When I first took Paul's New School workshop, I was won over so quickly and so fully by him that I knew I had made the right decision by going there. He was so unpretentious, so naturally a poet, that I was envious and awestruck at the same time. And god, was he funny. Not only quick with a joke, but jovial in almost everything he did.
One thing I particularly enjoyed in his workshop was that he would read your poem, and instantly find the cagiest, riskiest sentiment or image or metaphor, the moment that was bordering on complete pretentiousness or nonsense. He would find the weak spot, the point where you were reaching and you knew it. He would find it instantly and then, not unkindly, call you on it, and ask you to defend it. "Is it or isn't it?" You never heard so much sputtering and backpedaling in your life. I loved it, even when I was the one under scrutiny.
Paul was also, always, the guy you wanted to see at a poetry event, and at your event. As you walked in, you might see him smoking out on the street, or quaffing in the middle of conversation, and you'd be relieved, because you knew you'd have at least one fun conversation that night. Paul and I were smoking buddies, and while we didn't always crack jokes and oftentimes would talk about serious subjects, I would almost always walk back in and say to someone "you should have heard what Paul just said."
He was an excellent teacher, a moving poet, and a good friend. I will miss him terribly.