On Tom Weatherly, February 2017

Detail from front cover of ‘Maumau American Cantos.’

Although I didn’t know him well, Tom Weatherly made a great impression on me from our first meeting — back in the days of Telegraph Books — when he said, “Hey, your dad’s William Saroyan? No wonder you so smart” — which was surprising and charming coming from this big black dude. One morning a little later when I was staying at a house in Philadelphia with Victor Bockris I found him downstairs, waking up on the living room sofa. “How are you?” I said, and he looked up and said, “Oh man, seems like the worst things in the world happen to me and it doesn’t seem to matter.” You had to love the guy.

In recent years, after not seeing each other for decades, we reconnected on Facebook and I found him much the same. As a poet he had I imagine something like what Lorca means by duende: musical energy to burn, and his early poems are erotic and wonderful in a way entirely his. I was surprised and saddened by his early death.