It was only near the end of his life that I learned my father mentored other poets. I have vague memories of writers visiting us at our apartment in Manhattan, but never realized there might be more to it. Although I do have one stellar memory of my father standing in our kitchen holding a tape recorder microphone while a poet friend read aloud with gusto, when I blithely emerged from a nearby bathroom with the toilet in full flush and ruined it for them.
One of those he mentored was Irene Latham, a poet and writer in Birmingham. Irene later successfully nominated him to be the Poet Laureate of Alabama. To show his gratitude my father later dedicated “Climbing the Sky” to her in his book Overheard In A Drugstore. For her part, Irene was inspired to write a poem of her own about my father.
I Want to Be Eighty-Five
I want to be eighty- five
tucked between two hills
in a house that smells of morning
where a blind poodle sleeps on the chair
next to the white chair where you like to sit
I want to be eighty- five
with a jar of pencils worn to nub
but words like monkeys
swinging from vine to vine
then sliding down
into my mouth, my lips, the air
then finding a place in the white space
on a piece of pink paper
I want to be eighty- five
with a finch in a cage chirp chirping
while the one I love is out dancing
and Van Gogh sings of night from above the door,
and when you return
I say, when
I’ll bring in the black cat for the sake of the birds,
pour you a cup of coffee –
black, with a dash of cream
and two spoons of sugar.
Irene Latham. from WHAT CAME BEFORE (Negative Capability Press, 2007)
Andrew Glaze and Irene Latham. Photo © Irene Latham
Nola was another of the poets that my father mentored. In 2000, my father wrote:
“In an era more and more boringly wedded to the mechanical, the safe and academically careful, Nola Perez is one of those high romantics who delight in taking chances, in making a splendid galleon bound for the sunset with all sails set, indifferent to storms. As in the title poem of The Continent of Dreams, she knows all about the darkness underneath our pilgrimage. She delights in travel poems like “Crossing At Chellah”, which are not really travel poems at all, but meditations. And she has the strongest possible consciousness of place and its iron-bound fetters of memory as in “The Returning”. Her languages is often quite beautiful and quite equal to the task she has set herself.”
And in 2015, Nola wrote the following tribute:
“My husband Andre Perez was attached to the American Embassy in Paris, France, for his FAA mission. We lived in Paris for four years. When we returned to the U. S., it was to Miami, where Andre had responsibility for South, Central America and the Caribbean. I experienced severe reverse culture shock, since in no way did I want to leave Paris, place of my heart. I actually went into therapy, but the person who helped the most with my transition was none other than Andy Glaze. A mutual friend of ours in New York, wrote me about Andy and told me to contact him. I did, and Andy and Adriana took us into their lives. I began to feel at home in Miami.
At one point, I asked Andy to work with me on my poetry, and become my teacher. Andy said, “Let me think about it, because I don’t want to do it because I like you; I want to do it because I want to.” Later he said, “it’s OK.” Thereafter, we met in his home once a week, sitting together at a little table. I learned more from him than any other mentor I had worked with, and I have worked with many fine poets. I keep a letter he wrote, in which he critiqued a poem to highlight an important problem in my writing. Recently, I shared a portion of Andy’s letter (dated April 24, 1996) with a newly organized poetry group here on Amelia Island. His intuitive comments are ones that have most influenced and improved my writing:
“I wanted to talk to you about the poems you sent me a bit ago. You have such a verbal felicity and such an excellent metaphoric sense. Your basic problem is that the rush and words and enthusiasm frequently bury the structure and simplicity at the heart of your poems…the rock center is there, but I think you are so fond of words and figures that you disable yourself from cutting them properly. A poet has to be two people—first, the Dionysian enthusiast who creates the poem in a rush and moment of emotion, and second, the hard-hearted absolutely ruthless technician who strips it down to what the poem essentially says, no matter much heartache it takes to say farewell to words you love. You must find the least you can get away with and still maintain the poem, saving the best words and metaphors and discarding the rest, dispensing with explanations and directions. The poem must say these things with metaphor rather than with explanation. I hope you won’t hate me.”
Well, I didn’t hate him. I took his counsel to heart, and I became a better poet.”
Nola dedicated her book The Alchemy of Loss “For Andrew Glaze and the Miami Days”.http://www.nolaperez.com/
Nola Perez with Andrew Glaze.
Linda dedicated her poetry book “River Effect” to Andrew Glaze and one other supportive friend. She first met Andrew Glaze in the summer of 1948 at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, when they began dating. They soon became engaged for a short time but broke it off after awhile. At that point they lost touch for multiple years, but eventually they reconnected and began a mutually supportive correspondence, trading poems and views on life, until Glaze’s death in 2016.
Norman was integral to the publication of my father’s first book, Damned Ugly Children, because he told the publisher to go ahead and do the book after their original advisor (anthologist Oscar Williams) died unexpectedly. My father and Norman quickly became good friends and began a common practice, among poets, of sending drafts of their work to each other for honest and trusted feedback. After Norman’s book Norman Rosten Selected Poems was published in 1979, Norman gave a copy of the book to my father with the handwritten inscription, “To Andy, poet, friend (see p. 154) — For advice & Encouragement (I needed both) in putting this damn thing together! Many Thanks — Norman. 12/’79”
Page 54 has the following poem. It is about a bicycle my father rode to and from work for awhile. Made with small wheels, it was designed for city use and came apart into two halves for easy transport and storage. I’m pretty sure I remember it came into favor after my father had the seat and wheel stolen from a regular bicycle while it was chained to a post outside his 5th Avenue office building. According to my stepmom, it was a French bicycle made by Peugeot. After Rosten died, my father wrote a poem of his own about Rosten, titled, “Ghost Writer”. That poem is the subject of one of my blog entries. You can find it in the side index that lists poems by title on the HOME page.
The Split Bicycle
(for Andrew Glaze)
Watching him clamp the sections together
(an anti-theft model),
I envision each half going its separate way:
one spinning downtown,
the other into northern New Jersey,
reunited somehow in Albany or Montreal.
And where’s the rider in all this?
He’s on both.
Perfectly happy on the rear wheel,
afloat, brakeless, pedaling away like mad,
I’d be the last to remind the man he’s bound to hit a wall,
or run right through a girl at a bus stop.
On the front half,
astride the handlebars,
he’s a cool driver,
steering gives him poise
and of course the hand brakes inspire confidence.
But without pedals
his energy is slack,
he can coast but not drive uphill or pass a firetruck.
Actually, his talent’s distributed equally.
And whether half the bicycle is chained outside
or all of it brought in from the cold
is a philospher’s trap:
what counts is the coffee,
the whole man,
The moment at rest, and the writer’s misery.
By Norman Rosten ©1979, from Norman Rosten Selected Poems.
Norman Rosten in the early 70’s, photo by Andrew Glaze, property of the Andrew Glaze Estate.
Pablo Medina is a Cuban-American poet and novelist who grew up in New York City. He is currently a Professor, and Director of the Masters of Fine Arts Department, at Emerson College in Boston. At the front of his 2005 poetry book, Points of Balance, Medina inscribed “Andy your voice appears here and there in these poems. Pablo 5/20/05”.
In 2015, Medina wrote the following tribute for Andrew Glaze:
“I met Andrew Glaze in Miami, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. I’d just moved there and was searching for good poets like a crazed Diogenes. “Call me Andy,” he said. “I don’t want to be associated with that horrible storm.” Andy was gentle and welcoming, the complete antithesis of the hurricane. Whatever fury was in him came out in his poetry, which was then, and is still, determinedly engaged. I left Miami after two years and eventually Andy did too, but I have remained a steadfast reader and student of his work. I have learned from him how to be true to the craft, despite the many disappointments a poet must endure, and how to stand with dignity, grace and humor—always humor–before the storms that threaten to blow us away. Thank you, Andy, for your person, your friendship, and your extraordinary poetry.”
Schmitt is a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Miami, and the author of multiple collections of poems. Along with his other work, “Interview with Andrew Glaze” is a piece that was published in Birmingham Poetry Review in 2000.
In 2015, he wrote the following tribute:
“I first met the feisty but marvelously gentle and modest man called Andy Glaze at Books and Books, the hub of Miami’s arts community, in about 1990. Andy had just moved to Miami from New York, after his wife inherited a house there. Although nearly forty years separated us, we shared a friendship in poetry. Andy became like the favorite uncle I never had, especially after my father’s passing in 1996. I have been proud and grateful to consider Andrew Glaze my friend. Eventually, he and his wife Adriana moved back to Birmingham, thus completing a circle. Miami’s literary scene, and my own daily life, are poorer without him.
“Birmingham and Alabama,” he once wrote, “to me, are unfinished and unfinishable poems.” One hopes that Andy Glaze’s poems are never finished.