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Update On Poetry Day

I was reading Helen Gardner the other day on the "art of TS Eliot" and it struck me that the phrase he borrowed from Julian of Norwich, for his Four Quartets, "and all shall be well..." has come to be, I think, widely seen as his. Allusion begets authorship. Today is National Poetry Day in Britain. I am still dealing with a condition that basically has three outcomes - one, it clears up in a few months; two, it becomes chronic, and I am on medication for life; or three, it becomes chronic until treated with surgery. It isn't, currently, life-threatening - though it can become pre-cancerous if not treated thoroughly and effectively. The problem is, the medication has side effects, and the condition itself is unpleasant, and sometimes alarmingly painful. I don't want to belly ache: there are many people with worse conditions. However, because I have erosive esophagitis, it means that there is near constant burning down the length of my food pipe; and, too much speaking means I sometimes lose my voice. I had never been ill before in my life - sure, a few colds, a flu here and there. Some anxiety. But never ill in the sense of getting a disease which you don't necessarily recover from. Hard to rally without a clear goal. Improvement has been slow, after 30 days on the pills. I have missed several readings I wanted to give, a dear friend's wedding, and work - all things I would love to be a part of. I need to stay in the world, but not too involved, because I do need rest. Being ill requires a constant dialogue with the self. One either slips into a rather brutal drill sergeant "just get on with it" message; or into a groove of worry and self-pity. Neither feels right. It isn't business as usual; nor is it (quite) the end of the world. But, watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King last weekend on the telly, I did get a sense of the end of one way of life; the Elves are sailing away; the leaves are falling. Autumn, especially one as sunny as ours has been, can break the heart and fill one with many thoughts of the oncoming greater bleakness. I need to rally, to keep on, to hope this condition will clear up, and won't get worse. Knowing my throat and esophagus is being eroded by acid is alarming. Knowing the condition opens me to serious other diseases is also worrying. I find friendship and love the only consolations; that and shaving and dressing well each day. Music helps a little - John Adams more than Madonna - her new Best Of sounds a hollow brass, though Dress You Up continues to delight me; it reminds me of how I danced when young to her songs, holding the edge of my sleeves as she did. I had wanted to recommend Voice Recognition, edited by James Byrne and Clare Pollard. Readers from abroad will find it a great Intro to the new British poetry. Been reading more Terrence Tiller. Do buy his books at Abe or where you can find them. He is such a fine 40s writer. Be well.

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