David Citino, poet, critic, essayist, anthologist, teacher, and friend, died recently. Since 1982 he had been a regular contributor to Prairie Schooner and at the time of his death, we were using his Oxford University Press anthology, The Eye of the Poet, in our graduate writing seminar. We feel his absence in our pages and remember him through these words by Carrie Shipers, Ph.D. student and Teaching Assistant in the Department of English at the University of Nebraska:
I first met David Citino over the telephone in April of 2002. I had recently been accepted into the MFA program at The Ohio State University, and my husband and I were visiting Columbus to look for a place to live. David had invited me by email to visit his graduate poetry workshop my last afternoon in town, but my husband and I were having trouble finding an apartment. When I called David’s office to let him know I wouldn’t be coming to class, I was nervous about the kind of impression I’d be making on a professor I hadn’t yet met in person. After I explained the situation, he said, “I know there’s a place for you here, Carrie, and I know you and your husband will be able to find it.” When I mentioned that incident to him shortly before I graduated, he didn’t remember it, and it occurred to me that he didn’t need to, that what had been to me an extraordinary kindness was simply the way David lived his life.
I feel enormously privileged to have been one of David’s students. He was a generous and patient teacher, always willing to meet with me to talk about my work, always willing to read one more draft. Simply being near him made me feel like a smarter, better person than I knew I was. I learned a tremendous amount from David, about poetry and about the world.
For David, poems were a way of connecting ourselves with the past, the present, and the future, with places we had left far behind and places to which we did not yet know we would go. In his essay, “Tell Me How It Was in the Good Old Days,” David writes, “Home is the place you never leave.” For me, as for many of his students in his many years of teaching, David helped me to make a home not only in Columbus, but in the world of poetry to which he contributed so much.