Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

David Fenza: For Liam was Many

Liam Rector 1949  –  2007
For he was a modernist & an Old­-Testament patriarch, 
let us make it new;
let us thwart our enemies 
& exalt our chosen ones. 
For he was many people to many people,
let us fructify & be multiple.
For he was sentimental & tender among the bitter & broken,
let us do the same. 
For he was bitter & brash among the falsely sweet, 
let us, likewise, capsize the day’s decorum. 
For he was a beast among those who pretended they were not animals,
let us revel in our appetites & bodies.
For he was an intellect among dullards,
let us remind America how to question, 
think, & discern.
For he was so curious about the shapes & pressures
of our American lives, he made each friend
feel like the genius-author of a great story.
For he was wild, he gave the modest & the insecure
the courage to seize larger days
& nights that stretch with pleasure.
For he was so contrary, let us disagree
on who he was.
For consistency was morbid to him
in the commotions of time passing,
for he despised the idealist who could no longer 
savor the imperfections of here & now.
For he loved decision & action over
good intentions & liberal pieties,
for he loved the vigor of doing & building
& moving on.  
For he would listen to W.H. Auden one moment, 
& then James Brown the next.
For he argued as liberty’s advocate
to harass Evil Nannies—
the trolls, censors, & the demagogues.
For he watched Notting Hill 
& Glenngarry Glenn Ross
more than a dozen times each.
For he had so many wild enthusiasms,
we gather the spirits of unlikely places. 
For he loved the future as it hurtles toward us,
lingers only a moment,
& recedes into Nostalgia.
For he loved sports cars & Vespas
& the wind in his teeth. 
For he loved fine shoes & he liberated them from stores
& took them on adventures.
For he loved poetry & song,
we will stride into the day as it dims
& hum & say the verses he loved.

Liam Rector was an American poet, essayist and educator. He administered literary programs at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. He was also the director, most recently, of the graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College. Rector committed suicide by gunshot in his Greenwich Village apartment on August 15, 2007.


D.W. Fenza is the author of a book-length poem, The Interlude. As publications manager and then as executive director, he served the Association of Writers & Writing Programs for three decades. His essays and poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Free State Review, Vox Populi, and other magazines. 

6 comments on “David Fenza: For Liam was Many

  1. Frank Bidart
    August 19, 2020

    Superbly done.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Wooten
    August 18, 2020

    Thank you,David. I was the first person admitted to the Writing Seminars by Liam himself many years ago. He was one of my heroes then and remains so even now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. johnlawsonpoet
    August 18, 2020

    Wonderfully dynamic tribute; I feel like I met the man. And, as someone who’s watched “Glengarry Glen Ross” at least a dozen times myself, now I’m looking forward to “Notting Hill,” which I’ve never seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kim4true
    August 18, 2020

    Best lines:
    “For he loved fine shoes & he liberated them from stores
    & took them on adventures.”

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2020 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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