Poet Robert Mezey, 1935-2020

I keep a file labeled “100 Books,” which is a list of the best books I’ve read in my life. There aren’t really a hundred books on it yet. One of the books on my list exists only in manuscript: I had the extreme good fortune of reading a GBC-bound photocopy of that work. It is a translation of the poems of Jorge Luis Borges by the poets Robert Mezey and Dick Barnes, for which they never received permission to publish.

In 2017, Bob Mezey agreed to read at the Newburyport Literary Festival. In his correspondence he was fretful about his travel arrangements, about the sound system, about the amount of time he’d be given to read. And when he arrived, he appeared old and frail. My wife Gina attentively helped him get back and forth from his room at the inn to his reading. I’d arranged for Mezey to be the final reader, pairing him with Robert Shaw, saving the best for last. When it was Mezey’s turn, he asked for the microphone to be shut off, which didn’t seem like a good idea. Then he brought the audience in closer, where they gathered in a semi-circle near the podium, and he began his reading. It was something to see, something to hear: the authority returned to his voice, he read with great expression and a sense of humor. We saw laughter in his eyes, we heard more than personal sorrow in the words he spoke. He did me the great favor of reading his wonderful narrative poem, “The Golem,” which I’d requested. It was an unforgettable reading.

Robert Mezey died of pneumonia on Saturday, April 25. America has lost one of its finest poets.

Here is a link to his obituary in The Los Angeles Times, written by Dana Gioia.

Save the Date: Sept. 20 The Best American Poetry 2018 Launch Reading

The New School
The Auditorium
66 W 12 Street, New York, NY

7 PM

Best American Poetry series editor David Lehman and guest editor Dana Gioia headline an all-star cast of poets included in this year’s much anticipated volume.  Join them for the launch reading, an annual rite of Autumn in New York.

Allison Adair, Kaveh Akbar, Andrew Bertaina, Bruce Bond, George Bradley, Brendan Constantine, Mary Ann Corbett, Cynthia Cruz,Warren Decker, Dante Di Stefano, Nausheen Eusuf, Jonathan Galassi, Sonia Greenfield, Ernest Hilbert, R. Nemo Hill, Anna Maria Hong, Marie Howe, Steven Kampa, Mandy Khan, Ilya Kaminsky, Karl Kirchwey, Nate Klug, Nkosi Nkululeko, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Alfred Nicol. Sharon Olds, Jacqueline Osherow, Elise Paschen, Wang Ping, Aaron Poochigian, Michael Robbins, Jill Rosser, Jason Schneiderman, Nicole Sealey, Michael Shewmaker, Adrienne Su,, Agnieszka Tworek, G. C. Waldrep, James Matthew Wilson, Ryan Wilson.

Read an excerpt from Dana Gioia’s introduction here.

Free and open to the public

Books will be available for purchase.

More information here. 

 

One of My Proudest Moments

One of my proudest moments: to see a poem of mine in Scribner’s Best American Poetry, together with poems by so many friends and teachers: Maryann Corbett, Robert Cording, Dick Davis, David Mason, A. E. Stallings, James Matthew Wilson, Christian Wiman… And if anyone had told my teenage self that Gary Snyder and I would one day publish poems in the same book, well, I’d have been speechless. Kerouac’s Japhy Ryder?!! No way. I couldn’t have hoped that high. Many thanks to editor Dana Gioia for seeing fit to include my poem in his selection of the best poetry published in 2017.