I was there back when my friend and poet found the young Howard, whose namesake we had just met in person at the time. People can make fun of dog and cat blogs all they like, but these little friends can inspire us like few others do. The hole they leave when they're gone is the most awful thing I know.
Howard Nemerov, cat laureate, died quietly at home in Hutchinson, MN, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006, in the company of longtime human companion Sally Jo Sorensen. He was just a few months shy of his 18th birthday.
As a stray kitten, Howard was rescued by Ms. Sorensen from a band of young children in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on October 30, 1988. He soon grew to be a sturdy yet beautiful silver-grey, green-eyed tiger, full of chatty attitude. Howard lived in Fayetteville; Ames, Iowa; Springfield, Missouri; Dassel, Minnesota, as well as Hutchinson.
He loved canned tuna, freshly whipped cream, Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey ice cream, most gay men and all women, and watching birds and bunnies from a window. He was a lifelong Democrat. Before his health declined as a result of kidney disease, he enjoyed a vigrous game of kitty bathtub racquetball and chasing his tail.
Howard Nemerov is survived by Diane Arbus, his feline "sister" and Ms. Sorensen. He was preceded in death by his "sister", Miss Bettina Chudliegh.
Interment will be in the Goodman-Havey-Krause Pet Cemetery in rural Kandiyohi County on June 15. Memorials may be sent to the Heart of Minnesota Shelter in Hutchinson, Minnesota or to the Vet Tech program at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota.
I suggested that perhaps she should name her next cat laureate Donald Hall.
U.S. Poetry's New Chief: Donald Hall
All Things Considered, June 14, 2006 · Newly announced Poet Laureate Donald Hall says he will work to improve poetry's standing in the United States, seeking to provide new inspiration to the medium.
Hall has lived for years on the New Hampshire farm that his grandparents used to own, and he writes in the room that he slept in as a boy.
Robert Siegel talks with Hall, who was appointed poet laureate on Wednesday by the Library of Congress.
The new poet laureate also reads from three of his poems: "Old Roses," "Man in the Dead Machine," and "Weeds and Peonies," which is about his late wife, the poet Jane Kenyon.