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On Cancellation

Briefly, a show I loved was cancelled recently: Flashforward.  It wasn't a good show.  In fact, it was a bad one.  Therefore, I suspect there were sound financial reasons for cancelling it.  But I started watching Flashforward when it started, September 2009.  I was very ill.  The show dealt with the future, with fear of dying, and with hope things could be better.  It also had a lot of silly premises and fun action scenes, and some over-the-top villainy.  It ended end of May - 9 months from when it began.  This gestation period also marked my road to recovery - June 1 marks the official return to full-time duties to me; and a year to go on my PhD, due end of May 2011.  I am on a lower dose of medication than ever before, and my symptoms are currently under control.  The pain is gone.  Often, the fear.  So, a silly show that squandered its 12 million viewers has been terminated abruptly.  The sadness in this is tinged with a sense that television approaches the pathos of poetry when it is cancelled.  While a show is in blazing glory, popular and well-loved and watched, it seems invincible, and music for the masses.  When it dies, it seems to become ephemeral, even subtle - fragile, and unwanted, it has a more poetic lyric nature revealed - it becomes flooded with desire for what is absent.  Flashforward, like many other shows cancelled before their time (notably Star Trek) may be resurrected, as a movie for TV or film - but that seems unlikely in this case.  Heroes, too, has recently been axed.  So was Prison Break.  Shows we loved once, that began with great promise, have ended like Crane or Schwartz.  Maybe that's what we love about TV - its mayfly persistence.  Its flickering insubstantial mortality.  TV, like we humans, can't last for more than a few seasons.


t said…
I was a little shocked when told that Flashforward was cancelled altogether -- I was rather enjoying it and I liked some of the characters a lot (especially Charlie from Lost). Someone said that the finale of Lost marks the death of a TV genre.

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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.