How wonderful and fitting that David Ferry is being honored by the ALSCW. David has been a longtime member and a boon to the Association. I remember the excitement and joy of reading David’s poems, translations, and essays all the way back to when Sally Spence was the impressive editor of Literary Imagination. It is an indication of the power of David’s writing that I could recall his brilliant essay, “Translating from the Ancients,” in a 2003 volume of the magazine and I was grateful to be able to quote from that essay in a recent book of my own translations, Apathy Is Out, Selected poems Seán Ó Ríordáin: “David Ferry laments in his own translation of Virgil: ‘But the Latin line, in the authoritative implacable finality of the grammatical structure of this boundary, could not be brought across, and when I read my attempt I feel haunted by its absence.’ Whatever David says about his own translations, there is no better living translator than David Ferry. And living he is. And also to boot, there is no one more natural, erudite and joyous to be in the company of. Recently, Neil Astley, the editor of Bloodaxe Books, remarked on hearing of the inaugural award “The David Ferry and Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize”, that it is odd to have an award named after a writer who is still alive. My response was that it is better to honor writers when they are alive rather than when they are dead. I would also like to mention that David was a generous donator to the organization during a time that I was president of the ALSCW back in 2011, and in this way he also helped to keep the Association alive.
David and the ALSCW are still with us. May they be more honors given to this stellar poet, translator, and member of the poetry community. Literary Matters has chosen to call the tribute a garland. The first Greek anthology, put together by Meleager, was described by him as a garland –literally, a collection of blossoms, in Greek– and it was there that the word anthology became a synonym for a collection of writing. I will finish with one of the more superior poems from The Greek Anthology, Book XVII, titled “The Immortalists” by the great poet, Ferrius:
Youngsters climb the gorge, limber as goats, leap thirty feet
…………..into a pool no more than two yards wide
surrounded by sharp limestone outcrops.
…………..There’s no room for error. I watch these high flyers
from the precipice opposite. I can’t bear to look down,
…………..want to holler Stop, but know that kids don’t listen.
Besides, should one diver take notice he might hesitate,
…………..a glimmer of fear his downfall.
For now they’re immortal, the temporary immortalists.
Thank you, David.