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Poets Remember Loved Ones Lost to AIDS

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Poets Remember Loved Ones Lost to AIDS

Four close friends remembered loved ones lost to AIDS in an intimate affair Tuesday evening at Borders Bookstore in Columbus Circle.

Songwriter Ricky Ian Gordon, wearing a newsboy cap and blue blazer, joyfully played emcee alongside poets Michael Klein, Marie Howe and former State Poet of New York Jean Valentine in a celebration tied to National Poetry Month.

Each poet had lost a loved one or family member to the illness and had bonded with the musician two decades ago in a period of mourning.

"Michael is not only a wonderful poet but a wonderful friend who I became close with in the '90s. He had just written his first book. It was the 1990s and we were all still losing our friends, lovers to AIDS — I lost my lover to AIDS," Gordon said by way of introducing Klein.

He then continued: "I needed to go on a pilgrimage to find other people who were grieving. Then in Provincetown I became close with Marie. Then I took a class with Jean and I became close to her too. Their poems were lifelines for me. This relationship continued and I started setting their poems to music."

For his album Bric-A-Brac, Gordon drew inspiration from poems close to heart and set them to piano music, often with his own words. This set the procedure for the night's event: each poet read a selection, after which Gordon performed his own soulful interpretation on the piano.

Before reading "Just Now," Howe acknowledged that Gordon's passion for poetry was more than just a drawing board for his songs.

"Ricky Gordon knows more poems than anyone I know," she declared, then faced a grinning Gordon.

"How many poems do you know?"

"Hundreds," Gordon answered.

"He walks around with them just in his body," she said.
 

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