Vivian Faith Prescott | Remembering Derick Burleson

I am a good poet because Derick Burleson was a great poet. Derick died a few days ago many fellow poets and friends are grieving. Derick was my poetry mentor during my low-residency Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Alaska. I cannot look at my manuscript without seeing and hearing Derick. During my mentorship he’d call me on the phone (I was living in Puerto Rico) and we’d go over my poems line by line, paying attention to every word. His “fingerprints” are all over dozens of my poems.

On the morning he died, I was reading a poem I published in the Yellow Medicine Review that I had written in response to a statement Derick made about clichés: “Grandmothers are Cliché.” I was hoping Derick wouldn’t be offended by my new poem, but then I thought of course he wouldn’t. We would laugh about it. I had planned on showing the poem to him. And then I heard the news of his death later that day.

Derick was an exceptional poet, a fabulous painter, and a photographer, too. Peace and love to his family.

Derick’s books included Use (Calypso Editions, 2012); Melt (Marick Press, 2012); Never Night (Marick Press, 2007), Ejo: Poems, Rwanda 1991-94 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2000).

While the family appreciates the spirit of gestures of caring through cards or flowers, they have asked that any offerings of support be directed to a fund established here.

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