29 April 2005

Paul Metcalf

my first nite in Culver City Paul Metcalf was in my dreams. he & Nancy were in my yard in Santa Fe. he'd just read my latest & presentd me with a long handwritten critique.

in reality the Metcalfs -- frequent Kent visitors -- never came to Santa Fe because Nancy had some inner-ear complexity which preventd travel to high altitudes. & Paul never wrote long critiques of my work -- altho we discussd each other's. after his death 6 years ago I discoverd he'd written a review of New Notes which was never publishd.

I met Paul at his Massachusetts farmhouse in the summer of 1970. my treasurd teacher Howard P. Vincent had loand me his copy of Genoa & I was so smitten I wrote Paul a fan letter. our friendship was one of the most important of my life. less than a year older than my father Paul became a literary father. I miss our long talks. Nancy always went to bed early   leaving Paul & I alone in the living room where we talkd for hours. I regret I never kept notes. so much is gone. Paul was always open & frank. I recall he cdn't understand how I cd like the poetry of both Duncan & Ashbery. altho mostly literary our chats coverd whatever. I even learnd of his youthful infatuation with Alice Faye.

as a rare book librarian I askd him abt his papers which seemd to cause some discomfort. he seemd surprisd at my shock when he told me he'd thrown out the long letter Charles Olson had written him at the death of his father. he always claimd that he'd destroyd the manuscript of his first conventional novel (altho Nancy hintd that he hadn't). when Nancy was going to give me as a birthday gift the letters Paul wrote her which were used in Patagoni she had to inform me later that Paul wdn't allow her to. of course I wantd his papers for Kent & he knew that but I was careful that such a matter wd never come between our friendship.

Paul was 82 when he died & I was 55. we'd known each other nearly 30 years. that he appeard in my dreams is no surprise. many of my dead friends remain alive inside me.


Tom Beckett said...


Nice to see this little remembrance of Paul.

I have vibrant memories of his reading at JB's and of a group of us eating with Paul and Nancy at the Top of the Inn. That must have been in the late '70s, no?

I've always been fond of his work and his person.

Judson said...

as ever, your rememberances of things I know nothing about fascinates me.