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November 18, 2010


I had the pleasure of meeting Steve about 15 years ago at Warren Wilson. He was warm, approachable, and kind. In chatting, we discovered something in common - his wife and I had both resided on the same street in Queens as children. In my copy of Bridge of Sighs, he wrote: "To Laura, for the Park Lane South in both of us." Typical sweetness from this good man.

Thank you for this lovely tribute.

Thank you, Jerry, and BAP for posting this tribute. I never had the opportunity to study with Steve, but I did come to know him a little, running into him here and there over the years after Warren Wilson. I confessed to him once that I'd requested him as a mentor every semester I was at WWC but never got paired up to study with him. Steve's response was, "Oh, you dodged a bullet then!"

He had a gift for laughter and kindness, in addition to his myriad gifts as a writer and teacher. Thank you, BAP, for sending him off in style.

Anne Caston

Thank you. I now know him better. And I think we always will.

anne, thank you for that. i can hear steve's voice, "oh, you dodged a bullet then!" that made me laugh out loud. and then i heard his laugh. thank you.

"Not to put too fine a point on it, but he's poetry's promoter, manager, trainer, corner man, cut man, and seasoned pugilist all rolled into one. The blurbs he writes for his contemporaries' books sound better than most poets' poems."

[sad comment on state of the art]

what do you mean by that, Jim? I'm curious.

I just learned of Steve's death.

I was privileged to be his student and I was not ready to be a poet, I was full of 20 year old talent taken for granted and resisting the process of craft and letting go.

He would delete 50% of the words in a poem and leave me with the skeleton. He would tell me to go and rework it, but only keeping the lines where he had scribbled a messy mark of approval.

That was 1992.

Now I am writing and crafting and hoping that 50 is not too late to birth all that he taught me, inspired in me and most of all, what he saw in me and my writing.

Cigarettes in that ashtray in the window of that tiny office, his chair, his critique but then a gentle way of not kicking you straight out. He would look out this little window of this little office and without looking, tell me that I COULD be really good.

I pray would see that I am working on it.

Thank you for this deeply felt comment, Emily.

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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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