Friday, January 01, 2010

Vigil for Don Belton + Interview on Melvin Dixon + RIP Rachel Wetzsteon

I am still on the east coast, but many in and around Bloomington, Indiana, attended a vigil for Don Belton, a writer, editor and IU professor who was brutally slain last week. His passing was a very sad coda to the year, but it's encouraging to see that so many people showed up to remember him.


Saeed Jones, a young poet currently enrolled in Rutgers University-Newark's graduate creative writing program, sent me a list of questions about the late Melvin Dixon, whom I've written about on here in the past. Saeed posted the interview (with one of the photos that was ubiquitous for a short while in the university's continuing studies program ads) at his blog, for southern boys who consider poetry. It goes without saying, Please read Melvin's work!


Rachel WetzsteonOne further note, and it's also a very sad one: poet Rachel Wetzsteon, a profoundly gifted and prolific 42-year-old poet, took her life on or around Christmas Day. I didn't know her personally, but I've been familiar with her work for years and heard her read at least once or twice some years ago. In addition to serving since last fall as poetry editor of The New Republic and teaching at William Paterson University, she had published her third highly-regarded collection, Sakura Park, in 2006.

Here is one of her poems, from the June 2006 issue of the Cortland Review; urban in setting, epiphanic in tone, economical in length and music, it packs a joyful punch.

Gold Leaves

Someone ought to write about (I thought
and therefore do) stage three of alchemy:
not inauspicious metal turned into
a gilded page, but that same page turned back
to basics when you step outside for air
and feel a radiance that was not there
the day before, your sidewalks lined with gold.

Copyright © Rachel Wetzsteon, The Cortland Review, 2006, 2010. All rights reserved.


  1. Thanks for each of these notices, J. Hope all is well with you in the new year. m