Songs of an OC Son: Remembering, Celebrating Robert Peters (1924-2014)

The death last week of poet and critic, memoirist, UC Irvine professor and sometime performance artist Robert Peters offers yet another moment of confounding if useless juxtapositions. The physically strong, robust specimen of all-American Midwestern vigor, the robust body and mind, the wit and hearty affections - for words, for people - had diminished, it seemed, if to perhaps all but Bob himself. He was deaf, his body falling apart yet Bob Peters seemed always...That's it.  Always, as in everpresent. He complained, gently, funnily, about his health in a poetic rant celebrating (!) his 84th brithday, but the mind and creative engagement persisted. My own sentence fragment, offered lamely, and in its complete incompleteness and open-ended appreciation is an impossible assessment, trying to be content with what stands as a very full life, as they say. Peters published dozens of books of poetry, and famously compiled his own take on contemporary poets in his multi-volume The Great American Bake-Off series, dressed up as Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, taught grads and undergrads Victorian lit and more at UCI, lived as an openly and proudly gay man with his adoring spouse the poet and writer Paul Trachtenberg in, of all places, a modest tract home in Huntington Beach, Orange County, California, USA where, upon entering their home a visitor would immediately note and appreciate a complete copy of the Oxford English Dictionary and on a nearby wall a poster of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, dig it.


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