In Memoriam : Marvin Bell

We write in grief and with love to share the news that MFA in Writing core faculty member Marvin Bell died, surrounded by family on the evening of Dec. 14, the stereo playing Chet Baker’s You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To. Word came from his son Nathan. Bell was born in 1937.

Many have heard the news by now, and we in the program are grateful to be among those who have spent the days since Bell's passing invoking his great lesson: “Art is the big yes.” Quoting lines from those poems of his that you love best. Remembering his community spirit and his generosity and his great good humor, his belief that in art you are free. Honoring a life committed to expressing the otherwise inexpressible, as he was known to say.

There’s no one way to write and no right way to write. He was known to say that as well.

Over the past month, Bell wrote emails to the program as he has tended to: in bursts, with energy, electricity, with ideas for new work and publishing projects and expressing his desire to sit on thesis reviews in January and to be with us all when we gather in June. That we’ll have to carry on without him is heartbreaking. That his work shows us how gives us hope and confidence.

Now, let’s gather up what Bell taught us. Let’s read his poems. In a year of isolation, we must find each other, be on each other’s side, as he was also known to say, now more than ever.  


Monday, Dec. 21, 2020