What a month!
A pattern seems to be developing in recent years: that of the rough September. I’ve had a root canal this month, an ear infection, survived a round of layoffs at my day job, and found out I have to have minor surgery later this fall. Tack this on to my summer of busting my chin open twice, and it’s been a rough patch there.
But it’s not been all bad. The highlight of this month was John Stahle’s memorial on the 18th. The weather was perfect and we had a perfect crowd in attendance. In fact perfect is the only word I can think of to describe the day. I finally got to meet so many writers I’d been emailing during the summer in preparation of the big day, and Bryan Borland and Philip Clark were god-sends with the last minute details like table cloths and wine and snacks for the reception.
And though his family could not be there due to an emergency, I found it fitting that John’s adopted NYC family were the ones to celebrate his life. He really did make a separate space and life for himself here, and intersected with so many scenes and people, from art galleries and visual artists to literary salons and writers.
I wanted to share a scan of the program for those who couldn’t be there:
I had a plan when I organized the program in how I grouped everyone, starting with John’s life and moving to Ganymede, but I couldn’t have anticipated how well it would flow from speaker to speaker. Bob Neville delivered a moving eulogy complete with his own improved English translation of the Goethe poem on which Schubert’s “Ganymed” is based. I got chills a few times at how perfect the arc of the program was going, and I think we were all stirred by my friend Robert Maril’s masterful vocal performances. I just want to publicly thank Robert and Lorna Krier, our pianist, again, as well as Bob, Bryan, Philip, Eric, George, Ocean, Charlie, and everyone who came out that day. And Irma Jaffe, who was with us in spirit. We did, made, were part of something special.
An epilogue: the night before the memorial I was contacted by a mysterious emailer who wanted to make sure we had John’s yearbook and address book, rescued from the unceremonious dump of his library on the curb outside his residence back in May. Though we couldn’t get these items in time for the memorial, I met up with our mystery person the day after the memorial and discovered a wonderful middle-aged woman named Thea who not only brought along John’s college yearbook and his first address book, but some other of his books, including some of his personal copies of the Ganymede issues. Though a small collection, I am fascinated at how John wrote his name, the date he purchased the book, and the bookstore and city where he purchased it. A small detail, but seeing his handwriting and how methodical he was with doing this to every book, it moved me. As did his highlighting of a text. As you see his marks and notes it’s like watching his mind come back to life as he worked through the words before him, page after page. It was the ending I needed.
And so many beginnings, from all the new friends I made to the marvelous new Assaracus Bryan is editing, John’s spirit lives on.
I’ll leave you with some pics Bryan and his husband Chris took that day:
You can still purchase copies of Ganymede Unfinished at Sibling Rivalry Press HERE. Since its debut back in August, Bryan has added some new material that came to light, material John had edited and prepared for Ganymede 8 and 9.