Tom Raworth on Ted Greenwald
I’m sorry I can’t be there tonight. But sorrier still anyone has to be there. Our dear friend Ted is gone, but books and memories remain.
There was correspondence, but it was during my first trip to the USA in 1970 that I met Teddy in person. He was putting out chairs for a reading at the Church. Then the memories speed and blur. Driving at night through New Hampshire snow, singing “American Pie” (just out) as behind us David Ball donned and shed his sweater at every one-degree change in temperature. Flashes of the magazine he edited with Lorenzo Thomas. The edges of Full Court Press. Standing talking with Gordon Matta-Clark outside FOOD. Stepping over the beams on Richard Nonas’s studio floor.
Ted in his gallery on Mott Street. Looking at an Ed Baynard canvas of oranges on a blue ground. Standing togther in the street at dawn (San Francisco — Anza at Masonic) watching the house we’d slept in that night completely destroyed by a bulldozer. Glimpses of England and France with Joan Simon. Early in the ’70s the giant dark green garbage trucks on the sidewalk outside the Greene Street readings Ted organized. Ted knew exactly where The Miracle on 34th Street happened. Long evenings at Ennio and Michael’s on La Guardia Place. Riding together around Queens so he could point out where the best bagels had been. A sliver of his parents dancing through their apartment singing every musical they could remember. But above all Ted was a writer of Manhattan. For almost fifty years, I could not be anywhere in the East without visiting him. A serious, but not solemn, writer, he wrote every day: regular work, like driving a cab or delivering newspapers. Clearest of all is an image from the time we lived together on Bleecker Street in 1972. Teddy regularly writing each morning at the same time, on yellow legal pads with red ink. Sunlight through the window. A metropolitan Rory Calhoun.
We last communicated hospital-to-hospital. These words go from another one, sadly to no recipient.
The last poem Teddy sent me:
and from his last message:
Spring finally sprunging in NYC. Blossoms. Car radios. All the truly great things.
Our thoughts are with Joan and Abby. Love from Val and Tom.
MP3 of Raworth reading this tribute
Presented at Moe’s Books, Berkeley, Greenwald Memorial, October 5, 2016 and (in slightly different form) at the Poetry Project Memorial, September 16, 2016, both available on PennSound.