Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Memorial Tribute to Dr. Duane Locke (1921-2019)

Julius Duane Locke, 1921-2019

Duane Locke was one of the three founding editors of the Poetry Review at the University of Tampa in 1964 (with R. Morris Newton and W. T. Cuddihy), and while others came and went, Duane continued to edit the literary journal on his own until his retirement in 1986. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1958, and he joined the faculty at the University of Tampa that same year.

Duane devoted his teaching and writing career to the University of Tampa, where he became Professor of English and poet-in-residence. His many years of professional service established commitments to poetry and to nonprofit literary and artistic innovation, outreach, and publication that have been carried forward to the direct descendant of Duane’s UT Poetry Review: today’s Tampa Review, now the oldest continuously published literary journal in the state. He inspired many of his students to devote themselves to poetry, teaching, and literary pursuits, and he left a literary legacy of dedication and passion. His letters and papers preserved in the Special and Area Studies Collections at the George A. Smathers Library at the University of Florida provide ample evidence of his vitality as editor, writer, and teacher. There is correspondence with other poetry editors and publishers (Fred Wolven, editor of the Ann Arbor Review; Harvey Tucker of Black Sun Press; Hugh Fox of Ghost Dance Press, Paul Roth of Bitter Oleander Press, and many other poets and former students, including Sylvia Krohn Scheibli, Charles Hayes, Helene Jarmol, Leo Connellan, William Taylor, Nico Suarez, Gerritt O’Sullivan, Sam Cornish, Jane Leonard, James MacQueen, Randall Ackley, and Roger Sauls, some of whom worked with him on the Poetry Review. Among the better-known poets included in his correspondence are Robert Bly, David Ignatow, Louis Hammer, Robert Morgan, and Diane Wakoski, all of whom appeared in the editions of the journals Duane published during his twenty-eight years at the university.

The editors of Tampa Review note with sadness and deep appreciation the passing of an inspiring Editor and Professor Emeritus. We want to share a tribute from one of his former students, which speaks for itself.

Tribute to Dr. Duane Locke
by Dr. José Rodeiro, one of his former students

Brilliant Florida poet Dr. Duane Locke died February 17, 2019. He was a leading light of American poetry from the 1960s to the early-21st century, standing as one of the seminal voices of his generation inspiring several generations of poets and artists involved in Linguistic Reality, Immanentism, Imagistic Poetry, Thing-Thing Metaphysics, and other contemporary poetic movements. He published many books, including: Duane Locke: “The First Decade (1968-1978),” Bitter Oleander Press. Courageously, Dr. Locke maintained full control of his brilliant mind and his energetic intensity until the very end of his remarkable creative life! In fact, Last year at the Poetry Convention in Tampa (FL), Dr. Duane Locke (at age 96) read his poems with such strength and power that he filled the room with “duende.” A year later, he passed at age 97 in full possession of his passionate, creative, and deeply perceptive “poetic-being.”

In 1921, Duane Locke was born in Plains, Georgia; consequently, as a small child, he played with his neighbor—little Jimmy Carter. His family moved to Florida, which remained his home. He lived in Tampa and on Sanibel Island. He earned his Ph.D. in literature from the University of Florida, where a hefty archive is kept about him.

A devout naturalist, Duane Locke had an overwhelming passion, fascination, and love for all living things, perceiving (innately “knowing”) concrete, specific details about every living thing. He fervently loved the Earth and every animal and plant inhabiting it, knowing their precise scientific names and specific details regarding their existence. Beyond Florida, Duane Locke loved Italy and all things Italian: opera, Campari, fine wines, Chianti, Italian cuisine, and Early-Renaissance art from Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio, all the way to Botticelli. He agreed with Picasso that Paolo Uccello was the greatest of all painters. Thus, he loathed High Renaissance art (he especially reviled Michelangelo), but passionately loved the Mannerists, particularly Domenico Beccafumi. Duane Locke believed that art reflected internal reality, valuing the Immanent (“the within”) over the Transcendental (“the without”). Thus he preferred William Blake’s poems over William Wordsworth’s poems; he preferred the visual art of William Blake over the art of Sir Joshua Reynolds. He valued French Surrealism, Spanish Surrealism, and Latin American Surrealism in poetry and art. Both nationally and internationally, he knew every aspect of modern and contemporary poetry, and was a scholar of Baroque Poetry (especially the English Metaphysical poets). He knew more and experienced more than any human being that I’ve known, always delving deeply into the tiniest hidden marrow of each particular “living” thing.

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