Sunday, September 7, 2008

Carolin Combs, writer

I feel that I’m charged with the duty of explaining Carolin as a writer, at least after I met her at age 23 until her death at 50.

Altho we sat beside each other for over 25 years at our computers, I rarely ever got a peek at what she was writing. When I did – when she gave me a printed draft to comment on - my comments were almost never incorporated into the next draft.

The only exception was in her magnum opus, her historical novel “The Last Prince” (left fully edited at her death.) In it, I found two tiny traces of me, one my spoken suggestion of what a character would say, the other, an image lifted from one of my own poems (written in Scotland, and so used in a scene set in that same part of Scotland.)

What’s more important for you to know is that Carolin was constantly approached from the psychic realm by dead people asking her to tell their life-stories, or at least vivid incidents in them.. She told me that her only difficult decision was which one to tell first, not whether to tell them at all. .While working on that novel, she never had any trouble “coming up with material” because it constantly approached her directly, urgently asking to be written..(One scene, set in Berlin on Krsitallnacht [9-10 NOV 1938], was later verified by the nephew of the dead woman who told it to Carolin. He's Herschel Silverman, a longtime poet-friend of mine in Bayonne, New Jersey.)

So much for the common term “born writer.” In her maturity, she was a long-born writer - for the dead. I hope someone equally as capable as she was acts as her amenuensis. The best I’ve been able to do for her (so far) is to write short poems in which she speaks – usually in short, 3-word statements -to me.

(Sun. 07 SEP 08, Santa Clara CA)

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