There's so much to say about Paul, it's hard to know where to begin.
The mischievousness in his poetry was matched by that of his personality. Always a unique perspective on some political or legal issue, as well as poetical one, it was an adventure to spend time with him and Ann. As a book collector, I rarely have the chance to get to know the subject of my collecting personally - Paul was an exception. I collected just about everything Paul has ever published. It was an homage to him, as well as giving me the satisfaction of linking a personal friendship with my reverence for the written word, and for the text, and his exceptional text integrated with the luscious prints of Dale Devereux Barker. At the same time, our friendship had its light side, too: silly as it sounds, I looked forward to a visit to the bathroom at the Violi house when we were there of an evening, because I'd get to reread "Police Blotter" once again, and I never tired of it. The humor is always fresh; it's always as if I've never read it before; and his sense of the perverseness of the human race is timeless.
Never ponderous: by deflating and demystifying what poetry sometimes tries to do, Paul enhanced its power and mystique. Then soon after it was published in 2002, I read "Selected Accidents, Pointless Anecdotes" - of course, they were anything but "pointless" - and I thought to myself: "no one who is as good a poet as Paul has the right to be this good a prose stylist, too." And his prose voice is, to my thinking, not an assumed one; he was as wise and thoughtful actually talking about current events or historical places as he was writing about them.
I just spoke with a close friend of mine who lives in Park City, but who on one visit to us in New York came along with us to meet Paul and Ann. David, an accomplished environmentalist who has travelled widely in or lived in Vietnam, China, Hong Kong and the Philippines, and Paul really hit it off, they connected instantly. I texted David to tell him of Paul's death, directing him to the NY Times obit published today. David called me, utterly devastated, crying uncontrollably and spoke about those rare qualities he sensed in Paul, though he'd met him only once.
That is the kind of impact Paul Violi had on people. What an honor to have known him, and what fun, too.