James Tate was a native of Kansas City, Missouri. He had little interest in books in High School, was involved in a gang, and wanted to become a gas station owner like his dad when he grew up. But he became captivated by poetry in his first few months of college.
He observed that poetry became, to him, "a private place that I was hugely drawn to, where I could let my daydreams-- and my pain-- come in completely disguised. I knew from the moment I started writing that I never wanted to be writing about my life."
A very passionate and grateful poet, as he was described by many of his friends and family, he became very much esteemed in the poetry world. He died last year, only July 8th, 2015, aged 71, having spent his lifetime as a very successful and esteemed poet and teacher.
|I couldn't find a very good photograph of him-- so here's a poem.|
Last Thursday there was a tribute dedicated to him in the Alvin Johnson New School auditorium, in which many esteemed poets participated. Among those in attendance were John Ashbery, Gillian Conoley, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dorothea Lasky, Matthew Zapruder and Jorie Graham.
My favorite poet out of those present, Jorie Graham, recalled how James Tate got into the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop while she was still on the board-- 'Jim' approached the director and pulled a poem out of his pocket, showed it to him, and the director said, "you're in." (It was easy back then.)
Apparently, once, he read a book of Rimbaud when already in college and thought "oh, I can do that."
It was a very moving and emotional tribute, in which all those present read aloud particular works which resonated with them-- but one poem in particular struck my fancy.
That's all, folks.