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Want to feel old?  It is the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia - which, among other things, is proof of a poet's existence in the 21st century (don't believe me? - Google and see how many poets are listed there - know any to request the pages be taken down?).  Meanwhile, The Simpsons first aired on this day in 1990 - 21 years ago.  If proof was ever needed that zany, post-modern, and cutting edge American culture has long since gone so mainstream as to render the very idea of post-modern pop culture toothless, well, look no further than this show.  I turn 45 this year (in April), and am now on the verge of (if not already tumbled over into) what is surely "middle age".  I was 20 (that sublime age) 25 years ago - in other words, a quarter of a century ago, and no matter if I wear jeans, runners, and baseball caps, I cannot hold back time.  We are no longer young - even those of us so embedded in, penetrated by, dazzled with, and intermediated via, new media and whizz-bang-savvy stuff.  What's next?  Surely not another 9 years of Bart and Homer?


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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.