Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reginald Shepherd, R.I.P.

"Writers died this year - a storm of writers, a sheaf, a page,
a pronoun of writers; we all know their names
and still bleed, saying them, it is strange having to dip writers'
names into their deaths, to coat them with a new
which makes us say them differently
with a certain mixture of nowhere, somewhere and where
a curious un-knowledge."

-- Janet Frame

I first knew Reginald Shepherd as one of my Poetry Editors (the other was Marilyn Hacker) for Literary Imagination. He was a gentleman and a scholar, and, of course, a fine poet. My too-small tribute to him can be found on Harriet. Perhaps you'll join us there in remembering him. Please also see the memorial piece by his partner, Robert Philan.

After one of the many attacks he received on Harriet - which left him sleepless - he wrote me in complete gloom, quoting the Tick's sidekick Arthur: Crazy talk! Crazy talk! He didn't always understand why people got riled up even when he knew he was being provocative; some of the reactions were quite vicious, though, and he tried to put those out of his mind: "There are real things in the world to get upset about." Dark moments notwithstanding, Reginald fought the good fight without faltering. He woke people up, and now he sleeps.

I'll end this post with a quote from Steven Augustine's unfinished interview with Reginald -

"A more open and flexible conception of the aesthetic, though still one that doesn’t just surrender to the tyranny of things as they are, might have more creative possibilities for our present historical moment."

- and a link to the last poem he wrote, "God-With-Us."

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