Archive for December 17, 2012

RIP: Jake Adam York

Today, when I received a note in my inbox from the New England Review mourning the loss of Jake Adam York, I couldn’t believe it.  I just couldn’t.  I searched the Internet for confirmation hoping that it was one of those cruel hoaxes.  But it’s not a hoax.  It’s true.

I have to preface my words here by saying that Jake and I were not personal friends.  Indeed, we only corresponded a few times through email.  We “met” when I first started my blog and I posted his book, Murder Ballads on my Christmas Wish List.  He contacted me and in his email, he offered to send me a copy.  While I thought that was very kind of him, I explained that Anthony, who saw my list, had already purchased Murder Ballads for me. Later, Copper Nickel (where he was an editor) accepted one of my poems, and we corresponded a bit then, joking about the weather in Western New York.  (Jake had attended Cornell)

Still, when people would ask me who I thought was the best  contemporary poet writing today, Jake would always be one of the first names I would mention.  While Murder Ballads is still my favorite book of his, I loved his other collections as well.  He approached the culture of the American South, in all its flawed yet in many ways, beautiful history, with a thoughtful, lyrical voice.  His poem, “Elegy for James Knox” is one of my favorites, and a work I return to again and again.

I never met Jake in person.  He was one of those poets I admired from afar. And lately, because I have been thinking a lot of the next life — where ever or whatever that may be, I do hope that somehow we will meet.

RIP: Jake Adam York