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ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY ON DESERT ISLAND DISCS

I was very moved today to listen to Archbishop Justin Welby on BBC Radio 4's famous Desert Island Discs. What comes across - and I cannot say I agree with all of his theological positions - is a highly-intelligent, thoughtful, sensitive person - who reflects upon the mysteries of faith, the afterlife, and injustice (as we might expect) - bringing to bear upon his duties the full weight of a proper 21st century education. Further, his unhappy childhood with an alcoholic father means that he is never merely a happy story, but a complex one.  He knows sorrow, as all of us do.  However, so close to Christmas, the over-arching message is this - it is feasible to be a fully-intelligent, well-rounded human being, and to still believe in the good news of Jesus Christ.  At a time of radical well-organised doubt and antagonism towards religion, this is a welcome gift, from the BBC.

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THE WINNER OF THE SIXTH FORTNIGHT PRIZE IS...



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
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JOHN ASHBERY HAS DIED

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.