Hard-smoking, hard-drinking, hard-living Florida poet Alan Justiss died on Valentine’s Day this year, leaving behind at least two ex-wives, two daughters, countless proteges of his tough-love artistic mentoring, and 50,000-100,000 unrevised poems in boxes. A group of people held a memorial for him on March 12 at a local theater, celebrating his role as the unofficial poet laureate of Jacksonville, FL.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Justiss was friends with Charles Bukowski, as he discusses in a 2007 article. Now that both men have passed on, there are no more poets in the United States who drink alcohol or smoke.
Shelton Hull, a local columnist now running for City Council, referred to Justiss as “A cross between a hobo and a Zen master,” elaborating on their relationship on his blog. Professional breaker and media mogul Troy Lukkarila explores his own admiration for the man on his tribute page. Justiss himself offers some thoughts in this video.
Wherever Justiss wound up after death, we hope it has plenty of poetry, cartons of fresh smokes, an open bar, and an attentive audience.