“Richard Siken is much like his poems: beautifully complicated, provocatively compassionate, tender, direct, challenging and gorgeous—and also in need of us. I was shocked and saddened when I heard of his stroke, but his poems, and perhaps even more, his person, and what he represents in the world of poetry—keep me going. I want to return the favor. The road to recovery will be hard and expensive, and he can't bear it alone. I hope you'll join me and other friends in supporting this effort.”
On March 15th, poet Richard Siken—author of Crush and War of the Foxes, editor at Spork Press—had a stroke. The brain injury, as is often the case, left him agitated, fearful, and confused. He was unable to speak in complete sentences or move the right side of his body. He had trouble recognizing friends. He couldn’t track conversation. He does not remember most of the first few weeks.
For us, there were alternating days of hopefulness and deep concern, and often a pervasive sense of helplessness. None of us knew if Richard would be able to walk again, or navigate a wheelchair, or even get out of bed by himself. Although Richard is determined and optimistic about his recovery, he is reluctant to admit that he needs significant help. He is making great progress with cognition and language but cannot walk unassisted, he cannot drive, and he fatigues easily. He has difficulty dressing, preparing food, and performing simple chores. The return of feeling and movement in his right arm and leg comes with considerable pain and spasticity. We are working to find ways to support him, but it is difficult to know how extensive or long-term Richard’s needs will be.
Given the sudden change in his circumstances, we—as Richard’s publishers, community of friends, and extended family of writers and readers who’ve come to love his work over the years—need to rally financial support to help him through the coming months. Although we have set a goal of $10,000, his expenses will far exceed this amount, and any generosity is welcome and needed.
We do not know what level of independence Richard will achieve. At this time it is unclear if he will be able to work again or if he will need disability services and federal housing. It is, however, very clear that his insurance and his savings will not cover his basic needs for much longer.
As a community, coming together to support Richard’s financial needs is one way to help insure that he can live as healthfully as possible, and that his poetry continues to find its way into the world. We can all be friends to Richard and patrons of this brilliant poet’s career and legacy by helping him in this difficult and unexpected situation.
All funds go directly to Richard Siken. Thank you!