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VERY IMPORTANT PERSONS OF COLOR

CULTURE IS NOT ALL ABOUT WHAT WHITE PEOPLE SAY OR DO
Last week saw the deaths of TS Eliot and John Lennon... now imagine that media fuss. Well, what did happen? In fact, Derek Walcott and Chuck Berry died.

Now consider what actually happened... There was a lot of fuss; obituaries... AND THEN... sort of not all that much.

Certainly not the wailing lamentation when Bowie died... or even Ted Hughes...

I am not saying the media and Western cultural machines are organisationally racist, but there is something wrong with the omelettes in Denmark, when arguably the greatest poet of color of the 20th century dies followed by ONLY THE GOLDARN INVENTOR OF ROCK AND ROLL - and there is no world-shaking sorrow and recognition that SOME OF THE GREATEST ART AND CULTURE is made by non-white folks.

Just saying...

Because Walcott and Berry, for all their human weaknesses, were universal geniuses in their fields. Their deaths were not just sad or notable - they were SEISMIC.

Now imagine they were white... we'd have TIME magazine covers for weeks. Or am I missing something?

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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.