Born: May 22, 1927 Washington, D.C
Died: July 26, 2017 Sacramento, CA (90)
GORDON GRIGSBY was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up near Philadelphia. After high school, he went to the Navy, Gettysburg College, Penn State University, the Army, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Since Wisconsin he lived in the Midwest and taught at The Ohio State University. He lived many years in Mt. Air, north of Columbus. He taught in Iran and Malaysia and traveled widely.
He was praised by his students as an inspiration for their work and growth as poets and writers. Through his founding of Evening Street Press in 2007, he was able to reach out to many more writers.
He published poems in Prairie Schooner, West Branch, The Louisville Review, West Coast Review, The Mickle Street Review, Great River Review, Southern Poetry Review, Berkeley Poets Cooperative, Stonecloud, The Ohio Journal, and other magazines; a few translations (Rilke, Borges, Trakl) in Cornfield Review and The Ohio Journal; and critical prose in Antioch Review, Per Se, South Atlantic Quarterly, and other journals. His poems have appeared in several anthologies, including And What Rough Beast, Poems at the End of the Century; Poetry Ohio; and Fresh Water.
He published three books: Tornado Watch, Mid-Ohio Elegies, and Dawn Night Fall ; one chapbook in the Greatest Hits Series; From The Bounty to Wartime Nights: Growing Up During World War II; and Sacramento, presented to a class of freshman in 1995. Tornado Watch won a Dasher Poetry Prize in Ohio.
His final book, a collection of tributes to persons and places will be completed by his wife Barbara Bergmann. Starlight Roof, about the effects of music and the War on the Greatest Generation will have to be inferred from his other work..
Taught Poetry and Modern Literature: The Ohio State University
Born to (Helen) Suzanne Kay Grigsby and Louis Sinclair Grigsby in Washington, D.C., predeceased by brother Donald Grigsby and his wife, Evelyn, Gordon’s second wife, Carol Ann Cavallaro, and granddaughter, Haylie Jordan. Survived by brother, Channing Grigsby and wife K.C.; first wife Mary Elizabeth Hilton Grigsby Hafley and third wife Barbara Bergmann and Bradley Davis, Jeffrey Davis; children Michael Grigsby, spouse Suzanne Heckman; Susan Grigsby, spouse Francis Aryana; Ann Grigsby Misiolek, spouse T. J. Misiolek; Andrew Grigsby, spouse Heather Wells; grandchildren Trey Misiolek, Nicole Misiolek, Emma-Leigh Jordan, Benjamin Davis, Noah Davis, Zoey Wells Grigsby.
In lines that are taut, lean and lucid, Gordon Grigsby’s poems embody the substrate and the epic story of the world from which we came and in which we now struggle to survive. This is a necessary, indeed an essential book for our time. —Ernest Lockridge’s most recent book: Skeleton Key to the Suicide of My Father Ross Lockridge, Jr, author of Raintree County
In poem after piercing poem—“The Light Here,” “An Ocean Sound,” “Nancy’s Sandwich Shop Heightened Consciousness”—Grigsby weaves our intense human moments of love, sorrow, or joy into the beauty and grandeur of our indifferent earth. The art of his vision is unique and invaluable. —Julian Markels, author of The Marxian Imagination
Like James Wright before him, Gordon Grigsby is an essential Mid-Western poet, a hard-scrabbled farmer of words, a steel-worker tending to the furnaces of an imagination that flares in darkness: “the praised madness that trembles the air.” The geography of Ohio, the names of its vanished Indian tribes, the smell of a dead child and the poisoned rain, are here given their full measure of terrible beauty. —Michael Salcman, author of The Clock Made of Confetti and The Enemy of Good Is Better
Dawn Night Fall explores the interplay between sorrow and hope, tragic realities and the mind’s freedom, through startlingly original images and ideas. As in Walden, Grigsby uses his house on a small river in Mt. Air, Ohio as a way into the natural world, ancient and personal history, world travels, and complex combinations of pain and luminosity: ashes of a premature baby, woman and children waiting in corrugated tin shanties, a loved father lonely in Sun City, the glow of needles on a forest floor, streetlamp glint on everyone’s hair. Readers are richly rewarded for his extraordinary vision. —Jan Schmittauer, Associate Professor, Ohio University
These are wise, beautiful poems of love and loss, an elegiac celebration of our brief moments in human history and the natural world. No leaf, no strand of seaweed is too small to escape Grigsby’s tender attention, as he recalls places and people who spring brilliantly to life through his words. —Donna Spector, author of The Woman Who Married Herself
Gordon Grigsby’s poems are wonderfully attuned to his world, his time—to our world, our time. His work powerfully evokes how he and we experience “double living,” always “stepping twice in the same river.” The history he thus calls up is ancient, recent, and contemporary. And it is universal (through the particular, as in “Hotel on the Cliff at Delphi, November 2002”), cultural (as in “The Hurricane, Robin Hood, and the Bounty,” where we get an ode to Jon Hall, Errol Flynn, and Clark Gable), and intensely personal (as in the past life and relationships brought out in poems like “The Vanished Motel”). Dawn Night Fall is a deeply moving collection. —Morris Beja, author of James Joyce: A Literary Life and Tell Us About . . . A Memoir.
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