About Eyewear the blog

Eyewear THE BLOG is the most read British poetry blogzine, getting more than 25,000 page-views a month. It began in 2005. and ha snow been read by over 2 million The views expressed by editor Todd Swift are not necessarily shared by the contributing poets and reviewers. Any material on this blog infringing copyright will be removed upon request.


Friday, 13 February 2015

POEM FOR VALENTINE'S DAY FROM TODD SWIFT


Honeybourne

No, no better name
For how we desire

To slip into heaven
By way of great fire;

My favourite station
With a short platform

Requiring us to run
Car to car, to reach

Its long wooden sign
Signalling bee work

Has come to fruition.
Now, when in Detroit

We saw cornfields rising
From factories cut open:

Pheasants in the rust.
A gun fight started up

Like an engine rattling.
It was dust-beautiful,

A glowing sad vacancy,
A king's failed skull

Who enjoyed many kisses.
Honeybourne is the shore

Far from Motown's husk.
It hints of sunlit combs

Greeting dusk, raucous
Glinting from new hives

That spill their lustre
So the blind girls passing

Know to freeze, to stare,
Then cry tears so genuine

They burst into gold coins
On bright cheeks. It brims

To slop what's most sweet.
They slow dance, catching love.

The words do this, alight.
Pack each good thing into sight.

 T. Swift
February 2015

Thursday, 29 January 2015

BACK FROM THE RAINS

Hullo, we're back - we haven't posted for awhile, as we settle in to a new year of editing, publishing and teaching. Too much has happened in the world to recap, and you don't need a modest poetry blog to do that for you.

But, here's some good news, we are publishing a book of poems by Dutch poet Hester Knibbe, translated by Jacquelyn Pope, and yesterday Ms Knibbe one a 25,000 Euro prize, the largest for poetry in the Netherlands, so we're very proud.  Of course, we are no stranger to publishing major international poets and authors - in December, we launched books by Mark Ford and Alfred Corn.

Our very own Tedi Lopez will be reading as part of the London Book Fair, in support of her Eyewear book, and, we are also publishing Mario Bellatin, Benno Barnard, Jan Owen, Sean Singer, David Musgrave, and others this year (Google them, you will be as impressed as we have been).

We also promote the new, the unknown, the marginal, the emerging, the young, the old, the local, the surprising, the avant... you name it, this is a special proud year for Eyewear. We are thriving. In a small, very British way. And, to top it off, we now have US distribution via SPD - great news.

More news soon!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

CHARLIE SURFS

The whole point of the Charlie massacre, when it was safe to be a pen-waving protester in the Paris squares a few days ago, SEEMED TO BE that a bunch of funny, rude and brave men (they were mainly men) drew and published cartoons making fun of religious figures; and some lunatics that couldn't take a joke and hated Voltaire and Liberty and the West had killed them in their offices.  It was like the scene in Total Recall when the  new-born saviour is brutally killed. It was gross and totally wrong. Totally.

And so a sort of childlike mania swept a lot of the world, and we all claimed to be Charlies.  Nevermind that 99% of us had never read Charlie Hebdo, didn't speak or read French, and didn't realise that a lot of the Charlie cartoons were probably illegal under hate laws in some Western nations, we all saw a moment of group love, a sort of Titanic of political engagement.  We are the world, and we don't like Muslim cartoon-killers, ok? Group hug time.

Then, suddenly, the lunatics started killing Jews, and it became muddier, more complex, and less clear-cut - were we all Juifs? If so, I didn't see those placards.  I didn't see a lot of Je Suis Un Juif signs, did you? A lot of us became Ahmed, the shot cop, and some of us the brave Muslim shop assistant - but, while the mass demonstration has gathered today in Paris, France - a storm is settling over the sunny uplands of our moral certainties. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but is kosher food mightier than the machine pistol? For the killers have revealed themselves to not just be humourless monsters, but anti-Semitic ones too.

And while most people in France can claim to love cartoons, a slim but real minority can't claim to love Jews, judging by the way they vote.  In fact, Europe's dirty open secret is, it is almost as racist as it was in the 1930s. And it has the extremist parties to show for it. All the victims of the killers are equal, and need to be mourned equally, but the innocent shoppers in the Kosher market who were not in the business of goading maniacs and thus did not require police protection, are actually somehow viewed as beside the point, when they are more viscerally and genuinely informative of the nature of their foes: these killers are not cranky loner gunmen - they are part of a large consensus of fanaticism sweeping large parts of the Middle East

When Saudi Arabia can flog a journalist during Charlie week, we know there is a disconnect somewhere. What is really getting lost is Charlie's mad subversion. Charlie Hebdo was like National Lampoon, Monty Python, Private Eye, Mad Magazine, cranked up to 11. None of the political speeches about CH has been rude or funny or madcap. Hopefully the next issue of the Hebdo will return to what it does best: offending all equally. At the moment, and after some brilliant and imaginative illustrations and cartoons, we are settling for the usual rhetoric, the usual sombre tones.  To truly change the channel, we need to surf like Charlie did - on dangerous rude disruptive waves, and continue to fling snot and bile in all directions at once with comic fervour and clear-eyed distrust of all authority. Oh, and Je Suis Un Juif.

Roll Over Eliot and Tell Costa the News

A serious lack of intelligent critical engagement on the part of some players in the British poetry world has led to a situation of dumbing down, and aesthetic compromise. There is no genuinely engaged scholar of contemporary British poetry who could possibly think the ten-strong shortlist for tomorrow's Eliot Prize represents the ten best books of poetry published in Britain or Ireland this year - there are just too many glaring omissions. Further, the recent furore over Kate Tempest - a rapper and slam poet whose page-based work is mediocre and often lamentable - has been nothing short of disgraceful. Meanwhile, a perfectly pleasant, and amiable, and often funny poetry collection by a young man has won this year's Costa Poetry Prize - which is nice for him, but vaguely odd.  Again, the people who are selecting judges and selectors for most of the main prizes, book clubs, and festivals, seem either about 25 years out of date, or, far worse, guided by motives and poetics that are of dubious grounding. In the mad tilt to celebrity, accessibility, and accountability, an idea has seemingly formed that demotic, funny, usually rhyming verse is the most genuine way in which "real" poets can speak to "real people" in these "real" times.

Aside from the fact that we have had demotic poetry since at least Chaucer (and funny verse too), there is no reason to think poetry need be ever either "real" or "for the people" - poets are artists, and they should select their aims according to the art's interests, not the audiences.  Or at least, that is the elitist modernist view, which, up to a point I believe is essential as a starting point; tempered by a post-structuralist awareness of problematic issues with canon formation and ideology, to be sure.

It would be nice to be able to say that most poetry prizes in the UK are actually a tussle between modernist, post-modernist or avant-ist tendencies - but they aren't even that - like many reviews in newspapers, they are more often guided by pleasant, amiable, coterie group-think. So and so is handsome, or polite, or interesting, or has had a tough life, or taught me at this school or that course, or writes poetry like Heaney or Armitage, or was on the telly, or has won a lot of prizes, or is published by a big press... the number of reasons for selecting a poet to win a prize is so vast, it is hard to sometimes remember the real thing might be to ask who is actually writing the most interesting, or vital, or engaged, or informed, poetry. So long as 90% of people who read and write poetry in the UK think it mostly begins and ends with the list of three or four large mainstream presses, all is almost lost. Not quite, but almost.

However, for their part, Faber has of late published extremely exciting and intelligent new poets, such as Berry and de las Rivas, and will continue with Underwood soon.  I just think we need a lot more context, wider reading, and more robust intent on the part of some of the powers that be in these isles.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

WE ARE CHARLIE




Make no mistake, the terrorist massacre of at least 12 French journalists, editors, and cartoonists - writers and satirists - working at Charlie Hebdo in Paris (think a  socio-political combination of Mad Magazine, The Onion and Private Eye, with some of the cruder elements of Hustler), on the 7th day of the new year, is a seismic event.

As one cartoon had it, the twin towers were now two towering pencils, about to be destroyed. Of course, the deaths in themselves are sad and tragic. But the symbolic (as well as practical) impact of this attack is far greater than a count of the bodies, high as that is.  For, unlike the Brevik massacre, which was horrifying and cruel, but ultimately proved to be the work of an isolated madman without wider social connections, this was the work of a terror cell that may be linked to ISIS.

The massacre was timed with the precision of a military exercise - it occurred in broad daylight in the heart of one of the world's busiest, greatest cities - and was a calm piece of wet-work we might associate with the world's elite commando units.  Three men clad in black, armed with machine-guns, strode into a busy newsmagazine office at the worst time (was this an inside job?) - exactly when all the key editors and artists were there - and proceeded to execute them.

They also killed two armed police men, and then fled, without being caught, in a small car, later abandoned.  At time of writing, tonight, they have not been caught.  Forget amateur hour, or suicide strikes - this was chillingly planned, executed, and was, from the perspective of this most evil of operations, a total success.

Or was it? Charlie Hebdo may close (for a time), or not.  Tens of thousands of Parisians are gathering in the city tonight, and many French people are, in solidarity, changing their Facebooks to say Je Suis Charlie. Charlie Hebdo, a relatively poor-selling weekly, is now the most famous magazine in the world, just as, in a lesser way, the attacks on Sony made The Interview, a mediocre film, an instant classic.

Charlie Hebdo is not to everyone's tastes.  Let us be clear, it is often joyously tasteless, a shit-pie in the face of any and all powers that be. In fact, as a Catholic with great respect for all religious traditions (at their best), including Islam, I have been personally disgusted by some of their incendiary cartoons of the past, which have been vulgar, atheistic, and boldly confrontational.  They took no prisoners.

Okay, but, here is where we must draw what I call the Western line. I would never kill a cartoonist or editor for publishing such things as appear in Charlie Hebdo.  I would fight to the death, in fact, to protect their liberty, their freedom, to publish such work.  This is because the tradition that Charlie Hebdo is part of (the tradition that led to the French revolution and modern democracy) is also the tradition of Swift, Bentham, and all great satirists, and pamphleteers. For all the West's brutal faults, it is now commonly understood that we do not kill people for blasphemy, or for expressing ideas or opinions which question our own views.

But this is not a debating team wet-dream, only. This is not a hypothetical. This is a terrible, very frightening game changer for all writers, artists, satirists, publishers, and journalists, everywhere. What these extremists have demonstrated, in a way so clear and chilling it equals the horror of 9/11 - is that no one who thinks differently from them is safe, not even at home, in their own cities. If you publish something they don't like, they can rub you out. This is a kill fee with no fee, just the kill.  It is the radical and extreme and final riposte to gonzo journalism and its obsession with radical protest and guns - this is gonzo anti-journalism.

It is, in fact, the death of a free press in France, today - and hopefully, there will be a rebirth soon. But for now, we are facing a very bleak moment - for how do we protect other newspapers, magazines, blogs, and writers? How do we protect anyone who dares to question these maniacs? They live among us, they are well-trained, well-armed, and more deadly than any foe we have known before. SPECTRE and all fictional enemies now appear quaint, even aliens and asteroids and viruses and crop failure and global warming - we have madmen in our midst, and this is a fast-acting toxin.

As writers, and readers, we must stand up for Charlie Hebdo, for freedom, and somehow carry on, though we know we face terrible risks ahead. And, while this will play into the hands of fanatics who will seek to portray whole communities as dangerous, we must resist our own extremist reactions, while also being unafraid to hold firm, and take the hard decisions that need to be taken, to defeat the enemies of education for women, freedom of the press, and the Western way of life.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

TIMBERMAN ON THE YEAR THAT WAS IN TV

STEVEN TIMBERMAN ON TELEVISION IN 2014

How good was 2014 for TV? So good that there is no critical consensus. Years past saw a relatively small list of television shows dominate the critical conversation – The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Deadwood, maybe a sprinkling of Friday Night Lights or Lost if the critic wants to feel particularly transgressive. Shows written before 1999 are seen not as genuine predecessors but chicken scratch compared to the gorgeous calligraphy to come. It remains one of the things I love about American television – with ample time and a steady hand a relative newcomer can easily track down and absorb the medium’s accepted canon. A medium in relative infancy has no room for the gloriously messy and anarchic world of literary publishing.

And then 2014 happened. With Walter White’s conclusion told with deadened clarity, critical consensus collapsed. Critics went from arbiters to advocates – for the single-minded True Detective, the offbeat Fargo, the progressive Transparent. And I’d like to feel bitter about this shift, but the sheer weight of great material that aired last year speaks for itself. Even my own list saw a shake-up. Matthew Weiner’s elegiac Mad Men fell short for the first time in three years.

This is to no fault of Mad Men, which offered seven episodes of catharsis - a humbled Don Draper finally making peace with all of the demons he conjured over the years. Cannot wait to see how Weiner chose to end one of televisions' last great giants.

Though the networks still offered plenty of retrograde entertainment, casually progressive shows started to crack through. Black-ish not only revitalized old sitcom tropes, but also took on hot button issues with wit and pathos. And although How to Get Away with Murder has badly stumbled over several structural errors, Viola Davis' performance demonstrates how so many untapped stories still lay untold. For my money, there was no show as wonderfully progressive or subversive as Brooklyn Nine Nine - which manages to consistently deliver crackling comedy without reducing anyone to out of character histrionics.

Amazon burst into the big leagues with Transparent. Though Jeffrey Tambor's performance is a revelation, the show's depiction of casual religion and frictional family tension will stick with me even more. Proof positive that gender is just a thing we internalize, Transparent proves that real progress doesn't come when we deify marginalized groups. It arrives when we treat everyone like real people, with flesh and blood prejudices and biases and long held grudges and desires. The tenderness of Tambor's performance stands every bit as memorable as Josh's forlorn quest to find a female vessel for his insecurity, or Ali's directionless flopping around, or Sarah's marathon race to lock in long-term love like a business transaction. It’s a shame how many people will turn their head away from Transparent, because its on Amazon or because it explicitly seeks to smash barriers. Though Transparent was not the very best television series of the year, it may have contained my favorite scene - a Shabbat dinner gone horribly right, portraying the chaotic clashing of old rituals and new necessities with a profoundly Jewish pragmatism.

Other shows also gave us plenty to chew on; FX's The Americans steely precision and fiery performance by Kerri Russell deserves far more than the single sentence here. HBO's True Detective may have leaned too heavily on old tropes like the nagging wife, but its sense of atmosphere and loss were unparalleled. FX's Fargo improbably paid proper homage to its inspiration and offered a reminder that payoffs don't have to arrive years later. 24: Live Another Day livened up the summer with a superbly plotted season that reminded everyone that old relics can be dusted off, polished, and hold just as much power as our newest infatuations. Game of Thrones continued its overambitious march towards insanity, a continual high wire act that redefines what event television can be. The Flash pushed its budget almost as hard as it pushed the boundaries of network television storytelling, with incredible institutional memory and densely plotted payoffs conjuring the spirits of Whedon shows past. Deeply disappointed in the infantile House of Cards and sanctimonious Newsroom, I went international and found the Danish import Borgen. Though it finished airing in 2012, my most enduring memory of 2014 may very well be Birgitte Nyborg telling her fellow politicians that “All of us here have become ever so Professional.”

Everyone I know struggled to keep up with the avalanche of great television. The second series of Orange is the new Black and Masters of Sex are first on my list of shows to watch in the new year. 

But there was no show that left a deeper mark than FX's You're The Worst. My eyes glazed over the gaudy promos that pitched it as yet another nihilistic comedy about terrible people being terrible. Instead, I found a modern romance, the freshest story about two people falling in love since Harry Met Sally and subsequently froze the genre in amber. Well, at least in America.

In Britain, authors took a keen eye to enduring myths and changing attitudes – shows like Coupling, Gavin and Stacy, and Spaced took a gleeful axe to their suddenly stodgy American counterparts. Stephen Falk, creator of You’re The Worst, went into Hollywood pitch meetings and told them that he wanted to puncture every gaudy and internalized facet of the American romantic comedy. Gone was the over baked artifice. Instead, we follow two caustic cynics bonding over their own mutual dislike of other people – when Gretchen admits to setting her high school on fire to avoid a math test, Jimmy finds it to be one of the most romantic things he’s ever heard. They negotiate their kinks – Jimmy’s foot fetish is both a fountain of jokes and a part of his character. They eat and they drink and they fuck – but mostly, they just enjoy being around each other’s company.

You're the Worst captures the sensation of falling in love. It captures that moment when your significant other hears one of your secret shames and thinks it the coolest thing in the world. It captures the tug of war that underlines any relationship, correctly treating dating as something far more messy than a chess match. It captures that moment when you choose to unburden yourself ever so slightly, right after you've chosen to shoulder someone else's burdens not because you have to but because you want to.

Every single traditional show on television crams in a "romance", whether it’s warranted or not. And so people fuck like marionettes, or blandly crush on a coworker for a delayed love triangle, or drearily burp up platitudes. You're The Worst argues against all of that bullshit, unafraid to show real worry and vulnerability. When Gretchen gets an offer to spend the weekend with another guy, Jimmy doesn't coyly find a contrived way to get her to stay. Instead, Gretchen bluntly asks him to tell her to stay, if he wants to. And so Jimmy looks at her and says, with devastating earnestness, "Don't go."

It also features a vibrator hooked up to Christmas lights, too.

For that reason and so many more, You're The Worst was my show of 2014. Over fifteen years ago, David Chase created The Sopranos and lit the industry afire. And over a decade, television went from an also-ran to a true creative fault line. David Simon’s The Wire is the finest indictment of modern society I may ever witness. Show after show after show lined up and gently pushed the boundaries of how we use television to tell stories. There was a queue.

Stories now spin out in new directions, unafraid to show a man crying, a woman cracking a joke, a biracial kid tentatively trying to straddle two worlds - these elements no longer notable for their uniqueness but their ubiquity. And there are those who will want to return to the safer confines of the well-executed but well-trodden path of entertainment with clearly identified motifs and white hats and network-approved Comic Relief Characters. And those products will continue to exist and serve their audience. But me?  I’ll take this newer path. I want to see where it leads.
 
STEVEN TIMBERMAN IS AN AMERICAN WRITER WHO SOMETIMES IS KIND ENOUGH TO LET EYEWEAR PUBLISH HIS IDEAS AND THOUGHTS ON POPULAR CULTURE.

JANUARY SIXTH, A POEM BY ANDREW SHIELDS

JANUARY SIXTH

 

Johnny's in the attic now, and the snow

has started to cover the skylight with the slightest

sound disappearing into silence.

A bare bulb shines on an unlabeled box—

a set of Pyrex tubes. He pulls one out,

looks through the still clean glass at all the dust

he's stirred up by digging around up here,

seeking nothing in particular

but whatever feeling he might find.

 

The air begins to summon back the Christmas

cough that laid him up till New Year's Day.

He pulls up the cord behind his Bauhaus lamp;

out comes a badge that someone must have worn

since he was a kid—or just held up

to the light to see one corner of the star

had broken off. And on the wall is Bogart—

what's the use of a man in a fedora

no one ever smiles to recall?

He used to dream of repartee, of friendships

that were beautiful enough to end.

 

There's a paisley cloth on Dad's old trunk,

and the lid only opens with a slippery effort

and a cut on his knuckle. Sucking a trace of blood,

he fingers a pair of old sandals it made

no sense to keep, all sentiment forgotten.

This dug-up life just barely feels like his.

Here's a set of guitar strings for the guitar

he'd never seriously played, then handed on

to Bob, who went off overseas and wrote

so many letters, all so long he never

read them, sending only postcards back.

 

When had he last recalled this model airplane?

In the basement, when he should've been in bed,

he'd slowly glued the balsa, piece by piece.

The smell of the glue had slowly overwhelmed

the smell of the wood; he'd gotten dizzy with it

and his lack of sleep, but kept on building.

It'd flown so often, breaking only once,

a simple enough repair—will it fly again?

He's a man in an attic shuffling through his stuff,

things forgotten, things he'll never remember;

he's throwing away his life while the snow falls

and the wind blows whichever way it blows.

 

            Revised February 2009, typed October 2010
 
Andrew Shields' debut full collection is out with Eyewear July 2015!

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2015 terms and conditions


The Melita Hume Poetry Prize

THE MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE is an award of £1,500 and a publishing deal with Eyewear Publishing Ltd., for the best first full collection by a young poet writing in the English language, 35 YEARS OR UNDER at the time of entry. The aim of this prize is to support younger emerging writers. This is open to any one of the requisite age, of any nationality, resident in the United Kingdom and/or Ireland.  It is free to enter.

Previous winners are Caleb Klaces for Bottled Air (2012); judge Tim Dooley; Marion McCready for Tree Language (2013); judge Jon Stone; Amy Blakemore for Humbert Summer (2014); judge Emily Berry.

2015 competition

The Judge for the 2015 competition is Toby Martinez de las Rivas.  His poetry collection Terror was published by Faber & Faber in 2014, and he is widely considered one of the best younger poets now writing. Toby Martinez de las Rivas was born in 1978. He grew up in Somerset, then moved to the north-east of England after studying history and archaeology at Durham where he began writing. He first worked as an archaeologist and this, together with the landscape of Northumberland and the work of north-eastern writers such as Barry MacSweeney and Gillian Allnutt have had a significant impact on the development of his own poetry. He won an Eric Gregory award in 2005 and the Andrew Waterhouse award from New Writing North in 2008. His pamphlet was published by Faber as part of the Faber New Poets scheme.

The judge will select the best collection from the shortlist, which will be no more than ten, and no fewer than six poets.  The 2015 competition is now open, and closes at 5pm on April 8th, 2015.  The prize is free to enter, and submissions will be accepted from anyone of the requisite age, of any nationality; the poet must be resident in the United Kingdom and/or Ireland.  Manuscripts must be between 50 -100 pages; and the work must be previously unpublished in full book form. Up to half the poems can have appeared before in a pamphlet.

 

The 2015 shortlist will be announced in by June 2015 and the winner will be announced by July 2015.  The winning collection will be published in 2016.

 

Terms and conditions

1.     This contest is open to poets 35 years of age or under at date of entering.

2.     Entrants can be from anywhere in the world.  Entrants must be currently resident in the United Kingdom and/or Ireland— please note that publication will be in the UK and sold internationally.

3.     The Prize is free to enter.

4.     Work must be in English and unpublished in its full form (up to 50% can have appeared in pamphlet form prior to submission and individual poems may have appeared in magazines).Translations and self-published books are not eligible. The work must be by a single author.

5.     Only electronic manuscripts are admissible. No printed paper entries will be accepted. Documents must be titled with the name of the poet.

6.     Manuscripts must include a standard covering sheet that includes your name, address and contact details, your date of birth, the title of the work, a biography of between 150 and 250 words and a statement that you have read and accepted these terms and conditions. Covering sheets are available as a Word document upon request from us at info@eyewearpublishing.com .

7.     Manuscripts must include a table of contents and a list of acknowledgments for poems previously published.

8.     Electronic manuscripts must be typed in Microsoft Word or supplied as a PDF file, paginated, single spaced and between 50–100 pages in length.  The page size must be A4 (297 × 210 mm).  The page count does not include the covering sheet, list of contents or acknowledgements of previous publication.

9.     No alterations to the manuscript will be accepted after submission. No correspondence can be entered into for entries once they are made.

10.            Submissions must be sent via email to info@eyewearpublishing.com by 5pm on April 8th, 2015.

11.            Late submissions will not be accepted.  Eyewear Publishing takes no responsibilities for technical difficulties. 

12.            Confirmation of receipt of entries will be sent by email within ten working days of submission.

13.            The winner will receive a £1,500 prize, including publication within 18 months by Eyewear under their standard contractual terms, and a launch in London.

14.            The shortlist will be no fewer than six and no more than ten poets. 

15.            All poets must agree to send promotional material if requested (photo and extended biography), and grant permission to be listed as shortlisted for the prize in press releases and online.

16.            Poets agree to abide by all the rules, and must accept the prize if selected as the winner.

17.            We cannnot offer feedback on individual entries. 

18.            Eyewear Publishing Ltd. retains the right to cancel the Melita Hume Poetry Prize without prior notice.

 


Checklist

1.     I have included a completed covering sheet with my submission.

2.     I have emailed my submission.

3.     I have read and understood the terms and conditions above.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

EYEWEAR'S TOP FILM AND TV IN 2014

Gone Man, sadly
Eyewear can't see everything, even with our x-ray specs.

We loved House of Cards, Homeland, The AmericansHelix, Halt And Catch Fire, Gone Girl, and a bunch of other TV shows and movies, from The Grand Budapest Hotel to The Lego Movie to The Drop, The Equalizer, Deliver Us From Evil and The Giver to Interstellar to Guardians of the Galaxy to Peter Jackson's rip-roaring final Hobbit film; as well as the creepy voyeurism/news satirical thriller Nightcrawler (with a great turn by Rene Russo).  Not to mention the impeccable yet odd homage to 80s erotic thrillers/slasher/actioner films, The Guest, the year's guiltiest pleasure. Another fine film was Belfast-based thriller '71, with an impeccable recreation of a visual and film stock style from 40 years ago. Locke, with Tom Hardy, our favourite new actor, was a brilliant one-hander, a sort of 2001: A Birmingham-London Odyssey. Not to mention The Imitation Game, Birdman, and Whiplash (all good but over-rated).

EYEWEAR BEST ACTRESS IN A TV SERIES OR MINI-SERIES 2014
Gillian Anderson - The Fall 2. Anderson has not been so riveting since House of Mirth years ago, and makes her British detective a more mature and complex counterpoint to her earlier iconic role as Scully.  This often nasty series is a new Prime Suspect-quality show, that, despite its visual cruelty, yields striking performances.

EYEWEAR BEST ACTOR IN A TV SERIES OR MINI-SERIES 2014
Woody Harrelson - True Detective.  The true believer might opt for the gaunt haunted McConaughey, who is brilliant in this great series (see below) however Harrelson's everyman turn as the Horatio-like foil to Rust's Hamlet is actually the more challenging role, and he gets it so right.

EYEWEAR BEST TV MINI-SERIES 2014
True Detective. This brief, literate, weird, and profoundly mythic reimagining of American noir through HP Lovecraft and anti-natalist thinking is one of the finest TV shows ever made. It bears comparison with Twin Peaks and the X-Files for astonishment factor, the uncanny and quality.

EYEWEAR BEST TV SERIES 2014
House of Cards, Transparent, Orange Is The New Black, The Americans... all these and others have claim to being great TV - but in the first year since Breaking Bad ended its triumphant run, and became one of the great cultural products of the decade, no show could lay claim to such monumental greatness.

One show, however, received almost no attention or acclaim at all, and this was little-seen Manhattan, a perfectly-realised, brilliantly-acted ensemble drama set in a slightly-fictionalised Manhattan Project microcosm in the Mojave desert. Filmed with the gravitas of Brideshead Revisited, and as intelligent as the best BBC or PBS dramas of yore, it combined intelligent elements of history and science seamlessly with concerns about sexual identity, intellectual purpose, and moral values, and was often erotic and thrilling, at once.

EYEWEAR BEST FILM 2014
Selma. Simply put, the finest, most moving portrait of MLK ever filmed. The fact this uplifting, beautifully orchestrated, impeccably acted movie, funny, terrifying, inspiring, eye-opening, was directed by an African-American woman, who was neglected at the Oscars, well, is shameful.

EYEWEAR BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman - A Most Wanted Man.  This is my sentimental favourite.  This was a strange, completely mesmerising, transformative performance, with a ball of rage exploding at the end, which sums up the master's great curtailed career.

EYEWEAR BEST ACTESS IN A MOTION PICTURE 2014
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl. Pike might be seen as a surprise choice in this category, but she was fascinating, hugely poised and watchable, and ultimately shocking, in her complex role within roles of the perfect cool girlfriend gone sour as the bad wife.

EYEWEAR BEST MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK 2014
'71. The Belfast-set film's use of an ominous tribalistic drumbeat, and sorrowful folk tune, managed to both ratchet up the tension, serve as a coda at the mournful end, and also signal rays of hope amid the mayhem.

EYEWEAR WORST MOTION PICTURE OF 2014
Grace of Monaco - this would have been my favourite bad movie of the year if The Guest had not cleverly adapted the very idea of a pre-planned cult movie and made itself such. A bizarrely affectless and yet at times histrionic telling of how little Monaco stood up to de Gaulle with the thanks of the intelligence of Grace Kelly, the movie star, who turned her back on Marnie and Hitchcock to be the perfect princess. Wooden, clumsy, contrived, and yet wonderfully kitsch.

edited January 29, 2014.






SOME MOVIES, TV SHOWS, MUSIC AND POETRY BOOKS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2015

Here is a list of 20 of the movies, TV shows, music pop albums, and poetry books that Eyewear, the blog is most looking forward to (we aren't of course hyping our own amazing list of forthcoming poetry books here):

MOVIES

We speak here of UK release dates...

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD - what's not to like? The sexiest actor out there today, Tom Hardy, filling in for Gibson, in George Miller's near-silent master-class in silent dusty roads to death.

SPECTRE - Well, it's the next James Bond, and it may have Blofeld in it, and some Alp skiing action. Skyfall was over-rated, and had some odd problems in continuity, but it had intelligent design and acting.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - I would be lying if I didn't say this better be good, and just may be amazing.  The last three films were rubbish, but we have a new start here. Exciting, frankly.

BIRDMAN - Apparently the movie of the year, we enjoy great come-backs, and this one has one of the most startling in Michael Keaton's resurgence.

WHIPLASH - JK Simmons (a major character actor) has apparently turned in a career-defining performance as an insane Jazz teacher/ mentor.  Anything that can make teaching life-and-death thrilling (as it truly can be) is welcome.

2015 looks to be one of the great years for film, with, as well, new films by Spielberg, Roy Andersson, Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson and Ron Howard. We also look forward to 50 Shades of Grey, The Martian, MI: 5, and the Avengers sequel.

MUSIC (New LPs)

MARK RONSON - UPTOWN FUNK - the title track was a late-blooming mega-hot end of 2014 for Ronson, and if the other songs are anywhere near to that one's upbeat zany 80s vibe (think Michael Jackson meets Frankie Goes to Hollywood) then this will be very fun.

BOB DYLAN - SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT - one of the more eccentric albums from the genius - a reversioning of standards from the American songbook, a sort of deconstruction of Nat King Cole and Sinatra.

SLEATER-KINNEY - NO CITIES TO LOVE - the greatest girl group of all time returns.

MADONNA - she'll be back in 2015 with a new album, and judging from throw-away single, 'Illuminati', this could be great, and out-Gaga Gaga.

THE WATERBOYS - MODERN BLUES - a once-great band, a new album after some Yeatsian dalliances... this will be a flop or simply majestic.

TV SERIES (returning)

TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 - A hard act to follow, series 1 (stand alone) was a masterwork of weirdness.

HOMELAND Season 5 - Well, Brody really is dead, sort of. Quinn is the new love interest, lost on a mission; Lockhart (the best creep in TV) is going; Saul is back in charge; and Carrie is either going to take on Mum duty again, or be an agent again, or what? Hard to tell where to go from here, but some parts of Season 4 were as exciting as anything else on TV.

THE AMERICANS Season 3 - The smartest, sexiest show ever made about marriage and ideology, with lots of room for more wigs and erotic Russian accents.

HOUSE OF CARDS Season 3 - We will be able to gorge again on the most dastardly Congressman ever to become President, and his ultra-cunning and charming wife.  Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are electric.

MAD MEN - the end of the series.  Well, this long ago became somewhat dispiriting - but we all want to see if the most handsome ad-man of all time, is going to find some sort of integrity, peace or just die on the instalment plan.

Of course, there are also Game of Thrones, Manhattan, the Hilary Mantel adaptation, Wolf Hall, the last season of Glee, Fortitude (mystery set in Arctic), Sherlock, Better Call Saul, but that's much more more than 5...

POETRY BOOKS

FRANCES LEVISTON - DISINFORMATION - Leviston's essay on the autumn British Poetry issue was a reminder she is one of the smartest of the young British poets.

JACK UNDERWOOD - HAPPINESS - Underwood is the last of the generation of Riviere, Kennard, Berry, Leviston and Mort to get his debut collection, and it promises to be brilliant.

PAUL MULDOON - ONE THOUSAND THINGS WORTH KNOWING - Ireland's greatest living poet, and one of New York's wittiest, has a new book? Heart-stoppingly exciting.  Few poets command such expectation.

RF LANGLEY - COLLECTED POEMS - A chance to finally read the hopefully not as slim as apparent output of one of the slyest and most compelling of the innovative Cambridge poets (sadly deceased) that have inspired the work of, among others, Denise Riley (and myself).

SANDEEP PARMAR - EIDOLON - Parmar, an American-British poet and academic and editor and critic, is one of the finest poets writing in English these days, and backs up her intellect and knowledge of hidden aspects of modernism with a passionate appreciation of the Plath tradition.  This book could be one of the contenders for collection of 2015.

There's also a new Don Paterson out this year; the Collected Poems of TS Eliot in two volumes, edited by Christopher Ricks; and collections of great interest by PJ HarveyChristian Wiman, Donald Hall, James Byrne and Tony Hoagland, among others.



Note, some information here from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-30554336