Sunday, November 25, 2007

In Memory of Poet Jon Anderson



While Robert Minichiello was dying, I kept leaving messages at the University of Arizona in Tucson for his old friend, poet Jon Anderson, and only recently discovered that during the same time Jon was dying too. Jon sometimes stayed with us when he was in San Francisco, and I stayed with his first wife Nancy one night in Boston, and Jon and his second wife Linda also stayed with Robert and me in San Francisco, and I took them on their first acid trip, a long, amusing day.

Later he was here with his third wife Barbara and their son. His small son was very shy when pressed forward to meet me, and I said, "I know. It is tiresome having to meet strangers, isn't it?" So I was touched when we were all out to dinner and his son ducked under the big table and appeared at my knees and climbed into my lap.

I had lost contact with Jon, but assumed we would meet again as he, like Robert, was younger than I, and I assumed there was time enough for us to meet again, so it was a shock to learn from his first wife, Nancy (now Lagomarsino) that Jon had been dying simultaneously with Robert.

If you care to look at his obituary [http://poetrycenter.arizona.edu/memorial.shtml], you will see that he was reading Tu Fu and Wang Wei decades before Paul Harmon introduced me to those antique Chinese poets.

One of my favorite memories of Jon was the story he told about being at a baseball game in Fenway Park, Boston, that was rather dull and so he began to chant, "Mayakovski! Mayakovski!" as if that Russian poet were a baseball player they should bring on the field to save the game, and it seemed a likely name for a baseball player. Soon half of the stadium was chanting, "Mayakovski! Mayakovski! Mayakovski!"

2 comments:

kimy said...

I'm sad to hear that time ran out and you never connected with your friend jon. then to learn that while another friend was dying so too was jon. the cosmos does kick on in the ass at times.

both you and steve orlen have provided lovely tributes - quite nice that steve reprinted jon's beautiful and haunting poem 'in sepia' ...a think the house lights are a bit dimmer with his passing. I look forward to checking out jon's poems.

Al Anderson said...

I was very much saddened to hear of Jon's death. Jon and I were close friends from the seventh grade until after he left Northeastern U. and Massachusetts. Jon's friendship was undoubtedly the most important friendship I have ever experienced. I was particularly thrilled with the "Mayakovsky" account. Back in high school Jon and I attended 17 Sox games one summer. It was about that time that we started invoking "Mayakovsky" on many occasions. We often referred to each other as Mayakovsky, we used it as a greeting, or sometimes as an exclamation. I was likely with Jon during the ballgame in question. However, I think half the stadium chanting "Mayakovsky" belongs in the realm of urban legend. Like James, I was unable to connect with Jon in recent years. A sad time indeed...