During the years of 2001-2002, I would receive long letters from Dave, typed on his old electric typewriter, and fire letters back zealously. Today, when I returned home to New Hampshire, I went through a box of personal items---poems and stories I've written that never saw a second-draft and many of my old letters from writers, friends, ex-girlfriends, etc. Since the dawn of our technological age, e-mails seem to have made the art of the epistolary form obsolete; and digging up Dave Church's old letters and reading through them this afternoon, soaking up the wisdom, heart and honesty that went into them, it seems to me that this is more than a damn shame.
Maybe some other time I'll write about my experiences visiting Dave in his attic apartment in Providence, the characters and improbable episodes that unfolded, but right now, it doesn't seem right to eulogize him with fancy or funny anecdotes. I can, however, say this: I learned as much, if not more, about life and writing from talking and corresponding with Dave Church than I have in most of my MFA workshop classes (and I've had some fabulous workshop professors). Sadly, for the last half-decade, Dave and I lost touch, and consequently, I missed out on an education, at a time when I most needed his perspective. I want to post a poem that Dave sent me in a letter dated 8-14-02---every one of Dave's letters came to me with poems, fliers for readings, or audio tapes---and if this poem has been published somewhere or is copyrighted by someone else, please let me know, and I'll take it down. But it seems to me, right now, to be especially apropos:
"And I'm The Star"
The same movie has been playing in my head
for three nights now. It's called
THIS IS YOUR LIFE!
In the beginning
there's plenty of action---
a babe on both
sides of me,
on my lap.
The middle moves along
in an ordinary way.
The action is packed
with more corn
It's the ending that bothers me---
God bless you, my friend. Rest, I hope, finally in peace. And, by the way, you've been right in all of your advice. All of it.