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Nothing Changes on New Year's Day

If U2 are to be believed, New Year's Day is a little like poetry making nothing happen (why not begin 2009 with a cliche?) - and yet, of course, the ambiguity in that line of theirs: "nothing changes on New Year's Day" is a clever one: the lover's love remains, just as the world (underway) is ongoing in its beauty and its terror. So, both love and evil do not change, so much as calibrate their relationship, even as the years go by.

Eyewear wants to wish you, dear reader(s), the best possible of years ahead, in the full knowledge that war, credit crisis, environmental degradation, mass unemployment, and general despair are in pretty full swing just about now (as in Gaza currently). As poets and readers, we have an especially challenging task - to maintain some form of literate communion with the past, while innovating responsibly for the future (and the present). I was recently in a bookshop that had no poetry books for sale (well, one).

That's not a good sign. The Internet has both empowered poets and readers, by linking them, well below and above the establishment-marketing-machine - and fragmented them, too. The virtual world corrodes the import of the printed and spoken (live) word even as it makes it hugely omnipresent. I find that many of my students rarely read books now - they go direct to the screen, to "text".

The past, the Tradition, is thinning out - and whether it is being replaced by healthy traditions, well, that remains to be seen. So, these ephemeral blogs we make, and share, are both contributing to the bulwarks shoring against ruin, but just may be the shell-blasts of a new period, too. I'll write my 2008 Swift report in the next few weeks. For now, try and get some peace.

Comments

Dave King said…
Surely as students they are looking for references, pieces to fit in the jig saw to complete the next assignment. As a student I think I would do likewise. Reading at home for pleasure, give me a book every time! A good new year to you.

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THE WINNER OF THE SIXTH FORTNIGHT PRIZE IS...



Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.



Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand

JOHN ASHBERY HAS DIED

With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.