A series of commentaries by poets and writers honoring Scalapino's work
of life and time ... “
From Allison A. Hedge Coke
Naropa, Colorado and Kearney, Nebraska
Leslie was engaged in embracing interplay of life and time. Her witnessings, brilliant captures, her musings constantly fed by the moments at hand. Her head for sensory device replicated each constant as twin divinations, thus allowing a reader to mull in the midst of cross-time experience. To be welcomed in the grace of her work to gather young poets & writers to pages she herself spent effort culminating, was an immense privilege and pleasure. Always the encourager, if she saw something in your work, she called it. With the call came placement and a bit of ease into the next writing task.
I met Leslie Scalapino as a student in Arthur Sze's class in 1992. I'd had a stroke the semester before and her poetry reminded me of the fleeting images in stroke. I asked her if it was an attempt to replicate a stroke effect. I'd had cancer for seven years already at that time. We talked quite a bit and I found her wonderfully generous.
She and Lyn Hejinian were working together a bit then, and I met Lyn while on fellowship at Naropa that same summer. A bit later they both asked me for some of my poetry for an O Books compilation, Subliminal Time. Leslie published me, championed my work. As one of the first poets to ask for my work for a publication, she moved me very deeply in a mentor sense.
I sent her in some work I was doing in image reflection, deep image and dual-voice work at that time. Separate from the lyric narrative I was publishing elsewhere. She was entirely supportive and extremely encouraging to me. A beautiful human being. Somewhere that O Book release must exit still. I must have lost my copy in moves along the way. I sought it when I heard this sad sad news and missed that time in life immensely. The time in poetry when it took four or five years for your first book to go from submission to print with one press. The effort there. Her efforts to bring us placement into a reality conditioned by language, amazing really, the work there. She will no doubt be missed and I will miss her.
PHOTO of Leslie Scalapino taken March 31, 2010 at her home in Oakland, California -- courtesy of Laura Hinton's I-Phone.
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke is the Reynolds Chair of Poetry & Writing at the University of Nebraska, Kearney, and an American Book Award winning poet/writer who has authored five books, including Off-Season City Pipe (Coffee House Press) and Blood Run (Salt Publications).