Posted by: Neil Hollands
I have a personal connection with the youngest of the writers I’ve seen on 2009′s roll of obituaries, which I’ll share as I consider that list (more ideas about how book groups should use such lists later this week, but this first.)
I was fortunate enough to attend and occasionally read on some of the same programs where poet Craig Arnold read in Utah in the late 1990s–at a series called City Art that we both frequented, at the Utah Arts Festival, and on other stages. Then at the University of Utah, Craig was a larger-than-life figure who had just won the Yale Younger Poets Award for his first book, Shells. Teaching and finishing his Ph.D., he already had a following of undergraduates who hung on his every word. He lived life fully, playing music, traveling extensively, and capturing the world with vivid, edgy poetry that had a modern touch but still made graceful use of traditional forms. I remember him grabbing a room of listeners many times with Hot, a poem later selected for the Best American Poetry annual.
A professor at the University of Wyoming at the time of his death, he went missing in Japan while researching a new book of poems about volcanoes. From what I remember of Craig, I expected him to emerge from the mists with a fantastic story to tell, but the search was ultimately called off, with his trail leading to high cliffs. He was far too young, at only 42, but I’m glad at least that he was still having adventures and doing what he loved.