"The things we fear about poetry are the things that are good about poetry." -- Jake Adam York
Those words inspired me as a dabbler in poems, though the genteel poet and educator Jake Adam York, who died unexpectedly yesterday of a stroke, couldn't have known that about me. And I'm sure he inspired many, many others, whether inadvertently or in the line of duty. We were talking about a lecture series he was preparing to deliver for now-MCA chief Adam Lerner at the old Lab at Belmar; his goal was to detangle the mysteries of the poetic voice for a misunderstanding audience.
It was also his goal in everyday life: York not only taught at University of Colorado Denver, but he also spearheaded the Denver Mint literary reading series, embarked on an imaginative Map of Denver project with at-risk students at PlatteForum, and was the heart and soul of the CU-based journal The Copper Nickel.
He could have just been a poet and rested contentedly on those laurels -- York wrote solid, spare and beautiful poems rooted in his Southern upbringing -- but he chose to do more. A gifted writer, he also had the knack for sharing that gift and encouraging it in others. Poetry was the bread he broke with those around him.
There should be no moment of silence for this man. Instead, let there be an uprising of poetry being read in his name. Rest in peace, Jake.
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