US poet and 'inspirational teacher' Thomas Lux dies at 70
The American poet and university teacher Thomas Lux, who has died at the age of 70, has been described as “an inspirational teacher” by one of his former students.
Lux’s poetry has appeared in the two bestselling Bloodaxe anthologies, Being Alive and Staying Alive, and he read at the Aldeburgh poetry festival in 2014. One of his former poetry students, Tamar Yoseloff, herself now a tutor at the Poetry School, said: “He was my first significant poetry tutor, back at Sarah Lawrence College in the late 80s. He was a legend on campus, notable for his long hair and cowboy boots (it was remarkable, even when I saw him last in 2014, that he never seemed to change).
“He'd quit smoking years before he was my teacher, but he had a habit of chain-chewing menthol sticks, which he'd do while reading poems -- it seemed to improve his thinking. All his advice and good practice has stayed with me, and I find I am quoting him back to my students even now. He was one of the most inspirational teachers I've known, sometimes quite a tough critic, but he was determined to get the best out of his students, to impress upon us that it takes hard work to make a good poem. I can't read his poems without hearing his voice -- his work was so much an extension of his humour, his way of viewing the world.”
Lux, who was professor of poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, and raised on a dairy farm. He published 12 collections of poetry. His collection was Half Promised Land in 1986 marked a sea change in his work. His later books include New and Selected Poems 1975-1995, published in 1997, which shows the poet before and after his "recovery" from Surrealism. He has published two books of poetry in Britain, The Street of Clocks (Arc) in 2001, and his Selected Poems (2014) from Bloodaxe.