My father, Bill Bright, died yesterday, at 1:45 p.m, mountain time.
I'm grieving hard. Every time I turn my head, I can't believe he's not going to be with me again.
Bill had a remarkable life; mouth-dropping, even. I'm sifting through his photos, poetry, and letters, and I'd like to publish a scrapbook in the coming days.
But for now... if you'd like to see who my dad was, on the "official side," here's his web site.
People have often asked me, somewhat breathlessly, "What do your parents think of what you DO?"
Well, on my father's side, one thing to consider is that he was famous in his world when I was young, and he knew what it was like to be scrutinized by the public, particularly by those you publish.
He edited thousands of manuscripts for publication, whereas I've only completed a few hundred. Among the many books he edited, as a "first reader," were all of mine, every single one. He was my biggest fan, and believed in me more than anyone I've ever known. He never disrespected the power of sexuality, erotic language, or the magnitude of sexual politics. He was so proud of me and his granddaughter, Aretha. His sense of social justice, and the power of poetry and language to change the world, has inspired me all my life.
I'd love to hear from any of you who knew Bill, and would like to share your stories or mementos with me. One of the best things this blog has given me is connection with old family and friends, so I thought it would be worth a shout-out, this time too. If you have favorite photographs of Bill, especially from the 60s-80s (I have almost none) please lend them to me, so I might scan them for an online scrapbook. I'm also going to make a CD of Bill's favorite music for the end of the year, if you have any suggestions.
And flowers? I know it's modern to say, Don't send flowers— I suppose because so often they're a big expense with only formal sentiments attached.
But I love flowers! And so did Bill, and so did his mother, my grandma Ethel, who always grew and cut fresh flowers in her house. Bill loved wildflowers the most, and would tell me stories about them every time we went walking. He was a native Californian, and seemed to know the name and legend behind every one.
I would love it— if you are thinking of Bill in the coming days— that you might stop and smell some flowers in your own ramblings. Send flowers to me if you like— or to someone you love very much who'd be touched and surprised. Or buy a big bouquet for yourself and soak up every bit of their beauty.
(bahuvrihi, "having a root like a man")
first heavy rains
then it comes out
"Annual stems arisng
from large fusiform to subglobose
Bursting from the bare black earth
tendrils every which way
climbing over fence post, bushes, logs
the vine that ate Topanga
taking over the wold
"Fruit a turgid capsule,
almost globose to ellipsoid or fusiform,
Seeds in plenty.
The vine can be cut
but down underneath,
that large, fusiform tuber—
"big as a man, no kiddin"—
can't dig it up
can't burn it up
never stops living.
First heavy rains,
bang! it comes out,
starts in all over.
William Bright, 1/30/80