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As someone who had three grandparents with Scottish roots (one was a Fraser, the other a Hume, and the third, my paternal grandmother, was born in Motherwell), I am a British-Canadian with 75% Scottish ancestry (the last fourth is English - my paternal grandfather Stanley was a Cockney born in London) - so I feel some interest in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence.  I was opposed to Quebec separation, for the same reasons I am in favour of Scottish secession - history.  Quebec, although colonised by the French over 450 years ago, was soon after defeated by the British; but ultimately belongs to the native Canadians who had lived there for tens of thousands of years, and still do in great numbers; the Crown promised these peoples their lands in perpetuity as they agreed to become Canadian.  In Scotland, the indigenous peoples are the Scottish themselves, and, while there are complex reasons for the entanglement of the destinies of Scotland and England, it is a cultural, social and political entity with clearly defined borders and history, that could very easily function as a player on the world stage as a legal separate country - Scotland is already a nation.  The ugly run of threats and doom-mongering of the last few weeks from bankers, businessmen, and the Prime Minister should be all the reason the Scottish voter needs to vote against staying yoked to an oppressive English upper-class power structure. Anyone with a heart and soul and pride knows it is better to be free and a little poorer, than have a bit of money in your pocket, but be on your knees.  The great song by The Proclaimers, "cap in hand", should be the message.  The Scottish are practical, and they invented capitalism, but they are also a nation of poets, actors, musicians, workers, farmers, artists, and comedians - why should they dance to the bean-counter's tune?  Getting your country back comes with a price.  This price is worth paying.  Over time, Scotland independent would rise and become a great nation - perhaps small geographically, but a big country in spirit.


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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
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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.