Excerpt of The Poet's Funeral by John M. Daniel
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Preface to the Trade Edition
What you have in your hands is the trade edition of The Poet's
Funeral. If you're looking for the Ongepotchket Press edition,
complete with pictures of the dead poet and all her friends,
and including a bunch of previously unpublished, posthumous
poems of obscure origin, let me know and I'll give you your
money back. This is the first and perhaps the only sincere tribute
to the poet Heidi Yamada.
Included are eulogies by several of Heidi Yamada's associates,
people who knew her well, some even before she became a
celebrity. I have annotated these testimonials with what I know
about those speakers, and I have also tied the speeches together
with the thread of what really happened during the last few
days and evenings of Heidi's life.
Finally, I must say I take umbrage at John Daniel's statement
that the characters in this book are fi ctitious. Believe him
if you want to, but I'm telling you that what happened in Las
Vegas was real and the characters you're about to read about are
real. I ought to know.
Heidi Yamada (1950-1990) was born and raised in Los
Angeles, California, the only child of Tetsu and Megumi Yamada, survivors of the Manzanar Internment Camp
during World War II. Mr. Yamada, who died in 1965, was
a gardener for the Huntington Library; Mrs. Yamada, who
died the same year, was self-employed as a housecleaner.
Heidi Yamada attended the University of California,
Santa Barbara, on a full scholarship, from 1968-1973,
majoring in environmental science. It was there that she
became fascinated by poetry, taking classes from and
eventually working as personal assistant to poet-professor
Arthur Summers. Under his mentorship, she became
a serious poet and pursued a literary career with remarkable
Her first poetry collection, And Vice Versa, was published
by Guy Mallon Books in 1980. Jump Start
(1982) and Second Helpings
(1983) were both published by Random House. A
deluxe "art book," Love From My
Velvet Slipcase, was produced in 1988 by Ongepotchket
Press of Santa Barbara.
Yamada wrote in a style of her own that some criticized
as ornate to the point of opacity; others called it
brilliant and innovative. Her work sold remarkably well,
and she became a celebrity of considerable fame. Her striking looks, outspoken
personality, and flamboyant
behavior were even more famous than her poetry, which,
no matter how one interpreted it, could not be dismissed
Ms. Yamada died of an apparent drug overdose on June 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada,
during the American Booksellers
Association convention. A memorial service will be held
in Santa Barbara on July 10. Memorial contributions
can be made to the National Endowment for the Arts.
List of Speakers
Guy Mallon is the proprietor of Guy Mallon Books, a literary
publishing company in Santa Barbara, California.
Arthur Summers, Professor of English at University of California,
Santa Barbara, is the author of many collections of poetry
and has been named United States Poet Laureate for 1991.
is a literary agent based in San Francisco. is a literary agent based in San
Charles Levin is a senior editor at Random House, Inc.
Taylor Bingham was book review editor for Newsweek
from from 1971-1983.
Linda Sonora is the author of is the author of Desert Nights: Stories;
and Very Hot Plate.
Maxwell Black is the author of is the author of The Yellow Bandanna;
Mr. President; and Gol Dern It.
From The Poet's Funeral by James M Daniel. Copyright © 2005 by James M. Daniel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means without the prior written permission of both the copy right owner and the publisher of this book.