When Seamus Heaney Came To Hugo House

I wrote this on the day that Seamus Heaney died…

Seamus Heaney came to Richard Hugo House on February 4, 1999. He was in town for readings at Open Books, Elliott Bay and at the University. He was on a big tour after winning the Nobel Prize and I think he was also celebrating OPENED GROUND, his selected poems from 1966-96. Suddenly, there he was, the Nobel Laureate, the greatest  English language poet since Yeats, standing in our fledgling place, a nonprofit with more imagination than actual institution, more plans than functional space. Stuff was hanging out of the walls; the upstairs bathrooms were being put in and we were trying to get it all going. I think we had five or six classes that year and the place smelled of caulking and dry wall mud. Continue reading “When Seamus Heaney Came To Hugo House”

I Don’t End Up in Tangier

So, I’m not a cute young man who graduated from an Ivy league school. One strike against my application to the head of the American School. But, even for a girl I got a cheerful note from Joe McPhillips. And so, I kept on writing and teaching and left my paralegal world with Mohammed behind. Marcia and Mohammed moved to Vermont; I lived in New York for a year with Gary, my husband, adopted Maddy from a Romanian orphanage and then started Richard Hugo House with my friends. After five or six years, I revisited my Moroccan dream when I met Ahmed Radi, a poet from Marrakesh.

Ahmed was on a three-week Fulbright in Bellevue, just across the water from Seattle. My friend Diane Douglas, a very cool woman who ran the liberal arts center at Bellevue Community College, told me about a Moroccan poet who had come to her program. I invited Ahmed to Hugo House and we had lunch. A couple of years later, after I’d moved on from ten years as the founding director at Hugo House, I wrote to Ahmed and solicited his help with a Fulbright application.

That’s how Gary and Maddy and I went to Marrakesh. The short version. And here is a photo of Ahmed and I during the Marrakesh Marathon.