Larry Woiwode’s Passing

Last week, the world lost a stirring voice in the poet, author, intellectual, educator, and mentor, Larry Woiwode. I will think of his loss and I am still processing it and praying for his family. I endeavor not to fill this space with too much of my own poetry, yet I cannot say it better, at least not now, than what I have jotted below. I will miss Larry, and I am praying for his family.

The New Yorker, Atlantic, New York Times Review, bestseller lists,

Millions of copies sold—a critical pioneer of subtle resort:

Larry Woiwode was a writer’s writer. 

His life entwined, informed, enshrined in beauty

With careful words like horses’ hooves,

Perhaps a poor analogy of fine power.

He encouraged me to write. And so I write.

I had no pretenses until he ventured realization.

I have dived, driven, and rapped at the poetry

He saw buried. We all have poetry buried in us,

Otherwise we would not live it so easily

In our kisses and curses.

Larry disliked ellipses, double-sided and mal-spaced manuscripts,

Pretense shortcuts, and cliches. He stood up for writing

And gave it a chest in filling-in itself with day-to-day hard work.

I would lament “O Captain! my Captain!” for the deck

Daily cold as it waits for sunrise,

Yet I remember Larry’s encouragement to look to true captaincy.

He exhorted to write what you know;

Now that he has sailed to sublimity,

If only he could write to us!

Dr. James Stone was the best pupil I saw him teach

In his tapestry workshops where detail on detail set

The broad strokes of technique and craft;

You didn’t have to be a doctor to learn from Larry.

What strikes you most reading his work—

And it carried through in his workshops and lectures—

Was the simply beautiful, awe in the glancing wonder,

And the marvelous moment of a word, sentence, or paragraph

And all the unwritten potentiality.

I will miss Larry.

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8 Comments

    1. This is beautiful and paints a phenomenal tapestry of whom this kind, loving, gentle spirit of a man, Brother Woiwode was to us all. Thank you for sharing your heart, Matthew!

  1. Wonderfully said, Matt. Larry was an extraordinary gift to so many. So very glad you can carry some of that light forward.

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