Saturday, March 03, 2007

Gene Frumkin, ABQ Poet...Gone

NOB HILL--Gene Frumkin, Poet and UNM creative writing teacher, died Feb. 18th. The notice of his death appeared only yesterday, March 2nd. He was 79.

I didn't ever have Gene as a teacher, but for the last few years I would run into him about suppertime in Mannie's restaurant. We did know each other from mutual acquaintances, specifically poets Diana Huntress and Dianne Duff.

The title of his 1998 book has to be one of the best titled books ever...and certainly worth thinking about in terms of his passing: The Old Man Who Swam Away and Left Only His Wet Feet. We still have those wet feet of his, several volumes of them.

I last heard Gene read at the Robert Creeley Memorial in September of 'o5. I couldn't get a good picture of him in the dim light. I hope the following poem from Santa Fe Broadside will serve even better.

Let the Lines Stand

It will be hard to erase each other
now that she is a beauty in my lines
I had no longer thought to find there.

Even should she move to another vision
of herself and me, I have her written
in immovable ink through my mind’s

open spaces, where she can be at ease
in her dreams, and mine. This affinity
subverts in thought other obligations

thicker than easy passage from now to then.
Our words are the clasp that holds us
together, but after they are all spoken

what can engender in us a certain place
wherein we can see each other a step up
from limbo? Patience. Let the lines stand

as long as they can. When they fall,
even then, I will hold her, speechless,
the lines still there, still held to their page.

Copyright © 2006 Gene Frumkin


TucsonBound said...

Gene was my first poetry teacher at UNM--uncompromisingly difficult in the classroom and uncommonly good as a poet (right now I'm reading some of his poetry from a 1987 issue of Puerto Del Sol--it's all powerfully imagined stuff). Rest in Peace, Professor.

Anonymous said...

Gene was a cool guy. I drove him nuts. I was not a good student but he did see a lot of potential in me. I have been a writer for years and often think of Gene.
Don Johnson, class of 73.5

Anonymous said...

Gene was likewise my first Creative Writing teacher at UNM, and I believe I ended up taking three or four courses from him during my time there...he was an amazing teacher and human being...he used to take me along to Saturday night poker games with other local writers and Creative Writing profs...I'm so sorry I never caught up with him again.....

Emily D said...

Gene was a kind and wonderful teacher.

It's Feb 27, 2008, and I was on a walk, when his line "The slit, the blue", came to me, and I wondered, is Gene still alive? I calculated what his age might be, and figured there was a good chance he had moved on. So I googled Gene Frumkin and this is the first article to come up.

My last encounter ever with Gene: end of the semester. He took me aside. I was about to graduate. He told me I should continue writing.

Nothing more floral than that, no explanation. It has stayed with me my whole life.

Love you Gene,

Emily D

Vanessa said...

Gene was an extraordinary man who accepted life and its miraculous inconsistencies. He was a remarkable instructor and professor.