Earlier today, I heard from my father that Sandford Lyne — poet, teacher and friend — passed away this morning. He went quietly in his own home, having made his peace with this world. I will miss him fiercely.
After graduating from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the early ’70s, he went on to teach poetry at the University of Virginia and then to lead countless poetry workshops for students and teachers all over the country. Most recently, he led workshops for children sheltering in sports stadiums during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
We met through my parents, and bonded in part over a mutual love of Spanish-language poets. One of my favorite poems of his, “Machado, Lorca, Neruda, Jiménez”, is currently still available on his website.
Sandy wrote one of my letters of recommendation to the Pacific University MFA program in which I am now studying. I signed away my right to read it, but he sent me an extra copy anyway. He wanted me to know what he thought. If I ever doubt myself as a poet, I have but to reread that letter.
Sandy touched many lives — over 50,000 children and thousands of teachers as well, and shared his delight in poetry issuing from the mouth of babes in his well-known compilation of children’s poems, Ten Second Rainshowers.
Though we only met in person a handful of times, I still recall his immense kindness and generosity, and that distant, Blakean gaze he took on in moments of quiet reverie. I’d like to think whatever beauty he saw there, beyond the horizon of rational thought, he has now become part of, and more — what Mary Oliver calls the great, unending stream of voices that is poetry.
Thank you, dear Sandy, for honoring us all with your life.