We lament the loss of Curt Stubbs, a dedicated Poetry Center docent who faithfully served as a volunteer for more than seven years in jobs that included staffing the Poetry Center’s front desk, leading a monthly open mic program open to all participants, selling books at our many author events, and by volunteering to help lead conversations about poetry in the Tucson community: at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, at public library branches, and elsewhere.
Of all the ways Curt distinguished the Poetry Center by his presence and service, it was his smiling face at the front desk that makes for one of the brightest memories. He is remembered by thousands of visitors to the Poetry Center for his delightful moustaches and for his big-hearted presence.
Curt was committed to the monthly open mic he helped lead at the Center; in addition to his fidelity to live events that featured original poems, he loved holding a space that was available to everyone and anyone, and this underscores a beautiful way that Curt moved in the world. He loved doing things that honored others; that made them more legible and more visible in a world that was often otherwise too busy. This was one of the ways he best represented what we might hope to be at the Poetry Center. Learn more about his life in his obituary.
Tucson’s Poet Laureate TC Tolbert penned this special remembrance of Curt:
A Poem in Celebration and Memory of Curt Stubbs
all italicized words are Curt’s – either remembered or found in his writings –
by TC Tolbert, Honorary Senior and Tucson’s Poet Laureate
You knew him even before you knew him: Hawaiian shirt, long shimmering
silver goatee, curling mustache, round proud straw hat – Curt Stubbs exemplified
the best this desert town offers – didn’t he call Tucson the Baked Apple? – generosity and sass.
We agreed at his recent memorial reading – he wasn’t just kind, kindness is easy
enough – he was more himself than that – a planner – Words of Wisdom:
Poetry by LGBTQI Elders was his signature yearly event – how grateful I was to be
there with my ears and my heart – how his very presence asked for both – I am
(and we were, in his company especially) a lucky commoner among heroes – Curt’s poems
were meticulously crafted – unabashed – A New Apocrypha – attentive, as he was,
to the heaven and hell of life as an aging gay man – what it meant to exist in a body
so intimate with the simultaneity of life and death –
At night in the bars where
sanctuary reigned, I was called sister,
giddy as a school girl, laughing, flirting,
and dancing with the other legions.
They’re all dead now.
All the Gay men I met
when I first moved to Tucson 28 years ago.
The outing disease.
I throw a flower off the edge
and watch it drift to earth,
a thing of beauty even in its dying
This is the image of the body
destroying itself. STOP
We queers and dykes
are poets, novelists, musicians, and artists.
We bridge the spirit world of the arts.
And. We. Are. Sacred.
In the last email I have from him, he signed off – write on ever joyously - a command
characteristic of his insistence – his dedication to poetry – yhos – which I later discovered
stands for Your Humble Obedient Servant – what he is (still) teaching us about how to be
in community and love. Poetry is not written but lived – and he lived an incredible
poem – thank you, Curt, for your words and your living – I chose to ignore the dissidents.
It is my speech, after all…