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The Other Side

As I was reading The Guardian today, I was struck by a strange sense of horror and nostalgia, as two key figures from my childhood - offbeat though they were - had died and had obituaries on opposite pages. So - sad news: Bob Bogle and Hans Holzer have died. Bogle was lead guitarist with The Ventures - that Sixties instrumental surf band whose delightful cool twangy Walk, Don't Run was my favourite song and album for a long time when I was a kid; in Japan, they were, literally, bigger than The Beatles.

Holzer is the eerier guy. He is of course the famous ghost hunter, a writer on the In Search Of... series from the Seventies that used to scare the hell out of me and my brother, and part of that whole ESP-reincarnation-haunting vibe that - along with fear of nuclear war - really shaped the zeitgeist of the period.

I can still see those books of his at my house in St. Lambert, newly-bought from a church book sale, dog-eared and full of weird yarns. That was over 30 years ago, but the music and the schlock of that time is as fresh to me as yesterday. I miss St. Lambert these days, perhaps as much as ever, because my brother Jordan and his wife Jacinthe recently had a little baby boy, and I have yet to see him. They live near where we grew up. Near the St. Lawrence Seaway. The summers are very warm and humid - in the 30s - and in those days, boy were they long.


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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
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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.