Laurence Goldstein — Poet, Scholar, Professor, Editor (1943-2023)

On Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from Nancy Goldstein that one of my most cherished friends had died this past Sunday. A cherished friend is one who is irreplaceable, and most certainly at this late stage in my life, there is no one quite like him that I anticipate meeting and bonding with. Larry had enormous reserves of intellectual acuity, and it amazed me that someone could sustain that capacity and be such a kind and generous person. Larry Goldstein was the most modest man of accomplishment in his field I ever met, and I profoundly regret that I did not have a chance to get to know him earlier in my life.

I suppose some of the delay in not getting to know him until around ten years ago was due to my late-blooming as an academic. Larry had already been a professor for three and a half decades when I got my first tenure-track appointment, and the fact of the matter is that we traveled in different circles for most of our lives, though these circles were orbiting like twin planets at diametrical points around the same sun. That sun was Los Angeles poetry, which Larry loved and cared about more than any editor or critic outside of those living in Los Angeles. His book, POETRY LOS ANGELES, was not listed on the recent compilation published by the Los Angeles Times of essential books about Los Angeles, but for me it is THE book that I would love readers interested in West Coast poetry to start with.

One can find obituary statements at the following links, though I would like to add to it that Larry was a very, very fine poet, and it is his poems I look forward to spending my free time with in the weeks and months to come. One of his colleagues at the University of Michigan, Alan Wald, commented on this aspect of his life in an announcement composed for the Department of English at UM: “He was a poet and scholar of the highest intelligence and character.” If Larry was able to give assiduous precedence to other poets during his decades of work as editor of Michigan Quarterly Review, it was no doubt because at the core of his awareness he knew the value and heft of his own poems, and that they would continue to hover in other’s imaginations long after anyone could hear him read the poems out loud, in person. We now have the person of his poems to keep us company, though that hardly suffices for what his family and friends would prefer: the unmistakable gift of himself.

Laurence Goldstein – January 5, 1943- April 16, 2023

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