Dodie Bellamy & Kevin Killian

Post to UB Poetics

We have some sad news to deliver. San Francisco poet Daniel Davidson died Saturday night, apparently by his own hand, after many years of pain following open heart surgery. Details are sketchy at this point, but more detailed obituaries will follow.

I (Dodie) met Dan in the mid-80s (actually got to know him, since I'd seen him around) at the UCSF medical center where I was a temp secretary and he was coming frequently for follow-up for his heart surgery. He and I spend many an evening together discussing writing, living, music, art (and drugs). We were both avid about Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" and sometimes we'd shut up long enough to listen to it at his apartment on

Haight Street. I've never seen anyone live more grandly on a fixed income than Dan—he was amazing. Bringing home castoff clothing from the

Salvation Army, dyeing them black, and cutting such a dashing figure. At that time Dan hadn't published much, but shortly afterward he became an important figure in the Bay Area writing scene, writing, giving readings, curating series. He taught an after-school program for small children at Small Press Traffic when it was still on 24th Street.

I (Kevin) remember Dan always in the audience at every kind of poetry reading you could imagine, always with his own determined take on things.

Perhaps because he came to poetry late, he was burning up with poetry fever, and he could be exhausting in his naked need to know more. And because he had this plastic heart valve he often thought of himself as not having much time. He was generous to a wide variety of young writers and attentive to his elders. I was glad to be able to write a "blurb" for his first book Product. In recent years I didn't see him around much. Couldn't figure it out. The last reading I saw him give was with Bob Perelman at New Langton Arts, and when was that? At least 2 years ago. He shied away from all the events he used to shine at. Last month when Anselm Berrigan and Katie Lederer left for parts East, Dan came to the party for them--still Byronic, still dashing, but gray, gray.... and he and I talked then about this and that. God! The ironic thing is that he was scheduled to participate in the Proliferation 3 reading Dodie and Mary Burger are holding at Small Press Traffic this coming Friday (the 13th). And now their plans are to make it into some kind of memorial in his honor, I guess.

Sorry to fill up the bandwidth with all this info about Dan and us, but as you can see, we have the kind of grief that's hard to take hold of and make sense of—a grief not unmixed with guilt. I know that the book Dan wrote with Tom Mandel is coming out soon, the collaboration from Poets and Potes Press of which he was so pleased and so proud. That's something, tho' right now I don't know what.

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