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The New Establishment

In the 1970s, there was a moment when Hamilton, Larkin, Hughes and Heaney were all still alive and knew each other - and were, arguably, the poetic establishment of these isles.  A little later, Motion, Raine, Cope and Muldoon took that position (with Heaney still there of course).  However, a seismic shift has now taken place in 2009/2010, a real changing of the guard.

For it is now that a clear new triumvirate in British poetry has emerged and been confirmed as heads above the rest of us mere mortals, in terms of gongs and honours: Duffy, Paterson, and Armitage.  These are the poets that will be - for good or ill - anthologised in most future anthologies of this period - they are this period's "key" mainstream figures; there are others, of course, but that's not the point - in the race to become household names, "national treasures", these are the ones that secured the honour.  For, observe closely - first Duffy was made Poet Laureate, then Paterson was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal, and now, in her majesty's birthday honours, yesterday, Simon Armitage was made a CBE.

In terms of who represents the new "shadow" establishment, building on the work of Graham, Bunting, Prynne, Riley, Cobbing and Mitchell, there has yet to be consensus.  I'd - off the cuff - nominate Keston Sutherland, Andrea BradyZoe Skoulding,Chris McCabe and Giles Goodland.  Arise!

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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