Thursday, 29 December 2016

THE SWIFT REPORT 2016

A TERRIBLE LOSS
I have been leaving annual reports here since the first year of posts in 2005. I can't recall a stranger, more strong-tasting year, than this though. The current joke is "Fuck 2016". Indeed.
 
I won't detain you with too many of my own personal experiences, achievements, blessings, in a year of madness and mass idiocy, and the rise of genuine evil - the year of Aleppo, the murder of Jo Cox, Brexit and Trump - the year we lost (my God!) Geoffrey Hill, Richard Adams, Carrie Fisher, the Greatest - Ali, George Martin, L. Cohen, Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Debbie Reynolds, and countless other beloved actors, comedians, icons, and friends.

On top of this general sadness, general as the snow in Joyce, we lost Chris Moore, a young writer in his 30s, just as he signed his Eyewear book deal. His debut became posthumous. Awful. Then, more recently, a dear friend's wonderfully-vibrant 18-year-old daughter died in a car accident - days before Christmas.  Hellishly terrible.
 
Meanwhile, several people in my family are facing serious illness. And my dear sweet kitten Woody died in his first few months, if you will accept, as I do, that animals also have spirits in them and can be mourned. If anything, 2016 was all about CHANGE - IT reminded us that death, illness, loss, is the very potent and viable flipside to whatever flimsy joys we can find in the brief salad days....
 
I am loathe to make this about my small struggling defiantly brilliant and indie press, so let me just say we published over 15 books, and over 24 pamphlets, including two books I have worked on for five years, The Poet's Quest for God, and The Collected Poems of Terence Tiller. That's something.  I am proud of Eyewear, it is a good thing in bad times. What else was good? For me, personally - I turned 50, with my darling, in Switzerland, high in the mountains. There you are free.
 
I have been offered the role of Writer-in-residence, Pembroke College, Cambridge university, for 2017/18. That's a life highlight.
 
We spent a few weeks in Florida with my beloved godson Alex, and my brother and his wife. I reconnected with old friends, including the fine poets Eric Sigler, Lisa Pasold and Jason Camlot - even as I lost some friends. Christmas in Ireland was a joyous time to catch up with Fr. Brennan, Ann Egan, and other Irish friends and family members.
 
I recorded personal bests with my trainer, James Gilbertson, a smart, good Scottish man. For me, this was vital to fight off depression that can crush. Running 5 ks - not marathonic but for me a stride as if to the moon - has been a huge step.

In other good news - there was some this year, if only in sports - Andy Murray became world number one; Bolt won again at the Olympics; the Cubbies broke their long curse to win the World Series (of baseball, not love), and in UK football, the Leicester team beat odds of 500 to 1 (or more) to become a major story of hope in tough times.

My wife went to Paris with her large amateur choir, and sang a powerful rendition of Mozart's Reqiuem.
 
I became friends with Kelly and Peter Davio - brilliant, funny, good, hard-working, talented Americans that show that country can be truly great again, once it throws off Trump's ways in four years.
 
We all have something to fight for now, we are suddenly in a dystopian drama as bizarre as any YA fiction. I digress.
 
I now have a kitten, Suetonius, who is my best buddy. There is likely more, much more. But this seems enough for now. May the year 2017 shed some light on this dark interlude. Love to you all.
 
Be more compassionate, less demanding, more giving and forgiving; be less hasty to judge and hate; reach for the opportunities to calm and locate agreement. Build love as if it were fragile, but possible, if only intermittently. Be good, and do good.
 
Poetry is love, or else it is hate...

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