The privilege of being a poet: 100 Blessings con’d

I had a friend for a long time who was a self described “Buddhist, Chicano, surrealist poet,” Mr. Ronnie Burk.


Over the years Ronnie came to stay with me at my various residences throughout the country. in the 80s upon his first arrival to San Francisco he came directly to my home .  Before that, however, he had visited me in my home in Chicago and later, he’d come to see me in my home in Albuquerque and later–life was brought us together in the East Coast again.  We joked and said he was having writer residences with me. (He never made a living from his writing.)  It was in my residence in South Hadley that I recall us sitting in the over 200 year old kitchen of the old mansion I was sharing then, with my young son and also with the Russian poet, Joseph Brodsky and his new young family.

I remember that day so clearly the way we remember important moments.  Ronnie and I never ran out of things to talk about.  On this occasion he said he didn’t care if he’d be remembered as a major poet or a minor one.  It would have been an honor to have lived the life of a poet.

It has been an honor for me, too.  These days, in these times I struggled–swimming upstream as it were–to get back to writing.  As I did, I went to poetry.  In addition to meeting my goal this year of finishing a new collection of poems, MY BOOK OF THE DEAD,

I have been blessed to have these poems appear in literary journals.  Literary journals are the heart & soul of new and daring work.


I was also blessed to co-edited a special edition of such a journal, on immigration.   It is always an honor to support and promote new and emerging voice–

within the context of editor, translator or in the same venue

As Xicanista spiritual mentor,

workshop facilitator and professor–








Whether as independent scholar, endowed chair holder or public thinker,

it is always an honor to have lived a life I imagined as a girl born and raised on Chicago’s near West Side.  My first goal then was to be a visual artist and some form of activist, social worker or teacher.  I dreamt of participating in social change.

One of my great blessing in life has been to be a poet.  My love of reading and desire to participate in the world let me there.  I have received degrees but not in literature or writing.  It was my constant fervent desire to hone the craft that led me there.

On my list I add the blessing my long life as a poet.  I aspire to continue as long as I live and breathe and have presence of mind.