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Unread 04-21-2019, 06:19 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Old South Wales (UK)
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Default Our John's Funeral today: UPDATE

I am so sorry to have to tell you that John Whitworth has died.

He has been in hospital for some months, much of it in intensive care, and as some of you will be aware, he had been failing for some time before he stopped posting on these threads.

His wife, Doreen, rang me this morning. I took the liberty of extending, on behalf of all his Spherean friends, our condolences to her and to his beloved daughters.

RIP my friend. Tears now; laughter later.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 06:52 AM
Michael F's Avatar
Michael F Michael F is offline
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Location: a foothill of the Catskills
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Oh, thank you, Annie, for telling us, and for extending our condolences.

I had delightful interactions with John on these boards. I'll remember his puckish intelligence and his generous heart.

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Unread 04-21-2019, 07:37 AM
Chris O'Carroll Chris O'Carroll is offline
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Posts: 1,663

Sad news. Thank you, Ann, for letting us know.

John and I never met in person, but he was a lively correspondent, and he did me a much appreciated good turn by mail years ago. Prize-money checks (or cheques) from Spectator competitions were piling up on my desk and I wasn't bothering to deposit them at my bank because the foreign transaction fees involved would have meant losing money on every win. John volunteered to operate a private bureau de change; I'd sign the magazine's checks over to him and he'd send me equivalent quantities of U.S. currency. On one occasion, I arranged to buy a short stack of his books by that method. He kept a share of my winnings and I got a parcel full of good reading. That's my idea of a good international trade agreement.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 08:09 AM
David Anthony David Anthony is online now
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Iím so sorry to hear that.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 08:26 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,871

This is very sad news. I didn't know him, but John on the sphere always made me smile, even (especially?) when he was completely infuriating people. He seemed a very kind, sensitive man under all the bluster.

Rest in Peace, John.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 08:47 AM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
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Unread 04-21-2019, 08:58 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 8,816

I am very sorry to hear this. I enjoyed reading his books, interacting with him on the Sphere, and meeting him at the West Chester poetry conference. He was an accomplished poet and a funny man. I had missed his presence here, but did not know what he was experiencing in terms of his health, though I knew he had had heart problems in the past.

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Unread 04-21-2019, 09:09 AM
Brian Allgar Brian Allgar is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 4,994

Oh, no! I'm devastated! I was still hoping to meet him on one of my trips to England. I'd noticed that he was strangely absent from Eratosphere recently, but thought perhaps that he was working feverishly on his next book.

My profound sympathy to his family and all his friends, among whom I was pleased to count myself.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 09:57 AM
Catherine Chandler's Avatar
Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
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So sorry to hear this. My condolences to friends and family.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 10:28 AM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 2,149

Back and forth I have typed out a sentence and then deleted it; whatever I write sounds stupid, but:

When I moved to London in 2009, I went to Waterstones expecting to find all of John's books. Of course they were not there except for Making Love to Marilyn Monroe, his anthology of sex poems, which I bought. He kindly mailed me all of his works. Up until that point I was mainly interested and wrote conceptual poetry, and still if I had to label myself I would say my work is conceptual and in that tradition. But reading John something clicked. I suddenly knew how to be both conceptual and formalist. John may have said "Poems are made up of words, not ideas, just as paintings are made up of paint, not subjects" but the key was in his poems. Sam Gwynn asked me to speak on a panel about John's poetry at West Chester one year, and I spoke about this side of John's work: the experimental, the conceptual, the leftfield. So I owe him a lot. In 2012, my boyfriend at the time was director of Sarah Lawrence's poetry festival, and I had John flown to New York to read, which was the first time I met him. We paired him to read with Caroline Bergvall on a Saturday night (which, if John died this morning, was exactly seven years ago to the day), a poet with the exact opposite credentials as John's. After the reading, which I think was the most attended one, Bergvall admitted that she had been concerned; John seemed old-fashioned, Victorian, a relic of rhyme--her antipodal force. But during the reading, she understood: they were coming from the same place, which was sound.

I walked him around New York. He wanted to see the "very tall buildings" to see if they really were that tall, so he did and they were. We met a few times at West Chester after this. I hope that a Selected or Collected is printed; he needs one and deserves one and his earliest books are out of print. An interview I did with him can be read here. I was young and would have asked different questions and toned down the puns, but I'm glad I asked them and I like puns.
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