I really wish I were in Tucson today, not just because it's beautiful and warm--it's supposed to be 80 degrees, mostly sunny, with 0% chance of precipitation--but because tonight the University of Arizona Poetry Center has arranged a memorial tribute for my dear friend and mentor Jon Anderson.
Jon died last October, and when I got news of his death, I wanted to write a blog entry, but I was just too busy. So now, while there's an appropriate moment, I want to say something about why this man was dear to me.
I met Jon in the fall of 1982, when I enrolled in his intermediate poetry class as a sophomore. I took the class because a friend told me I had to study with Jon--he was the best poet and the best teacher on the faculty. That is as may be; I feel lucky to have worked with almost all my teachers, who were, by and large, extremely talented and generous people.
But there was indeed something special about Jon. For one thing, he was so goofy and disorganized. I admit I found him alarming at times--he was a mess in many ways, not just disorganized but slovenly. Our class met once a week-- Tuesdays, I think--at 3:30 in the afternoon; Jon would show up and tell us, as if we couldn't see for ourselves, that he had just gotten out bed. (Back in the early 80s, people wore surgical scrubs as pjs a lot--not fancy ones, just the mint green kind. They worked well for that. Jon would show up to class in a pair of ratty 501s and a scrub top.) But one thing he said that first semester truly raised my eyebrows, and I will remember it my entire life.