Saturday, December 22, 2007

 

Sandy Taylor, Co-Founder of Curbstone Press, 1931-2007



A heartbreaking loss to the poetry world and the cause of justice. Curbstone's Poetry Like Bread: Poems of the Political Imagination, is one of the great anthologies of the last 20 years. From the obituary:
Taylor died Friday, at age 76. Formerly a teacher at Eastern Connecticut State University, with his wife, Judith Ayer Doyle, he built a press that gained international respect and attention for its commitment to human rights and intercultural understanding, with a focus on works by Latino and Vietnamese authors...
Wayne Karlin, whose book "War Movies: Journeys to Vietnam: Scenes and Out-takes," was published by Curbstone, e-mailed to Doyle Friday."I'm sitting here in Hanoi thinking of all that would not have happened in the world without his vision," Karlin wrote. "A great loss, but a great life."

For former Connecticut Poet Laureate Marilyn Nelson, Taylor was "a man of conscience, commitment, and courage, a man who believed in books and words and in the efficacy of language as a weapon of truth."People like Alexander Taylor do not die."
Read the full obituary in the Hartford Courant here: http://www.courant.com/news/custom/topnews/hcu-taylorobit-1221,0,1664046.story


In tribute, a poem by a very different kind of poet, Mary Oliver, whose latest book, Thirst, charts the grief after losing her partner of many years.


When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention

“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground, this
is our unalterable task, and we do it
joyfully.”

And they went on, “Listen,
the heart shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but

lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,
selfishness.”

Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.

- Mary Oliver, from Thirst

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Sandy was one of my teachers at Eastern and one of the most influencial teachers of my entire life. I will always remember creative writing classes at his house in Willimantic over off Jackson Street and of course this classic remark. When asked how long my paper should be he always said:

"Well, a good paper is like a good building. Tall enough to do everything it is supposed to do, but not so high that it falls over."

He was a real original and inspired many people across the globe.

- DJ Ras J
 
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