“In the end, there is no end.”– Robert Lowell
Remembering Harriet Zinnes (1919-2019)
The person one becomes is the result of innumerable factors, including hundreds if not thousands of personal relationships. But only a handful of those relationships are memorable.
One such relationship for me was the several years I knew Harriet Zinnes. I was a student of hers when I enrolled in a modern poetry course that she was teaching at Queens College. I took another course from her on Ezra Pound and a third, I believe, on the writing of poetry.
I was sort of a working-class jock in college – not the type of person I’d ever think Professor Zinnes would take an interest in. But she did, and we became friends. Perhaps not close friends, but close enough that she would talk to me about how it was to be a poet and a teacher.
I felt that she believed in me – not necessary as a poet, but as a person with potential.
I lost touch with her after college, but I’ve thought of her thousand times since then, particularly when I thought about poetry and teaching.
I have mentioned her in my essays now and then. Recently, I got a note from her daughter, who had found one of those essays online. She said that her mother had just passed away at age 100 and that there would be a memorial in the spring. I will be there.
Here is Harriet Zinnes’s obituary from the website of the Colorado Review, where she was a frequent contributor: https://bit.ly/2sNsyoE