Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A message from JC

John Campbell couldn't make the launch for Nick Ascroft's Back With The Human Condition, but he did send this....

Ashleigh Young reads a telegram at Nick Ascroft's launch

Dear Nick,

Hello, it's John Campbell here.

I'm so sorry I couldn't be there tonight. I'm in a coma. Or hosting Checkpoint, which, depending on who I'm interviewing, may feel like the same thing.

Ashleigh kindly invited me. And I would have loved to have come. I think your book's fantastic, not withstanding the inexplicable mystery of why you didn't help that Chinese grandmother with her shopping bags?

Jesus, Nick. What kind of person are you?

And while we're asking the big questions – whose idea was it to use a photo of you in a dressing gown on the back of the book?

Did Hera Lindsay Bird put you up to that?

Fergus must have been appalled!

You'll regret it.

Later, when a signed first edition inevitably makes its way to the Houghton Library at Harvard, to sit beside Dickinson, cummings, Frost, Stevens, Williams, and the like, and you go to visit with your grandchildren – those hallowed halls, all hushed reverence before the magnificence of such words – they'll ask you: "Granddad, why are you in a dressing gown? Did Hera Lindsay Bird put you up to that?"

And an older one will ask, incredulous that anyone would confess to this: "Granddad – did you really have sex in your socks?"

Having said that, and overcoming my deep disappointment at not being there to see Kate's haircut, I'd like to say, Nick, that your poetry is gorgeous.

Sparkling and delicious.

So full of wonder, and curiosity, and a profound but not reverent awareness of life – of how absurd it is, and funny, and great, and seriously unserious.

Nick, there are poems that are so superb, I wish I was there to hear you read them.

What a great book this is!

I shall cherish it.

And return to it over and over for years to come.

I'm better dressed than you, obviously, but am gratefully in awe of the way it pops at me, again and again, every a poem a bomb, making me arise from my slumber - my coma - line after line, poem after poem. And you, there - "a moon, punched all over with old bruises, but whole, orbiting on, pressing on, whole."

Congratulations, Nick.

What a great book.

And thank you.

Yours, in admiration,


Be like John Campbell and order your copy here today!

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