Someone I was briefly acquainted with died today. A poet named Jack Wiler. He worked with an organization I was involved with at Pace at the end of my Junior year. I only spent a handful of evenings with him leading up to his performance. He was wildly interesting. Funny and a little abrasive, but filled with this really strong spirit that wouldn't quit. Living with AIDS, writing about AIDS, making fun of his disease but being openly scared of it. Still embracing it. Really inspiring to meet someone so talented and so humble, really living his life. I was always surprised at what seemed to be this eternal optimism for life, even if sometimes masked in sarcasm and cynicism. Only my impressions, of course. It was only a week.

I don't want to pretend that I knew him very well, or even at all. I knew what his poetry told me and the conversations we had. I knew he was good. Genuinely good. But still, even knowing just those things, it's a tough loss. Especially knowing that it's, oh, only a trillion times more tough for the people who really knew him and loved him and spent their time with him. His parents, his family, his partner. It's hard not to feel selfish when someone dies, feeling like you shouldn't be upset because you only knew them for a week. But really, every person who enters our lives, even if very briefly, makes some impact. So we can mourn the loss of a memory, I suppose. And emphasize for those who lost much more than that.

I just want to remember him and what I knew of him. And for a poet, it's just that much easier to keep that memory alive. Thankfully, we still have his own words.

I think every day I wake up that it's a blessing
I have today.
A blessing.
- From Jack Wiler's poem "The Poem Where I Say Thank You"

More of his work can be found on his website:




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