Tuesday, October 13, 2015


('the physical impossibility of death 
in the mind of someone living')
Sitting within earshot of those three women at the
other table, sitting here with John Ashbery, I lean in
to listen to something he's saying. We were done with
the official poetry talk, this was just stuff. 'You know 
what the matter with the present-day readership is?',
he asked of me. Not waiting for the answer, he goes on:
'It's all those God-damned question they never ask. I swear
I could write a cereal box and they'd claim it was a poem,
and probably say it was my best. Everyone's so used to, 
now, normal being outrageous, they take the worst of
whatever one does in stride. Damien Hirst, he said it first;
I'm just warming his words up - a shark in a tank of
formaldehyde itself is nothing, but if you append to it
a title with some real gravitas, then you've got a hit,
you've got Marilyn Monroe's bloomers, you've got
both Cutty AND Sark.' The women looked over,
and laughed in their tea.

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