Poet Barry Spacks Dies

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
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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.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Bon Voyage Barry - May your kind spirit and poetry live on through all who knew you

yojamey (anonymous profile)
January 30, 2014 at 8:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Blessed are those whose work is presence:
dogs by the sea so joyful they're teachers…
donkeys who move like little mothers…
people so strong they risk being kind.

The air provides: it feeds the breath.
There is no sun that lacks for light.
Blind blossoms can't see their colors glow.
In unwillable ways we are beautiful.

embernath (anonymous profile)
January 30, 2014 at 11:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A sad goodbye to a dear friend and helper in the art of poetry. It was a blessing to know, to read, and to work with Barry Spacks.

rpinsky12 (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As allied with poetry, with all his work, publications, and awards, Barry once told me that it was as a teacher that he would like to be remembered. And as immeasurable as stars in night skies, or sparks given off by flames, I think that he will. He taught, and he taught by being. Who could not learn from his welcoming ways? His generosity of time and guidance, whether you were a friend or someone who was not yet a friend, or someone who just saw how he proceeded in this world of humans. To think there is no more Barry is so painful. But there can be more Barry if I, if we, merely emulate his ways. This is what gives me comfort.

Archie (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2014 at 8:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Barry Spacks was a true teacher. His gentle spirit and guiding thoughts created the type of environment that nurtured free spirits and helped burgeoning poets bloom. He was our gardener, our teacher, our ustaad. Both the university and the universe have a lost a great man, but he left his mark. He was a great person. Very few people know how to instruct writers. Writers are temperamental, as all artists. He knew exactly how to guide us toward success. I'll miss you, Barry.

sssidhu (anonymous profile)
May 8, 2014 at 12:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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