Saturday, October 10, 2009

Will Inman: In Memory

I've just learned, a few days late, of the passing of the fine small press poet, Will Inman. I published a number of Will's poems in the early 90's when the magazine was still trying to find its pins and Will was exceedingly generous in sharing his work with a wet-nosed, fledgling editor. The University of Arizona Poetry Center has an award for financially needy poets in his name. One of the quotes Daily Poetics uses at the top of its page is by Will and it very good, indeed:

A poem must not just editorialize, it must evoke. It must
get inside me with the experience so that the part of me
that thinks can say yes! to the flutter between my ribs.
Without that flutter, that visceral recognition, to hell
with it.

His papers are stored at Duke University, an inventory of which you can see online. There is an online obituary in the Arizona Star you have to sign up for (its free) to read. It is reproduced here without the registration process (Note: unfortunately, these links are now dead. Seems our collective memory is zip). His correspondence with Eloise Bethell, with assorted books and memorabilia, may be found at the University of North Carolina. Online remembrances have begun to appear such as this.

With poets, we have memories of who they were, stories of what they've done, legendary and/or infamous. But most of all, we have their poems and I'll bet, when it gets down to biographical tacks, poems are the way poets would most like to be remembered. Here are four that Will Inman shared with the readers of Lilliput Review and myself and I remain grateful to this day.

shadow gaelic
clouds leaned on his shoulders, rain
broke on him such palpable shadows, he
knew the language, he spoke it often to
himself, words he had no need to translate,
direct messages, prophecies from under his
tongue, o he wanted them to be lies, but
they didn't fall with the rain, they grew
out of him to meet with rain, speaking him,
telling his name over and over like woke
beads, promising undiscovered ways beyond

the last wave
flower opens outward
in my throat, bees
shudder up and down my
back, seeking
nectar. i swallow all
but the last wave, moon
rises in my chest, shining
out of my eyes, you still
breathe fast

taste borning
the old Lion has mange,
the young Lamb froths stale,
we bear them lying down
in us, let them die!
jaguar and fawn
lizard and golden bird
come alive behind your eyes,
we bend laughing
to the loins of a young new
manwoman god to taste our
kin borning

a new eden
time to chase god
out of the garden, restore
forests, listen again
to a wisdom of serpents
to voices of trees,
time to take on
all that terrible

Will, R.I.P.

autumn wind--
death draws closer
with every year

translated by David G. Lanoue



Poet Hound said...

Beautiful tribute to Will Inman, Don, thank you.

Ed Baker said...

yes DW:

"the flutter between my ribs."

that's the twitter-twanging of (them) heart-strings

you know

words NEVER fail the poet/
the poet fails the words

that "eden" piece that's a bit of Inman that I re:call and enjoyed..

and his others...

Charles Gramlich said...

Sorry to hear of his death. Lovely poetry.

Ed Baker said...

I forgot to mention was around here early 70's or/and late 60's

Takoma Park, Montgomery Junior College for some time... always available on a one-to-one basis

he was also at The American University for a-while and frequented U of Md and Hopkins

as I recall other poets were also there (Andrea Wyatt, Doug Lang, Mike Lally, etc. etc ) fun and very productive times
for all..