War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

to the beloved

two days ago I lost, we, the flamenco world, the greater world, lost a great master, Harry Owen. (for readers of my fictional project, May Day: letters to a lover in Afghanistan, Harry was Big G, the master flamenco guitarist. read New Year’s from May Day).

in real life, Harry was the master guitarist who taught all of us dancers compas, the unique beat of that amazing art form flamenco through his presence at every class, every performance we have ever danced. he patiently taught us through his guitar playing and his palmas how to feel the great bumpy wheel of rhythm, to hear the heartbeat (with a slight murmur) of all humanity that is flamenco. his partner, his beloved Veronica, taught our bodies to move to that heartbeat. together they gave us the gift of belonging to that which is greater than the individual, la famillia flamenco which belongs not only to Spain but to the world. its roots in gypsy, eastern european, celtic, north african, jewish, middle eastern cultures.

on a personal level, Harry taught me that it didn’t matter as an artist, a poet, even a “war” poet, whether I read to one person on the telephone or 11 million (e.g., the listenership of the BBC World Service) through a radio broadcast, it should all be with the same energy and intention. for Harry, he loved playing for beginning dancers as much as a full concert hall. what mattered always to Harry was the art. the music. the duende of it all.

duende. the presence of death, the presence of joy, the finality, the infinity of life. reaching that “other” place. acknowledging that our words, our music, our dance, may be our last. that they matter. that we should make them matter.

last Wed. in the haze of a pity fest I was late for morning class. I slipped into the back of the class and laced up my shoes. warmed up alone. usually I stand at the front of the class on the left hand side. usually I dance right next to Harry. I like to hear the compas up close. I like to be near Harry. he is, no, he was always solid. always there.

last Wednesday I heard the first chord, big and wide as his heart. it called to me as it did the very first time. it called me, told me. I was home.

now is the time for grief. again.

here is Gareth Owen, Harry and Veronica’s son playing a seguiryea , the most profound _palo of flamenco, a palo of grief._


4 Comments (Closed)

Esteban Figueroa

I met Harry many moons ago. He really taught me how to play from the heart. It broke my heart to hear of his passing away. My love and condolences go to the Alma de Espana family. Especially Veronica and Gareth. I think all of us who were taught, influenced and moved by Harry will always have a part of who he was/is and that spells beautiful in any language.
Thank you my friend Harry. Until forever.

Sep 20 2010 · 14:38

Rhonda Kara Hanah

Harry encouraged me in a way that no one in my life at that time had ever done, with a constant compassion, humor and tenderness. His warm hearted, ever encouraging presence and his incredible music always moved me through the challenges. The love I felt, the powerful lessons that I learned will NEVER be forgotten.
My heart goes out to his dear family .
We will miss his brilliant light. His soulful music will live on….

Oct 02 2010 · 06:49

Ardelle Polus

Well written. I’ve known the family for about 22 years. Harry was a kind and gentle-man in the truest meaning of the word. As a teacher and accompanyist in the classroom, he was patient and encouraging. Love and light to him and all who knew him.

Oct 05 2010 · 18:07

Elaine Thompson

It’s Saturday afternoon and Harry’s memorial service starts in1/2 hour. I sit here, near tears fighting the horror of the finality. So gentle, so vibrant, so very much in love with Veronica. God it hurts. To think – there will be no laughter coming from that corner of the classroom. We will never see Harry coming in holding a cup of coffee in one hand and his guitar in the other. Ah hell….here come the tears….
Our beautiful Veronica, the organizer, the business planner, the choreographer, our maestra and our friend. Half her heart is gone. Words are so damn useless. Platitudes, endless platitudes
Hopefully the true sense of Flamenco will be her guiding light. The tragedy, the loss, the injustice of it all will be lessened with the spark of hope that a smile and honest laughter will return one day without force. Harry’s legacy continues with Gareth’s talent and Harry will be near. Always. I hope to God Veronica can feel him and gain comfort from that ever present love. It was obvious to all of us.
Hasta luego Harry, my friend.

Oct 09 2010 · 13:57

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled to the beloved. It was posted here on September 18, 2010.

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