THE ARTIST & POET
1933 — 2016
A number of poets and artists gathered in the early afternoon of Saturday,
9 July 2016 at the hall of the Old Village Church on The Common in Newbury,
Vermont to participate in a ceremony to remember and celebrate the
uncompromising life and work of Ann McGarrell.
She was a noted translator, having won in 1997 the PEN Renato Poggioli
Prize for her version of Vittoria Ronchey’s “Il volto di Iside” (“The Face
of Isis”). But in her true passion, poetry, Ann described herself as
Ann McGarrell died on Sunday, 10 January 2016, at 82, surrounded by friends
As a child, and throughout the rest of her life, she was a voracious reader
: poetry, certainly (Keats, Shelley, Apollinaire, Homer, Ungaretti,
Ginsberg, Bernstein), but also mysteries, newspapers, novels. She could
zoom through books at light speed, but she could recall them with
precision, too. In later life, she quoted to friends lines from novels and
poems she had read decades ago — especially The Iliad, which she could
recite from heart, stanza by stanza.
Ann McGarrell was obscure. Many of her survivors, however, say that that
was less from not deserving than not wanting. Other poets would constantly
be sending out their work to publication after publication; Ann’s, for the
most part, remained in chaotic piles on her desk. She had the talent to be
amongst them, I think, but maybe it wasn’t her driving force. Maybe it
wasn’t her deepest hope.
VERMONT VALLEY NEWS : OBITUARY FOR ANN McGARRELL …
Ann McGarrell’s last book of poetry was titled GWEN AND OTHER POEMS …
The second-to-last poem in this 2012 book is titled “Flo,” after her son,
Flo McGarrell, an artist who worked in Haiti and died in the 2010
earthquake near Port-Au-Prince. Born female, Flo had undergone transgender
therapy to live as a male, and in the poem “Flo” Ann imagined her child and
his identities as one in the disaster.
Daughter whose laughter persists past all loss,
Sailor lad, castaway: all dance in a downpour
where the storm ferries houses through treetops
while you dream of whitecaps and striped
The loss of Flo at 35 devastated Ann; at the time, she could not comprehend
GEORGIA KOTRETSOS INTERVIEWED FLO McGARRELL
ON FRIDAY, 28 AUGUST 2009 …
THE RUTLAND HERALD : OBITUARY FOR FLO McGARRELL …
THE VILLAGE VOICE : OBITUARY FOR FLO McGARRELL,
“THE GENDER OUTLAW” …
Flo McGarrell was the most androgynous man I have ever met in my life. He
was the very archetype of the poet William Blake’s sense of a COMPLETE
human person. Flo had some of the attributes of a man, but also some of
the attributes of a woman.
Also, Flo McGarrell was a dynamic activist, an energized GLBT activist, and
an uncompromising (and very original) artist and poet. He was a
revolutionist in every dimension of human life that he touched. Still,
since his death by earthquake, I have not forgotten him.
But was it Ovid? Or John Cage?