Lewis Warsh, My Friend and Colleague
In the early 1980s, Paul Auster was teaching a grad writing class at LIU. When he left, he recommended Lewis for his adjunct position. I started at LIU in ’85 and over the years we collaborated on many projects at school and elsewhere.
When Lewis was offered the directorship of the M.F.A. program in 2005, he was excited about it. He wanted to start a movement and help young writers become poets and to learn how to live a poetic life; and it was a specific culture he had in mind, following in the tradition of The New York School at The Poetry Project at St Mark’s, Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and before that the Black Mountain School. The program was very strong for a number of years. Of course, others were involved in building it, including John High, Erica Hunt, Jessica Hagedorn and many poets who taught and visited.
When Lewis was directing and/or teaching, his door was always open for students to wander in and talk. That’s what he loved most about directing the program, the ongoing contact with young poets. After he became ill, I heard from many of his students about how meaningful it was to study with him. He was a prolific, inventive, and passionate poet, fiction writer, and editor.
1 Jan 2020
BARBARA HENNING (https://barbarahenning.com/) is the author of five novels and seven collections of poetry, recently Digigram (United Artists) and a novel, Just Like That (Spuyten Duyvil). Forthcoming is Prompt Book: Experiments for Writing Poetry and Fiction from Spuyten Duyvil. Born in Detroit, she currently lives in Brooklyn.