It seems like a very long time since my last Swift Report - and this was quite a year. The year when Eyewear had its fifth birthday.
It began with my esophagitis out of control, and my being treated with an experimentally high dose of medication to control the production of acid in my stomach. I was in pain all the time, and lost a lot of weight due to problems with digestion and not wanting to eat; I was facing depression. I was off work. Fortunately, an excellent team of doctors in London centered in and around Harley Street established the correct treatment regime, and I am much better a year later. I've put on some weight again, and am no longer in physical pain. I went back to work slowly, part-time at first in the winter semester at Kingston, but by the summer was back to regular duties.
In April I turned 44, in the desert of Oman - I had wanted to kick-start my turn back to health with an adventure holiday. The beauty and hospitality of Oman lifted my spirits greatly. I also got new glasses, which John Hegley praised when we bumped into each other at Paddington. Nothing like approval from the master!
In the summer, I travelled to Hydra, which I love, and also to Ireland, for the wedding of my wonderful brother-in-law, James, to the superb Michelle. My wife and I drove around the Ring of Kerry.
I became a Catholic on the summer solstice, under the guidance of my dear friend Fr. Oliver Brennan.
I blogged for a week for The Best American Poetry blog, on The Young British Poets - twice.
I met with Al Alvarez to discuss my new work. Two poems were accepted by Poetry, forthcoming early 2011. I also had a poem in Poetry Review. I published an online e-book, Experimental Sex Hospital.
In the autumn, I was very pleased to read for the Maastricht International Poetry Nights, and to meet poets from Iceland, Holland, South Africa, and Australia.
In October I received a kind and supportive letter from John Ashbery.
In November, Evan Jones and I launched Modern Canadian Poets, from Carcanet, in Manchester and London. It was a treat to have David McGimpsey and George E. Clarke over too. It was the first such publication in Britain in 50 years. The book sparked controversy in Canada's leading papers, and was mentioned in the FT.
In December I wrapped up another successful year of Oxfam readings (this year supported by Kingston University) which featured leading poets such as David Lehman, Philip Gross, John Glenday, and Jen Hadfield, among others.
I am looking forward to seeing my little nephew Alex at Christmas, as well as his parents.
What else? It's been a tough year. I never thought I'd be up and out and about again, working as hard as before. But here I am.
Plans for 2011? Completion of my PhD (am in my final months of writing up). Maybe a new book of my own poetry out end of 2011. An anthology of Young British Poets for Cinnamon and Oxfam in the works. I may start a small poetry press. I have a novel in mind....
On the shortest day of the year, let me offer you this small bit of wisdom: it does get brighter in the darkness, eventually, and slowly, surely.
Don't call me Shirley!
Happy new year and all best for the holidays! Love Todd.
[ps apologies for leaving anything or anybody out - I will add to this if flashes of inspiration come to me in the days to come]