Sunday, 20 January 2013

Eyewear Grows Up

Dangerous Cake. Elspeth Smith
Eighteen poems. Simon Jarvis.
both Eyewear Publishing, London, 2012.

Hardbacks with strong coloured covers, very nicely bound, good sized, and quite a lot of poetry in them, £12.99 each, these come a little above the usual cost of new contemporary poetry. They are very welcome both from a production point of view and by their widening of the London poetry perspective. Most of the poems are previously published, mainly in Canadian, American and North West England journals, which helps a new publisher by backing up his choices.
Simon Jarvis' book carries longer, chunkier poems such as are not always favoured by book publishers, so is far more substantial than the title Eighteen Poems suggests. Two of the poems indeed reach twelve pages without by any means dripping down the middle of the page. They're not narrative either, but reflective or philosophical, enjoying and filling their space with a width of imagination and memory. Another substantial poem, Persephone, is an essay in rhythm and meter and mostly in dactyls – it's catching.
Elspeth Smith's poems in Dangerous Cakes are generally much shorter. And what does the title mean? There are a number of domestic subjects, with titles like Parties, Tea – ah yes it is the final line in Sweet Things. The art of the ordinary, perhaps.
Elspeth Smith lives in Huddersfield, while Simon Jarvis is now a professor of Poetry at Cambridge. I have one whimsical question. Does this publisher oblige his authors to be photographed in specs? These two seem to be wearing identical pairs.
Encouraging and adventurous publishing by Todd Swift of the Eyewear website. More in the pipeline, I've heard.

1 comment:

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