Kate of Kate Hall, praised in every town

Kate Yule. Photo by Janna Silverstein.

Kate Yule. Photo by Janna Silverstein.

by John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1227)

Take this of me, Kate of my consolation,
thy virtues spoke of, yet not so deeply as to thee belongs.

There was of course no question of “taming” her, nor was she in any way – I don’t even want to say it.  Nor for that matter do I believe Shakespeare thought so of women; the play is Sly’s dream, and Shakespeare as ever – see Love’s Labors Lost – the all-too-true satirist of male folly.

David Levine was her husband for 25 years.  I can’t speak for him; nor should I; nor shall I.  Nor do I measure myself with him.  He knew her more in every way.  I only speak for myself.

The consolation is that I ever knew Kate Yule at all (1961-2016).  How many people I meet or see or guess traces of who are less than she – or of whom I think no better for lack of knowing them!

And in this universe ends are also, like it or not, beginnings; and if the morning brings me grief, if I feel the sunshine puts me in my rotting place, there is glory in growing.

Can I speak to her?  Go ahead, tell me about apostrophes.

And wherever she was, whatever else it was, that was Kate Hall.

I mustn’t omit Mad magazine’s putting on a cover that 1961 was the first upside-down year since 1881, the last until 6009.

She was a faithful correspondent of my fanzine Vanamonde.  From her letters:

  • “Yes yes to … naming the LASFS [L.A. S-F Society] restrooms Disposed and Communicado [Phil Castora’s suggestion]….  I will fight for the honor of the misused apostrophe.”
  • “Do you think cows are presented with meadows neatly sorted?”
  • “I read the tamburitza as being from the Pandemonium region of SE Europe.”
  • “I commend to you A Fez of the Heart: Travels Around Turkey in Search of a Hat by Jeremy Seal.”
  • “German can use the subjunctive to indicate support for a cited statement – neutrality – or a strong desire to hold it at arm’s length and downwind.”
  • “You, age 10, performing magic tricks for an audience…. is as intriguing an image as Woodrow Wilson cracking up at Will Rogers’ jokes.”

She and her husband published the small but perfectly formed fanzine Bento.  A few years ago I sent

“Both” say each of them
Engaging in much bothing,
Not uncaringly
Touching, trying, exploring,
Omnivoracious and neat.

Here’s an adventure from 2002 – last palindromic year until 2112 (reprinted from Vanamonde 484).

     David Levine was in town for a Writers of the Future writing workshop; Kate Yule came along, both I believe attending the annual Writers and Illustrators awards ceremony.

On Thursday night I reached the LASFS Clubhouse just before they left.  On Wednesday morning I met Yule for dim sum at the Empress Pavilion, took her through the main public library down town with its headless pillars four stories deep and its elevators lined with catalogue cards, and since Cathy Cupitt had, we lunched at the Oaxaqueño restaurant Guelaguetza.  On Friday, Simon Rodía’s Watts Towers, which I’d never visited, then Al Gelato in Beverly Hills.

In a museum at the Towers was Glass Lace, an artform of mirror-chip pictures, by Judson Powell; there also live folk instruments collected by Dr. & Mrs. Joseph Howard.

Rodía built the three Towers, and a gazebo with a 38-foot spire, and a Ship of Marco Polo with a 28’ spire, evenings and weekends over 34 years until 1954, when he was 75 years old; then he went away, giving all to a neighbor, and never returned.  Three weeks after his death in 1965 the Watts Riots left his work untouched.

The Towers are 55’, 97’10”, and 99’6” high, with 5,000 joints among 150 horizontal bands, 50 external vertical columns, and large external loops.

After the 1994 earthquake, a restoration crew needed eight years because only a few workers at a time could use the scaffolding; Rodía used none, nor bolts, rivets, welds, a drawing board; he made these soaring, interlacing, mosaic things with pipe-fitter pliers, a window-washer’s belt, scrap metal bent by hand, wire and steel-mesh wrapping, mortar, glass green from 7-Up bottles and blue from Phillips Milk of Magnesia, tiles, sea shells, ceramic shards, designs hand-drawn or pressed in, and sly jokes, like a shape odd from the ground which you could see was a horse-head from thirty feet up its Tower, and exactly one bottle cap.

Yule thought of Gaudí.

At her death – it was National Poetry Day in the United Kingdom, but that wasn’t my fault – I sent

Know – what?  Who we are?
Ardent looking not sated, stopped,
Thoughts, acts, to join or team ready,
Ending now?  Only the flesh is dropped.

                                          

Both poems are acrostic.  The first is in 5-7-5-7-7-syllable form, like Japanese tanka.  The second is roughly like Chinese Regulated Verse: for the scansion, I try sentence-stress instead of the First Tone (Chinese has no sentence-stress), and ignore insubstantial words (omitted in literary Chinese); below, / marks the caesura, R the rhyme.

– – / – x x
x x / x – – R
x x / – – x
– – / x x – R

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