This collection includes seven interviews discussing the life and relationships of Montana poet Ed Lahey. The interviews were conducted by Mark Gibbons in 2012 and 2013. Interviewees discuss personal stories and antecdotes regarding their individual and professional interactions with Lahey, as well as the impact his writing had on the University of Montana and regional poets and writers. They speak on his political activism, his writing traits, mental and outside influences on his poetry, his personality, and the decline of his health. The original interviews are held as Oral History collection OH-438 at Archives & Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, the University of Montana.
This collection includes 7 interviews.
OH 438-04: David Thomas, Missoula poet, recounts his friendship and writing relationship with Ed Lahey. As a student at the University of Montana, Thomas begins to become familiarized with writing and Lahey's poetry. Although initially seeking military employment as a student member of ROTC, Thomas becomes involved in Vietnam War protests, civil rights protests, and other demonstrations, and decides against a military career. He describes meeting those who would become his friends as he becomes more of a part of the “radical fringe.” Thomas recounts the first encounters with Lahey, their mutual friends, and the friendship that developed years later. Thomas discusses the Missoula writing scene, including the Garden City Reading Series and other projects he participated in. Thomas describes his writing career. Thomas talks about Lahey's work, and some of his own. Thomas describes Lahey's intense personality as well as his generosity and support, both as a friend and a writer.
OH 438-01: Dexter Roberts describes his relationship to Ed Lahey as fellow colleagues in the University of Montana English department throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. Roberts tells about a number of political activism activities against the Vietnam War in which both he and Lahey took part, including a sit-in in downtown Missoula, Montana and a demonstration at the ROTC building on campus. Roberts recounts several anecdotes of some of the stranger encounters with Lahey, a man known for his eccentricities. Roberts and Gibbons discuss the merits of Lahey's poetry and his lasting impact on Missoula’s literary history.
OH 438-06: An interview with Hal Waldrup who was a longtime friend and acquaintance of Ed Lahey. Hal describes how he met Lahey and his relationship with Lahey as a nurse, a roommate, a friend, and professionally. Waldrup gives insight to some of Lahey’s mental health problems and how he maintained his extraordinary talent as a writer. Waldrup’s memories provide a rough timeline of Lahey’s life in Corbin, Butte, and Missoula. Waldrup touches on many of the major events in his own life and how they brought him into contact with Lahey. Mark Gibbons, the interviewer, also shares his knowledge and details about many of the events Waldrup mentions. Additionally, they both discuss various works by Lahey, some of the more personal influences in Lahey’s poetry, and their personal opinions on some of his poetry. Waldrup chronicles years from around 1970-2005 and Gibbons shares some of his experiences with Lahey after 2005.
OH 438-05: Jack Waller is a Montanan poet who met Ed Lahey through the literary community and become close friends with Lahey. Waller describes the evolution of his personal relationship with Lahey as well as his never-ending admiration for Lahey as a writer. Waller describes how appreciative he was to know Lahey as a friend and poet for many years. He then shares his memories of the gradual decline of Lahey’s mental health and how that made it difficult to maintain a friendship. Waller explains their similarities and differences in the art and highlights some of Lahey’s writing traits. Waller chronicles their relationship from 1991 until Lahey’s death. Waller’s many stories are an insight to Lahey’s strengths in the art as poetry as well as his complicated personal life.
OH 438-07: An interview with Montana politician Pat Williams who served for Montana’s first district from 1979-1993. Williams grew up with poet Ed Lahey in Butte, Montana and regained contact with Lahey while in Congress and later when the two men resided in Missoula, Montana. Williams shares stories of his time meeting with Lahey in Missoula and his never-ending curiosity about Lahey’s talent and process as a writer. Williams talks about his shared Irish heritage and mining background with Lahey. Williams explains how those similarities play into Lahey’s personality as well as how they are demonstrated in Lahey’s poetry. Williams and Mark Gibbons, the interviewer, remember how Lahey used his poetry as a platform to express his strong political views.
OH 438-03: In this interview, Roger Dunsmore discusses his friendship, impressions, and experiences with Ed Lahey. Dunsmore recalls his early impressions of Lahey and his poetry while he and Lahey were in Missoula, Montana in the early 1960s. He describes the evolution of his relationship with Lahey over the years. Dunsmore recounts details about Lahey's life and career as a poet. He tells a number of personal stories about their relationship. He provides details and insight to what kind of person and friend Lahey was.
OH 438-02: Sheryl Noethe, Montana’s poet laureate from 2011 to 2013, discusses her extensive writing career, relationship and friendship with Montana poet, Ed Lahey. Noethe discusses the impact Lahey has had on her life and her writing. Noethe briefly mentions Lahey’s life in Butte and resultant manganese poisoning from his work in the mines. Additionally, Noethe recounts details highlighting Lahey’s idiosyncrasies, his difficult initial acceptance in the Missoula writing community, his prolific writing career, failing health, and ultimate death. Noethe also reads some of her original poetry inspired by Lahey and poetry in which he appears.