Robert Elliot Fox:
For Ted Joans
He sprang from Ole Man River tracked every groove in the diasporic spiral a wailer who harpoon- tanged on three continents Afro-beat purveyor of seer realism prowling graffiti street w/ rimbaud license & saxy moan his blackophone antics teasing the word for all he wrote Now he jams in soulville with all the gone griots a band of angels nommoing down the night
The great Ted’s book, Lost and Found: “In Thursday Sane,” is in print. Please see http://web.archive.org/web/20150708092153/http://www.swanscythe.com:80/books/in_thursday_sane.html for a copy of this small book featuring Ted’s poem in his own handwriting, composed spontaneously after a visit to Beauford Delaney in Paris in 1976. Meeting him once was a privilege; no one loved the arts and their history like he did.
Mimi Burns McCartney:
The date was November 21, 1963. I met Ted at Constitution Square in Athens, Greece, at an outdoor table in front of the American Express office. In those days, you could use Amex as a mail forwarding address when you wandered around Europe or wherever. He was bright, funny, kind of an old-soul, and genuinely liked by those who surrounded him. He was interested in talking to me because I was a young woman traveling alone through Europe in the days when that was rarely done.
The following morning the hotel desk clerk told me that JFK had been shot; he had not been pronounced dead. I immediately went back to Constitution Square to meet with Americans that I’d met in days prior, hoping for more information than the clerk could provide.
Ted was the only American present and we sat together. A local taverna owner asked him to compose and recite a poem about JFK’s assassination that evening. He was toying with it, writing a line or two when inspired, occasionally asking me to critique what he had written. He was disturbed because the taverna owner was going to put a sign in the window, “Texans Not Allowed.” (For those of you who don’t remember, Lee Harvey Oswald was a Texan.) Ted was going to tell the owner to remove the sign, that the ‘No Texan’ bit was both obnoxious and counterproductive to installing Lyndon Johnson (another Texan) as the next president of the US.
This was Ted’s soft side. He could be militant but he could also be fair, rational, intuitive. I think I fell in love with him a little bit that day although he claimed to be married to a French cabinet minister’s daughter and currently involved with a Scandinavian woman. Whether or not any of this is true, I don’t know. I do know that he was such a cheerful iconoclast, so very different from anyone that I had ever met, someone whom I would forever remember. I left later that day for Mykonos.
He welcomed meeting American servicemen throughout Europe who had access to base PXs. He had three shopping requests and I’ll be damned if I can remember the last on the list. He called them the three P’s — the first two were peanut butter and prophylactics. Anyone remember the third?
He gave me a list of people to call during the rest of my travels; Francis Bacon was among them. I didn’t call.
I thought about Ted throughout the years and wondered where his next stop(s) were. On 9/11, there was talk about how you’d never forget where you were when receiving earth-shattering news such as JFK’s assassination, Martin Luther King’s assassination (I was at Heathrow) and finally, 9/11. I immediately thought of Ted and decided I’d try to contact him. There was a Washington State address listed on the internet but my letter to him at that address was returned. I contacted one of his publishers at a bookstore in Berkeley. The respondent said that the Washington address was all that he had.
About a month ago I thought of Ted again, googled him and found the memorial website. I wish I’d kept up with him through the years, wish I’d realized what fine work he’d done, wish I could have talked with him in his later years, wish I could have met Laura.
My condolences to family and friends.
Ted Joans Lives!
Mimi Burns McCartney
Haiku for Ted Joans
Poet of my youth.
In The Village of my mind
you live forever.