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Visual and Aural Pleasure Now or Eyewear's 1881st Post

The summer of 2010 offers more YouTubeable "music video" pleasures than a boy from the 80s like me could have imagined, when Frankie was all the rage on MTV.  "Love The Way You Lie" starring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan is striking, not least for the way it pressures ideas of American irony in popular culture ("I like the way it hurts" is either sick or ironic or both).  Upping the visual ante is the Abbaesque "Alejandro", which brilliantly manages to combine all the Spanish provocations of Un Chien Andalou with the Erotica eroism of Madonna at her best - and makes the slinky use of latex in dance a must (Ms. Gaga borrows heavily from the stomping and bed antics of Quebec dance pieces like Joe, and choreographers like Edouard Lock).  Then there is the joyful summer fun of "Pack Up" by Eliza Doolittle.  And, better than all of this, is the female second coming of the master sex machine himself, James Brown, in the shape of Janelle Monae's utterly compelling "Tightrope", with a dance set in a bizarre sci-fi insane ward featuring Malcolm X-type hipsters shimmying amid the electro-shock corridors.  Music, image, and text, in 2010, may be digitally finger-tip present and accounted for, but it is surely superbly imaginative and fascinating.  The present is as good as it gets, is now, and makes most poetry seem lame and less-than-thrilling.  Frank O'Hara once said movies are better than most poetry.  He would now say, surely, that digiclips present the new delightful competition.  Give it up?


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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.