Thom Gunn 1929-2004

Interesting. Thanks for sharing. I've never heard of him, (but there's lots I've never heard of.)

I will check out his poetry now, though.

Posted by eric at May 5, 2004 10:37 AM

Great stuff.

Posted by wretchard at May 5, 2004 5:39 PM

"The light changed ... 'you gotta go.'" Thank you.

Posted by Richard Meixner at May 6, 2004 4:57 AM

About 9 years ago, I was lucky enough to be admitted to Gunn's poetry writing class. I will always regret I let my insecurities fuel writer's block because I could have learned so much more.
My specific memories are hazy, but I know your rememberance of him is absolutely correct. He was there to teach his craft and nothing less. Like you, I'd always wanted to
talk just one more time with him. Thanks for your post.

Posted by montyburnz at May 7, 2004 6:14 PM

I've only known him through his poetry, one of my favourite British poets. It is so sad now, to know he's gone.

"One joins the movement in a valueless world,
Choosing it, till both hurler and the hurled,
One moves as well, always toward, toward."

Thom Gunn

Posted by ivan at May 9, 2004 12:29 AM

You've written it just as it was. Our Victorian house was ecru, not green, but otherwise your recollections of Mr. Gunn are "right on, man." His courses were the most delightful times of my college education and remain the most important to defining myself. I'm no poet, nor am I male or gay, but his legacy lives within me, my private, personal share of Erato.

Posted by Sharon Hauser at May 9, 2004 10:45 AM

A beautiful remembrance, and fitting in its elegance. You wasted neither your time nor his in that long ago class, now, did you?

Posted by Paul Dana at May 19, 2004 1:02 AM

I really enjoyed your recollection. I'm an Afrikaans poet, living in South Africa. I came across him poems in the Eighties & was immediately struck with their eloquence & style. I got an address for him from Faber & Faber and started corresponding with him. When I visited New York in 1987 there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to meet him. So we arranged it & I flew to San Francisco, staying in the Grand Central hotel. The next morning, I had a quick coffee at a coffee shop nearby, & when I returned to the hotel he was waiting in the lobby - leather jacket, earring, short greying hair. I was a bit overwhelmed finally meeting him, but he put me at ease & we went for breakfast somewhere in Castro street. Afterwards, we took a streetcar to his house on Cole street where he showed me around. I especially liked the big colourful billboard type art he collected. He showed me his study, the desk where he writes (the two walls forming the corner covered with art prints, porno pics, poems by favourite authors, drawings etc - almost like a snapshot of his mind). Too soon it was time for me to head back to the airport. He gave me a couple of his books (signed them also) & sent me on my way.
We kept in touch for a while, but my life took a couple of unexpected turns & I lost touch with him. I always bought his books, read the reviews etc, & in my mind I composed many letters that I never sent. Now I regret not having done so, not telling him how much his last two books meant to me, how experimenting with drugs opened up Moly to me in a new way.

I found out about his death in the worst possible way. I was surfing the net one afternoon, & typed in 'thom gunn new poem' to see whether there's anything new by him in a magazine or newspaper maybe, & when I scanned the results my eye fell on a link saying 'Thom Gunn died...". It was as if someone punched me in the stomach. I thought, this must be some other Thom Gunn, but in my heart I new it wasn't. I reread his collected poems & am overwhelmed not only by the volume & accomplishment, but by the sense of loss it evokes - the loss of him.

Reading his poems, however, I realise that he was prepared for that final adventure, had been for a long time, & I find solace in that. I want to dig out his letters & read them again soon.

Ps. Anybody know where I can get hold of 'Touch', the one volume I don't have?

Posted by Johann de Lange at May 20, 2004 5:35 AM