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Zoe Anglesey: 1941-2003
Zoe Anglesey
Writer, poet, editor

Born: June 5, 1941
Died: February 12, 2003 in New York City, New York

Obituary

Photos

Appreciation


JJA colleague Zoe Anglesey

by Enid Farber
Copyright © 2003 Enid Farber

Anglesey 2

Zoe Anglesey, poet, writer, Jazz critic, editor, translator, curator, teacher, activist, mother, grandmother, sister, and comrade, passed away on February 12th, 2003, after struggling with and almost conquering non-smoking lung cancer.

She was an expert on multiculturalism and Latin-America, where she spent extensive time in the late 60’s and 70’s. Her features and book reviews have appeared in DownBeat, Jazziz, the Multicultural Review, New York Latino, the Village Voice, NPR Jazz and many other publications. Cuba’s Chucho Valdes won a Grammy award for his Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note, 2002) recording for which Anglesey wrote the liner notes.

She edited many poetry anthologies including Listen Up! Spoken Word Poetry (One World/Ballantine, 1999); Poetry of Women of Diverse Heritages (Open Hand Publishing, Inc. 1994). As senior editor at the Voice Literary Supplement , Anglesey compiled an issue featuring Latino writers.

Her own book of poems entitled Something More Than Force: Poems for Guatemala 1971-1982, (Adastra Press) received honorable mention from the Before Columbus Foundation’s American book Awards in 1983. Anglesey won a W.B. Yeats Society of New York poetry prize in 2001.

One of Anglesey’s greatest contributions was the work she achieved as a translator for Latin-American writers and poets giving voice to them in the United States. Some of those books are, Dream with no Name: Contemporary Cuban Fiction, An Anthology (Ballantine, 1996); Mouth to Mouth: Poems by Twelve Contemporary Mexican Women (Milkweed, 1993) and Costa Rica: A Literary Travel Companion, (Whereabouts, 1994).

Additionally Anglesey helped lift the careers of many young musicians first writing about these promising artists including Ravi Coltrane, Abraham Burton and Roy Hargrove.  Coltrane and Burton remained very close friends until her death.


Enid Farber
Enid Farber is a photographer and JJA member.

E-mail: Farberfoto@aol.com

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Reading her own poetry at benefit on 10/6/02, Bob Holman's Poetry Bar

by Enid Farber
Copyright © 2003 Enid Farber


Enid Farber
Enid Farber is a photographer and JJA member.

E-mail: Farberfoto@aol.com

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Zoe Anglesey thanking the musicians and poets who participated in her benefit

by Enid Farber
Copyright © 2003 Enid Farber


Enid Farber
Enid Farber is a photographer and JJA member.

E-mail: Farberfoto@aol.com

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Memories of Zoe

by Enid Farber
Copyright © 2003 Enid Farber

Anglesey

I was one of the fortunate women who came into Zoe’s universe but sadly too little too late. Although I met Zoe at least 10 years earlier, and knew her professionally, I didn’t spend “quality” time with her until this past 6 months. I was not prepared to accept that she was truly ill.

It didn’t make sense, didn’t seem conceivable, was news that I could not and should not have had to process. And what a lesson the universe had in store for me. As someone who has a very hard time accepting and understanding death, my time with Zoe during her last imminent days, illustrated how brave and strong one can be, must be, in the face of death. I have never witnessed such courage, such acceptance of the inevitable, almost a matter of fact attitude of what might happen and certainly what must be done.

I believe it was late August when I first reached out to assist Zoe in planning her benefits that were to be held in October. When I first came to Zoe’s home, after not having seen her for a couple of years, I realized it was not fiction, not poetry, Zoe was and had indeed been dealing with this horrible disease that had claimed too many that I knew and loved in the past 10 years.

I just didn’t think it was possible, not again, not Zoe. Yet she was determined to make things happen, prepare, face the facts with enough hope left and that is what I held on to. We had several meetings making phone calls to the many musicians that Zoe had earned respect and admiration from. Witness the turnout on October 6th and 8th, 2002 to her benefits at the Poetry Bar and the Jazz Gallery respectively. Ravi Coltrane, Abraham Burton, Archie Shepp, Graham Haynes, D.D. Jackson, John Hicks, Elise Woods, Duane Burno, Roy Hargrove, Susie Ibarra, Matthew Shipp, Rashied Ali, Brandon Ross, Dwayne Eubanks, and many more. And the poets, Suhair Hammad, Willie Perdomo, Bob Holman, Steve Dalachinsky, Yuko Otomo and more.

Reaching out to many of these respected artists, some who knew me, some who did not, was not always easy for me. I’ve never been comfortable in that role as “fundraiser” or to ask for favors or help. But I swallowed my fears and dealt with this as bravely as I could as I watched Zoe taking on this enormous task mostly by herself. I know at times it was frustrating and perhaps demoralizing for her but she had to do what she had to do as survival was still very much a possibility and paying the enormous bills incurred during an illness was serious.

That she, like many others in this jazz world, including myself, had no health insurance, makes me angry, perhaps contributing to her early demise. This is why I felt I so adamant about helping and making those calls. Thank you to all those musicians who responded and supported.

After these successful benefits I believed that all would be well. I slipped into fantasy and denial again. But I believe Zoe had her reserve of strength especially after she was accepted for a new treatment that would keep the cancer from her bones. Those treatments were not easy. She had to travel far from home for those and she had to once again ask for help, not her style.

Two other special last memories with Zoe must be mentioned. I was soliciting two magazines (Jazziz and Women Who Rock) to publish a piece on a great Mexican musician/singer, I had recently discovered, Lila Downs. I brought Zoe her music and press package. Lila would be at Joe’s Pub and The Museum of the American Indian in September and I wanted her to join me to witness this wonderful singer. Getting to either venue took a lot out of her. Luckily her daughter Catherine came in from Boston and was able to take her to the Museum gig.

They got there early enough to see the exhibition, Mexican Folk Art and then the concert. She came dressed impeccably and beautifully as always and she was prepared to interview Lila afterwards. That became a real challenge because of the way it was organized but she managed to hang in there for long enough in a very hectic environment, to get to all the musicians in the band.

Regrettably Women Who Rock decided to use one of their own editors to write a piece that would only include a mention of Lila. They never even checked out her material. This was disappointing for both of us but I felt really badly as I was hoping that none of Zoe’s last efforts and works would go unappreciated or unrecognized. I sincerely hope that all her projects that she was so determined to complete before February 12th, 2003 will be realized sooner than later.

The second memory was the time I went to meet her at her home to help her get into the city to see Ravi Coltrane at Joe’s Pub for the book release of A Love Supreme. She was once again determined to get there, dressed to the nines, and even traveled by train with me to Manhattan, a very difficult trip, as we had to change trains and walk up many steps at the Lafayette Broadway station. It was really sad that we couldn’t afford a cab and yet she used some of that “reserve of strength” to make this happen. Ravi, whom she adored was worth it.

Finally, after Zoe’s last bout in the hospital, she whereby was left with such little hope, her focus was preparing for this day. I, however, was not prepared for that. This is where I had the most to learn in the shortest amount of time. Visiting Zoe on 4 occasions is my final paragraph of her final chapter.

The first time I went to help her in any way I could. She asked for my help in sorting out her emails and deleting the spam and addressing the business. She told me to keep it short and too the point, not my strong suit. Many of these emails consisted of a line such as, “thank you for your support, love zoe” or “this will be my last communication” or “please send your requests to yusef at this number…” or simply “goodbye” in two or three alternate words.

Zoe was methodical about her approach to life and subsequently death. She wanted to make sure that Felix (mi esposo) and I would take her plants when she found out that Felix loved plants and would lovingly care for them. It helped give her a sense of peace to know that these and other important parts of her material world would be given to the right person and the best home. So everyday when I see these plants and the other prized Mexican possessions that Zoe imparted to me, I am reminded of the contributions of this human being, great spirit and brilliant woman whose time was not enough.


Enid Farber
Enid Farber is a photographer and JJA member.

E-mail: Farberfoto@aol.com

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With 4 reader comments, latest October 18, 2008