Rane, everywhere

The only event of AWP that I, and the g/f,  felt was a necessity for us to attend was the tribute to Rane Arroyo. He wasn’t in our lives long. She met him in a class in her fall semester, where Rane had to miss a couple of weeks and was covered by his partner Glen. I met him a couple of semesters later in another class where, about three-quarters of the way through the semester, he pulled me off to the side during the ten minute break and encouraged me to go after an MFA. It’s a piece of advice, and a belief in me, that I still carry around.

Before talking about the tribute itself, I feel like I need to mention that Rane seemed to pop up throughout the conference in some way. Maybe we were just looking for him, but I don’t think so. I bought at least one book of poetry because of their resemblance to his Roswell poems. At another table, we received a free copy of Water Stone Review and found Rane’s name on the back among the contributors. We ran into other people who knew Rane throughout the conference. And there was a distinct feeling that maybe we wouldn’t have been there at all if it wasn’t for him. For us, at least, the place reverberated with his presence, with the possibility he had instilled in us, with what I can only think of as the sheer elastic joy of him.

The tribute was put together by Glenn Sheldon and consisted of twenty or so readers, each reading one poem of Rane’s that touched them, that impacted them, or reading a poem about him, remembering. It was touching, it was painful, I think I cried a couple of times. It was good to hear Rane’s words spoken aloud.  It’s something I may never hear again, at least in this type of setting and it’s something I needed.

For the event, Glenn produced a tribute chapbook with remembrances by the readers along with re-prints of the poems they read. Interspersed throughout the book are sketches, drawings and photos of and by Rane. I hate to pick favorites from it, they are all beautiful, but I found the poem by Luis Alberto Urrea to be particularly heart rending.

On the back of the chapbook is a picture of Rane, with that little Rane smile, that smile that’s trying to be straight faced but is bent with that elastic joy. At the end, Glenn stood up and said that something Rane said was, “cry, but the tears are not for me, they are for you. Afterward, when you laugh, that will be for me.” I laugh occasionally, but I’m not quite past the crying stage yet. I miss him and the world is a bit worse off for his having departed it. But somewhere got a good deal brighter with him having arrived. Rest in peace, my friend, knowing that I am one of many who still carry you around.

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