Remembering Jim Koller
I came to know James Koller thanks to Gary Lawless, who told me “you must know this guy” and he gave me his email address. I wrote him and he answered sending me The Bone Show text, one of his masterpieces. I answered back “whow, this is good medicine!”. And there it started our friendship which lasted till the day of his passing away. Before that I knew him through occasional reports from the Sixties & Seventies’ counterculture press (he had a few of his things published in Italy, thanks to his friend Franco Beltrametti, in the rather famous Fernanda Pivano’s anthology “L’altra America degli Anni Sessanta”) and the perception I had of him was of a man hard to locate, perpetually on the move.
Eventually we met, during one of his frequent visit to Europe, and we started journeying through the Italian watersheds for poetry readings and talks. He has been very instrumental and supportive to our work of promoting the bioregional vision in Italy and I owe him lots of discussions and deepening on the concept. His points were always acute and accurate as they reflected years of study on culture and nature. Although at ease in every context he was perfectly comfortable when he was on the road (a pleasant anecdote: every time we were about to leave, we approached the road singing “On the road again / just can’t wait to get on the road again…” of Willie Nelson), I would say the road was his daily bread, an open door to new possibilities, alliances and new territories. His bioregion reflects the map of his travelling and spoke in terms of poems, landscapes and stories around the fire. Over the years he build up an extensive network of people and situations over which he could count for hospitality and a chance for sharing poems and thoughts, and I’m very proud to have been a little nod in his net.
Thanks Jim for your art, your exquisite poems, for the little Coyote book of mine “Watersheds of the Mind” you did (in three languages!!), for hosting me in your home in Georgetown and for the walk in the Maine woods to see the beaver dams and later along the shore of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachussetts, to visit Thoreaus’ cabin site. For the journey along the northern coast of California to see Mount Tamalpais, Bolinas, Point Reyes and up to Mendocino County, and before that the ride to Kitkitdizze where I attended to a memorable conversation between you and Gary Snyder on the good old days, and thanks very much for offering your time to edit the translation in English of my writings. This is the first without you… and the difference is evident.
(on winter Sostice’s day)