Sunday, November 16, 2008

Al Hellus

A poet I met years ago (1994), Al Hellus, died last Friday, November 14, 2008. His obituary is in The Saginaw News today (November 16). Here it is in full:

Hellus, Al
Saginaw, Michigan

Passed away Friday November 14, 2008 following a lengthy illness. Age 50 years. Albert William Hellus was born September 11, 1958 in Saginaw to Donald E. and Beverly (Musser) Hellus. He was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church. Al was very involved in politics as a teenager and young adult. He was a longtime poet and member of the Plastic Haiku Band in the Saginaw area.

Surviving are his mother, Beverly Hellus of Saginaw, a brother, Daniel (DeeAnna) Hellus of Freeland, a sister, Erika (Ronald) Maxwell of Saginaw, four nieces and nephews, Dylan and Danessa Hellus, and Cameron and Terra Hayden; and many loving friends. Al was preceded in death by his father, Donald E. Hellus and his grandparents.

Funeral service will take place 5:30 PM Tuesday November 18, 2008 at the Reitz Herzberg Funeral Home on S. Midland Rd. (M47). Fr. Ronald Wagner will officiate. Friends and family are welcome to gather at the funeral home on Monday from 5-9 PM and on Tuesday from 10 AM until the time of service. Memorial offerings may be given to Emmaus House or the American Heart Association.

Saginaw resident Gina Myers remembers Al at her blog, I Was Born in Saginaw, Michigan.

I remember Al as a self-described Arts Activist. He often organized fundraisers to benefit non-profit agencies such as Emmaus House. He organized the Drainage Basin Artist's Alliance. He created the Rouse for Theodore Roethke which brought, in the course of ten years, on an annual basis poets such as Tess Gallagher and William Heyen to Saginaw. Prior to that he organized the poetry slams held in Old Town Saginaw at the Red Eye Coffee House. I met Richard Tillinghast, Keith Taylor, Ed Sanders and other poets in that venue. Al introduced me to many people including the River Junction Poets when he decided to help me record a video introduction to Theodore Roethke and his poetry. Al had chapbooks published by Mayapple Press and also by Ridgeway Press. His titles are listed at the
Michigan Poetry site.

One of my favorite poems of Al's is his 'alternative baseball' poem. Here it is:

alternative baseball

the surrealists
take the field
& the crowd roars!

a right foot
flopping into
left field
with a glove
on its big toe

an assortment of
noses & teeth & eyeballs
& time pieces
blasting hot ones
across the infield

while the dugouts fill
with migrating salmon
& middle management executives

an inflated
fifty dollar bill
steps up to the plate
waving a Louisville Slugger
sprouting branches
& leaves & tiny fists --

it is enough
for a standing-O

and Magritte's head
rolls from the bleachers
laughing & shouting:
"DO BALL !
PLAY IT !
ARF ! ARF !"

"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

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