Wednesday, January 17, 2018

John Oliver Simon

I just learned that John Oliver Simon has died. I knew he was in poor health, but this is still unexpected. John was in my class at college. When I got to college, I wanted to be the person in class recognized as a poet -- the class poet, though there wasn't one officially. Then I met John. One of my memories is him sitting in a tree playing a recorder. I know I could not compete with him. He was clearly the class poet. He remained a poet and seems to have gone on have a good, useful, interesting life. I reconnected with him recently through facebook. I will miss him. I now have to go online and buy all his books.

I have been googling John and wishing I'd had the wits to do this years ago, when I could have emailed him. He liked some of the poets I do, Gary Snyder and Lew Welch. (Lew Welch has a poem about Chicago which is amazing.) John talks in an interview about Sharon Doubiago, who I met years ago. She was a friend of a friend. As I recall, she didn't like me at all. John says in the same interview that d.a. levy was the most important poet in the US when he killed himself, I think in the early 1970s. I heard that levy had been killed by the police. In any case, levy's poetry hit me like a bolt of lightning, when I read it in a couple of mimeographed collections that my friend Bobby lent me. John and I could have found things to talk about. I'm going to pick up a couple of his books -- one of poems he wrote on a trip through Latin America back in the 80s and one of poems about his granddaughter, which is recent.

I found a book of translations by John, which came out a year ago from Red Dragonfly Press, a great local press here in the Twin Cities.

Anyway, the moral is -- if people stick in your mind, maybe you should make an effort to contact them or at least google them.


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