Friday 15th October 2010

I’m sorry to be writing this, but Keith Wright, who posted annotations on this site under the name Bradford, passed away unexpectedly on 13th October. Keith had been active here since the start of the diary and we’ll greatly miss his contributions.

Sadly, Keith suffered a complication of his blood pressure medicine on Wednesday which resulted in a cardiac arrest and the doctors were unable to revive him. I’m sure our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Although I exchanged a few nice emails with Keith over the years I regretfully know little about him other than that he often proof-read books.

If you have any memories of Keith from the past few years, please do share them with us below.

UPDATE: Jeannine Kerwin sent this PDF which the Library of America (for whom Keith did much work) has kindly allowed us to post here. It is an article about Keith from their newsletter from two years ago. (22 October 2010)

21 Comments

language hat   Link to this

I always enjoyed the holiday poems Keith sent each year, as well as our e-mails commiserating and exulting over editing hassles and triumphs. This passage from one of his recent messages gives a taste of his sense of humor and professional dedication:

"But imagine the combination of Schadenfreude and fellow-feeling which came over me upon reading this sentence about the Oxford Twain: 'Unfortunately, Oxford University Press gets it wrong, and the Editor's Note printed in all twenty-nine volumes reverses the birth and death dates: "the year 2010 marks the Centennial of Mark Twain's birth and the 175th anniversary of his death".' Dear God, even OUP! Is nothing sacred? They need you. They need me. They need *somebody*!"

He'll be much missed. Thanks for making this post to commemorate him.

Fern   Link to this

Farewell to Bradford, unknown to me personally and yet fondly remembered.

Casey   Link to this

I was a personal friend to Keith knowing him since childhood. In addition to his towering intellect he was a man of compassion and grace. "..we shall not see the likes of him again" Ave Atque Vale

maureen brian   Link to this

I met Keith here, back in March 2003. Something I said about the advent of knitted stockings piqued his interest and began a correspondence about anything and everything which lasted at rarely under a couple of emails a day. He had such curiosity and we shared a taste for those things which manage to be both quotidian and slightly odd.

On the literary track I could just about keep up with him, with a certain amount of bullshitting on my part. Fitting then, that one minute we were discussing Howard Jacobson finally winning the Booker. And the next he was gone.

He'll be missed.

jeannine   Link to this

“Blue Snow”
Warren Keith Wright

By night snow falls till it can fall no further
on ground where branches cast their bars by day.
Light alone gives birth and shape to shadows,
and only shadows know that snow is blue –
a deep-toned royal transitory blue
that lightly as a sundial marks a lawn
shifts its nets as hours alter time.
Time forgives by forgetting everything.

The route between two rows of bare young maples
runs checkered blue and white where trodden or not.
A dry-veined prickling oak leaf has unfurled
its time-worn map upon the upward trail.
The rays that angle through these trunks and boughs,
the random words with keen intent, attempt
to stain the heart and mind with permanent hues.
Time washes away all tears and all faces.

On gazing back from this still hilltop now,
the path required to reach this height looks steep:
light in the west greets darkness in the east.
Below, down there, the snow fades to ash,
while here above the first star pins the sky.
Shadows merge to shadow; mine then yours dissolves:
it seems all things must end save time and space.
Time is how the infinite inflicts pity.

jeannine   Link to this

Above is a poem that Keith sent in his 2006 holiday card.

We all knew him from his insightful and often witty annotations, who could forget his comical mathematical calculation of Sam’s overindulgence of pasties ~~“5 pasties ÷ 3 days = 1 dose physique”!!!

When I got to know Keith through this site, in addition to his annotations, he was caring for his ailing and fully dependent elderly mother. In an article about Keith, written by Aileen Jacobson in the Library of America 2008-2009 newsletter, he explained, “It sounds Victorian, I know, but I’ve filled the role that the unmarried Victorian daughter used to fill, the family caretaker.”

In addition to his familial devotion, Keith assisted Susan Sherman in the publication of “May Sarton: Selected Letters 1955-1985” and penned a warm introduction to that book. He was a freelance reviewer of “Opera” magazine in London, and a meticulous proofreader for over 40 titles for the Library of America’s series of classic American authors, special anthologies, and the American Poets Project.

Most of all, Keith was a wonderful, albeit ‘virtual’ friend. We exchanged emails on a host of topics, sharing laughs, interesting stories, updates on the literary world, contrasting our quite different lives, and consoling each other as our mothers aged and passed away.

About six years ago, on his Amazon.com profile, he described himself this way…” I'm the family caregiver, in a small rural town, working on my last assignment. In the meantime, I am also a novelist (in the school of Hardy, Pym, Dawn Powell), poet (Louise Bogan, Anthony Hecht, classic Chinese), reviewer, indexer, editor, editorial assistant, copyeditor, and proofreader (see MAY SARTON: SELECTED LETTERS 1955-1995). (And, yes, I am looking for an agent, not to mention a publisher. Any leads?)
Devoted to music (everything from Handel, Mahler, and Simpson, through Elvis Costello, Tori Amos, and the Magnetic Fields), art (Poussin and Joseph Cornell to Cindy Sherman and Odd Nerdrum), wine (you name it, I'll drink it), exercise, and good letters from interesting and interested parties. (I'm 49, with friends from 24 to 97.)”

Farewell my friend, you are missed.

language hat   Link to this

Thanks for those comments, jeannine. They give a good sense of the man, and he would have been glad to see his poem posted here.

Ruben   Link to this

A few lines from a letter I sent to Jeannine after reading her email about Bradford:
The passing of Bradford is a big loss for all of us. I have been away from my computer for a month (I was in Patagonia and Buenos Aires) and I feel very bad to know of his death.
What can I say? In Pepy's diary we only see one facet of the annotators, but for certain all of them have a life behind the internet. I am always imagining "lifes" for the virtual names that come back to annotate in Pepys. Internet has a kind of anonymity that looks like animosity, or may be a way to protect intimacy.
Now that I hear from Richard and others about Keith's interesting life I am doubly sorry, first for him that had his life truncated early and then for us that lost an articulated annotator.
When getting emotional I turn back to the Spanish of my younger years, and in this case to a song by Alberto Cortez:

Cuando un amigo se va
Queda un espacio vacio,
Que no lo puede llenar
La llegada de otro amigo.
''''''''
''''''''
Cuando un amigo se va
Se queda un arbol caido
Que ya no vuelve a brotar
Porque el viento lo ha vencido.

Translated,
When a friend goes away, an empty space is left, that cannot be filled, by the arrival of another friend.

When a friend goes away, it's like a fallen tree, that will not sprout again, defeated by the wind.

Ric Jerrom   Link to this

A relative latecomer to all this, I've been delighted and astonished by the verve and wit of you annotators, and the breadths of experience hinted at in nearly every posting. I'd come to look forward to a "Bradford" as I do to an Araucaria crossword in the "Guardian" newspaper; a pleasure to be savoured with deliberation. Knowing how we'll miss him, it's hard to imagine how this loss will affect those who knew him well. Condolences: regret.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Keith posted from Jan-April 2003 (1659-60) under his real name -- Warren Keith Wright -- or Keith Wright -- thereafter as "Bradford"

He was notable for what I'd come to regard as the “Bradford daily dose"

He showed a keen editorial eye in his many initial posts summarizing, tartly and succinctly, Pepys’s key theme of the day. I used to look forward to them, now back, R.I.P., Keith.

The last of these -- his final post -- shows his wry wit as “Bradford” — three days before the shocking news of his passing went out he posted this about the nocturnal Treasure Hunt at the Pepys family Brampton “Estate”:

““Pepys Hunts His Pounds”: Wouldn’t this make a fine comic short, a silent feature, with grimaces, body language, and cue-cards to fill us in on the “tosse” he was in?”

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1667/10/10/#c30...

Mary Williams   Link to this

"The rays that angle through these trunks and boughs,
the random words with keen intent, attempt
to stain the heart and mind with permanent hues.
Time washes away all tears and all faces."

Not all faces, Keith. I see your face with a slightly impish smile and playful eyes, in my mind's eye, as clearly as it was yesterday. I hear your voice melodically speaking of the crescent moon being "aliken to a toenail clipping". I see your muscular hands and long fingers, at first pounding, and than caressing the keys of the piano, your face pointed towards the sky, eyes closed, singing passionately and loudly, for the sheer joy of living.

No Keith, time does not wash away all faces, nor all tears. I have missed you for a long time, and now, I will miss you forever.

Janice   Link to this

Please forgive my intrusion here. I just wanted to spend some time with other people who knew Keith. I recognize a few of your names (hi, Maureen). On occasion, Keith would send me a link to a Pepys entry.

I met Keith in 1979 in grad school in Michigan. A few years later, after I'd moved away, he wrote to me, starting a snailmail correspondence that continued until he eventually turned to e-mail.

I loved his sense of humor and just yesterday found something I know would have delighted him, a solar-powered waving Queen E action figure. I admired Keith's genuine interest in so many things from the bizarre to the beautiful even if I could never keep up.

Though we were in e-mail contact, it has been decades since I've seen him or heard his voice. It is inconceivable to me that there will be no more e-mail from him. He was a good friend, and I miss him so much already.

Erna D'haenen   Link to this

Keith had an enormous talent for friendship. I "met" him in 2001 - he put a "personal" in the TLS and I was the only one who reacted to it. We wrote at least once a day on all and sundry. Loads of personal jokes and serious stuff but what is similar with his other friendships : I could hardly keep up. I was at my brother's yesterday and my niece, 12, had bought a book : Twilight. But Lord, how Keith would have enjoyed that bit of information. It would have generated an entire saga.
He will be missed sorely.

laura k   Link to this

Such sad news. I didn't know Keith personally, but I know he'll be missed on the Pepys Diary site and many, many more places. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

Thanks to Jeannine for breaking the bad news and to Phil for creating this page.

Phil Gyford   Link to this

I just updated the post to link to this PDF, an article about Keith from a couple of years ago: http://www.pepysdiary.com/static/files/news/201...

language hat   Link to this

Thanks for linking to that, Phil; it's a great piece. And my condolences to the LOA people, who must miss him on many levels.

Lauren Hahn   Link to this

Like Janice, I met Keith (Bradford) in grad school at the University of Michigan, and he has been one of my best friends for 31 years. He attended my wedding, and visited my house in the Chicago suburbs several times, though I haven't seen him since 1989 or 1990. He was my friend that I could discuss books and classical music with. Occasionally I would help him with a German translation for one of his Opera magazine articles. I really can't believe that he's gone.

Rick Palley   Link to this

This is my second post to the Pepys site; the first, around 8-9 years ago, prompted Keith Wright, a resident of the town of Arbyrd, in the exotically rural sounding "Bootheel of Missouri" to e-mail me a response. Over the years since, we exchanged countless e-mails about just about everything and anything. His were almost inevitably witty, interesting, and well-crafted; so much so that I saved most of them. Finding a new one in my e-mail Inbox inevitably put a smile on my face.

I'm sure that among his circle of regular e-mailers/correspondants, many of whose names I recognize above, the feeling of loss that accompanied the sudden notice of his passing was extremely hard to bear. It remains that way for me. That he is gone is an inarguably tragic fact, but that he will be remembered by the many whose lives he touched in far-flung locations around the world brings some small consolation.
Adieu for now, Keith.

cum salis grano   Link to this

Bradford [Keith Wright] as noted will be missed, not knowing him except by reading his words but fortunate to be able to thoroughly enjoyed his additions to my limited knowledge of the world.
He was one of the few in this world that would make me a believer in Michelin.

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
Francis Bacon

So few of us have been able to turn a grain of sand into a beautiful oyster of the internet as Bradford did.

writ in water.

Mary Williams   Link to this

Keith,
As I listen to Pandora I realize every love song is about you. How is that possible?

Mary Williams   Link to this

"And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I."

Paul Simon

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