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Being Numerous

Five years is a long time to be running a blog these days.  Blogs are, let's face it, yesterday's news - long ago replaced by briefer and more rapid forms of intercommunication - tweets and texts.  Blogs are clunky, with long tails - and arduous to update and stock full of worthwhile material.  If an army travels on its stomach, so too does a blog - feed it or it fails.  Why did Eyewear keep slogging away?  Well, it didn't mean to - but grew like Topsy.  When I started Eyewear I was a different person.  It was 2005.  I was not yet 40 (39), my father was still alive, as was my grandfather, uncle Jack, and mentor Robert Allen.  London hadn't been attacked on the underground, nor even been awarded the 2012 Olympics.  I had an MA but was just starting my doctoral research (still being completed).  My best poetry books, Winter Tennis, Seaway, and Mainstream Love Hotel, were unpublished.  I hadn't yet gone to Japan.  Or Oman.  My nephew Alex was unborn.  I had just moved flats.  And many disappointments and losses lay ahead, as well as a few moments of joy and contentment.  I have tried to fuse very disparate elements in this blog - personal statements on death, fear, hope and frustration (but not too many), with political observations, and often silly or just frivolous appreciations of light entertainment (TV, pop music, movies), alongside more rigorous readings or comments on significant literary works; and I have also opened the blog to other voices - many featured guest poets, and reviewers.  This has led to consternation in some circles: is Eyewear a magazine, a diary, or what?  Does it speak with one voice, or do the police in another?  Both, and more, and less.  Blogs are a new form.  The best of them are archived, as this is, by The British Library.  I believe they will eventually wither away in popularity and ubiquity, to be replaced by very different ways of sharing ideas and thoughts everywhere immediately.  Their power though is remarkable.  Instanter, as Olson argued us to be, has become everyday. Will this blog slog on much longer?  Maybe a little while longer, but not, I think, another 5 years.  Maybe until 2012 - that'd be a nice place to end, just after the Olympic ceremonies.  2015 is what the new flashforward saw.  It's the coalition's proposed election date.  I may have moved on by then - but someone, somewhere, will always be wearing glasses.  Looking differently.


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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
I becamea dot of sand


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.