Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Remembering Vincent Woodard

At the Noctuary, Reggie H. has posted a loving tribute, "Safe Journeys," to poet Vincent Woodard, who recently passed away in Boulder, Colorado. I didn't know Vincent, who was at Cave Canem during my phantom (1997) year, but I often heard very good things about him and his work, and am sorry I never had the opportunity to meet him (I thought I had, when Evie described him, but now I realize I never did).

Here's what Reggie writes:

Vincent's critical/academic work explored issues of sexuality and gender in African American studies. But to me his real work was Spiritual. His readings and performances were more like revivals, visitations of the spirits, than what we usually think of as 'readings.' Relatively straightforward recitations would suddenly turn into incantations, sermons, divinations. His body and voice would shake as if possessed by the words, or the spirit of the words, he was the vessel for. "Moving" doesn't even come close to the experience of hearing him perform. The man could shake you to your foundations without seeming to break a sweat. Many of us remember him as someone who seemed made more of Light than of Flesh, radiating peace, wisdom, and a great deal of strength and courage.

And, yes, I think I fell a little in love with him when we first met. How could anyone resist such an Angel? I will miss his dear, beautiful soul.

If you knew Vincent, please post your thoughts on Reggie's comment section. If you didn't please visit his site to learn a little about one of the many not well known angels in our literature.


  1. he was my brother and friend and teacher and ally and homegirl and yogi and shaman and lover...

    i will miss u forever...


  2. Cara, thank you so much for your post!

  3. Hello...I was blessed to have Vincent as my first cousin. Myself as well as my entire family will miss him dearly. We love in peace.

  4. Dear John,

    I learned belatedly of Vincent's passing and found your site today. Thanks for linking to Reggie's also - I'll leave a note there too. Vincent was an extraordinary friend to me. We met during the first CaveCanem year. Reggie's description is absolutely on point. There will be a memorial for Vincent at the University of Colorado at Boulder on Wednesday at 4pm, hosted by the English Department. Maybe I'll post some thoughts after that...I'm kind of full now.



  5. L. Nunn, thanks so much for your lovely post.

    Rachel, I was just mentioning you to Christopher Stackhouse; I think you and he were at CC together in '97. I always remember the drawing of you I did that time that you, Dania Allen (!) and I went to some event in Cambridge, at the Swedenborgian Church. Do you remember that? It really was ages ago. I hope you're doing well, and I was mentioning your work on Brazil to Chris. I hope I get to see one of these days soon, and please take care.

  6. Hey John,

    (I tried to post this earlier today but I don't think it stuck. Forgive me if it's a duplication...)

    Yes, I definitely remember the drawing you did. It was lovely. And I remember Che Stackhouse too. In fact, he came to my mind, out of the blue, a few days before I saw your note. Please tell him I said hi.

    Vincent Woodard's memorial in Colorado was wonderful. His friends and colleagues at the university organized a very much appreciated opportunity for folks to share remembrances and stories of Vincent. His mother and brother came up from Arizona. Most of the people present were people who had known Vincent only in very recent years, so the range of memories lacked some of what CC folks could have brought to the occasion. But it was GREAT to be among so many people who loved and cared about him.

    It was especially good to know that he wasn't alone at the end. He had family and friends who accompanied him through the last weeks and his younger brother was with him, in the hospital room, standing at the foot of the bed, when Vincent drew his final breath.

    I'm really glad to know about the gathering in NYC coming up in a few days to celebrate Vincent's life. I wish I could be there too.

    For anyone who is interested, there will be another memorial at UT Austin on March 21st. Sponsored by the English department. That was Vincent's grad alma mater. For more info, people can contact his dissertation advisor, Dr. Helena Woodard (no relation to Vincent, at least not that she has yet discovered) at

    I'll post this on Reggie's site too.

    Um beijo,


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  8. I know that this is very late in the grieving process, but not a day goes by that I don't think about the late, great Dr. Vincent Woodard. Vincent was my teacher, my mentor and my friend during my time at CU Boulder. I learned many things from this man and have since brought his teachings into my own classroom. I remember a very heartfelt conversation I shared one day with Vincent. Vincent shared with me that he did not feel as if he was having as great an impact on his students as he would of liked. I shared that he had impacted me and that I planned to share that impact with others. So I did...From Hurston, to Baldwin, to Salinas, to Cisneros, to Shakur, Saul Williams and Essex Hemphill included- works that are shared, discussed and analyzed daily in my 12th grade English Literature me Vincent, the message was heard and as a result of your teachings, that message is being shared with students that need to hear it. I miss you my brother and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for enriching my life. Your friend eternally-

    Paul Pressler