In Memoriam, James Longenbach
Dear friend and beloved SALMAGUNDI contributor, James Longenbach, passed away on July 29th. The planet is a poorer place without him. It is some consolation that his books of poems and essays and wise books on the craft of poetry will endure—he left us a rich legacy. His most recent and searing collection, FOREVER, was published last December. In it he faces his mortality while also insisting on the permanence of what is most important. He was much more, of course, than the sum of his books, however. Much more: a loyal friend with a gift for hilarity as well as somber reflection—and always reliably intelligent thought. To know Jim even a little was also to witness his passionate love for his mate, Joanna Scott, and for his daughters, and to admire his unwavering devotion to his family. His illness never changed that in him. His humanity was intact, I imagine, until his dying day. RIP, Jim: You leave a big unfillable hole, in our world.
In our most recent issue, #214-215, Peter Filkins discusses THE LYRIC NOW and FOREVER, books which mark, respectively, James Longenbach’s fifth collection of essays on poetry and his sixth collection of poems. In the review, Peter Filkins writes that “in his poems, James Longenbach not only takes us to a place where the consequence of living is poetry’s consequence, but also the consequence of reading is not only to live more fully, but to feel more alive while reading.” We hope you’ll find this appreciation of James’ work (the essay, THE MEASURING MUSE, is posted on this page) an invitation to keep James’ memory and brilliance alive by reading these books, the rich and moving work of a singular poet and critic.
Photograph by Adam Fenster courtesy of the University of Rochester