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Vivek Sharma

Vivek Sharma

Vivek Sharma, when he first met Tom at Georgia Tech., refused to call him Tom, and Tom refused to be addressed as Professor Lux. In time, Vivek chose to call Tom "Gurudev" (meaning ‘Teacher-God’). Tom really liked the term when Vivek told him that in ancient India, Gurudev was a title given to sage-poets, the masters of all human and divine knowledge. Vivek says "Gurudev Lux taught me everything about the craft and joy of writing." Now Vivek is an assistant professor of chemical engineering in Chicago, and publishes both as a scientist and as a poet: a coexistence Gurudev encouraged and loved.
 

Gurudev Lux

I belong to an extended family of poets who were transformed by the mentorship and generosity of Gurudev Lux. When I first met him in November 2005, I did not know the most rudimentary things about formal and free verse, clichés, contemporary poets or the American poetry scene, the art of revision, and the importance of reading critically and regularly. He taught me everything. After the very first meeting, he sent me off with a few books, including ghazals by Jim Harrison. “Read these, come back next week, and let me know what you think.” I returned the very next day, vexed by Harrison’s so-called "ghazals”, I curtly told him. His reaction stumped me. That was probably the first time I saw the candid delight, that joyful grin, the open-armed, honest pleasure he took in the progress of his students. “You will dig these,” he prophesized, and handed me ‘Call Me Ishmael Tonight’ by Agha Shahid Ali. Thereafter, I met him every week, without knowing how lucky I was. I realized he was a rock-star poet and mentor on the day of one of the summer seminars for writers in Sarah Lawrence, June 2006. There I gave my first reading in front of a crowd of writers. I was quite nervous, as I did not want to let Gurudev Lux down. After reciting my ghazal, I saw him standing tall, applauding with the crowd, grinning from ear to ear, gesturing to all ‘my kid, my kid’! I tottered into his grand bear hug, puffed with pride and delight. Time and again, his bear hugs came with the unabashed joy of a dearest friend or a parent. Though his daughter Claudia (‘The Little Tooth’) was forever his greatest delight, he loved all of us: all his poetry children. I think we all tumbled out of his Refrigerator, 1957, and his life’s work, legacy and poetry can be captured with one phrase: “that which rips your heart with joy”.

A Little Tooth


Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone.  It's all

over: she'll learn some words, she'll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail.  And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing.  You did, you loved, your feet
are sore.  It's dusk.  Your daughter's tall.




from The Drowned River, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990

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