Saturday, March 05, 2016
Pat Conroy died last night, and his passing is a tremendous loss.
In 2007, ten years after James Dickey's death, Conroy gave a wonderful speech at the University of South Carolina reminiscing about his experiences as his student, and the impact Dickey's teaching had on his own writing. But it speaks to the work and the aspirations of all writers, and tells us much about Conroy himself. These are some excerpts from his hand-written text.
Here, Conroy alludes to Dickey's scandalous personal reputation, grabbing wild metaphors out of the sky, and out of James Dickey poetry, as only Pat Conroy could do:
Here Conroy talks about how much Dickey reminded him, at first, of his father, “The Great Santini.” But Conroy loved Dickey’s writing, and his teaching, maybe almost as much as he hated his own father’s brutality.
On these last two pages, Conroy puts "political correctness" in its place before a ringing conclusion, "a prayer," as he calls it, about the work of James Dickey that speaks to the hope of every artist.