February 24, 2010

Richard Boes Memorial Reading, February 13

Richard Boes was a novelist, playwright, actor, veteran of the Viet Nam War, who died last year from cancer. This reading was part of the monthly Woodstock Poetry Society & Festival hosted by Phillip Levine. I had read with Richard at the Colony Cafe (just down the street) & became friends with him during his last year while he was undergoing treatment at the Albany VA Hospital. I also arranged readings/book-signings for him from his novels, The Last Dead Soldier Left Alive (iUniverse 2007) & Last Train Out (iUniverse 2008). Richard's struggles infused his work but his talent turned those struggles into powerful prose, into art.

The afternoon included readings by poets who knew Richard, even some by those that didn't, readings from his works by his friends & remembrances by friends, fellow veterans & family, all ably linked by host Phillip Levine who had worked closely with Richard on his books & plays. Among the poets who read were Stephen Dodge, Paul Clemente, Dafna Rosenblum, Donald Lev, Michael Pacat, Dayl Wise (who had helped organize the event), Larry Winters (pictured at left) & Alison Koffler, Mickie Shorr & Philip Guareni. I was particularly moved by Larry Winters' poems "Nam Brother Waiting at the Station," & "I'm Here Because I've Been There".  Jay Wenk also read from his soon-to-be-published memoir of World War II.

Richard's voice was present in the readings by   from the opening section to Last Train Out, & Dayl Wise & I both read sections from The Last Dead Soldier Left Alive.

Richard's nephew Brett Boes (pictured at left) read his poem, published in the Chronogram, on Richard's death, "The Fallen Soldier," then the recent poem "Love Never Leaves." Other remembrances of Richard's life were shared (in addition to many of those already cited) by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (who knew Richard from film school), Fern Neeson, Branda Miller (another friend from film school), Jane Seiba & Tom Jarmusch (Jim's younger brother who shared a wonderful story of being at CBGB's in New York City with Richard & then credited Richard with saving his life by helping him to get treatment for his substance abuse problems -- in fact I was so entranced by his story that I forgot to take his picture).

It was a lesson on how a person, just by being himself, & despite issues & struggles that destroy others, can touch so many lives, & how being an artist can mean being part of a community that comes together to help those that need it.

In addition to the photos posted here, I am posting more photos on my flickr site.

No comments: