The Poetry Project

Remembering Lewis Warsh

Sarah Ghoshal

When I was in graduate school for my MFA in creative writing, I had a major case of imposter syndrome. But I kept writing. And Lewis Warsh, my mentor, my thesis advisor, and one of the best poets of his, mine, and in my opinion, all time, got me to believe I deserved any success that came my way. I was honored to be part of the first graduating MFA class in 2008.

He encouraged me to do the summer program at Naropa, where I studied with Sonia Sanchez and learned much about myself. He talked me into interning at The Poetry Project even though I lived in Jersey and had to stay long, late days to do it... And I treasured every moment, setting up chairs, buying cheese and wine from local shops, watching John Ashbery read his poems at that big, old church.

I still tell stories of Lewis. How he told me if something sounded like it was from a Hallmark card, how he once told me, "That's enough now, Sarah. You've written your life up until this point. Now write the rest."

His stories of tooling around New York with poems in his pockets that he would give to people in the subway, those are stories that stay with me. Once, I found an old book of his poems at The Strand. He was maybe 25 years old in the author photo, and I made him sign it for a laugh. I might have been a poet without Lewis, but never the self aware one that he always pushed me to be.

Rest easily, Lewis Warsh, a poet with more to say than most. You always knew how to end the poem.

In Memoriam: Lewis Warsh (1944–2020)