Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Lorenzo Thomas leaves us to our own soundtrack

This in yesterday's HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Lorenzo Thomas, a much-respected fixture on Houston's literary scene and a poet who married bluesy lyricism with a social conscience, died Monday. He was 60.

I hate getting word of my friends' passing via email; it really sucks. My friend Amanda in Austin has trumpeted at least two different announcements such-like via her mass email network. And then today, casual like an invitation to a workshop, I get a notice from the Writer's Garret's Thea Temple: Lorenzo Thomas has passed away.

Why didn't I hear this w/ music, a clash of radio station soliloquies hitting it hard on the funk or soul at the intersection of dayjob and evening happy hour? Or couldn't this news have breathed into my heart via a nighttime dream, replete with horn section and poetry? I don't want nobody else to tell me that another of my goddamn kindred friend and awesome contemporary Texas poet chums has died--not this year, and definitely not on email.

Anyway, Lorenzo, thanks for the words and the kind brown eyes of "getting it"--connecting with a sister who respected you como si fueras mi papa. Un maestro for our times, the guy who played Robert Johnson records during a class on the Poetics of Blues at Naropa Institute that summer I met you. Boulder, Colorado, maybe it was 1988.

Here's a bit of info, the kind people like to read so they learn what they missed in a man they never got to meet: Lorenzo Thomas, assistant professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown, was a member of the legendary Umbra workshop in the 1960's. This workshop drew young writers to the Lower East Side of New York City in search of their artistic voices. Reflecting on those years in a 1978 Callaloo essay, Thomas observes, "cultural black nationalism of our moment did not spring forth from inspiration of the New York Times or the Late News," but was the result of cultural transmissions from the griots of the folk tradition to these young writers.

If you want to read more, check HERE.

Lorenzo, in 1967, wrote his poem "Onion Bucket." One line from this one reads: "All silence says music will follow." In the silence of his departure, there is bound to be music. Just be still and hear it.

Good thoughts, Lorenzo, all good thoughts.

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