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FOR SHAME: THE CLOSURE OF A POETRY CHARITY IS A TRAGEDY

WE NEED TO BUY MORE POETRY BOOKS, LESS JUNK FOOD OF THE MIND
Here is a wake up call for British poets, and British society over-all - the closing down today of the Poetry Book Society charity (founded by TS Eliot and friends in 1953) is a cultural tragedy. The PBS was not without controversy, and some argued it favoured mainstream presses and poetry books over the avant-garde and the performance-oriented; but it did much to foster poetry reading nonetheless, and its aims were noble in the main.

It is hardly to be understood how a nation of tens of millions of university-educated readers cannot find time or money to keep alive a few fragile poetry organisations that form a bulwark against the general ignorance flooding in from the world of sensual-visual pleasures that roil about us. For shame! Put down your EL James, JK Rowlings, Lee Childs, and Dan Browns, and set aside a small penance for poetry. When a society's poetry organs wither, the head is ill. Yes, booklets and prizes have been harvested, shorn off for other bodies to run. But when a PBS goes, what is next?

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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
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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.