Friday, August 4, 2017

Patrick O'Neill January 17, 1937 – July 31st, 2017

Pat O'Neill is dead. With that, a fierce voice for the Northwoods and stalwart champion of its young folk has passed. The poet Patrick O'Neill wrote:

Death is life.
It's why we're all here,
because of the dead.
Our homes, our clothing, our food, our compositions
are donated bodies of the once living -- gifts.
The dead are our primary caregivers.

But does a writer ever really die, so long as their words can be found? At any rate, I know some writers who hope not.

After a lengthy, productive life, poet and teacher Patrick O'Neill is gone. The Northwoods are the poorer for it. Pat didn't want any fuss. Far as I know, there won't be an obituary. I'm told there'll be a gathering tomorrow night at Nora's in Hurley, you'd best call before showing up. I'm far away from the Range, where news neither travels particularly fast nor necessarily remains sound over distance. Things change.

Should you care to read what I've written of Pat, go here. Should you like to honor him for a life well lived, go here and order one or more of his books. I have to believe arrangements are made so the sale of those will continue his good work for the youth of the region. More even than his poetry, that work speaks for Pat and will, for generations.

Patrick O'Neill spoke for himself, for the Northwoods and its many children about as fiercely and well as any man I've met. So he gets the last word here.

Save Godspeed, old man

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