I think all of us were genuinely surprised to learn that Ed Galing, the poet- laureate of Hatboro, PA, had passed away last month, surprised even though the man turned 96 in 2013. Why did we think he would live forever? Maybe he gave all of us hope.
Ed Galing wrote and lived poetry, and those of us who cherish poetry loved him, loved him in spite of his occasionally haphazard typing. On a manual, an antique, I’m sure. We even spotlighted Galing in one of our last print editions. He stood—and still stands—as an inspiration to poets everywhere. Yes, writing and publishing poetry all the way up to age 90 and beyond is certainly admirable, but that’s incidental. The real reason we love Galing—and, yes, I speak for poetry lovers and poetry editors everywhere—is because he wrote the truth. No, I don’t mean that he only wrote about true things though he most certainly did. Instead, what I mean is that he wrote simply, directly, and eloquently. He trusted the stories he wanted to tell through his poems enough to avoid complicating them with tangled, tortured, and twisted language.
Many poets fail, ironically, because they strain for poetic effect and lose sight of their goal, which should be to reach their audience and not to aim for immortality right from the start; likewise, Galing trusted his audience, understood that we were already on his side, so he refrained from trying too hard to impress or lecture us. Instead, he simply asked us to join him on his journey, a journey down memory lane and the things that mattered to him: growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East side, the passing of his wife, living in a retirement home, etc. And, yes, he did write what he knew, a lesson that many writers never learn no matter how many times, nor how loudly, we hear it.
I will miss reading his monthly submissions—and the lengthy notes that accompanied them—but I also feel fortunate to have known him as a fellow poet, and I treasure his work. Thanks, Ed.
Mdp, Saturday, January 4, 2014