Monday, April 4, 2011


I just got the news that poet and old friend Paul Violi passed away. He was one of the truly nice guys, someone who rarely had a bad word for anyone, at least around me, even when he was critical of them. I included him in the only poetry anthology I ever edited solely, None Of The Above, and would have included him in others if I'd done them because his work never ceased to engage and entertain me. He was a brilliant man who wore his brilliance so lightly it came across almost as self-effacing. I dug him from the first time I met him and his poetry from the first time I read it.

Here's a post from the first year of my doing this blog when I turned to a new book of Paul's at a time when I needed the juice poetry has always given me in hard times, I titled the post simply: Paul Violi
[Not to be too self-referential, but it is a personal blog and this is personal]

As happens too often these days I didn't keep in touch as I intended to do, but I thought of him often and was always delighted to see him. In fact so much so, I think sometimes my over-the-top social energy and praise made him a little wary or maybe just self-conscious. But I really loved this guy and his work and I figure if you forget to tell people you care about, or whose work you admire, about it, you're oblgiated to when you run into them. Which I always did.

I'll miss him, and know many many others will as well. Our condolences to his family and wide circle of friends who cared about him.

Here's a photo of how I remember him from the early days of our friendship.

[To read some of his poems and see a more recent photo and find his books etc., go to his web site: here.]

1 comment:

Lally said...

Here's an email I got from my old friend poet Ray DiPalma and he's allowed me to share it:

Dear Lal,

Was very sorry to read about Paul Violi. Didn't know about his passing until I read your April 4th blog entry. I remembered immediately how during the summer of 1976 you, Miles, Betsi, and I--and maybe Ana too--took the train early one afternoon out to Paul's and his wife Ann's place in [if I'm not mistaken] Putnam Valley. It was a Saturday or Sunday. I don't recall what we talked about--poetry and painting most likely-- but we had a lovely supper together--and spent a relaxing few hours before taking the train back. We did stuff like that back in them days. And I remember it was Paul who set up my first reading at St Mark's [with Kathy Acker] less than a year later. One other distinct memory of Paul I have was when Betsi and I were driving back to the city from our place upstate. Just after the Taconic, Paul suddenly appeared driving his car right next to us. We were both going around 70 mph. While both cars were still moving at that speed he pulled close enough to hand me [I was in the rider's seat of our car] a copy of his new book. That has to be the most insane and one of the speediest transfers of a book to another person in history. Betsi kept our car straight and steady as Paul pulled closer and handed his book to me. We were that close. He didn't toss it. He handed it to me with a determined smile on his face and then pulled away with a wave. It was a copy of The Curious Builder.

All the best,