Missing For 13 Yrs! Long Lost Poet Needs Your Help

$19,348 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 186 people in 3 months
Created May 5, 2019
13 Years Ago, My Best Friend “The Poet” Went Missing…
 
Not long after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home, my best friend from college and life, disappeared. He was an incredibly talented Poet and writer, who taught me to write and appreciate the beauty of language. Prior to Katrina, he had had occasional dark moods that had led to periods of silence, but he had always surfaced when the clouds parted. After the devastation of Katrina, we (his friends and I) fully had expected him to turn up again, as before. And then… he didn’t. 

A decade and more later we had nearly given up all hope of seeing him again; wondering if he were no longer of this world. But then a few words from a kind stranger and her subsequent sleuthing changed everything. A few weeks ago Cheryl Gerber, a local writer and photographer in the French Quarter chatted with this solitary man for the first time - despite having seen him on and off for nearly a decade. His demeanor seemed different – he seemed to welcome contact and so mustering her courage she approached him and learned parts of his story, his name, where he grew up, that he had gone to a prestigious university and earned some significant awards for his writing and poetry. She was skeptical at first, but he was so articulate and offered so many literary references that she realized it must be true and that someone must be looking for him. She couldn’t sleep and decided to try and find out more.

Staying up all night, Cheryl searched and searched and eventually found me through perhaps the most oblique of references deep in the Google depths. A few years back, I had dedicated a talk I was giving with these words  “I am paying homage to my long lost friend . . . The Poet.” So she took a risk and messaged me. “Hi John, this is a long shot, but do you know the Poet_____?” My heart jumped. Immediately I assumed the worst – that he was gone for good. But then I scrolled down and felt my heart stop, and then explode as the message continued. “I live in New Orleans and just had a long talk with him. He seems like an interesting guy.”

My daughter and I flew out to NOLA ASAP and walked 50 miles in 48 hours looking for him but with no luck - he had disappeared. But he left a trail - it turned out many locals and store owners knew "the writer" as they called him. We asked everyone to keep and eye out and two weeks later he resurfaced and I flew back to NOLA immediately. I arrived in the early evening of May 1st and found him strolling the Esplanade. “Is it really you?!” he shouted, his bearded face lighting up. “Its me!” We reached each other and wrapped each other in a huge bear hug, “I’m so happy!” he said, “I love you my friend,” he continued and I said “I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed you,” as my eyes teared up. 

It was like old times. We sat and talked on the Esplanade for hours. He told me he had been thinking a lot about me over the years and that I was his best friend now and always. I reminded him that he had really been the one who taught me to write and that this is all I do now – that I write and speak for a living. We ended up sleeping out there on the Esplanade overnight and it was wonderful, listening to old tunes from college and reminiscing. The next day we obtained a haircut, shave, computer, phone, and an ID and he is eager re-join society. However, more than all those things what he wants most is a small place of his own to stay in near the French Quarter and that is what this page is for: to help our long lost poet re-enter society, to have a safe place to live in the city he loves and to return writing and to his friends. He does have a small support income from the government but it is being significantly reduced by a garnishment for his student loans. 

The Need: I’m hoping we can raise at least $30K to get the Poet off the street and back in a place where he can bring his gifts to the world. We would like to help him move into a small apartment in New Orleans for the next year or longer (covering rent, water & utilities), purchase basic living supplies, and assist with medical/dental, and miscellaneous expenses related to his care and to facilitate his re-entry. Funds that go beyond the basics could help payoff student loan debt. Our hope is to establish a safe and stable environment so that he can reintegrate into society with as little stress and as much support as possible.

Any and all size donations are welcome. Please share.
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Happy Mother's Day to all of you that have contributed to help our Poet. Here's a gift back to you - a lovely poem he wrote years ago that won him the Academy of American Poets Prize. (And if you haven't, please share this page on your social media - we are more than halfway to our goal!)

Recognizing Her

My mother is testing the ripeness of a plum.
She is fifty-one and lovely, raising the plum

Toward the light, squinting into it like a face
She almost recognizes but can't remember.

She is holding the plum close to her mouth now
As if to redeem it, to give it another body.

Break its slow circles into hers. A large white
SALE! sign hovers over her shoulder

Like a cardboard angel which will never
Descend, never bring the good news.

The plum's swollen purple shines,
A twin to the inmost shadow of her mouth,

Silence ripening into a word. It is
As perfect and rotund as the darkness

Hidden in her skull, that precious solitude
She carries with her everywhere--

She once said the strong must always
Taste their loneliness to remain strong.
+ Read More

Posted by John Coyle
3 months ago ago
Happy Mother's Day to all of you that have contributed to help our Poet. Here's a gift back to you - a lovely poem he wrote years ago that won him the Academy of American Poets Prize. (And if you haven't, please share this page on your social media - we are more than halfway to our goal!)

Recognizing Her

My mother is testing the ripeness of a plum.
She is fifty-one and lovely, raising the plum

Toward the light, squinting into it like a face
She almost recognizes but can't remember.

She is holding the plum close to her mouth now
As if to redeem it, to give it another body.

Break its slow circles into hers. A large white
SALE! sign hovers over her shoulder

Like a cardboard angel which will never
Descend, never bring the good news.

The plum's swollen purple shines,
A twin to the inmost shadow of her mouth,

Silence ripening into a word. It is
As perfect and rotund as the darkness

Hidden in her skull, that precious solitude
She carries with her everywhere--

She once said the strong must always
Taste their loneliness to remain strong.
+ Read More

$19,348 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 186 people in 3 months
Created May 5, 2019
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