Ed note: I've been corresponding lately with poet Tom Healy because around here we're excited about his new book of poems What the Right Hand Knows and we're working out the particulars of his November guest blogging week. Tom had the good fortune to know Senator Kennedy and sent this message, which he agreed to let me post below:
If today had been my blog day, I would obviously have celebrated Ted Kennedy. He gave Fred and me giant bear hugs, laughs and a kiss whenever he saw us. It was the inimitable embrace he gave all of America -- an intensity of respect and love and belief in everything we could imagine for ourselves, as well as a little good-hearted elbow in the ribs always to keep it real.
And I might have done a post on the kind of sonorous, big heart, tear-in-the-eye poetry Ted Kennedy liked and frequently quoted from memory at dinner parties and on public occasions. It was often famous work -- Frost, Yeats, Hardy, Blake -- that edged toward uplift, sacrifice and self-effacement: the kind of poems that make you go quiet while ice cubes clink in the glass. (After all, niece Caroline anthologized many of these "family" poems into bestsellers!)
Fine, call me sentimental. I'm Irish. I like to drink. I loved Ted Kennedy. And I loved that he loved poetry, even if it didn't always quite seem to matter what poetry he loved at the time he was loving it.
Thank you, Tom