Friday, July 21, 2006


I lucked out and took a poetry writing class from Stan Rice, (late husband of Anne Rice), at SF State in the late 1960’s.

He was the most intense lecturer I ever witnessed, with the possible exception of Brother Antoninus. (BTW: When it comes to poets, Brother Antoninus/William Everson was the real deal.)

Stan would put some notes on the teacher-table at the front of the room then start pacing, alternately searching deep space, then referring back to the table, as if it held a large, possibly dangerous animal from a newly discovered species.

He would attempt to describe this new entity with deservedly new language, which he was making up ad lib. He was in a trance-state like the swingers at Delphi. And the words came out in trickles, spurts and gushes, all original stuff.

Anyway, the one piece of advice I took away from his class is:

When you have trouble finding the right word for a thing, focus on the thing, not on the words. If you look hard enough, long enough, at the thing itself, the word(s) will come.

He referred to this as “vision.” This is the most important thing I learned in college.

Stan Rice died of brain cancer. Everyone who knew him assumes it was caused by overuse.

I wonder how much of Anne was Stan. An English professor at SF State wrote a scholarly book in 1969 about vampires in literature. This professor was having an affair with a roommate of mine so I got to know him at the kitchen table, me a true snot-nose.

I was coming out gay and exploring sexuality at the time so I was happy to discuss my interpretation of vampirism with Leonard. My roommate, who proofed his book, says I’m quoted in it.

Anne’s first vampire book came out in 1973. So we can’t discount the notion that I somehow influenced her and through her popular culture. If I ever read a word Anne Rice wrote, I might know if this would be a good thing.

Seems Anne went for Jesus after Stan died. Had he lived he never would have let her go down that shameful path. The main page of her website has “Ave Maria” playing in the background. See/hear for yourself.

Stan Rice liked my stuff. He gave me an A minus. On the final evaluation he wrote, “You have conquered your tongue, now you must conquer your heart.”

Heavy, hunh?

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