Stacey McGirr


My best friend is a poet.

It’s a strange thing, many of my friends are writers and artists and intellectuals, gifted and strange, but only one is a poet.  I’ve learned that you just can’t treat them the same as you do everyone else.  They’re delicate and forlorn and sharp and hard and so utterly… on their own. 

I wouldn’t trade my best friend Celia for the world, and when my mentor and friend Don asked me to write about his friend the poet, this amazing man, this incredible poet in front of whom I shamed myself miserably, both with the audacity to share my writing, but also to ask for an autograph, and furthermore … damn, I had coffee with this LEGEND, well, it took me a long time to know what to say.  I knew I had to say it through the only lens I know well; my best friend is a poet.

These are rare creatures… I often feel judged and wanting for so many things in their presence, as though my own life could be reduced to a few lines in their eyes and they so quickly dismiss me as nothing more than just that.

The truth is, only poets really know that all of humanity can be reduced to a few lines.  That it is important and compelling to do so.

The truth is, they are so deeply attuned to all human ecstasy and suffering that it’s impossible for them to do anything but empathize.  Not sympathize, no, they don’t get off so easy.  They feel my pain and joy and the pain and joy of everyone they see every day.  I know this.  My best friend taught me this.  It’s all I can do to apologize and do my best to be my best and fail and succeed and know that they have seen, truly seen, and hated and loved and done their best to accept and understand and most importantly translate, no matter how painful the struggle or how pedantic the problems seem, no matter how much they wish their few lines could suddenly erase all of life’s struggles we mere humans experience, that their gift is that they can display all of this through their few lines on the page.  I’m certain that I’m right that this is their joy as well as their pain.

Happy birthday Irving.  Thank you for your time and attention, and most of all, for your gifts of insight and suffering that so eloquently and precisely make all of our lives richer and worth fighting for.