TED SLADE 1939 - 2004

FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF

The Poetry KitTM

MEMORIAL

When I learned of Ted's death it came as a complete shock.  I had been talking on the phone with him the day before about the future of the Poetry Kit website and his hopes for the future.  He was ill and had been ill for a number of years but he was often getting ill and then recovering so it lulled you into believing that he was going to be around for a long time yet.  It was not to be and Ted's untimely death leaves a void personally and professionally which will be very hard to fill.  Poetry kit will continue and his ideas and plans will be implemented.  And through it we will remember his foresight in producing an information site for poets which has been a help for so many.   Ted will be missed but he will also be remembered.

- Jim Bennett JAN 2004

In October 2000 Ted was interviewed as the first featured Poet on the PK Poetry List Website, this is what he said about himself and poetry.

The Last Arm Pointing by Ted Slade

A collection of Ted Slade's poetry published as a pamphlet by Flarestack Publishing, May 2001.
"
'The Last Arm Pointing' sequence from his Flarestack collection of the same title (2001) tellingly pictures some of the ironies around the pain of disability and the courage required to fight it."

TED SLADE 1939-2004

For more information or to buy Last Arm Pointing http://www.flarestack.co.uk/

 
TED SLADE
 
I was born in Hull in 1937, but in 1939 my parents moved to the nearby
seaside town of Withernsea. So I spent my early days playing happily on
the beach, and the nights being entertained by the sight of German
bombers flying into the searchlights and anti-aircraft fire over my
birthplace. At age 11 I spent one term at the local comprehensive, which
I loved, then we moved back to Hull and I got a place at the old and
venerable Grammar School, which I hated. From there I went to university
in Nottingham (BSc Metallurgy), then in 1959 to London, where I have
lived and worked more or less ever since. In 1976 I married Maria Teresa
from Portugal.
Although I was born with a severe kyphoscoliosis my parents and teachers
never encouraged me think of it as a handicap, and so until 12 years ago
I led an active working life - technical writer, PR, journalist, market
analyst, businessman, globe-trotter. Then my health began to
deteriorate. I had to slow down. For 8 years I worked as a computer
network manager at my local university, finally taking early retirement
in 1997.
I have always read and written poetry, although for many years I binned
all that I wrote. Only when my working life slowed down did I begin to
write regularly and with some purpose. Apart from the unworldly material
we were obliged to learn at school - poems about highwaymen and heroic
admirals - my first real contacts with poetry came via T S Eliot, W H
Auden, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, Ted Hughes, Tom Gunn
and the Beats. Then one day in Foyles bookshop in London I picked up a
new collection by a poet living in Hull - Philip Larkin's "The Whitsun
Weddings". Standing in the shop I read the first poem. It described a
train journey I had made many times as a child, from my grandparents'
home town to my home by the sea. I recognised every detail, and it was
then that I knew that poetry really could be about the everyday
experiences of everyday people like me.
Today there are many influences. The most thumbed books on my shelves
are collections by Elizabeh Bishop and William Carlos Williams, but
there are many others. Most prominent I suppose are those poets I've
worked with in workshops - especially Matthew Sweeney, Jo Shapcott,
Sujata Bhatt, Katherine Gallagher. But I'm an eclectic reader, and the
true list is long.
I try to write every day. Usually it's on some unfinished piece, or
reworking an old poem. If I need to start something new, then it's
enough if I get a first line, phrase or image. I'm a very slow writer,
often just one or two lines a day. These days I never start with the
subject of a poem. I start with a seed and see where it grows, working
one line at a time until I think I've finished. This means a single
short poem can take days or weeks to complete.  It also means less
rewriting. I hardly ever get a poem fully formed, out of the ether.
Why do I write poetry? One answer is that having tried novels, short
stories and plays, I find I can't write anything else. The true answer
is that I love the compactness of poetry, it's Tardis quality of being
much bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside.
 
The text of the interview and some of Teds Poems can be read at
http://pkpoetry-list.port5.com/featurpoet/tedslade.htm

 


REMEMBERING TED SLADE


Katherine Gallagher - Remembering Ted Slade ......

It's impossible to think of Ted but as there at the wheel of the Poetry
Kit, always ready with a helpful comment or two.  Sometimes a quip.  He was
strong on irony.  'The Last Arm Pointing' sequence from his Flarestack
collection of the same title (2001) tellingly pictures some of the ironies
around the  pain of disability and the courage required to fight it.  Here
are the first three stanzas of 'On First Seeing Olivier's Richard III':

        I wondered how he'd do it
        - how would he get that knotted mass
        of cartilege and bone to hang
        from his shoulder, dragging his spine
        ino a lazy S? Which shoulder
        would he choose? Or would it be
        one of those Mr. Punch jobs,
        dead centre and rising
        like a mountain peak behind his ears?

        Then there were the legs.
        How would he get those elegant pins
        - the ones he'd used in Hamlet
        and Henry V - to twist and lope,
        lose inches from the thighs?
        And would both hands be the same size?
        Or would one be shrunken and cramped,
        inadequate to the holding of swords,
        the balancing of crowns
        or the wooing of maidens?

        My schoolmates knew, of course,
        as they showed me, aping my jagged
        shape and halting gait
        when the teachers drilled us into line
        outside the Regal.

        Ted's poems met life head-on. He was especially good on sequences
and some of his finest poetry is in the series
themed around science: 'We Be Dragons' . He was always on the side of those
misjudged through ignorance and
arrogance, as for example in 'The Last Testament of Giordano Bruno' :(
'Roast my broken body on your pyre/and feed my guts as offal to your
hounds')  and 'Hiroshima Heritage': ('Here in this shadow lies the
proof,/if proof you need,/that e equals mc squared.')

        He could be witty and humorous as in 'Goodbye, Mrs. Haut-Sinclair'.
He could write tender love poems as in one of the best poems, 'Sprout
Days'. (...How I saw you, young,/striding away across the fields./And how
in the night, listening/for your footfall,/ I heard the bark of a fox,/like
a dying cough.' )

        I once asked him to share a reading at the Poetry Cafe and he said
it was difficult for him to travel down to London, but that he might be
able to read if there was an event up in New Malden at some stage. Sadly,
it never happened.

        I was delighted when he interviewed me for the Poetry Kit - a very
kind  and extremely useful gesture for my poetry.  Ted was always
supportive, listing workshops, readings, and books - it was the same for
many, many poets. He will be missed in countless ways.

        Since his death last week, I've been amazed at how many people I've
talked to knew Ted and regularly wrote to him. He was for poetry and poets.
He saw the Poetry Kit expand,  and win awards. He
was proud of it and we were proud to know him. Thanks Ted.


                                                Katherine Gallagher,
                                                        London.
 


Ted had produced some advanced copies of what was to be his second collection of poetry.   The following review was prepared for Poetry Kit Magazine and was to have been published this month. 

 

Barry Jones reviews an advance copy of

Parallel Lines by Ted Slade

Plane Tree  £TBA

(35 pp)

 In an attempt to move away from what he calls “the directly autobiographical” Ted Slade has adopted the persona of his own younger sister for this, his second, collection. Each piece has a date for a title, indicating the date of a letter, or phone call, from his mythical, or real, sister, located somewhere near the rest of his extended family, in their home town, near the seaside.

 Most of the works are, roughly, sonnet length, and benefit from being read aloud to fully appreciate the rhythm and timbre of the phrasing. Although not without humour, the tone of the whole collection is dark, reflective and full of longing. Succinct, cryptic, but always accessible, each episode takes a wry look at some event from home, often including the death, or demise, of some person, or thing. One piece deals with the erosion of cliffs, and adjacent gardens, with the opening lines,           

“Last night the sea ripped the beach from its bed

             We heard the screams

             but know too well not to interfere

 in these family disputes.”

 which seem to render the rest of the poem unnecessary, such is the power of the imagery. Black and white photographs, from the author’s family archive, add to the mood of this sombre, thought-provoking, but very readable, collection of work. 

Highly recommended.

Barry Jones - Liverpool


 

POEMS IN REMEMBRANCE

 
For Ted
by James Bell

Breath and murmur
tell sudden songs

vanish with moonlight

summer day dreams
dance for gentle sleep

remember you

 
 
Vital Statistics
by Gary Blankenship

My birth was recorded
in pencil on the bottom of a page,
written upside down
to keep my entry separate.

The land does not care
about the details of my birth,
whether I walk gravel roads,
through new plowed fields,
hoe in hand;
whether marsh squishes between my toes,
clear ground beyond.

Water, forgetful, does not care.

Air surrounds me
as if I’m chained and shackled,
a prison with no escape but one;

but air cares no more
for the details of my birth
than the land or water.

My passing may be written
in the way of an ordinary death,
or pass unnoticed,
the binding cut so clean
no vibration signals my departure.

The land may notice for less time
than it takes for a virus to sneeze.

Water, without memory, will find me
and assist worms in their work.

And air?
Air will not care,
at least not after the smell
has dissipated.
Harmony
 by Kathleen G. Loucks
 
Your Family,
People you meet,
Siblings, parents,
Cousins, strangers.
 
Compare your encounters
If you will;
To the music scale of life,
Some are on the high note,
Some are on the low note.
 
When you attain Harmony,
Those are the precious moments.
Long after they are gone,
Their music still plays on,
In a memory, In your music,
As Harmony.
 
The Death of Père Ubu
by Jim Bennett
 
I dreamed of a poet who died today
his words strangled in my throat
left paper imitations
to tease us
like clouds on imaginary landscapes
 
I dreamed of an artist who died today
images in dust
hang on a plaster wall
pictures of a place
illuminated by his light
 
I dream of a man who died today
breathed his city one last time
and then is carried shoulder high
through crowds
who cry his name
 
I dreamed that Ubu died today

 

 

 
In The Word
    -------To Ted Slade
by Barbara Phillips

you lived in the word
and the word lived in you
somewhere out there you walk in sounds
images and thoughts put in our heads
when you wrote and spoke
what you saw in  your heart
it was in the art of what rests and always will
in shadows and in light
forever bright forever still
in the circle of  your traces
on this earth which is ours
for too few rhymes and songs
we reach through spaces we can't see
to keep you close in our embraces


 


'Cuzz'

By Chris Slade

This new friendship. This journey on which we were just setting out.
How will we work it now you've...well...gone?
It was going so well. That's the way I saw it anyhow
It had only been a year - we two - back in each other's circle...
Same planet - different orbit. Though I'll never know now what your thoughts might have been..

This 44 year gap in our 'acquaintance', for that's all you'd ever say it was,
...it closed at dad's (your Uncle Bud's), funeral - as he leapt 'on-flame' to the ether.
He didn't half  want to go..."Why don't they just let me slip away?"
And then It was you I wanted to know amongst those finger buffet scoffers.
Those ribboned aces never knew that Bud just kick-started their Lancasters and 'Spits' at Leconfield and Liberia.

Bud's morphine muted passing proved positive,and thankfully at last -
(he might remember now) - he helped kick-start too this belated kinship between us.
Jack would have been pleased about that...(Bud too I know)
"a good trade" he'd have called it. "I'm knackered anyway".
I was always curious about our respective dads - they only ever sent Christmas cards...no letters. No love.

Bud gave me a book  before he swapped "heaven's hopper" for the "take & bake".
"Eer-yar" he wheezed...this is more up your street than mine..."
"Yer what?..."Poetry?...No... I can't make head nor tail of it. Like Shakespeare...Where's me glasses?"
and, with that ,the "Last Arm Pointing" welded that closing gap between us tight shut.
I read 'Mystery  Tour' to Bud...about Jack's 'motorised passing' and he cried. So it was up his street. after all.

Your words filled me in on distant memories...made solid.
Missing chunks I'd seen but never written down
Of Withernsea and its winter isolation
of Jack, his life - and how it intertwined with yours.
I've not found too much yet about Phyllis. Is there a darker story there? Who'll tell me now?

Your final work, tireless as ever, from your New Malden 'crow's nest'...
was steering your second collection to print...and then...
Your literally-literal Mugs and Sweats - flying off the shelves of a California warehouse.
Disabled? Pah!  Why should they ever know the what & why behind the who and when?
Your 'disability'...would only 'publicly' let you down if your trike sustained a puncture in Richmond Park.

"Hi Cuz...Where do I go to get mugs and sweat shirts printed?"
And, whilst I was looking through directories & old invoices,
you whizzed across the earth on the wings of your laser guided mouse.
By the time I'd got the phone numbers of long distance, half remembered contacts -
you had designs submitted, distribution and royalty deals sorted and were planning the next big thing.

Your freehold on the planet was the web...your very own super-short cut.
Who needs invalid cars when you can 'fly digital'?
You were a lover of the dub-dub-dub which loved you back in floods.
Now, even when your body has deserted you - it still throws us pages and pages - of you - and about you.
The Noddy Holders and Wes the Western Gun-slinger, pale by comparison, they'd envy your PR knack.

Instead of trying to phone, (these heavenly BT - or is it ET-connections often end in wrong numbers)...
and, because a lot of the time talking took it out of you, I'll keep writing like I did before.
Replies would be good. But I often used to write out of turn anyway.
So yes, things could get a bit one sided...forgive me if I 'go on'...and you don't.
But I'll keep writing to Ted@poetrykit.org and read the answers in your books and old e-mails of the family's past.

Cheers Ted...Lots of love Chris (Cuz) Slade.


Mike Daniels

In the company of words, untroubled,
his companions robust, long lived,
as bright and as grim as he desired.
Others, like minded, shared the awe,
watched the joy, delight blend.

Oh, but the sharing increased
the pleasure; an ambient truth.
Here then the gift so permanent
and mutual.  So warm the echo,
I should have spoken before.

I was too comfortable, I suppose,
and unable.  Intimidated
by such generosity, unexpected.
I can be foolish, too small,
until time runs out - as now.

 

 

rip bulkeley - back room poets

repairing our links --
                     that constant warmth and handshake
                             have changed their address




                             

 

Alan Summers
 

Ted Slade was one of those people who was unstinting in his support of poets
and poetry. 

Ted, you made things worth carrying on with, even when things got so
difficult.  I will miss your presence dreadfully, and I think many many
other poets will feel the same way as I do.


river of stars -
i wave both hello & goodbye
to one blinking




 

TRIBUTES

 
 
 
Bill Webb
 
I haven't had time to peek in for a while but I am too shocked at Ted's passing.
 From the encounters I had with him he was always a kind hearted man with an
amazing sense of humor.  I am personaly grateful for the encouragement he gave
to me and to the times he made me laugh.

I want to express my sincere wishes for comfort and healing to those that were
close to Ted.  I know his loss will be a long empty road to travel.

May Ted's spirit and the memories of him help bring you all peace,
 

 
Gary Blankenship

Bremerton, Washington, USA
Without folks like Ted Slade, we do not exist as communities that stretch
from his Islands to the Pacific, Australia and around to the Islands again.
It is the Teds that bind us together - that give poets the opportunity to
improve craft and poetry to once more be a major art.

I wish I had known him better, but I do know what he did and the others he
impacted with his grace.

May he always inspire us to be better.

http://www.writershood.com/
 
 
David Bircumshaw
 
In a world of egotists and self-seekers there are few who show that openness
to others that Ted so sublimely had. He did his work for love of the art,
not self-love. The Poetry Kit remains as his monument, a site dedicated to
opening doors, not closing them. May it long continue in his remembrance.

Ted, you were a star.

http://www.chidesalphabet.org.uk
Gerald England
 
I've corresponded with Ted Slade only by email. He was also courteous and quick to update changes to information. He built his website up gradually into an excellent resource. I once posted a poem to a mailing list and Ted replied soliciting the work for his site. Six hours later it was published which for me is something of a record. Thanks Ted, you will be remembered.
 
 
Ronnie Goodyer
 
A good friend by email, inspired me as poetry editor. I'll remember the advice, humour, and carry on with the dignity he showed. May he stay in the light.
www.bluechrome.co.uk
www.indigo-dreams.com
www.bohopress.co.uk

Jacqueline KArp

 

I understand why the site was closed all week... such a wonderful person you could always be sure of a reply and everything so useful to us all..

 
Emily
 
How sad to hear Ted Slade's death. He really did a great job.  My deep condolences. I hope that the newsletter will continue.
 
 
 
Mike Horwood
 
I would like to say that I was very sorry to learn of Ted Slade´s death. I never met or had any direct contact with him and can't offer any personal tribute, of course, but I was a regular user of his Poetrykit website which was, and still is, one of the best of its kind. I certainly appreciate the great deal of work he must have done to set it up and maintain it.
 

Martin Haber

I have been enjoying The Poetry Kit Newletter for some time now, and was saddened to read of Ted Slade's passing. Please be so kind as to extend my heartfelt condolences to Ted's friends and family. I think he did a truly wonderful job with this concept, and has left a lasting legacy!

Brooklyn, New York
USA

 

Deborah Tyler-Bennett

As a receiver of Poetry Kit I was saddened to hear of the death of Ted Slade.  I was also grateful that his hard work was going to be continued.  As a poet and editor, work such as The Poetry Kit seems vital for the continuation and survival of poetry.  The website is a monthly reminder of what's out there, who's reading, and how wide spread poetry is.  I have recommended the site to my writing students, and to fellow poets.  I have been grateful when it has listed events in which I have taken part, and always appreciated Ted's generosity of spirit, both in setting the site up, and continuously supporting the work of poets.  When the magazine I edit, The Coffee House, first came out, The Poetry Kit was one of the first places in which it was listed.  I will miss Ted Slade's presence on the poetry scene, and celebrate his continuing legacy. 

 
.

 

THOM WORLD POET

February 1,2004

virtual was our friendship
yet his positivity was real
as was his service to poetry
there is a loss we can never replace
wish i had met him face to face!
 

 

Eliza Hemingway.

I never met Ted but we emailed each other a few times. Because of the distance it is obvious I could not participate in many of the events, but it was great to see the newsletter. I am glad he did it. I know that if I lived in England I would have liked to meet him.

 
British Columbia
Canada
 

 

David Fine

I only knew Ted in the last couple of years,  and wrote this for the Lit-net Newsletter

 “Finally, a sadness. Earlier this month Ted Slade, founder and editor of the excellent Poetry Kit website www.poetrykit.org, died. I knew Ted late in his life, but it is clear the world as well as poetry is a lesser place with his loss. Best to his colleagues, friends and family.”

 

 
Ted Slade was a tireless advocate who will be sorely missed. In a world dominated by Mammon Ted showed that dedication and love can bring far more. He bravely struggled through life, full of encouragement and enthusiasm. I'm glad to see that his work will be continued, that he has sparked off the next generation of poets.
 
Trevor 


www.author.co.uk
Author Publishing Ltd
 
Don Bates
New York City

I 'm delighted that you have elected to keep the work that Ted started going.  He pioneered the genre, so to speak, setting a tone of objectivity and information "overload" as the way to go.  Most important, he focused on readings, without which poetry's essential public side would never flourish.  And he tried to expand his listings to other parts of the English-speaking world.  I spoke with him by phone and corresponded here and there by e-mail and found him to a tough-minded but fair individual.  I think he told me he had a physical handicap and that that was one of the reasons he started Poetry Kit.  It may sound odd to say but thank goodness for whatever his handicap was.  Otherwise, we might not have his and now your site.  I know you'll maintain the standards he set and probably exceed them with your own ideas.  I hope you'll be able to devote as least as much space as he did to the U.S.   Whatever you do, I'll continue to eagerly await your coverage and I'll try not to forget the man who started it all.  I leave with one request: Kindly include a biographical sketch of Ted in a future issue.  I'd like to know more about the man's background.


Jacqueline Starer

I was flabbergasted when I read That Ted Slate had died. I didn't know him personally but he did welcome me warmly and rapidly on the site.  
I was very thankful and I felt his generosity and free spirit.

 

 
Gabriel Griffin
for Poetry on the Lake

It is with great sorrow that we learn of Ted Slade's death. Author of what is the most useful and informative pages on or off the web for poets and poetry lovers, Ted was not only extremely efficient but also friendly and cheerful in his e-mails. And a very fine poet himself. Our deepest sympathy goes to his family.

 
Stazja McFadyen
Publisher, Map of Austin Poetry

It was with dismay and sorrow that I accidentally learned of Ted's death this morning, when I logged onto poetrykit.org looking for a reference.

I never met Ted Slade in person, had no idea of his age or health. What I do know about Ted is that he was dedicated to the dissemination of the poetic art, and his Poetry Kit became an established network for poets around the world.

Four years ago, I published a sestina by Ted in the Map of Austin Poetry e-newsletter, and later included the poem in Best of MAP Featured Poetry Volume III, released in September 2003.  I offer it here in remembrance:

Galileo Meets His Inquisitors  by    Ted Slade    

Let us introduce you to the humble
thumbscrew. Note the sharp precision 
of its spikes. With just a few rotations
of this lever, we can break any bone we choose.
You might consider this an appropriate moment
to reflect upon the wisdom of your views.

Let me introduce you to my views
of Jupiter, whose spinning moons should humble
any critic. Consider them only for a moment:
see how they move - such heavenly precision
cannot be denied. How can you ask a man to choose
to disregard the fact of these rotations?

Perhaps instead a few rotations
of the strappado will clarify your views
of the heavenly motions. Or else we'll choose
the rack to stretch your mind to humble
thoughts. You'll appreciate the fine precision
of its gearing, the power of its turning moment.

The phases of Venus are at this moment
disputing your logic with their rotations.
My telescopes are made with such precision
they can provide the most astounding views
of other worlds, and though I am your humble
servant, science is the master I must choose.

And fire the method we must choose,
that master of persuasion which in a moment
can reduce the proudest men to humble
compliance. God has decreed the heavenly rotations.
His is the Truth, whatever the distorted views
seen through your glasses. This precision

you claim is nothing compared to the precision
of Creation. You have no option but to choose
renunciation of your views.
For it would take us just a moment,
our instruments a few rotations
to render you forever humble.

© Ted Slade

Humbly tendered on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2004,
 

Martin Blyth

www.martinblyth.co.uk

I have only just learned of Ted’s death, which ends one of my oldest Web-only friendships. We never met or spoke to each other, yet there was always a true feeling of friendliness in whatever he did – and did very promptly and efficiently as regards his site. Many years ago I met a New Zealand backpacker in the middle of Dorset. We chatted for a while, wished each other a good day’s journey, and never met again. Yet we had become friends. I instinctively look out for him when I pass the spot. That’s how I feel about Ted.