Friday, January 02, 2009

Poet Mike Amado: The Passing of a Young Poet

( Mike Amado--middle)

Poet Mike Amado: The Passing of a Young Poet

It must have been hard to walk in the basement of Finagle-A-Bagel in Harvard Square on a cold, gray Saturday morning, and sit down with the original members of the Bagel Bards, a bunch of grizzled gray- beard veterans of the local poetry scene. Here he was, all of 30 years old, and a sufferer of advanced kidney disease to boot. And because of his health life was indeed difficult. Mike didn’t finish college even though he was quite bright, and he had to survive on disability and the limited life that came with it. I never heard him talk about a girlfriend or a love interest. It must have been a lonely life for a young guy. And so there he was at the table, shaking a bit, perhaps stuttering, but saying his piece, and exhibiting an enthusiasm and energy that could put us all to shame.

Mike became a regular, accompanied by his pal Jack Scully. Scully had sparked his interest in the Bagel Bards, after reading an article about the group in The Boston Globe, written by Ellen Steinbaum. He slowly worked his way into the hearts of all the members. He work shopped his poems, took advantage of every reading opportunity offered, started to publish in the Bagel Bard house organs, as well as a wide variety of small press magazines. Mike even started a poetry series in his hometown of Plymouth, Mass.

Last Summer (2008) Mike attended the Solstice Writing Workshop at Pine Manor College and came back to the group beaming. He made new strides in his writing, and made new contacts in the poetry world.

During his time with us Mike published two collections of poetry: “Stunted Inner Child… (Cervena Barva Press), and “Rebuilding the Pyramids: Poems of Healing In A Sick World,” with the Ibbetson St. Press.

The last time I saw Mike was at the Somerville News Writers Festival (Nov. 22, 2008) He was in his element, dressed in a resplendent Chinese tunic, chatting it up with the faculty at Pine Manor College, and the many poets and writers he knew in the community. He was excited about the prospects of his new books.

While I was at work I got an email from a poet and a close friend of Mike’s, Irene Koronas. Mike had passed away surrounded by family and friends. Mike lasted way longer than he was expected to. He was fighting this disease since he was 13.

But in the time I knew him I never got the sense that he was jaded. He continued to be a rabid music fan, always had a child-like enthusiasm for poetry, and displayed an iconoclastic sense of humor. I will miss seeing him coming through the doors of the Au Bon Pain every Saturday morning with his pal Jack who towered over his slight figure like a gentle, protective giant. I’d always say “What’s up, Mike.” And god love him, he always had a scoop.


  1. Anonymous7:46 PM

    Thank you for writing about Mike. I did not know him, but I am a poet too. A poet could not ask for more meaningful words to be spoken of him. He clearly inspired a great many people just by 'being'. Now I get to be one of those touched by his story. Thank you. Condolences and peace to you.

  2. Anonymous1:17 PM

    It's so wonderful that you wrote about Mike. He was a good friend of mine and a truely original being. He fought hard through his life and we fortunetly had the pleasure of occupying his company. His spirit lives on with all of us. There are many things we will miss, but it gives us a boost to work harder in our arts in his honor.

  3. I was at the Solstice Writer's Conference last year (teaching in one of the workshops, actually) and don't recall meeting Mike and I lament it. I came upon this remembrance via Silliman's blog and found it a gem in that you managed to give an indelible and touching portrait. Thanks.

  4. Hi... I'm crying right now. I should just start with that, I guess.

    I've known Mike for a long time. But I moved away from Plymouth and hadn't seen him for two years when he died.

    Mike changed my life. He encouraged me to write and to perform. He broke the poetry from my soul and set me free.

    I am writing a tribute to him to post on my own poetry blog. I'll comment here again when I have finished it so that you might read it.

    Thanks for writing about him.

  5. The poem I wrote in tribute of him is now up on my blog. You can find it at Broken Mannequin in the post Kidney Dance (For Mike Amado). Thanks again for taking the time to pay tribute to him here.

  6. Anonymous8:13 AM

    I didn't really know Mike at all, but I will never forget his encouraging words to me one night after a reading we both shared. I had just moved to Boston and was going through a terribly tough time in my life, and not only did Mike seem preternaturally to understand what I was going through, he also said a few simple words that were exactly what I needed to hear at that time: don't give up. I was very moved and couldn't believe that someone I didn't know could be so kind and so perceptive. I didn't know Mike, but I'm sure the people who did experienced this kind of compassion and understanding all the time.

    Thade Correa