Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reginald Shepherd

Obituaries and remembrances are always a little unfair, because the person can't answer back.  I don't think they are actually about the person being talked about, they are about the person writing it.  I have seen some beautiful accounts from the friends and colleagues of Reginald Shepherd in the last few days.  My blog has gotten several hits from those searches, from people trying to find out more about both him and his effect.  I suspect his effect is larger than he knew, which makes me sad, that he didn't know.  I hope he did. 

But there were those of us he never knew, who lurked around his blogs, who read his words, who read his poems that he had an effect upon.  I love his poetry.  His words so often touched on a truth whose reach went beyond his words.  He spoke his life just as truthfully.  His pains and sorrow, his joys and his great intellect.  His essays (which sadly sat on my Amazon wish list for far too long, purchased just after his death I will guiltily admit) that I have read online are ones I need to go back to.  Each sentence hammers away at truth as he saw it.  I have to take his essays one sentence at a time.  He made people want to reach further.

I didn't know him, although I was tempted to email him once or twice.  I only commented on his blog a few times, and it gives me a thrill and a chill that he checked out my blog once. 

How we invisibly connect in this medium might not be that much different than in former times pre interweb.  Readers usually read alone, and reading on the internet doesn't change that.  The effect is the same, only with better lighting.  But if it hadn't been for the internet, I wouldn't have found Mr. Shepherd.  I can't remember exactly how, which saddens me too, but I did, thank goodness.  I shared him on my other blog, I shared him at writing group, and I shared his poetry at my book group.  My favourite of his poems is "For My Mother in Lieu of Mourning".

This poem touched me first, and has continued to do so for multiple reason.  Both personally and poetically.  He spoke of his rollercoaster battles in multiple places, online and off, but that won't be what we remember.  I will remember that he had the strength to battle, and the strength of his words.  He wrote to live forever.  I suspect that won't be an issue.

I am thankful that I encountered him, but the world is dimmer for his passing.  Read him, and relight the world.

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