1. His “First Song” was the first poem I ever memorized. I've never lived in Illinois, but I'm sure I was one of the boys for whom "the song woke/His heart to the darkness and the sadness of joy."
2. Andrew Bird’s musical adaptation of it is ethereal, stunning, and one of most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. I’m listening to it right now, on repeat.
3. I moved to New York City in 2000 partially because Kinnell lived here.
4. I met him once, on the same day I met Bill Murray:
On the day I was fired from my final job in public relations, I went to a poetry reading. Galway Kinnell and Bill Murray were headlining a “Poets’ Walk” across the Brooklyn Bridge that ended on a pier across from the River Walk Café, yet another place where I could not afford to eat. When Kinnell was introduced, a promoter of the event predicted poetry would soon eclipse advertising as the primary source of our national symbology. As Kinnell was reading, a grey shroud completely engulfed the Manhattan skyline, and a darkness swept across the East River toward us. “Rain!” someone shouted, but the whole crowd was drenched before anyone had time to duck for cover. That was the end of that reading.
From "My Aughts"
5. He might have been a great man, or an average one. The stories vary.
6. He died Tuesday, at the age of 86. I shall miss him, though he’d reached the evanescent age where I’d forgotten that he was still alive.