Archive for March 17th, 2008

Jonathan Williams. Photo by Roger Manly
Jonathan Williams, the grand monster of Nawth Cackalacky verse, died yesterday. This news comes from Jeffery Beam who writes:

Jonathan Williams died yesterday evening (Sunday) around 9:30 PM.

I wanted to send this to as many people as I could : Feel free to share with others.

I am attaching a copy of the obituary I wrote for the NY Times and other media. Feel free to share it too. It doesn’t list the cause of death since I haven’t heard, as of yet, the official cause. [not online- pj]

You might also wish to read this posting about Jonathan’s work today on poet Ron Silliman’s blog

For those who can – you may also wish to visit Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina before June 7 to view an exhibition of Jonathan’s personal art collection at the Turchin Gallery. It’s a stunning show.

Condolences may be sent to poet Thomas Meyer, Jonathan’s partner and collaborator for forty years:

Thomas Meyer
The Jargon Society
P O Drawer 10
Highlands, NC 28741

Please join me in remembering an extraordinary individual who gave so much, oftentimes being ignored more than he should have been. A true “complete man of letters” as Silliman describes him.

From Jeffery’s obit draft:

Williams’ over one hundred works, published by many of the most important small presses in this country and Britain, exemplified his playful blend of polish and earthiness, and revealed his massive and impressive circle of friends. Williams seems to have known practically everyone of consequence in early and mid-twentieth century American alternative arts. An Ear In Bartram’s Tree (1969, University of North Carolina) and Blues & Roots/Rue & Bluets (1971, Grossman; 1985, Duke University) demonstrate his sensitivity to the nuances of language and the simple charms of Appalachian and White Trash culture. Quote, Unquote (1989, Ten Speed Press) was one of many editions of Williams’ astonishing accumulations of revelatory quotations discovered in his wide reading. A Palpable Elysium: Portraits of Genius and Solitude (2002, David Godine) offers a select view of Williams’ photographs of unique people and places accompanied by pithy, revealing mini-essays. The Magpie’s Bagpipe (1982, North Point) and Blackbird Dust (2000, Turtle Point) collect spicy essays on artists and culture. Jubilant Thicket: New and Selected Poems (2005, Copper Canyon) contains a selection of over 1000 of Williams’ poems.
Williams and his partner of forty years, Poet Thomas Meyer, lived since the early 1970s in a seventeenth century shepherd’s cottage in the English Cumbrian hills in the summer and at the Scaly Mountain home near Highlands in the winter. For the past decade they have resided mostly at Skywinding Farm, in Scaly. Williams is survived by Meyer, their beloved ginger-cat H-B, and numerous devoted friends and supporters. In the Appalachian poem “Epitaphs for Two Neighbors in Macon County No Poet Could Forget” Williams captures Uncle Iv Owens. It seems a fitting epitaph, too, for this remarkable man of American letters, Jonathan Williams:

he done
what he could
when he got round
to it

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