Photos of Hawkins’s art by Stephen Parlato
here’s a kiss for
here’s a soft touch
for your cheek
here’s a ghost
just passed by
the life you live
to give you a
Hawkins, Bobbie L. Bijoux. Boulder, Colo:
Farfalla Press / McMillan and Parrish, 2005.
Family, friends, and students of Bobbie Louise Hawkins (1930–2018) gathered at Naropa’s Performing Arts Center on June 17, 2018, to celebrate a great writer and dear friend. Guests included Bobbie’s daughter, Sarah Creeley, grandchildren Miranda Konoplisky and Devin Houston, and paternal cousin Alec Axt. Many Naropa colleagues and former students, and Bobbie’s friends from Brookdale North Independent Living filled the room.
Junior Burke, who hosted the memorial with Anne Waldman, recalls, “As a prose writer, monologist, stage performer, and visual artist, Bobbie had few peers in any of those categories. She was also blessed or burdened, depending how you look at it, with an unfailingly acute bullshit detector.” In addition to her more than twenty books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and monologues, Bobbie performed her work at major stages across the country, including a national and international tour with Rosalie Sorrels and Terry Garthwaite. She was also an esteemed visual artist, holding the first one-woman show of paintings and collages at Gotham Book Mart in New York in 1974.
Bobbie came to Boulder in 1978, at the invitation of Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman. She designed the prose concentration at Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, where she taught until her retirement in 2010. Bobbie was a beloved mentor and teacher, bringing the same exquisite level of attention to her teaching as she did to her writing. She continued to stay engaged with Naropa beyond her retirement, frequently attending and reading at the Summer Writing Program.
Sarah Creeley gave a moving speech at the memorial. “She was what I call a relentless artist, she was propelled to create. … My father was a writer as well, Robert Creeley. He said to me, ‘You don’t choose writing; writing chooses you.’ But my mom showed it to me in action. … I am so grateful to her, and I am really grateful for her friends at Naropa who gave her a sense of purpose and a place where she could really flourish and really make a difference and really be a wonderful teacher to her students.”
Looking towards a new generation of readers, Anne Waldman says, “I’m excited about the new manuscript Gossip and hope it will see the light of day soon; and there should be a Bobbie Louise Hawkins reader for a larger audience. We are blessed with her long presence in this Naropa/Boulder community, and I like to think it was an interesting haven for her these many years. What a stunning presence; one always knew when she was in the room.”
Photos courtesy of the Naropa Archive
Speakers at Hawkins‘s memorial celebration from left to right: Chuck Lief, Anne Waldman, Sarah Schantz, Laird Hunt,
Lisa Birman, Swanee Astrid