Oyster Boy Review 07  
  September 1997
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» Levee 67

For Joe Bolton

An Influence on my Writing Life

Laila Halaby

I asked Joe once in class if I could read his work—he was the greatest teacher—and he gave me the manuscript for Days of Summer Gone. I read it in one afternoon—something I have never been able to do with poetry. Afterward, I felt I had been given a gift, to be allowed to see this very personal world. When I found out about his suicide, I felt angrier than I can explain. How dare this teacher go off and do himself in, when I still have so much to discuss with him, to ask him, and most of all, when it seems he still has so much to give. I searched for information about his death in the local paper, but found nothing. That summer, my mother and I were driving from Arizona to New York and I insisted that we go through Kentucky on our return. We drove through Cadiz and stopped and walked through graveyards. I never found a thing about him, though I searched through every poetry journal I could find to see if anything else had been published. I think the trip to Cadiz was as close to closure as I shall get.