Note on Stephen Paulus

Stephen Paulus (August 24, 1949 – October 19, 2014)

I have yet to write an entry in which I address the poetry of the late Bill Knott, who was one of my favorite poets of the past half-century, so I feel somewhat abashed that I take the time to note the death of Stephen Paulus, whose work I was not aware of until I read his obituary. I am only slightly older than Paulus, so it is difficult to suppress the twitch of oncoming accompaniment. In reading the obituaries, I could not help but be impressed by his variety and depth of commitment to the complex possibilities still within the grasp of the classical tradition. No doubt there are composers at work who are contemporary equivalents in music to Jack Spicer, and who regard Paulus’s work as merely effusions of mainstream temperament. Those who can only honor the radical, however, reduce their auditory environments to an evolutionary oddity. I have a job to go to, and will be doing so for the rest of my life. With luck, I will have a day off at some point during which I can begin to become familiar with the music of one of my most esteemed contemporaries.

(Wednesday morning; October 22, 2014)