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2012 was one of the most exciting, rewarding, and complex years of my life.  My wife Sara turned 40 in March and we had a big party for her.  I turned 46 in April.  This was the year that I graduated with a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia (UEA) - surely the highlight of the year was that my mother came over for the graduation ceremony, and then we spent several weeks touring England together.  Also, this year, I had two books published - When All My Disappointments Came At Once, from Toronto's Tightrope Books, my 8th full poetry collection, and, as editor, Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam, preface by David Lehman, co-edited with Kim Lockwood.  I also had a poem appear in Best Canadian Poetry 2012, a welcome honour.

The launches for both books were wonderful; especially the Toronto book, because it meant I did a two-week tour of central Canada, in late October, and early November, where I met many old friends such as Gordon H. Buchan, Sharon Rustin, Inez Jabulpurwala, Thor Bishopric, Stanley Whyte, and Matthew Mendelsohn; and we stayed with Liz Renzetti and Doug Saunders in Toronto which was fun.  It was particularly good to read with Catherine Graham, Ian Burgham, George Elliott Clarke, Al Moritz, and Alex Boyd, at some of my launches.

Most importantly, I was in Montreal for Halloween which I spent with my brother and his wife, and my little godson, Alex, who went as a fireman.  Sara and I had two other holidays in 2012 - one on Hydra in Greece (where we survived gale force winds to reach the island), and in the South of France.

Also very important for me this year was the launch of Eyewear Publishing - we published five titles by year's end, and had several great launches in London, Cambridge, Huddersfield, and Norwich.

Seeing Bolt win the 100 m final at the Olympic stadium with my wife Sara was a life treat, and the Paralympics were very inspiring as well.  Despite some personal setbacks, some family illness, and other matters that always arise that challenge us daily - including a crisis of faith - it was a good year; and the second half of it included a sabbatical, to boot.  I look forward to more teaching, writing, editing, and publishing, in 2013 - may you and your loved ones also have a great year ahead.


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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.