Saturday, January 03, 2004

Sorry to report the death of poet Charlie Mosler, New Year's Day, of complications from a stroke suffered one week earlier & which had put him in a coma. He will be missed by the many poets & musicians & artists, including myself, who knew & worked with him. Our love to his wife, Rona.

Charlie was a difficult man. Met him over 25 years ago, liked him even though we disagreed on almost everything from music to religion. But we both preferred the more "cool" reading style of the Fifties to the later dramatized "wow" type for winning slams. Charlie published very little - claimed his poems were made to be spoken, but he was also paranoid about theft. & his poems changed little over the decades. I'm glad I got to see him one more time, at Edie's this past November. No premonition it was to be the last time.

Charlie's well-known misanthropy - don't kid yourself, it was largely real - was an armor with vulnerabilties. Charlie had a deep respect for jazz musicians - a respect with components of both devotion & envy. Charlie also wanted to be liked personally but had difficulty opening up to it. So he tended to keep people - & situations - at arm's length. He was liked all the same. He rarely flattered, which made his compliments count for something. As an artist, he watched his own back without screwing others in the process, & was a very loyal guy. Within his sharp capacity to see things, he usually saw them as they really were. He might come up against self-imposed limits, but was most often correct. He left a lot of really excellent poems, which now belong to us just as Charles Mosler the Poet does.

Some poets have a kind of poetic authority. There are very good poets who don't have it, because an artist grows up to & into it by stages; it is directly related to an authenticity of personal character. I think of Charlie's ubiquitous black folder, which he sometimes clung to, I swear, like an old lady's purse. But he could just as well have left it in his car on most occasions; he had plenty of authority without it.

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