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Daniel S. McTaggart

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A West Virginia Poet Has Died
by Daniel S. McTaggart

Saturday, December 08, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Daniel S. McTaggart
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This past November 27, West Virginia lost one of its most distinctive poetic voices: Joseph P. Gatski. For those not in the know, Joe was not just a poet. He was also a songwriter, musician, watercolorist, an avid outdoorsman, and maker of bamboo flutes.

Joe published several volumes of poetry: Promontory, Annie's Stick, Cranberry Way, and Anthology. I have the first three books, and I can attest to the beauty of his work.

I first met Joe Gatski in October 1999 at a poetry convention at the local Holiday Inn. Hearing him read his work was a religious experience. That such a booming voice came from a skinny man like that, it was amazing to see him perform.

I owe the intensity of Joe's readings for re-igniting my own passion for poetry. I had just emerged on the other side of a rough time in my life. By that point, I hadn't written anything in several years. Watching Joe read his poems brought it all back to me. Though I did not know him as well as others, I owe him more than I can ever say.

Joe Gatski was 51 years old.


was the day after Thanksgiving.
I sat in the Blue Moose Cafe,
facing Walnut Street,
writing a poem,
and sipping hot cider.

Joe walked in the door, gaunt
as a reed swaying
in the wind.

All his hair was gone.
Replaced by an old ballcap.
a poor substitute for
his former tousled, tangled mop.

I would have said hi, but
he looked very determined.
I couldn't have guessed why

at first, but I knew when I
heard the bathroom door slam.

Maybe I left before he came out.
Maybe he left when my nose was
buried in my book.

I figured I'd see him again
on some street corner, but
I won't anymore.

We won't anymore.

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Reviewed by Parke Bradley (Reader) 1/28/2008
I have known "Joey" since our early days in high school. A poet, yes, but much more !!! I will miss him.
Reviewed by Alan Greenhalgh 1/3/2008
The impact of this simple poem was as intense as that slam of the bathroom door. Your deeply felt grief is apparent in the starkness of the prose. Well done!
Reviewed by David Hightower 12/9/2007
leo - Fitting tribute for any poet, the grittiness of life and death, and the magic of inspiration. - David
Reviewed by E T Waldron 12/9/2007
I'm sorry for the loss! It is good he had the likes of you to pay tribute to him in remembrance of his work and what it meant to

Reviewed by Carole Mathys 12/9/2007
A very sad post, but a wonderful tribute to the poet who inspired you...

Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 12/9/2007
SOrry to read this....did not know the poet...but daeth is always sad news to me!!

My prayers are with those who knew and loved him!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan 12/9/2007
a sad write, i am sure he knows that his work was valued-this write is a tesatament to that
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 12/9/2007

I'm sorry, I've never heard of this man. But I feel your sadness, I feel like I know him now, through your beautifully moving tribute to him. 51 too young...I will look for some books by this poet who moves your heart (and pen). Excellent.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
Reviewed by Ed Matlack 12/8/2007
If this gentleman re-ignited your own intensity regards poetry then we all owe him a debt of thanks...even though I do not know him, even less than you, I send my sincerest condolances...51 is way too young to die...Ed & Rufuz

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