Monday, October 25, 2004
Like many of you I read and admired the obituary for Carl Rakosi that was published in the current issue of the Poetry Project Newsletter. And like many of you I was sad to see it was published anonymously. I wanted to be able to thank its author for writing such a perceptive and insightful article about Carl Rakosi, a poet who, I realized after reading the unattributed obituary, I hadn't known half as well as I thought I had. Anyhow it occurred to me that the true author shouldn't be hard to find, I could indeed call the Poetry Project and try to peel away the veil of secrecy surrounding the author's identity OR through so-called 'internal evidence" I could identify him or her through subtle verbal cues, the kind which have persuaded many that Oxford wrote Shakespeare and Philip Larkin wrote all those anti-bebop letters to the editor of UK TRAD JAZZ in the 1950s. The first thing that leaped out at me was the way the author thanked Rakosi for the gift of friendship with Jen Hofer. I thought to myself, oh dear, that's not narrowing it down much, for Jen Hofer has more friends than Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff put together. What about the author's claim to have participated in the December 2002 tribute for Rakosi at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA. Listen to this, "Jerome Rothenberg, Paul Vangelisti, Wanda Coleman, and I also participated along with several others." I kept thinking, if only the "several others" has been named, I'd be closer. Could it be Jen Hofer herself writing the article and seeking to keep her anonymity through confusion with several thousand of her friends? Like the purloined letter? For a few weeks my thoughts kept straying in this direction until I happened upon another sentence in the article, one I'd inexplicably overlooked earlier. "I read a Rakosi poem entitled, 'OK.'" Eureka, all I had to do was call Beyond Baroque and speak to the helpful people there, all of whom remembered vividly the sensitive rendition of OK by the Philadelphia poet Thomas Devaney.
Therefore I say it was him! If I'm wrong, sue me,
Tom if you're on the list step forward and accept the thanks of a grateful nation.
-- Kevin Killian
Kevin, OK, I am stepping forward, here on screen (hi), to say that I did write the obituary on Carl Rakosi in the Poetry Project Newsletter. I so enjoyed the journey you took to suss me out, and the query to the BUFF LIST, and appreciate your appreciation of the obit.
The Rakosi reading and conversation, organized by Jen Hofer and Fred Dewey, at Beyond Baroque was a two-day program in December 2003, the other readers and participants included Patrick Durgin and Mark Salerno.
A big hug and thanks.
-- Tom Devaney