The Poetry Project

Remembering Lewis Warsh

Bethany Ides

As if kinship were an adverb to poet/ry, Lewis Warsh of the circulatory social reasoning-being that refuses to let scarcity be a cause.

If everybody knows to write “generous” next to your name, it's because of your devotion to doings-- not measurably, not mine or yours or this person's or that person's-- non-proprietarily, but devoted as if innately, as “genera” that increases exponentially. Exponent to uncontrollable generativity.

Why didn’t I ever notice until now that everything Lewis ever offered me (his friendship, & wealth of stories, a job in the Writing Center at LIU, a real copy of the book I adored but only had a battered, xeroxed version of) were all things that required deeper commitment, closer care & tending to?

Because his sonorous lavish sighingly, his dazzling dance & gleam of hands, of words, of waving over to the table where he’s sitting, saying “bad luck problems” like natural comings & goings, his re-orienting origin stories: "All the money in the world won't make me rat on my friends" … "We're dependable people, the ones who go swimming in the dark but don't touch" … "I can hear the sound of my voice saying something I already said" … "Take the syllable as heartbeat & press your ear to the pavement" … distracted me, confused me, because he never seemed to require proof that I was (or would become) who/what I claimed. Implicit recognition sufficed. He told me adjuncting was good for people like us who value flexibility more than clout, everybody talks about it like it’s so bad but it’s not so bad, you can write, he said.

In Memoriam: Lewis Warsh (1944–2020)