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The previous post was the 3232nd posted at Eyewear since I started running this webzine on blogger, in the summer of 2005 - so, that's nine years of surveying the territory, of life in the 21st century, and more specifically in celebrity-obsessed, Bank-supporting, UKIP-supporting, semi-broken Britain - only semi-broken, because Britain showed the world, in 2012, it could hold a world-class Olympics with high spirits.

Unfortunately, Britain continues, despite an economic recovery, to be confused about its role at home and abroad - is it a world copper?; is it a multicultural place, or a Xenophobic one that wants to pull up the drawbridge?; does it want to keep the NHS and support people with disabilities and trouble finding work?  Britain has a huge disparity between its London billionaires, and its London poor - let alone the rest of the UK.  Meanwhile, culturally, it produces some of the best music, drama, acting, cinema, art, fashion, writing, comedy, TV, cooking, sports-persons, and cars.  It has a world-class airline, and the world's most famous Queen.  It has the BBC.

It is a confusing place, because for every conservative position there is a radical one, and bowler hats and skinheads mingle, still, in the cultural and social consensus.  We see the face of the optimistic new Britain in Ping Coombes, a British amateur cook who recently won Master Chef - she is of course not the typical White Middle Englander of some UKIP daydreams - but instead a relative newcomer to these isles, who has married, prospered, and fused her family's past culinary culture with those of her new home.  I too am now British.  Seeing as the poetry world is as divided as a Rubik's Cube, I still have work to do.  It would be nice to think this blog will be here in 2015, for its tenth birthday - but who knows? Life is tough, publishing a long walk on a short pier, and, frankly, Mr Shankly, I didn't know you were so bloody awful to poets.  Give us money!

As for the wider world?  Intractable and stupid seem words to apply to the never-ending belligerence and cruelty and murder we see in Ukraine, in Syria, in Nigeria, for instance.  The human beast has not tamed its breast.  Meanwhile, scientists explore new viral infections that can wipe out billions; the great glaciers calve, and sea levels rise.  Winds howl more wildly, even in placid England. Trees topple.  Seas, acidic and plastic-addled, and cetacean-depleted, die.  We are an insane species, capable of some great art and thinking, but much less impressive when it comes to action.  We have a 50% chance, I suppose, of destroying human life in the next 500 years.  I expect 2514 to be rather hellish - a nanobotic, domed, weird place of androids, cyborgs, clones, and perfected bodies, living to the age of 200 (rich bodies).  Sex and violence will continue to be major sources of entertainment, permutations so vivid and complex as to almost be alien to our current sensibilities.  There will still be Christianity, atheism, poetry, and debates about science and faith.  Non-greens will be viewed as the fascists of their age.  In general, our century will be considered vile, but decisive.  Or, the world will be a wasted blasted place of withering fronds and a few cruelly evolved beings munching cacti in 50 C degree winters.


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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.