About Eyewear the blog

Eyewear THE BLOG is the most read British poetry blogzine, getting more than 20,000 page-views a month. It began in 2005. The views expressed by editor Todd Swift are not necessarily shared by the contributing poets and reviewers, and vice versa. Eyewear blog is archived by The British Library. Any material on this blog infringing copyright will be removed upon request.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: BEN PARKER (2 of 11)

Ben Parker (pictured) was born in Worcester in 1982. He studied Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Exeter and completed a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia in 2008. He now lives and works in Oxford.


His poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including The White Review, Under the Radar and Oxford Poetry, as well as Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam. His debut pamphlet, The Escape Artists, was published by tall-lighthouse in October 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 Michael Marks Award.
Endings
 
Allotments. Shattered chimney stacks.
A black bag tangled like a crow
in the leafless tree. As you walk
 
beyond the last of the deserted
red-brick factory buildings
the city rusts around you. The river
 
thins to a stream that could be forded
by a fallen branch. This is a place
of past tenses, an archaeology
 
of skeletal bikes, single gloves
and bleached cans of beer
the supermarkets no longer stock.
 
Spent matches hint at flame on flesh.
The rituals of childhood. Something
small and broken in the grass.
 
poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014.
 
 
 

 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: AMY BLAKEMORE (1 of 11)

The Melita Hume Poetry Prize is for the best first unpublished poetry collection by a poet based in Ireland or the UK, and 35 years of age or under, at time of entry.  The work must be original, and in English. 50% can have appeared previously as a pamphlet.  The prize is £1,400 and a publishing deal with Eyewear.

This year we received many impressive submissions, and our award-winning Faber poet, Emily Berry (Dear Boy, 2013, Forward winner), has made a shortlist of the best 11.  Over the next few weeks, before we announce the winner on the 7th of May, this blog will be featuring a poem by each of the shortlisted poets.  We start today with Amy Blakemore.

Amy Blakemore (pictured) was born in Deptford, London in 1991. She started writing poetry at the age of fifteen. She was named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year twice, in 2006 and 2007, and read English Language & Literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

Her work has been published in a number of magazines and zines, and is featured in Bloodaxe’s Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century (2009), edited by James Byrne and Clare Pollard. A pamphlet of her poems was published by Nasty Little Press in 2012, as part of the Nasty Little Intros series. She currently lives in East London. Her work can be read at www.amy-blakemore.co.uk.


she’s a star


remember brother
heated pools, youth dismembered
in bright colloidal silver
 

for lunch, honeydew melon
holding it in her hands
like a slice of daybreak

her nails bright important spikes.
 
 
poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014.


THE SHORTLIST IS ANNOUNCED FOR THE MELITA HUME PRIZE 2014!


MEDIA RELEASE
23 APRIL 2014
FORWARD-WINNER EMILY BERRY SHORTLISTS 11 FOR THE £1,400 MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE 2014

Faber award-winning poet Emily Berry (Dear Boy, 2013) – the 2014 judge for Eyewear’s Melita Hume Poetry Prize (now in its third year) – has dialled up the shortlist to 11, with debut poets from Scotland, Ireland and England. 
The prize – the richest of its kind – also comes with guaranteed publication and launch in spring 2015 from the indie publisher known for its stylish hardcovers and international roster of talent. Any poet living in the UK or Ireland 35 years or under at time of entering is eligible – the prize is for the best full, original and unpublished collection of poetry submitted in that year.  Previous winners include Granta-listed poet Caleb Klaces and Scotland’s Marion McCready.

Judge Berry said: 'It turns out judging a competition is tough! There were a lot of strong contenders this year and I had a happy and occasionally challenging time selecting the final eleven. I'm pleased that the list includes poets from England, Scotland and Ireland (sorry Wales), and that women are particularly well represented. A difficult decision ahead...'

The eleven poets are:
AMY BLAKEMORE

BEN PARKER

BETHAN TICHBORNE

DAISY BEHAGG

JOANNE CLEMENT

RACHAEL M. NICHOLAS

SHELLEY ROCHE-JACQUES

SOHINI BASAK

THERESA MUĂ‘OZ

TOM WEIR

VICTORIA KENNEFICK
The winner will be announced 7 May, and will be presented with their prize at the London Review Bookshop 21 may, at 7 pm.

Friday, 18 April 2014

second poem

this one sort of followed...


Who I am and how I speak

 

I am not you.

I’m barely me.

 

I try to write

As I see.

 

Not as I do.

I want to sound

 

Myself

But that’s untrue.

 

The space between

The stroke

 

Of ink

And the mark

 

That thinks

Is a gulf

 

I can’t fathom.

What I’ll do

 

Instead

Is speak

 

As my head

Thunks

 

And thickens

In the tangle

 

Of the pears.

I think of the sides

 

Of the brain

As pears.

 

We pick

Our mind

 

Off a tree

Twice

 

To be man and woman

And to garden

 

The biology

Of going on

 

With ideas,

Which may not

 

Be unwise

But may help

 

Kill tigers

In the chaos

 

Of fire dreams

And clashing strikes

 

Of storm and bright

Paint blood

 

On the walls.

My covenant

 

With you

Is a glowing

 

Popsicle

The one I licked

 

When I was ten.

You are

 

With me then.

You are my friend.

 

Our hands

Are sticky

 

And we have secrets

When we looked

 

At our parts.

You’re my memory.

 

That’s how I take you

Apart

 

And put you back

Together in the poem,

 

So you can be

Simple as these words

 

Which won’t ever

Arrive at Latin orthodoxy

 

Or the rhetoric

I adore in Milton’s heirs.

 

My airs are my own

And they whistle

 

Badly here.

Come running

 

Down the sidewalk

With your sister’s tears

 

And rushing red

Lipstick we’ll put on.
 
 
todd swift, april 2014

GOOD FRIDAY NEW POEM BY TODD SWIFT

I wrote once of Christ swimming

on the cross. A friend
suggested I stop such things -
and now I can't recall
if the image was stolen,
probably from Hill.  I wrote
about Christ often when eighteen.
I loved the spring.
It came violently in Quebec, then.

And I had been born
on a Good Friday. If Christ
swam on the cross, he didn't drown.
He took the wood as a boat.
Water was always good to Christ.
God flooded the world easily.
When the ferry overturned
it took hundreds of kids

into a place without breathing.
They did not walk up out of there
like Jesus. I don't blame God
for disasters at sea. I do, though
wonder at prayer, at praying,
when it seems God rarely hears.
But back to Christ on his oars,
rowing his lungs back

to crushing his own breathing
down.  He drowned on the cross
in the blue air of spring.
But it would have felt like summer
in the heat. He dove into
his crucifixion like it was a lake
clear as a promise to be kind.
To be good. He swam out to

the raft, to cling to the wood
that did him no good, that saves us
somehow. Theology
is the way we puzzle out
the mystery of that swim
up there, in blood and oxygen,
Jesus our fish the Romans caught,
that the crowd threw back,

selecting Barabbas for the feast.
At least I wish I had thought
first of Christ swimming;
he usually walked on water;
but I prefer him doing lengths
of the cross, his arms stretched
in a breaststroke of awe and pain.
He suffered doing the crawl

on his lifeguard's chair
they nailed him to for the summer.
I love good Jesus for his distance
swim from God to where
we stood on the sand
waiting for him to come out
of the waves; to rise up out
like Venus. Beauty saves, but

more truly, for a carpenter, does
a stern and bow, a mast and maidenhead.
Jesus sailed out of the sea of the dead.
His body dripping love for me.
And I am crazy to say so,
but my fideism is such I love the myth
because it is may be true, and feels
true when I say it in my mind;

that the one who is most kind
floats free of the wreck's SOS.
This isn't the sombre lies I planned
to plane out, my own crafted object
striving to line up words with need -
but I don't feel you require any pathos
to understand that a carpenter sank
when he took up his woodwork

and broke the bank of heaven's clouds
with his calm strong arms;
and the lake of the onlooker's tears
ran like a river of vinegar
into the place where balm and horror
meet. And they never broke
his legs or feet, the soldiers:
he came off his ship last, the captain.


Good Friday, AD 2014
new poem by Todd Swift

Thursday, 17 April 2014

THE AMAZING SNAKEHEADS

You may hear better or more artistically-important rock and roll or indie pop albums this year, but I dare you to find a more bracing work than Amphetamine Ballads by The Amazing Snakeheads - bracing in the sense that a flamethrower amuse bouche might be. Many bands try to sound raw, angry, and dangerous, but few sound like they genuinely are the type you don't want to ever meet in a dark alley, or even a pub.  This band does.  I am seeking comparisons, and here are some: early The Stranglers, early The Stooges, The Cramps. Even some of the madder parts of The Doors. Indeed, the song 'Human Fly' is almost tattooed onto the drinking arm of this band, it seems. That is, it is faintly funny at its most extreme, but always perfectly worked through its own mad sensibility.

But these examples are really just ways of saying this is swampy, roots guitar work, edged with bile, camp and swagger.  What you need to add is this is a band from Glasgow - and not, presumably, the swanky tree-lined bits, either. What I like about listening to this album is that it is often surprising, unsettling, but also aware of its mood and impact.  It feels like a drunken thug on one's doorstep. Adrenaline and panic merge with the suspicion this is an album to put Arctic Monkeys in their place - this sounds more like the real spirit of rock than almost any band in the UK since The Clash.  In short, this is an album that kicks the pricks, the struts, the ruts, out the jam, and everything else in its path, in a brew of reverb, spit, ale and sweat. I suspect the single 'Here It Comes Again' (on Spotify etc) is a bit of a rebarbative classic, with its lashings of retro-Bond guitar, 'Born To Be Wild' beat and shouting - a combination never heretofore attempted, I'd say.

EYEWEAR'S LIST OF 175 OF THE KEY POETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

NOTE: I have edited and expanded this to 175 poets, after receiving some helpful feedback and also making notes after insomnia.

If you are, fortunately for everyone, alive today, and you write and publish poetry, you are a 21st century poet.  Other poets, less lucky, have died in the last 100 years or so, but their great contribution to poetry continues.  Poems, of all the literary art forms, are perhaps the most generous gifts, because compared to the energy and effort involved in their creation, the material returns are the least - so they stand as bequests to eternity, or at least, posterity.

Even a weak, or minor, poet may create a poem or three that are wonderful, moving, crafty, cunning, potent, convincing, wise, helpful, funny or delightful - but below is a list of 175 poets, who have written in the English language primarily, who published most of their poetry in the 20th century, and are no longer with us, who gave us whole collections that were and are vital and necessary to read.

No doubt another 25 or more poets from Canada, America, Ireland, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and beyond, could flesh out a viable "canon" of 200+ 20th century English-language poets we should all read, but I think this list forms a very good start, and includes poets of all schools, styles, decades, eras, genders, and political leanings, more or less.

While debates will hopefully always continue in academic and critical circles about the value of certain poets and poems in terms of adding to the general literature of their age (where is Newbolt?), it seems, looking at this list, unlikely any new very major poets from the period under observation will appear, though a few very good lesser poets may receive their due.  Terence Tiller, for example, is a seriously good, very brilliant and exciting poet, and when I publish his Collected Poems next year, his canonical status should be re-established.  But he is not ever going to (it seems likely) be read as more significant than, say, near-contemporaries like Auden, Douglas or Larkin - partially because his impact on his time, his contemporaries, was less. His influence if it arrives, will be more posthumous, as was Hopkins.

Please let me know who you would want to see added.  This is of course not a definitive list.  But none of these 175 can really be left out. Happy Easter!
 



175 KEY ENGLISH-LANGUAGE POETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY (DECEASED)

ADRIENNE RICH

AE HOUSMAN

AI

AL PURDY

ALAN DUGAN

ALLEN GINSBERG

ALLEN TATE

ALUN LEWIS

AM KLEIN

AMY LOWELL

ANNE SEXTON

ANNE WILKINSON

ANTHONY HECHT

AR AMMONS

ARCHIBALD MACLEISH

ASJ TESSIMOND

AUSTIN CLARKE

BANJO PATTERSON

BARRY MACSWEENEY

BASIL BUNTING

BERNARD SPENCER

BOB COBBING

BRIAN COFFEY

CARL SANDBURG

CH SISSON

CHARLES CAUSLEY

CHARLES OLSON

CHARLOTTE MEW

CLAUDE MCKAY

COLE PORTER

CONRAD AIKEN

COUNTEE CULLEN

DARYL HINE

DAVID GASCOYNE

DAVID JONES

DELMORE SCHWARTZ

DENISE LEVERTOV

DH LAWRENCE

DIANA BREBNER

DON MARQUIS

DONALD DAVIE

DOROTHY HEWETT

DYLAN THOMAS

EDGAR LEE MASTERS

EDITH SITWELL

EDMUND BLUNDEN

EDNA ST VINCENT MILLAY

EDWARD DORN

EDWARD THOMAS

EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON

EDWIN DENBY

EDWIN MORGAN

EDWIN MUIR

EE CUMMINGS

ELIZABETH BISHOP

ELIZABETH JENNINGS

EZRA POUND

FRANK O’HARA

FS FLINT

FT PRINCE

GAEL TURNBULL

GEORGE BARKER

GEORGE MACBETH

GEORGE MACKAY BROWN

GEORGE OPPEN

GREGORY CORSO

GWENDOLYN BROOKS

HAROLD MONRO

HART CRANE

HAYDEN CARRUTH

HENRY LAWSON

HENRY REED

HENRY TREECE

HILDA DOOLITTLE

HUGH MACDIARMID

IAN HAMILTON FINLAY

IRVING LAYTON

ISAAC ROSENBERG

JACK SPICER

JAMES K BAXTER

JAMES MERRILL

JAMES WRIGHT

JAY MACPHERSON

JF HENDRY

JOAN MURRAY

JOHN BERRYMAN

JOHN BETJEMAN

JOHN CROWE RANSOM

JOHN GLASSCO

JOHN HEATH-STUBBS

JON SILKIN

JUDITH WRIGHT

KARL SHAPIRO

KATHLEEN RAINE

KEITH DOUGLAS

KEN SMITH

KENNETH FEARING

KENNETH KOCH

KENNETH REXROTH

KINGSLEY AMIS

LANGSTON HUGHES

LAURA RIDING

LAWRENCE DURRELL

LEROI JONES/AMIRI BARAKA

LOUIS DUDEK

LOUIS MACNEICE

LOUIS ZUKOFSKY

LYNETTE ROBERTS

MALCOLM LOWRY

MARGARET AVISON

MARIANNE MOORE

MELVIN B TOLSON

MICHAEL DONAGHY

MILTON ACORN

MINA LOY

MIRIAM WADDINGTON

NICHOLAS MOORE

NOEL COWARD

NORMAN MACCAIG

PAT LOWTHER

PATRICK KAVANGH

PETER PORTER

PETER REDGROVE

PHILIP LARKIN

PK PAGE

RANDALL JARRELL

RAYMOND CARVER

REBECCA ELSON

RF LANGLEY

RICHARD EBERHART

RICHARD OUTRAM

ROBERT ALLEN

ROBERT CREELEY

ROBERT DUNCAN

ROBERT FROST

ROBERT GRAVES

ROBERT LOWELL

ROBERT PENN WARREN

ROBINSON JEFFERS

ROY FULLER

RS THOMAS

RUDYARD KIPLING

RUPERT BROOKE

SEAMUS HEANEY

SEAN RAFFERTY

SEBASTIAN BARKER

SIDNEY KEYES

SORLEY MACLEAN

STANLEY KUNITZ

STEPHEN SPENDER

STEVIE SMITH

SYLVIA PLATH

TE HULME

TED BERRIGAN

TED HUGHES

TERENCE TILLER

THEODORE ROETHKE

THOM GUNN

THOMAS HARDY

TS ELIOT

UA FANTHORPE

VACHEL LINDSAY

VALENTINE ACKLAND

VERONICA FORREST-THOMSON

WALLACE STEVENS

WALTER DE LA MARE

WB YEATS

WD SNODGRASS

WELDON KEES

WH AUDEN

WILFRID OWEN

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

WILLIAM EMPSON

WS GRAHAM

WWE ROSS