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The Novel: Ha-ha Funny?

Howard Jacobson has just won this year's Man Booker Prize - hats off to him.  I am sort of glad he pipped the expected winner, C, to the post, because C was a semi-unreadable pastiche of modernism (post-modernism_ about semi-conductors, etc, that couldn't get its horticulture right.  Cue famous quip. Uncue.  Jacobson got a lot of press this week in many papers, bemoaning the state of the serious UK novel, and he is right, to a point, but don't tell me Waugh, Amis and Wodehouse are not revered, in their own way.  His argument on the BBC this morning that novels should always be funny (read a poem he said, if you want seriousness!) rings hollow.  Comedy as an element in all great works of literature: absolutely!  But should the default position of any form or genre be one tone, one vision?  I am not so sure.  Tragi-comic, seems the way to go.  Best of both words.

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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
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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.