Skip to main content

ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE

NOT ONE OF THESE BESPECTACLED MEN WOULD APPROVE OF TRUMP
August was once (still is?) called the Silly Season, because less news happened then. Indeed, Malcolm Bradbury's classic novel of the 70s, The History Man, opens with a page on the subject. Ironic, because more than one war has started in August - no month is ahistorical, apolitical. Even the name August refers to an imperial figure. Our editor went away for a fortnight to relax, and like the rest of the world, has witnessed one of the least pleasant August's in living memory, in terms at any rate, of the news.

No point in rehearsing the obvious: Donald Trump and his administration are the worst since Nixon's, and may well be worse. Nixon himself toyed with using nukes in Asia, and harboured hard-hatted rednecks as allies. But the refusal over the weekend to properly condemn extreme-right actions is breathtakingly un-American and unsettling. America has not been as unwelcoming to non-whites since Reagan - probably since the end of Jim Crow.

A tweet the other day was shocking, and informative - from a conservative poet, who must be right-wing, given his comment, it said - "why should I mourn the death of a left-wing protester?" - trying to be clever with the allusion to the Dylan Thomas poem, presumably. But again, where did this permission come from, if not Trump, to be so heartless, cruel and sharp in public statements?

My God. Any death is to be mourned, but more to the point the young woman killed in the car attack was murdered by a terrorising figure - she was innocent - and brave - and good. The person who could not imagine shedding a tear for such a person must be very supremacist, indeed.

America is riven, as it has been before, during the Nam protests, and before then in the Civil War. Some surrounding Trump crave a truly apoplectic apocalyptic schism between Before Trump and After Trump - they are as celebratory of violence and fascism as the Futurists of 100 years ago. This is a horrible time in America. The whole world is seeing a relative decline in good governance, not very good even at the best of times.

There will likely not be nuclear war before the summer ends. But already there is an awful sense that the worst is coming with regards to the Trump world view.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…

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
I becamea dot of sand

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.