Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jack Powers,1937-2010. R.I.P.

Boston poetry legend Jack Powers died on Thursday of complications of dementia. He was 73.

Jack was best known as the founder of Stone Soup Poetry in 1971. Nearly forty years later, Stone Soup is still going strong every Monday night. Jack was associated with the Beat Poets and the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti would grace their presence at Stone Soup.

I first met Jack the when I went to Stone Soup in the summer of 2001 when the readings were held at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. Shortly thereafter the venue was moved a short distance to the Out of the Blue Gallery where the readings are held to this day. You might recall that I was the featured poet at Stone Soup last July.

Jack and I did not know each other well. But I remember he was deeply affected by the attack of September 11, 2001. I recall that one of his nephews signed up for the military after the attack and he could not talk about it without bursting into tears. Like most Boston poets he disagreed with my politics although he was generally respectful in his disagreement. On one occasion he described me as a libertarian. He said that in such a way that it seemed to comfort him.

Another reason I didn't know him that well is because his health started to decline preciptously. He suffered a series of strokes that eventually left him unable to speak. In recent years, he lived in a nursing home. I last saw Jack a little over a year ago when my roommate Christopher Kain featured at Stone Soup. I was not aware of his dementia until a few months ago.

When I think of Jack though I think of the man who would visit the Holocaust Memorial near Faneuil Hall on a daily basis. There is certainly something to be said for a man who takes the time to remember those who must not be forgotten.

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