Saturday, November 17, 2001

Ron Price

To write the introductions of featured writers for this series, I read as much material as possible about them from book reviews and interviews, whatever is available on the Internet. Usually there is enough to get a sense of a writer, their background and personal interests. Often there is more than enough. Sometimes there is too much. Occasionally, there is way more than I want to know. Or you want to know. Writers. Sheesh.

Ron Price is an exception. There is a lot of material available in praise of his work, his abilities as a wordsmith, much mention of his deep sense of place and kinship with the natural world, as well as his very deep concern about racism in America.

But there isn't a lot about Ron Price himself. Though raised in the Mississippi Delta by parents from the Midwest and east, he describes himself as a southerner by geography but not by culture. He studied with black poet icon Etheridge Knight in the late Seventies in Memphis, moved to Philadelphia just in time to live within fifteen blocks of the bombing of the MOVE house by the Philadelphia Police Department, which resulted in the destruction of sixty neighboring rowhouses. He wasn't happy about it, but managed to carry on.

He is co-founder of the Free Peoples Poetry Workshop, a participant in the following programs: Poet in the Parks, Poet in Prisons, and Poet in the Schools. His work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies. He is the author of Surviving Brothers and a recording called A Crucible for the Left Hand. His latest work is A Small Song Called Ash From the Fire.

He now labors as Poet in Residence at the Juilliard School, where he teaches creative writing. He describes his current life "as about as interesting as woodlice." A curious statement, especially when one considers his past proximity to those bombings in Philadelphia. Or that the Juilliard School is located in Manhattan, recent former home of the New York World Trade Center. Woodlice? A person has to wonder where Ron is contemplating moving next.

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