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Unread 07-03-2018, 07:49 AM
Catherine Chandler's Avatar
Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Canada and Uruguay
Posts: 5,721
Blog Entries: 33


In bidding farewell to our friend, I would like to share some of his final words:

From "Deliverance Day":

Let Thomas Tallis and Josquin des Prez
be my composers on Deliverance Day.

From "Antistrophe: Holy Cross Cemetery" (from his "Ode: Yes, Lord, But Not Yet"):

Only our ashes, no skeletal bones,
poet I have engraved on both our stones.

And finally, from his last poem, "Lonesome Dove Revisited", composed in his head several days before his death, which he dictated to his brother, Jim. It is based on happy remembrances of thirty years of hunting with his friend, Steve Syrdal:

Hip fractured, riddled with cancer, nearly deadó
"By God, Hell of a party!" Murphy said.

Adieu, mon ami!


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Unread 07-03-2018, 11:48 AM
Brian Geffre Brian Geffre is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Glyndon MN.
Posts: 36

He was working constantly up until his last days. The poetry poured out of him life drops of 80-proof blood. One of the last times I talked to him, he expressed his desire to talk to King David, St. Michael, and Alan. I can see him sitting with the three of them having a good laugh. I will miss him.
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Unread 07-03-2018, 01:02 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Monterey, CA USA
Posts: 1,961

I feel a bit of an impostor posting here in that so many of you knew Tim so much longer, better, and more richly than I did. Although I did meet him in person once, at West Chester, I only really knew him here, and I don't wish to piggy-back on your deeper grief in an unseemly way...

Nonetheless, I remember my interactions with Tim here with great fondness, and he was kind and supportive to me about my work, while nonetheless holding me to high standards. I loved his poetry and his sense of humor (does anybody have to hand his stock description of his complex and perhaps paradoxical subject-position? It went something like "Gay eagle scout hog farmer atheist Catholic Irish North Dakota venture capitalist poet..."). Between the time difference, my insomnia, and his early morning hunter's hours, there were a few occasions when he and I interacted here, and it felt like we were the only people awake in the world. At least we were the only ones logged-in here.

I am enjoying the remembrances of those of you who were close to him. Rhina's "noisy sweetness" (or is it sweet noisiness?) really captures what my experience of knowing Tim here was like.

Godspeed, friend.
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Unread 07-03-2018, 01:16 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 5,782

Apologies in advance for the length of this, but I worried that the shorter, simpler version that I posted and retracted earlier in this thread might cause offense. My feelings about Tim are complicated, and I want to take enough time to do them, and him, justice.

Like many former prodigies, Tim felt tremendous pressure to compete with his younger self. The intimidatingly high expectations that come with great potential can be paralyzing. Ironically, though, each success--although initially reassuring and validating--ultimately compounds the problem by setting expectations even higher.

After the loss of Alan Sullivan as his "Editor from Hell," Tim worried that his own poetic career might be irretrievably over. He knew that having someone else help him to rein in his initially-unbridled artistic exuberances resulted in far more effective poems. However, he also knew from long experience that his workshop participation here did not always go well for all parties concerned: Tim often had difficulty distinguishing critiques of his poetry from attacks on his self-worth.

Fortunately, via e-mail and telephone, friends like Rhina P. Espaillat, Catherine Chandler, Jennifer Reeser, and others were able and willing to give him the "tough love" he felt he needed to continue producing work of which he could be (justly) proud.

I tried to be one of those people, but I lacked the requisite patience and diplomacy, and bowed out years ago. I'm very grateful to those who stayed the course.

The topic that Tim and I discussed most often over the years--sometimes quite heatedly, heh--was whether severe self-doubt and narcissism are mutually exclusive (as Tim always insisted) or cause and effect (as I still think).

Tim and I had opposite coping mechanisms for narcissistic anxiety: his substances (nicotine, alcohol), versus my anorexia; his recklessly hurried submissions--sometimes only hours after posting something for comment here, which exasperated many of us when our suggestions were brushed off with, "Well, it was good enough for [Prestigious Editor]"--versus my barely publishing or recording anything; his public self-flagellation for various character flaws, real and perceived, versus my tendency to hide or downplay my strengths, lest even my best not be good enough.

In Tim's memory, I offer his Eratosphere friends the following short and imperfect performances:
"In paradisum"

"May Holy Angels Lead You into Paradise"
To keep myself from obsessively re-recording them forever, I gave myself only three tries at each before hastily posting them. I'm confident that Tim would have approved. (Then again, he might also have pointed out that this post's lengthy focus on my own shortcomings, while supposedly honoring someone else, smacks of narcissism. And he would have been right.)

The first link is a Gregorian chant, traditionally sung as an antiphon at the end of the funeral Mass. Its melodic highlight is the last bit: "et cum Lazaro, quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem" ("and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest"). Those words seem particularly appropriate for Tim, since I know that the St. Vincent de Paul Society ministry to the poor in Fargo had a special place in his heart.

The second link is an English paraphrase (not really a translation) of the "In paradisum" chant, set to the tune of "Londonderry Aire" ("O Danny Boy"). I prefer to sing and play at the same time, but when I recorded it that way, the single mic picked up the 'ukulele twice as loud as my voice. So I re-recorded the song as separate tracks, which are not quite in sync in a few places. That really bothers me. I hope that others will be able to enjoy it, anyway. It's a lovely arrangement, and the words (note the Lazarus part again!) are balm for the soul.
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Unread 07-03-2018, 02:10 PM
William Thompson William Thompson is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Troy, Alabama USA
Posts: 68

Julie Steiner,

How lovely!

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Unread 07-03-2018, 02:50 PM
Siham Karami Siham Karami is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 3,192

Somehow I find myself at a complete loss for words. Rest In Peace, Tim. My interactions with him were basically peripheral, except for a few personal exchanges, deeply felt, via pm, where I caught a glimpse of his depth and authenticity. Yet now I’m completely overwhelmed with grief as if I knew him all my life. A good soul. Thanks to all who have helped in his final, quite amazing, days, and also to those who’ve shared their feelings and memories here. This is our common fate. May his memory and still-living poetic voice keep on giving us all inspiration and even hope.

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Unread 07-03-2018, 04:39 PM
Robert Pecotte's Avatar
Robert Pecotte Robert Pecotte is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cavalier, ND
Posts: 633
Default Julie

Dear Julie,

I took the liberty of sending the link to your soundcloud recordings to Tim's brother Jim, so that he could share your lovely recordings in honor of Tim with his family. They will love them and take great comfort in them. And we sang the paraphrase (though not set to Danny Boy) at the close of his Funeral Mass while Msgr. Laliberte incensed Tim's mortal remains.

Pax Tecum,

Fr. Rob

PS: I will post more on the funeral a bit later, I need to collect my thoughts first.

PPS: I wish that a Solemn Requiem had been offered, then we could have partook of the great and ancient Dies Irae, which Tim loved: the link has the Latin with an English Translation. I can't tell you how powerful it is to partake of during the Requiem, especially with a mixed male and female voice Schola.

Last edited by Robert Pecotte; 07-03-2018 at 04:49 PM.
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Unread 07-03-2018, 08:21 PM
Maryann Corbett's Avatar
Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Posts: 9,578

I've been back from the funeral for a couple of hours now. It was about four hours each way; Bill Carpenter drove and I rode shotgun. There's a lot I might say; I'll just say it was a grace to be there. And I met Tim's old hunting buddy Steve Syrdal as well as Fr. Rob and some of Tim's family.

This poem, framed and in beautiful calligraphy, was on the table that displayed Tim's photograph and his books and was printed in the order of service.

Razing the Woodlot (for Vincent R. Murphy)

Here stands the grove our tenant plans to fell.
The homesteaders who planted this tree claim
fled North Dakota when the Dust Bowl came.
Their foursquare farmhouse is a roofless shell;
their tended shelterbelt, a den for fox
and dumpground for machinery and rocks.

The woodlot seeds its pigweed in our loam,
and windstorms topple poplars on the field;
but for a few wasted acres' yield
we'll spare the vixen and her cubs their home
and leave unburied these decaying beams
to teach us the temerity of dreams.
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Unread 07-03-2018, 08:35 PM
Catherine Chandler's Avatar
Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Canada and Uruguay
Posts: 5,721
Blog Entries: 33


I'm so glad you and Bill were able to attend the funeral. I was there in spirit, as I'm sure many of us were.

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Unread 07-04-2018, 02:11 AM
John Beaton's Avatar
John Beaton John Beaton is offline
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Location: Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 7,518
Default Tim's Funeral

I wish I could have been there, but geography's not kind.

Thanks to the two of you for attending. He was important to the poetry community and it was fitting that two of its members made the significant effort to drive to Fargo.
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