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, 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 125 OF THE KEY POETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

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 125 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 75 or more poets from Canada, America, Ireland, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and beyond, could flesh out a viable "canon" of 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 Jarrell, or Enright for instance? 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 125 can really be left out. Happy Easter!
 

125 KEY DECEASED POETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY IN ENGLISH

1.  ADRIENNE RICH

2.  AE HOUSMAN

3.  AI

4.  AL PURDY

5.  ALLEN GINSBERG

6.  ALLEN TATE

7.  ALUN LEWIS

8.  AM KLEIN

9.  ANNE SEXTON

10.              ANNE WILKINSON

11.              ANTHONY HECHT

12.              AR AMMONS

13.              ASJ TESSIMOND

14.              BANJO PATTERSON

15.              BASIL BUNTING

16.              BERNARD SPENCER

17.              CARL SANDBURG

18.              CH SISSON

19.              CHARLES OLSON

20.              CHARLOTTE MEW

21.              CLAUDE MCKAY

22.              CONRAD AIKEN

23.              DARYL HINE

24.              DAVID GASCOYNE

25.              DELMORE SCHWARTZ

26.              DH LAWRENCE

27.              DONALD DAVIE

28.              DOROTHY HEWETT

29.              DYLAN THOMAS

30.              EDGAR LEE MASTERS

31.              EDITH SITWELL

32.              EDNA ST VINCENT MILLAY

33.              EDWARD THOMAS

34.              EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON

35.              EDWIN MORGAN

36.              EDWIN MUIR

37.              EE CUMMINGS

38.              ELIZABETH BISHOP

39.              ELIZABETH JENNINGS

40.              EZRA POUND

41.              FRANK O’HARA

42.              FT PRINCE

43.              GEORGE BARKER

44.              GEORGE MACBETH

45.              GEORGE MACKAY BROWN

46.              GEORGE OPPEN

47.              GWENDOLYN BROOKS

48.              HART CRANE

49.              HENRY LAWSON

50.              HENRY REED

51.              HILDA DOOLITTLE

52.              HUGH MACDIARMID

53.              IRVING LAYTON

54.              ISAAC ROSENBERG

55.              JAMES K BAXTER

56.              JAMES MERRILL

57.              JAMES WRIGHT

58.              JOAN MURRAY

59.              JOHN BERRYMAN

60.              JOHN BETJEMAN

61.              JOHN CROWE RANSOM

62.              JOHN GLASSCO

63.              JOHN HEATH-STUBBS

64.              JON SILKIN

65.              JUDITH WRIGHT

66.              KATHLEEN RAINE

67.              KEITH DOUGLAS

68.              KEN SMITH

69.              KENNETH KOCH

70.              KINGSLEY AMIS

71.              LANGSTON HUGHES

72.              LAURA RIDING

73.              LAWRENCE DURRELL

74.              LEROI JONES/AMIRI BARAKA

75.              LOUIS MACNEICE

76.              LYNETTE ROBERTS

77.              MALCOLM LOWRY

78.              MARGARET AVISON

79.              MARIANNE MOORE

80.              MELVIN B TOLSON

81.              MICHAEL DONAGHY

82.              NICHOLAS MOORE

83.              NOEL COWARD

84.              NORMAN MACCAIG

85.              PATRICK KAVANAGH

86.              PETER PORTER

87.              PETER REDGROVE

88.              PHILIP LARKIN

89.              PK PAGE

90.              RICHARD OUTRAM

91.              ROBERT ALLEN

92.              ROBERT CREELEY

93.              ROBERT FROST

94.              ROBERT GRAVES

95.              ROBERT LOWELL

96.              ROBINSON JEFFERS

97.              ROY FULLER

98.              RS THOMAS

99.              RUDYARD KIPLING

100.         RUPERT BROOKE

101.         SEAMUS HEANEY

102.         SIDNEY KEYES

103.         STANLEY KUNITZ

104.         STEVIE SMITH

105.         SYLVIA PLATH

106.         TE HULME

107.         TED BERRIGAN

108.         TED HUGHES

109.         TERENCE TILLER

110.         THEODORE ROETHKE

111.         THOM GUNN

112.         THOMAS HARDY

113.         TS ELIOT

114.         UA FANTHORPE

115.         VACHEL LINDSAY

116.         WALLACE STEVENS

117.         WALTER DE LA MARE

118.         WB YEATS

119.         WELDON KEES

120.         WH AUDEN

121.         WILFRID OWEN

122.         WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

123.         WILLIAM EMPSON

124.         WS GRAHAM

125.         WWE ROSS

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A NEW POEM BY TODD SWIFT ON HIS 48TH BIRTHDAY

I've been writing poems again lately, now that I feel rather unmoored - it's been a decade or more since I was not teaching or studying or both at a university somewhere in Europe.  I posted a poem to facebook the other day that I may post here at some stage.  Turning 48 today is a mixed dish of sweet and sour.  I am very grateful and relieved to be alive.  My wife is a saint and a great friend.  I run a cool indie press.  However, my depression is bad, and I am facing lots of unspoken trials and tests currently, personal, and otherwise.  I decided to write this poem when I saw the title of a forthcoming album.  It made me want to try a "classic Todd Swift poem" from my early Montreal chapbook years, the kind of poem I might have written in 1994.  Fans (ha!) of my work will note this touches on a lot of the tropes and themes I enjoyed working with in Budavox, all the way back then; and the aim I had at the time to craft poems with the style and simple pleasing form of a ska or power pop/ new wave song.  Have fun!


MYSTERY GIRL DELUXE
It was never quite the kiss or weather.
We fell down after reading together
Simply since love is a matter of fact
At Easter; it often follows the act
Of indiscipline, the shifting feathers
That transform a swan; bars of leather
Were not our scene, but we attacked
Ideas of unison with underage tact.
We ached to wake up as F. Kafka;
Cherry-balmed lips the morning after.
It was sub-zero that April in Montreal;
The metro was blue; the turnstile
Saw us part, Walkman’s synchronised
To Orbison’s dream tears in our eyes.


April 8, 2014
poem by Todd Swift