Keith Wilson: 1927-2009
Joe and Jill Somoza just called to tell us that our close friend poet Keith Wilson has died. Keith had been in a hospice in Las Cruces for almost two weeks. He passed quietly with Heloise, his daughters Kathy and Kerin and his son Kevin at his side. Keith’s been suffering from aphasia for a number of years and he had lost his ability to speak and to be a poet, so it was time for him to catch the boat to the other side. He will be missed. I will miss him.
Keith, as a friend and a mentor, was a very important influence in my life as a poet and as a householder. I first met him and Heloise in Tucson in 1963 where he was a lecturer. Through him and Barney Childs I became involved in the Ruth Stephan Poetry Center, along with my friend Paul Malanga, and was able to hang around poets and poetry. The Wilson household was always full of talking poetry and laughing. Creeley, Snyder, Duncan, Jerome Rothenberg, John Newlove and so many others were always coming through. It was a special time back then. I’ve always felt privileged to know poets and to be part of the special community of those who make poems. Keith was an entry way for me into this special world.
Last year poets in Las Cruces and Placitas/Albuquerque organized celebrations of Keith and his poetry. He was present at each event and enjoyed them immensely. You can read about each of those occasions on previous blog entries here and here where I've included introductions by Joe Somoza (Las Cruces) and me (Placitas) and poems. The picture above I took in December 2005. Keith was still writing, although I suppose the aphasia was probably creeping into his world.
This fall Clark City Press will be publishing his collected poems (1965-2001), Shaman of the Desert. 1100 pages in all, it will include 23 of his books, uncollected poems and his autobiography that he wrote in 1992 for the Gale Publishing Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series.
In my other postings you'll see other poems, but here is one of my favorite Keith Wilson poems, a poem I heard a long time ago back in the day. May Keith rest in peace.
--for my daughter Kathleen
This is a song
about the gift of patience
the need to walk alone
ever, deeper, into
This is a poem
Bring a candle
the room is warm
This is a song