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Longley Way To Go

There are too many poetry competitions. There are not enough poetry competitions. Both statements are half-true. Until a poet has won one, it is worth going on. Or not bothering. So many of my poet friends and colleagues see-saw between the self-hate that is entering, the self-love that is entering, such black holes, that suck up our money, our hopes, and hold onto our best unpublished poems for months and months. And yet, and yet. Some poetry competitions are more equal than others. One of the UK's best is the Poetry London one. Closing date this year is 31 May. And the judge? Michael Longley. That elicits a wow from Eyewear. Longley is a master lyricist, and one of the finest Irish poets since Yeats. It'd be an honour to be selected by such a poet. Speaking of Poetry London, it launches its latest issue on St Patrick's Day March 17, at Foyles, Soho.

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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
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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.