Barry Spacks, the City of Santa Barbara’s first poet laureate from 2005 to 2007 and a former “Poetry Matters” columnist for this paper, died on Tuesday, January 28.
Spacks was born in Philadelphia in 1931, served the U.S. Army in the Korean War, studied in Indiana, England, and Florida, and then spent 22 years teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and another 32 years as UCSB faculty, where he was the first member of the English department to be named Distinguished Humanities Professor of the Year.
He published 11 books of poetry, two novels, and was awarded the St. Botolph’s Prize in the Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Most importantly, he was community poet very positively active in our community,” said friend and fellow poet Phil Taggart. “Barry left his mark on all of us who knew him. His enthusiasm for life, for poetry, rubbed off on us all.”
The city’s current poet laureate, Chryss Yost, said his death was very sudden. “Barry Spacks was a true scholar of poetry, connected deeply to its history and traditions,” she explained. “He shared this passion with our community of poets and his students. We were all his students in some way. He was extraordinarily generous in collaborating with other artists and poets at all levels of accomplishment, masters and students. He was a teacher, in every sense of the word. He will be deeply, dearly missed.”