Farewell to a Poet


October 7, 2013 by Laird

CE Chaffin passed away recently. He was a former medical doctor and a practicing poet. A big, complicated man who struggled with depression on an order of which most people are blessedly ignorant. We met years and years ago when I submitted a poem to his excellent ezine The Melic Review. CE took an interest in me and my writing. We shared kinship in our passion for literature and in our battles with the demons of depression. In time I wound up editing poetry for Melic and it was a good experience, and one that led to my forging ahead with professional fiction writing. Of course, as the years rolled by, time, circumstance, and a career in prose, carried me ever farther away from Melic and most of the poets and authors I once knew.

Four years ago, he and his wife Kathleen visited my wife and I in Olympia. A drought had Western Washington in its teeth. CE arrived near the end of a driving tour and seemed mightily restless. He composed a beautiful poem while sitting on our sofa and drove off the next morning. The first and last time we ever met in person. For unrelated reasons, his visit marked the beginning of a time of great personal darkness in my life. I feel a measure of sorrow and guilt that these days my horizon is at least illuminated with flashes of color while CE has lost his own final battle.

We were never close in the way people typify relationships. My personal struggles made matters difficult and I wish I’d been stronger, done more. Nonetheless he remains an important figure. CE was an honest, plain-spoken critic, a superior poet, and someone who demonstrated faith in my abilities that few ever had. He mentored me when a mentor was what I needed most. For that I am grateful.

Good bye, Craig. Requiescat in pace.

6 thoughts on “Farewell to a Poet

  1. jim zola says:

    I too was a poetry editor for Melic for its last years. Melic and CE were both instrumental in the rebirth of poetry in my life. After writing poetry for most of my life, I found myself in a drought, convinced I had nothing new to say. Someone (I believe it was Shann) pointing me in the direction of the Melic forum. The friendships, feedback and advice I eventually discovered through Melic changed my life. And although I never actually met CE in person, he was the soul behind Melic and therefore the key behind my own poetic revival. CE was a touch critic and while I served as poetry editor, we often disagreed about poems that should or shouldn’t be included in the journal. But he always respected my opinions and trusted my choices. In the very last email I received from him, he suggested the possibility of reviving The Melic Review. The idea both excited and frightened me. CE was a lrge gruff guy (this is how he came across even without meeting the physical character). Often he was belligerent, sometimes he was simply an asshole. But too, he had a huge heart. He always remembered my birthday (something I only really expect from family) and showed true concern when I was going through some serious health issues. It was this combination of rough and tender, the poet who seemed to know his true poetic voice despite all the other issues going on within, that made CE such a special person and one who I will truly miss.

  2. Shann Palmer says:

    Another great tribute- he touched so many lives- Melic was a wonderful zine, one of the absolute best (still). The forum was a mixed bag, but as long as you didn’t take it too seriously (difficult to do, sometimes) it was a garden of beauty and interest, lightly tended by the good doctor. He influenced a huge number of writers, almost everyone who speaks of him calls him “mentor.”

  3. Laird says:

    Hi, Shann. I agree with all of that. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. carrie says:

    that was a beautiful read. thanks. so many emotions on his passing. he helped me with my poetry and my own demons. i feel blessed to have known him.

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