Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dean Young

A letter from Tony Hoagland:

Dear Friends,

If you are reading this, you are probably a friend of Dean Young and/or a friend of poetry. And you may have heard that our friend is in a precarious position. Dean needs a heart transplant now. He also needs your assistance now.

Over the past 10 or 15 years, Dean has lived with a degenerative heart condition--congestive heart failure due to idiopathic hypotropic cardiomyopathy. After periods of more-or-less remission, in which his heart was stabilized and improved with the help of medications, the function of his heart has worsened. Now, radically.

For the last two years he has had periods in which he cannot walk a block without resting. Medications which once worked have lost their efficacy. He is in and out of the hospital, unable to breathe without discomfort, etc. Currently, Dean's heart is pumping at an estimated 8% of normal volume.

In the past, doctors have been impressed with his ability to function in this condition. But now things are getting quickly worse. Dean has been placed on the transplant list at Seton Medical Center Austin, and has just been upgraded to a very critical category. He's got to get a heart soon, or go to intermediate drastic measures like a mechanical external pump.

Whatever the scenario, the financial expenses, both direct and collateral, will be massive. Yes, he has sound health insurance, but even so, he will have enormous bills not covered by insurance--which is where you can help, with your financial support.

If you know Dean, you know that his non-anatomical heart, though hardly normal, is not malfunctioning, but great in scope, affectionate and loyal. And you know that his poetry is what the Elizabethans would have called "one of the ornaments of our era"--hilarious, heartbreaking, courageous, brilliant and already a part of the American canon.

His 10-plus books, his long career of passionate and brilliant teaching, most recently as William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin; his instruction and mentorship of hundreds of younger poets; his many friendships; his high, reckless and uncompromised vision of what art is: all these are reasons for us to gather together now in his defense and support.

Joe Di Prisco, one of Dean's oldest friends, is chairing a fundraising campaign conducted through the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT). NFT is a nonprofit organization that has been assisting transplant patients with advocacy and fundraising support since 1983.

On behalf of Dean, myself, and the principle of all our friendships in art, I ask you to give all you can. Thanks, my friends.


Tony Hoagland

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bahrain, How Well You Know Me.

I don't know if this is a Bon Jovi tribute band, or a tribute to the tribute band Bon Giovi, but does it really matter? If only I didn't have to go to a conference in Beirut at the same time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beneath the Radar

I spend a lot of time at school, and it can be stressful, particularly at this point in the semester, so I like to go outside a few times a day and walk around. I try to notice something that might otherwise be easy to miss. Sometimes I take a camera, sometimes not.

Here are a few things I noticed last week that many might not know exists right under our collective VCUQ noses.

This plant has sent up this ginormous stalk, probably 6 feet fall, that in turn is sending out smaller shoots that look like they are going to flower. It looks like a giant flower is going to emerge from the very top. I don't imagine this happens very often. I've been checking on it every day. I hope it's not one of those plants that creates spectacular flowers for like 10 minutes, or just on weekends.

In the desert one craves color, and I found this wonderfully colorful plant (this shot is straight from the camera, no photoshopping) near the smoking area. 

Also behind VCUQ, near pallets, sheds and giant trash bins is the "Cat Cafe" where some of Education City's cats come to eat. The cats that can be caught are taken to the vet, neutered, and then brought back to Ed City. This keeps the cat population way down, but every now and then we get kittens. There are 3 in this litter, two orange tabbies and this grey and orange tabby.  This is the boldest of the 3 and allows me to pet it so long as there is food involved.

It's back to work tomorrow. Who knows what I'll find.