THE SWIFT REPORT 2017

A WORK IN PROGRESS...

I am writing this first part on the eve of New Year's Eve day - and as new remembrances come to me, I may well update it.

As the years go on, and this blog seems an interminable waste of time and fuss, and as my ego weakens its grip on me (ever too slowly to be sure) it seems less time is required to indulge my need for self-advertising.

However, I do like to briefly report in such posts on things done and experienced.

The highlight of the year is the time spent at Christmas with my family. No other part of the year is ever more meaningful, and I am always reminded how love shapes and supports my existence.

Professionally, managing to keep my small indie publishing press afloat in a bad time for retail and literary publishing, was a major success for me.

We published too many vital and important books to celebrate them all here, but two stood out for me, as being watersheds in our company's fortunes and esteem - The Monkman and Seagull Quiz Book - a good-selling end of year and popular book - and the lyrics pamphlet by the pre-eminent poetic genius Paul Muldoon. Working with the quiz lads, and the brilliant Irish poet were both great intellectual pleasures, and rare treats. It was also wonderful to see Tim Dooley's Weemoed become a PBS selection; and for Maria Apichella's Psalmody to be favoured by Andrew Marr as a New Statesman Book of the Year (and Forward nominee). Rich Goodson's pamphlet Mr Universe was also a PBS Autumn Choice!

My editorial team has been superb this year, witty, and smart, and very hard-working. I also enjoyed our numerous launches at the wonderfully indie and friendly Windmill, Brixton, and the more posh and established LRB shop. My old friend Eric Sigler flew in from Miami to launch a book, which was lovely. The Poet's Quest for God launch in Ireland was well-attended by over 100 people, and we sold over 120 books.

Personally, as a poet-scholar, the highlight would be the beginning of my residency at Pembroke College, Cambridge - where I have been welcomed in by some very impressive and delightful people, indeed. It ends in July 2018. Also, publishing my Dream-beauty-psycho pamphlet was a fun thing to do.

As always, I have (no joke) about 25 ideas for books, plays, novels, and movies I should like to write. I always delay by throwing myself into yet another project.

My best non-human friend remains my cat, Suetonius, now a year and a half old. He is so alert, and lithe and leaping, and very affectionate, and he has taught me to prize life above civilization.

My wife, as always wishing to anonymous, has asked I leave her out of this report, so I reluctantly shall.

In the spring I turned 51. In the summer, I was fortunate to spend a few weeks in Paris and the South of France.

In terms of my soul/psyche, it has continued to be a source of great challenge and sorrow to me, that I am not a better person. I try my best to be kind and tolerant, but the pressures of the world sometimes cause me to lose my way, or temper. And God seemed a bit distant this year - my fault not theirs.

I need to reign in my urge to escapism, and certainly over-eat less. I have also found TV a far-too-distracting past-time, a narcotic designed to flatter the intellect, but fatten the bottom.

My chief aims in 2018 are to write something for my residency, keep the press going, and be a better person.

Regarding the wider world of 2017, I think it is obvious that from a Western perspective, the main stories that people will recall in a decade or more, are the offenses of Trump, the idiocies of Brexit, and the ongoing cyber transformation of the world, culminating in the #metoo campaign and downfall of mostly men who unethically abused their power to prey on people for sexual motives. More broadly, we saw a rising China, and a frightening impasse with North Korea.

In my darker moods, I expect Trump, when faced with impeachable charges, may try to instigate a war against Iran or "Rocket Man". I worry over a hard Brexit. And I fear for my loved ones.

Ageing teaches us that youth's infallible energies and arrogance are ludicrous may-flies. Try to be good, less selfish, and work hard to support friends, loved ones, family, and strangers. And, if possible, create beauty, or art that expresses the needed outrage. Perhaps inherently a radical conservative at heart, I do not see human nature changing as much as some would claim - the best of us is still angelic, and the worst, well, Trumpian.





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