Many of you wrote to me privately, expressing regret that this blog gave a goodbye wave on New Year’s Day. Others spoke to me directly, for example, the lunch guests this past Sunday at Anne-Marie Fyfe’s and Cahal Dallat’s attractive house near Turnham Green. (They were the poets Jo Shapcot, Sandeep Parmar, and James Byrne; and the new director of the Poetry Society, the bright and funny Judith Palmer.) A character failing of mine is that I don’t like to disappoint people, even when an expectation interferes with my idea of what I should be doing. So here’s a compromise: the blog goes on, OK, OK, but with much less frequency.
Like how many millions of people I was transfixed by the American Presidential Inauguration today. I’m afraid I unsuccessfully fought off the feeling of hope. None of the facts at hand quite crushed those irised wings. Dare to suppose that it is, as James Brown once sang, “a brand new day.” Or as Aretha Franklin used to sing in her cover of the Beatles’s song, “Let it be!”, and of course it won’t be unless all concerned citizens pull their oar to get the boat moving in a positive direction. That will include dealing with an injustice even older than racism—the subjugation of women in cultures all over the globe in every period of history. None of us is truly free until all are free. May Hilary Clinton realize she doesn’t have to be hawkish in order to prove she is just as strong as a man. Let her prefer diplomatic means for resolving international problems, to prove that she is as strong as a woman. Michelle Obama will set the example. Black American women have been resolving conflicts non-violently for centuries. They have the know-how. And while America is instituting all this change, why shouldn’t it give full civil rights to lesbian and gay citizens. Let it be!
Other matters: The Current (literary movement) announced in the previous blog seems to be gaining momentum. The lunch guests mentioned above were encouraging and interested. I’ll mention it again at the launch of a new magazine called The Long Poem in which I’m reading (on 28 January, 19:00, Barbican Library) and also at an evening of poetic manifestoes planned at the Tate Modern in the coming weeks. At lunch today with Fiona Sampson, who gives the movement her blessing, I said that it was partly the recently published Autumn issue of The Poetry Review that gave me the impetus to announce what I see as the most alive direction in English-language poetry today (in the U.K., in Ireland, in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, and India.) It seems that Fiona and I like the same kind of excellence in poetry. And her work exemplifies those qualities as well.