Excerpt from The Poet's Funeral by John M. Daniel, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Poet's Funeral

by John M. Daniel

The Poet's Funeral
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 257 pages
    Oct 2006, 257 pages

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Print Excerpt

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Press edition, complete with pictures of the dead poet and all her friends, and including a bunch of previously unpublished, posthumous poems of obscure origin, let me know and I'll give you your money back.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.

—Guy Mallon


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 success.

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 or ignored.

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.

—Publishers Weekly

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.

Beatrice Knight is a literary agent based in San Francisco. is a literary agent based in San Francisco.

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; Violent Ink; and Very Hot Plate.

Maxwell Black is the author of is the author of The Yellow Bandanna; Howdy, 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.

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