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Featured Poet: Martyn Crucefix

Eyewear is very glad to welcome British poet Martyn Crucefix(pictured) to its pages this crisp March Friday in London, the Ides of March.  Crucefix has won numerous prizes including a major Eric Gregory award and a Hawthornden Fellowship.  He has published four collections, including An English Nazareth (Enitharmon, 2004). His translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies was published by Enitharmon in 2006, shortlisted for the Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation and hailed as “unlikely to be bettered for very many years” (Magma). His new collection, Hurt, has just been published by Enitharmon.


As noiseless bronzed miles
 slip rapidly past
they stand in lay-bys
  as if waiting in the wild
each dressed with care
     in this Catholic country
though not discreetly
   and this is not the city
passing one
         then another
         you realise slowly
the fifth or sixth time
   your stare’s returned
by shaded full-on eyes
    locked to your turning
the steady
       rise and fall of the big engine

In their strappy tops
   one clamped to a mobile
is talking to another
            there is community here
as you wind through
            gunning south
taking poorly-marked borders
      no destination

You try staring them out
         like a single shot
a bare possibility
       while at speed another car
moving in the opposite direction
its driver
and her husband
      barely registering
what with the young girl
        in the back seat
asking every scrap
         of their attention
how you pull across
how willingly you decline
the smoked silent glass


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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.