What to write of Lewis who transformed my life by simple kind words of encouragement? Put all your poems together. Make a manuscript. Publish it—that’s easy. Start a publishing house.
It felt like giving birth to a child, to this over 50, not young, always starting over, never-to-be mother. Finally a book and a way to connect with the world for an introvert New Englander who keeps so much in.
I knew words, tons of them. English, Spanish, French, a little Portuguese picked up in Brazil, Latin, self-taught Italian, Russian. I knew so much from compulsive reading, hypergraphia. What to do with it?
Lewis’s poems create intimacy, Lewis told us a lot about himself, or so it seems. Mystery but no opacity. Clarity.
Play, my dear, just play with all this dark, ungainly stuff. Take pleasure in it. Treasure to be mined. To move from mind to page to book.
I felt I let you down by not writing the book you always chided me about. Each time we met: Are you writing? How about that memoir? Lightly said, no judgment.
I was in awe of your tenacity. I never knew someone like you. A life devoted so completely not just to your own work, but to creating a community, so many students who became friends who became poets. Encouraging and giving heart to all of us. Coraggio. Courage.
Thank you Lewis, for being midwife to so many books, so many poets. And friendship. You’ll always be with us
LILLA LYON lives in rural New England but prefers writing in cities. Her book Hello Mongolia (Ten Pell Books) received the 2001 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award of Binghamton University.