Paul Violi, who passed away in New York on April 2nd, was a wonderful poet and teacher, and a man of great integrity and warmth. We extend our sympathy at this time to his family and all who knew him as a friend or colleague. It is a sad loss, which will be felt in many parts of the world – and that includes Orkney, for a number will remember his reading here, at the Pier Arts Centre, in August 1999. To commemorate that occasion, and to mark his passing, an event has been arranged to take place at the Pier on Saturday.
The Orkney connection with Paul was originally made via Todd McEwen, writer in residence here in late 1997. I’d been responsible for organising that residency, on behalf of Orkney Arts Society, and when Todd wrote to say that with his wife Ann, Paul would be making a visit to the county, a reading was quickly arranged, again with the Arts Society’s support. In December that year, OAR 13 featured his poem, Light Rain Falling on Deep Snow, which was later included in Overnight, published by Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn (2007).
Todd McEwen is back in Orkney for a few months at present, and when the sad news arrived, he suggested an event be held in memory of him.
Thus A Half-hour for Paul Violi will take place at 1pm in the Robertson Room of the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness ,on Saturday 30th April. All are welcome. The programme will mainly comprise a reading by Todd and myself of a selection of Paul’s work. You may be interested to know that among the poems will be Heap, his so-far unpublished list of all the jobs – apart from writing and teaching – that he’d had over his lifetime. He assembled this last year as a contribution to a forthcoming Brae Editions folio, itself entitled Heaps: of which more anon.
Paul’s work is immediately pleasurable and very rewarding – as funny as it is full of learning: generous and wise. The reading he gave here was one of the most memorable I’ve attended. Another was when I heard him in New York. His poetry might have been better known, but it won many awards, and it really should endure. And it got around, as did he: I remember the day in 2007 that two Brooklynites came into Porteous Brae Gallery – separately and unknown to one another – both of whom turned out to have known Paul in New York and worked with him.
“Unswervingly original, he’s also one of the most entertaining poets I know... a rich, rambunctious poetry.”
We look forward to seeing you there, if you can make it. For further information on Paul and his work, you should visit http://paulvioli.com. Review of Overnight at http://jacketmagazine.com/33/quattrone-violi.shtml.
Todd and I are grateful for the generous assistance of the Pier Arts Centre in helping to make this event possible.
There will be an opportunity to make a donation to MacMillan Cancer Support.