In Memory of Rynn Williams

For me, this has been a month of loss. Early last week I had even more bad news. I received an email from my friend, Molly Fisk, informing me that our mutual colleague and friend, Rynn Williams, was found dead in her bathtub by her dog sitter. Although her death has since been determined accidental, an autopsy will be performed. Rynn was 47 and leaves behind three children under the age of 13.

I first met Rynn many years ago in Molly’s online Poetry Boot Camp. It was during her earlier years as a poet and all of us critiqued one another’s poetry online. Many of the poets were mediocre, but Rynn’s words always rose to the top. Each day, I looked forward to her latest installment. The boot camp would last five days and each of us were required to turn in our poems by 12 midnight each day. More often than not, Rynn’s poems arrived in the early morning hours, perhaps her most creative time, or the time when she finally got her little ones to bed. Her poems were rarely in what seemed to be a rough draft. They were sharp and poignant and always touched a nerve in me. I am happy that I had the chance to work with her and more than once what a fine poet I thought she was. One reviewer of her books said that Rynn’s poems are “like X-rays that scrutinize each moment.’

It was no surprise to me when years later I learned that Rynn won the Prairie Schooner Prize for Poetry for her first collection, Adonis George. I recall months later attending her reading in Grass Valley, CA with Molly Fisk. A mentor once told me that if a poet’s words stay with you long after their reading, then that’s the power of a good poet. Rynn had that power – so much of her work continues to resonate with me. I had been in touch with Rynn over the years – her emails, like her poetry, were terse, yet caring. Some time later, I was honored to join Rynn for a coffee in New York. For obvious reasons, that rendez-vous is now more poignant than ever now. The events of these past few weeks are a reminder to enjoy every day and moment spent with loved ones.

Here is one poem from Adonis George:

West Chelsea

I am going to leave the city tonight,

the handball courts and the Gemini Diner,

I am going to forget about east 33rd street,

the penthouse, the Rawhide, the banks of elevators,

I want to forget the route of the C train,

the smell of the tracks when you jump down

to cross them, I want to fall asleep

and not dream of multitudes, I want to forget

that on West Fourth and Hudson my friend

held his forehead together with his hands,

I am going to abandon my FDNY cap

on top of a hydrant in alphabet city,

my Lucite stilettos on a shrine in the Bronx,

I want nothing but horizontal lines

so I don’t have to get on my knees in the intersection,

I am going to pick up my body and move it

to a town where the streets are perfectly logical,

I am going to drive east on the LIE

until the only rumble is in the pit of my stomach,

I am going to shred all my take-out menus,

I am going to eat dinner at six o’clock,

I am going to be a loser and love it –

get in my car and drive east to the ocean,

until I can’t stand the silence

and have to come home.



2 Responses to “In Memory of Rynn Williams”

  1. 1 Rena Silverman August 23, 2009 at 2:00 am

    You couldn’t have made a better choice than “West Chelsea.” I can hear her reading. Please keep us posted.

  2. 2 loren london December 21, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    As the year draws to an end, I thank you for your blogs that keep me in touch with you and your beautiful way with words and your outlook on life. I miss you and your family and wish you a year of good health and happiness and of course continued success. With love across the miles……..Loren

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"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

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About Me

I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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