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DARK DAYS OF SUMMER

Of course, life goes on - there is dancing, and there are joyous occasions, and music and poetry etc - but forgive me for saying the last few days have been bleak, news-wise (leavened by the Trump buffoonery, arguably).

The racist massacre in South Carolina, especially, is horrible. And leads on to inescapable conclusions about the Catch-22 America is in, with regards to its gun laws.

In a lesser way, the doubts now hovering over our British Olympian, and all-around lovely guy, Mo Farah, are also troubling.

And, in general, wars, terrorism, murder, and cruelty rage.

And, my friend, a poet, died.

Yes, yes, we must go on - but are we reaching a tipping point of savagery?

A Wayward Pines style devolution of humanity?

Perhaps not, but news of more nuclear weapons being deployed in Russia is again a symbol of bridges breaking down.

I am not sure poetry is the solution to much or anything, except, in this small (and it may be small gestures that comfort us, now) way - craft, attention, care, creation - are a stay against incivility and chaos.  Even art that explores and displays chaos and evil and darkness, attempts to express and contain, and question - and that may be something, small but a hope.

But poets, too, need to love one another, and die.

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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
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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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.