, and, just as Selma was avoided last year by the Academy, it seems there is a pattern of ignoring great and vital stories being told in film about Black people of genius.

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