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April 03, 2011


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I was fortunate enough to attend a class Paul taught at NYU in 2009. He was funny, intelligent and a great professor. I am so sad to hear of his passing and will miss him. I will especially miss how he made fun of my love for romantic poetry! What a loss!

Paul Violi was a gracious and generous man. I met Paul via our employment as adjunct teachers (or poets) at NYU's Paul McGhee Division many years ago. He was always interested in exchanging information and ideas, and always very interesting to listen to. To say his perspective on the issues of our day, and on the poetry of our day was uniquely his own would be to understate the crystal clarity of his insight and wit. I loved Paul's intolerance for bullshit from any quarter, and his suspicion of institutional hierarchies. A dear man, a great poet and teacher. He is missed.

This is stunning news. I taught with the perpetually youthful Paul for twenty years at NYU - until I left in 2000. I contacted him last Fall to ask for a poem to include in a new journal we're starting at CUNY, which he agreed to provide. Though I told him of my recent heart surgery, he never let on that he was ill -(said "things are swell" - which in retrospect sounds like a bit of Violian irony)- He just commiserated with me:"Glad to hear you're out of the repair shop."
Paul always seemed ageless - and somehow so self-contained as to be inviolate - I think of him as forever 30. His shrewd intelligence, humor, and generosity will live on in all those he touched and influenced. He would have made a great young old man.
Dear Paul - You are truly loved - Kate Falvey

David Pinelli said...

My older cousin, Paul Violi is gone and I'm still in a state of disbelief. I always looked up to Paul and he embodied what it was like to be a fine young man growing up after WWII in a rural setting, which was Greenlawn in those days. A period in time; both good and bad; which is forever gone.

I remember his love of adventure, his curiosity, love of the outdoors and his knowledge of the many American Indian tribes. He read everything about their love of the land, of nature and about their survival skills, which he put into practice in the forests and rivers on Long Island.

I remember Paul as a teenager, taking off and spending many days by himself with his canoe on the Nissequoque River, stopping to study the wildlife and flora, get in adventures and make friends along the way.

In my eyes at that time, he was like Samuel Clemens and his Life on the Mississippi, only 2,000 miles closer to New York.

Knowing Paul as I did, his writing seemed to me to be a combination of Walt Whitman meeting Bret Harte by way of Oscar Wilde. Great charm, wit and humor.

From an early age, I always sensed that Paul found what we all want and very few of us get. I don't think that anyone could fail to be a better person for having known him.

Goodness is the greatest force in the world and Paul had it in abundance.

The Grammarians Toast Paul Violi

Friday, May 6th
5:30-7:00 p.m.
Dixon Place - 161 Chrystie Street
Free, open to the public, cash bar

Directions at

Paul's death left many New York City creative writing students mourning their beloved professor. Those who wish to hear Violi’s work and share memories are invited to Dixon Place (161 Chrystie St.) on Friday, May 6, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public. For those who would like to volunteer as readers, please email Marty Correia at by April 30th to be included in the program.

I first remember hearing Paul Violi's name mentioned when I was interviewing James Schuyler, and when I asked Schuyler what his favorite book of poetry was that year, he mentioned Paul Violi's latest book, "Splurge" which had just come out. This was in the early 1980s. I have been a fan of Violi's ever since and I loved him as a person. I miss him sorely.

Mark Hillringhouse

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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