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Linda Dyer: Remembering a Bold Soul

by Terri Ford


Fictional Teeth, by Linda Dyer
Ahsahta Press

There are so many poets, one can never know them all. Although she was a San Francisco poet like me, I never heard of Linda Dyer until after she died last month, when my friend & fellow About.com Guide Andrew Alden sent me a note about her. Then I read the memoir you see below, written by Linda’s friend & sister poet Terri Ford, when it was posted to the WOMPO email list, and I couldn’t help feeling that more people ought to know about Linda & her poems. As Terri notes, “My memories were first posted, and written, for the alumni listserv of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers -- source of the ‘Wally’ or ‘WW’ references. Linda graduated from it in the early 90s and I also graduated from it; we became very close friends through the first alum conference held (a yearly summer event, week-long, open to all alums of the WW MFA).” Sounds like a wonderful community for writers....

~Margy Snyder



With a full heart and an outstretched hand, I am sad to tell you that our own Linda Dyer passed away quietly yesterday. As many of you know, Linda has been fighting cancer for six years. She lost a breast to it and was on chemo almost continuously for the past two years. On July 5, her doctors ceased treatment and told her she had 1 to 6 months left. On Tuesday it became clear that something serious was happening and she was moved into a hospice. Her brother Rob got to her bedside by Wednesday night and that was one of the last things she clearly recognized & that gave her joy. As of Thursday morning, she was no longer speaking or responsive -- that was the day I found out. No funeral plans are yet clear. I was told she felt our love around her in the room.

If you knew Linda, you loved her. She came to every conference she could until she was too ill (and sometimes too broke) to do it anymore. I believe the last one she attended was at Wallydom three summers back. Her terrific, raw & funny book of poems, Fictional Teeth, came out in 2001.

  • Fictional Teeth (Ahsahta Press, 2001)
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You’ve gotta read it if you haven’t: she wrote poems about growing up in houses behind screen doors with the wrong initial on them, about putting crawfish in her white socks as a child and trying to transport them home as pets, about a first date with a one-armed man who had the one hand manicured, about a car accident in Boulder that ends with “My mouth was full of glass,” about Houdini, about her mother –- the title of the book comes from a poem about her mother’s new dentures –- and oh, Linda, about the use of office products as beauty aids. She was so alive.

She once went to a costume party as Emily Dickinson, who she loved fiercely; she would tell you readily and repeatedly that Emily was a redhead “like me.” Our travel agency contact for some years for Mt. Holyoke conferences was a man named Glenn Chunglo; Linda and I made up a dance called the Chunglo. We were both legal secretaries in different parts of the country and talked for hours on the phone (not usually at work: we just faxed back and forth then). We spent a Christmas together with my brother’s family in San Diego, and she actually went back the next Christmas to spend it with them although I wasn’t there, so my family knew her. My mother sewed Linda and I matching screen door jumpers and at one point my mom sewed matching pajamas for the two of us, which I love since we were in our 40s at the time rather than 6th grade. I called Linda my Bold Soul Sister, after a 1960s song Tina Turner sang, and after some time she was simply Bold to me, or Boldly.

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