Monday December 13th, 2010

A Writer and Teacher in Need

deanyoungIn a letter on behalf of poet Dean Young, Tony Hoagland details how Young has suffered from a degenerative heart condition for more than a decade, and how his condition has worsened “radically” in recent days. He’s in urgent need of a transplant. If he’s lucky enough to get one, there will be enormous costs involved, not nearly all of which will be paid by his health insurance. You can donate here. (Under the section labeled “Donation Information,” be sure to note that the donation is for Dean Young.)

I have a close friend who was taught by Young at the University of Iowa’s graduate writing program a few years ago. He wrote to me over the weekend, in part: “Definitely encourage everyone you know to donate, he’s one of the good guys. One of the kindest, most encouraging writing teachers I ever had. And two of his books — First Course In Turbulence and Skid — are two of the great volumes of poetry of the last 20 years.”

Young’s nephew recently shared a letter that his uncle sent him in 1998. A piece:

I started writing poems in the third grade, and although I’m disappointed I’m not a lot better, it is something I do and therefore part of who I am, and cannot be reft from me. Perhaps I was too stupid or stoned or drunk or distracted or comfortable, or it was another world of skinny-dipping in the Bloomington quarries with a group of friends most of whom were trying to write well, with stupid jobs, and reading Frank O’Hara. I guess it was something I had faith in. It was later, by the time I was in graduate school, that the real ambitions (and poisons) of trying to get published and all that came into play. By then, well, it was too late. It was what I did. Remember, Seth, you can’t sustain inspiration, you can only court it, and here’s the thing: it happens WHILE you work. It’s not something to wait around for. You have to sweep the temple steps a lot in hopes that the god appears.

Please donate if you can.