Charles Tomlinson

Today would have been the ninetieth birthday of the best English poet you’ve never heard of, even if you kind of follow such things.  Charles Tomlinson, who died in 2015, wrote poetry and essays, translated works from multiple answers, and edited volumes by poets as unlike as American modernist William Carlos Williams and 17th-18th century Englishman John Dryden. My favorite escapade was his was teaming up with Mexican Octavio Paz, Italian Edoardo Sanguinetti, and Frenchman Jacques Roubaud to write in a Japanese group cycle form, a Renga, which is also the title of the resulting volume. Not the best thing any of them ever wrote, but it’s very interesting.

I had to give up teaching him over the years because he wasn’t in any of the available anthologies. He should have been. Never flashy, he was nonetheless intelligent, wily, funny, and profound.