Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Past Is Never Dead


Margaritas for breakfast, ordered by the pitcher load to dull the mild hangover that was chipping away at my grey matter. “It’s a Marathon Monday tradition”, I was told, as I slugged it down with one beefy firewood fajita and the Everest pile of sweet potato fries. The window seats in Cactus Club, on the corner of Boylston Street, were rammed, so we perched on our toes to cheer as the first wheel chairs bolted around the corner and hit the 25.2 mile mark, pulling themselves through that last agonising leg. My head reeled with it. It was more than impressive.

There was an electric hum running the route, twisting every face up into that big American grin as the sun beat down from a completely clear sky. It was the perfect day for the Boston Marathon. We headed outside to watch the first women round the corner, soon to be peppered with the first male champions and weighed-down walkers for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Our plan was to bar hop to the finish line but we only made it half a block to The Pour House, a busy little American-style bar with neon signs on the exposed brick walls and a few girls crunking away in the corner. We had adopted a leisurely pace, made all the more lazy by the impressive lean legs and muscles that passed us. They travelled that half a block in thirty seconds, compared to our three hours. But no one could have predicted how happy we would be to come in on a slower time.

The Pour House was about a block and a half from where the explosions occurred, but all we heard was the loud mash-up of everything American-pop strumming away in our eardrums. Then followed the confusion. All over the bar people started to shout that there was a fight outside and, similar to how this news goes down in school, a tumble occurred towards the door, to see who was getting beaten up. Then, only seconds later, the red and blue strobes of police started to shoot furiously down the road outside. It was the road that was blocked off for the marathon, the road where the runners were supposed to be. And that’s when it hit. Something was seriously up.

The American’s in our group sprinted to the door, with all the speed of Lelisa Desisa. But my first thought wasn’t ‘bomb’ or ‘terrorist attack’ but ‘I need to finish my drink. I paid for that’, so I downed it in one and made my tipsy way out onto a panicked street. Bouncers as big as bulls were roaring at us to ‘get moving’ and ‘keep going’ and suddenly the police were there too, bellowing to evacuate the area, and fast. There were too many people to see anything, moving in a thick tidal wave away from the scene, and I didn’t want to look too hard anyway. I lost everyone in the rush, except one English friend, and we walked quickly, burning down a few dozen cigarettes as we went in shock.

The atmosphere was eerily quiet. No one was talking but everyone was on his or her phones, desperately trying to figure out what was going on or to reach loved ones. The news wasn’t far from television sets across the Atlantic. A few shaken people were crying and a few were praying, kneeling down on the side of the road or holding hands in small groups. I squeezed my friend’s palm hard.

COPYRIGHT 2013 BY A. A. Moore

A. A. Moore attended Kingston University where she received a First Class degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. She spent the following few years collecting life experiences, teaching in Cambodia and working in central London. She used these life experiences in her writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she earned her Master’s in Scriptwriting. Moore is currently in the process of writing her first novel in Cape Cod.




Tuesday 7th May, 2013, 5.30-7pm

An Evening of EcoPoetry and Sustainability: Conversations with Ann Fisher-Wirth, Todd Swift, Brycchan Carey and Katherine Eames
Ann Fisher-Wirth, poet from the University of Mississippi, reading from her anthology of American EcoPoetry and in discussion with Todd Swift, Katherine Eames, and Brycchan Carey about US and UK ecopoetry and the making of anthologies. 

JG4006, Penrhyn Road, Kingston University. Refreshments will be served.


The Eyewear Spring Launch tomorrow, WEDNESDAY APRIL 24, 2013, in Bloomsbury, is proving to be one of the biggest and most exciting poetry launches of the year so far, in London...

We sold out at over 170 tickets, and have now moved the venue to the largest room at Goodenough College, THE GREAT HALL, which can fit 200.  So we have a few more places, if you had wanted to come, after all...





David Lehman Talk In London

David Lehman TALK:

 ‘A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs’

Classic American songwriters and lyricists from the Gershwin Brothers and Leonard Bernstein to Oscar Hammerstein 
David Lehman, the son of Holocaust refugees, was educated at Columbia University, where he received his PhD. He spent two years as a Kellett Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, and worked as Lionel Trilling’s research assistant upon his return to New York City. He is the author of eight books of poetry, including Yeshiva Boys (2009), When a Woman Loves a Man (2005), The Daily Mirror (2000), and Valentine Place (1996), all from Scribner. A volume of his New and Selected Poems is forthcoming. He is the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford, 2006) and Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (Scribner, 2003), among other collections. A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs (Nextbook / Schocken), the most recent of  his six nonfiction books, won the Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) in 2010. Among Lehman’s other books are a study in detective novels (The Perfect Murder), a group portrait of the New York School of poets (The Last Avant-Garde), and an account of the scandal sparked by the revelation that a Yale University eminence had written for a pro-Nazi newspaper in his native Belgium (Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man). He teaches in the graduate writing program of the New School and lives in New York City and in Ithaca, New York.

Thursday 25th April 2013
4.30-6pm JG3001
All welcome

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Sleeping with Howard Roark, new poem by Todd Swift

Sleeping With Howard Roark

Only so often before that long chisel
in his thigh became more obstacle
than fertile marker; only so many times
I could spread as wide as a compass
to be ruled by the international style.
Roark never smiled during sex.
He'd just throw me right down
onto the appropriate organic materials
for the occasion, and I'd fit into the form
he most desired. I'd unfold, his blueprint.

Once I'd seen him dive into that quarry,
when just a girl without shape. An orphan,
I knew only molten ore. I craved pistons
and city walls erecting a new future,
and his arc that day down into clarity
struck me as it did that sheet surface
as a sign that though there was no God
there was a good in any body whose will
threw them from a height to tame water,
so that they would break it rising for air.

A body to hammer out design, to make
things to thrust high above the masses;
as when he'd say all his cooling love
was in the stress point where we both came,
penetration a golden mean; lust, curvilinear
abstraction. An unbroken I-beam, he'd turn
me to masculine function, engines rolling
across an open horizon of iron and chrome.
A fist would take my hair to cut his mouth on,
my sharp free and unrepentant home of stone.

new poem by Todd Swift

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Our Obsidian Tongues To Be Launched in Los Angeles In May

Eyewear's title, Our Obsidian Tongues, by David Shook, has American launches starting here:
7 May 2013 - Skylight Books, Los Angeles
Presented by Phoneme Media and PEN Center USA, David Shook reads from his debut collection Our Obsidian Tongues and from his translation of Mario Bellatin's Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction. Mario Bellatin will read from the Spanish-language original, and the pair will screen a collaborative short film. Free drinks. 7.30 PM

11 May 2013 - Neutra VDL, Los Angeles
David Shook presents his debut collection Our Obsidian Tongues at the iconic Neutra VDL, personal residence of mid-century architect Richard Neutra. Introduced by novelist Geoff Nicholson and featuring special guests TBA. Champagne. 7.30 PM

Poetry Focus On James Grinwis

Eyewear is very pleased, this rather grey April Saturday in London, to offer readers a chance to get to know one of the best of a new generation of American poets, with a selection of seven recent poems.

Grinwis is a significant American poet
James Grinwis (pictured) is the author of The City from Nome and Exhibit of Forking Paths, which was selected by Eleni Sikelianos for the major National Poetry Series (America) in 2010 and published by Coffee House Press in 2011. He co-founded Bateau, a letterpress journal and chapbook press, in 2007, and lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. His work appears regularly in US journals and reviews, and has appeared in the UK in 20 x 20.


There is a scribe on an animal claw chair
surrounded by palm bearers
looking out on a landscape of creepy individuals.
My baby was growing up with the hunters
in a forest of snake trees.
A Titan 3 Centaur rocket
blistered off, peeled from the sky
a vestige of unknown. A series of abstractions:
nail them to a wall, she said. A real wall, as is found
in the hearts of men, she said. The truth in a single
shaft of sunlight. Okay, she sees the bonfire
in the tundra south of Oolik
and questions the motivations of the hunters
who have built it: to entice
bachelorettes to their bedsides, the fire
having the effect of a lure, or a hook?
Or much simply to make of darkness
a plaything? Because so large a fire
it must have powers beyond warmth.
It gets fuzzy, the interior
of a skull, like fishery workers
burning fresh bones on the dock. To dig
through vessels and wastes
in order to find things, that was what had to be done
though the dark was riddled with stars.


A stemlessness.
An opening like a dead dog on the cement.
Boniness as nation state.
Bellies of children.
One who knows the names of stars
another who knows constellations.
A stemlessness.
Troposphere. To write one word.
Suspended by the aroma of tea.
Fragments meshed into a hole
through which to breathe.
Cantique: a short, easy, popular song.
Algol, the eclipsing: spooky changes in brightness.
A Chaconne repeats a harmony.
A claymore is a kind of sword.
A stemlessness.
A soul torn apart by beaks?


Satie: “haunted by whiteness.”

Pieces froides, Son of the Stars, Gnossienes.
Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear.

My son, learning his alphabet, my daughter,
focused on plastic golf clubs out in the abandoned lot.
I was in the driveway, filling the car with piles of brush.

Avec conviction et avec un tristesse rigoureuse.

Reexamination: the art of it: like sitting in a dance hall,
surrounded by exuberance, pomposity, and mirth.

“Everyone seeks to transcend.” My friend this
was the nature of the country when I thought no, I love the country.

Scenes of greatness, scenes of many lights
leaping up.


Watching birds will bring infinite rewards.
You must wait and watch and it takes time
to let the world open up to you.
The way an extremely new member of the family
enters the familial consciousness: like moss.
A man just then let the world open up to him by becoming
a yawn, as in a bomb-proof box fully opened in a playground in the sun.
Also: My wife was driving and ran over the bird.
If I was driving, I thought, I would have seen him.


Conglomeration, as in sheet music
where each note serves the purpose
of another, the way a bunch of rocks
can fuse into one. Igneous rocks
are born from fire, metamorphic
from force. In Hindu philosophy
there is something like three waves
inside every person, in Medieval thought
there were four humors.
I was walking through town,
regret dropping off of me
like nematodes clamped to a defunct satellite
on the bottom of the sea.
There are times when one
seems only to have that kind of stuff.
The full-bellied moon did something
to the whole planet
that night of extreme leaving.
But a speck of one in a million,
a similar event going off somewhere,
like a dime store gum machine
dropping its bright red globes,
the kids scooping them out
and chucking them at telephone poles.


Men can beat the crap out of each other
then get hungry and treat one another to lunch.

When having an organ transplant
one will have a drug called mycophen
shot into the body
in order to keep the new organ there.

Immiscible means they just don’t mix,
but it sounds sexy and permanent.

“They’re passion was immiscible.”

In the aisles of the market place,
I passed a beautiful woman;
she was my wife once.

Having a hard time stopping to love somebody
is having a mean saint on a dead cloud inside you
that will get absorbed by other saints and clouds,

they say one can become a shield,
a stretch of sky, or a river.

When walking into a cave, it is good
to locate oneself and look around first.


It’s better when it’s bland, the relationship,
Christen said, the up and down nature
of being involved with someone
taking its toll in the very fabric
that takes it someplace. And squirrels,
they are very neat, running around like that,
like drummers, errant cruise missiles,
stuff. Like that word the elderly woman
said to you, going out the door of the five
and dime, ‘fuck you’ she said,
and that is okay, you didn’t mind it,
just wanted to let her feel at peace somehow.
When my dog goes chasing after a squirrel
I know it is hopeless, but then
she catches one, and it breaks my heart.
All this up and down nature to the universe,
it’s as if you were a gut instinct
mated to a way of philosophically
thinking about things. And there you are,
my friend, not making anything up,
looking for stones
that really look right at you,
as if they had eyes, which they do,
the eye of a stone
something not to be messed with.

all poems appear with permission of the author, and are copyright James Grinwis, 2013.

Friday, 12 April 2013

English Electric

OMD was always one of my favourite '80s bands - their machine-tooled fusion of sweet pop, and austere synths, made them different from Depeche Mode, who were darker, less elegant, less literary.  OMD seemed to refer back to an earlier 20th century Golden Age that Auden might have recognised - modernity in solemn collision with war, technology, love, and loss.  Famously, their best songs were about factories, Hiroshima, and dead female saints; and soundtracked Hughes movies.  But they were very English for all their international style.

Now comes their first truly great work for 30 years - English Electric - an album peppered with unrequired samples from robot voices and modish public announcements - that nonetheless has the sound, scope and mood of their masterpiece, Architecture and Morality.

The best track is the second, 'Metroland', a peppy yet sad reflection on "elegance in decline".  OMD always located lyricism in some austere ironic modernist hinterland of regret and restraint, as if Brief Encounter had been written by William Empson.  Here this British quietude flashes as darkly as ever with a passionate, ambiguous, industrial pulse.  One of the albums of the year.

Guest Review: George On The Place Beyond The Pines


Ryan's regrettable tattoos

Derek Cianfrance blew everyone away with Blue Valentine in 2010. A raw and painfully accurate story of a couple’s love and love loss. Despite shattering me, it was my favourite film of the year. The Place Beyond The Pines is his follow up, this time exploring a wider spectrum of relationships within family, particularly fathers and sons and the legacy they can leave.

The lengthy opening shot channels the American master directors, Scorsese, Welles & P. T. Anderson, informing us that what we are about to see is of such calibre; an endeavour as cocky as it is noble. The film is an emotional epic triptych that doesn’t buckle under its own weight, if sometimes doing all but signpost its own structure. The film fizzles out a little towards the end, but our interest is already with the characters, we want to know the outcome even if we have spotted it a mile away. This is testament to the remarkably harsh and honest emotions and humans living before us – something that can be said about only too few film characters.

Filmmakers sometimes forget that humans do stupid things. Things that don’t make sense; people don’t always react to situation A with situation B, in troubled times quite often situation X is the route taken – not grounded in logic but something truer. Ryan Gosling plays Luke. We first see Luke playing with a butterfly knife held out by his washboard abs, covered in regrettable tattoos. The man is impulsive and reckless, his masculinity two-dimensional. Since the array of characters is as vast as the plot, visual clues like these aren’t wasted. With no hyperbole, every performance is stellar, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, too many to name. Even Rose Byrne’s brief screen time presents a capsule of a living, breathing life.

Sean Bobbitt’s work as cinematographer here is as astute as ever, the mood of the image marrying the story perfectly. As does Mike Patton’s brooding soundtrack, foreboding and beautiful, woven into some moments of exquisite editing.

The Place Beyond The Pines isn’t perfect, it meanders at points, and the first two thirds of the film outshine the rest, but moments of greatness are definitely throughout. This film is for the patient and those looking for an engaging and soulful experience will not be disappointed. And while the critic in me found the last moments of the film quite hammering, I – for the first time in a cinema for almost three years – all at once felt my belly tighten, my shoulders jolt and my cheeks dampen with tears.


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...