April 08, 2008 Slideshows

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Donald Finkel tribute at Duff's Restaurant, St. Louis, April 7, 2008 

As a teacher at Washington University, as a mentor to young writers, as a friend to established writers, Donald Finkel wanted others to find their own voices � to hew their own path through life, and not imitate what had been done. On April 7 at Duff�s Restaurant, 392 North Euclid Ave., Finkel�s celebration was marked by more than 30 local poets. Hear his words here.
-Paul Friswold
Jennifer Silverberg
St. Louis poet Donald Finkel first read at Duff's in the mid-1970s. Alzheimer's rudely intervened in the late 1990s.
Jennifer Silverberg
Nearly three dozen poets crowd Duff's to share their favorite Finkel poems in a celebration that will last well into the night.
Jennifer Silverberg
Master of ceremonies (and RFT editor) Tom Finkel imposes order via chaos, (semi-)randomly choosing readers' names from a hat.
Jennifer Silverberg
The evening kicks off with Donald Finkel's tequila toast of choice. All together now: "Arriba! Abajo! Al centro! Y pa' dentro!"
Jennifer Silverberg
Armand Forster studied with Finkel as an undergraduate and took part in expeditions to Mammoth Cave while Finkel was working on Going Under.
Jennifer Silverberg
Former students Peter Carlos (left) and Michael Castro. Castro is the founding editor of the poetry journal River Styx.
Jennifer Silverberg
Nan Sweet (foreground) and Hari Campbell await their turn at the mic.
Jennifer Silverberg
Melissa Gurley Bancks (left) delved into A Question of Seeing, published in 1998, for her choices, while Carol Niederlander picked one each from Simeon (1964), A Mote in Heaven's Eye (1975) and Not So the Chairs (2003).
Jennifer Silverberg
Hari Campbell's daughter keeps him company as he waits to read his Finkel favorites.
Jennifer Silverberg
David Clewell, right, a close friend for 30 years, opted to read from Finkel's exploration of non-human intelligence, What Manner of Beast. Drinking buddy Pete Genovese picked a selection from "Beyond Despair," a chapbook-length ode to the River
Jennifer Silverberg
John Dressel popped in from his pub down the street to read from two early Finkel collections, Simeon and A Joyful Noise.
Jennifer Silverberg
The inimitable Shirley LeFlore joins in to celebrate Finkel's work.
Jennifer Silverberg
Fortified by books and bottles, celebrants were videoed for posterity.
Jennifer Silverberg
Jane O. Wayne reads "Waiting for a Heart," a poem from A Question of Seeing that Finkel wrote about her late husband Sam's heart transplant.
Jennifer Silverberg
Jane Ellen Ibur's choice of "The Tenth Mu," one of Finkel's last published poems, is appropriate in more ways than one: The poem is a wry but telling take on losing one's grasp on words.
Jennifer Silverberg
Poet Jason Sommer shares with Finkel a love of modern Chinese translation.
Jennifer Silverberg
Curtis Lyle channels Finkel's vituperative side with a chilling reading of a segment of the long poem Answer Back, which weaves a theme of cave exploration into a a stunning meditation on war, racism, myth and art.
Jennifer Silverberg
Jane Birdsall Lander studied poetry in Finkel's graduate writing workshop; today words play a part in her sculptural explorations.
Jennifer Silverberg
Painter and longtime Finkel friend Mary Sprague (center) is flanked by poet Michael Castro and fellow painter Joan Elkin. Elkin's late husband, Stanley Elkin, was Finkel's colleague at Washington University. Sprague once traded Finkel a painting for a po
Jennifer Silverberg
Howard Schwartz, UMSL writing prof and all-around mensch, organized the Finkel celebration, which surely ranks as the largest-ever convocation of St. Louis poets.
Jennifer Silverberg
Now in his eighties, John Knoepfle was Finkel's neighbor when both poets lived in University Heights (which was also home to the late Howard Nemerov). Knoepfle and his wife Peg (herself a poet) now live in Springfield, Illinois; Finkel lives in a nursing
Jennifer Silverberg
For more than 30 years, Karen Duffy has hosted literary gatherings at her Central West End restaurant.
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Jennifer Silverberg
St. Louis poet Donald Finkel first read at Duff's in the mid-1970s. Alzheimer's rudely intervened in the late 1990s.

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