Greg Hall: friend, lover of the creative mind & poet extraordinaire

by Bea Garth, copyright 2009


GREG HALL 1946-2009

Note: There will be a Memorial  Celebration of Greg Hall’s life and poetry at the WORKS Gallery in downtown San Jose on July 19th at 6 PM 451 S. 1st St., San Jose, CA 95113; phone: 408 256-6250. Friends of his will be reading his poetry and reminiscing.  Lynn Rogers will perform a healing ceremony and his daughter Danielle Hall will perform music with either the guitar or base, possibly with one or two other musicians.  More on the list of participants etc. later.

Note: see bottom of article for links to blogs by two friends of Greg’s–F.A. Nettlebeck and Liz Henry.  Also several of Greg’s poems are found in the list to the right under Poetry.


This picture is also being used by the Santa Cruz Weekly and the Metro  for an obit by Stephen Kessler on Greg Hall

"Greg Winking" photo by Bea Garth, copyright 2009. This picture is also being used by the Santa Cruz Weekly and the Metro for an obit by Stephen Kessler on Greg Hall

I am still in shock at the passing of  one of my best friend’s — the much loved and talented poet Greg Hall.  He died in his cottage here in San Jose most likely late Monday night or early on Tuesday morning June 23rd 2009, probably from a heart attack.

I said hi to him early Monday evening  when he was bringing back his wash and now wish I had followed my intuition and visited him that evening. I learned later that his old friend Stephen Kessler talked with him at length about things poetic that very day. His daughter Danielle had wished him a happy Father’s Day  Sunday night and my friend Graeme Jones had spoken with him for an hour about politics and culture Sunday morning.

Greg worked at the local county hospital as a schedule clerk .  The staff  worried when he didn’t show up and  found he could not be reached by telephone all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning. They thus sent the police and I opened the door for them early Wednesday afternoon.

Greg was one of those unique people that you don’t find very often — an extraordinarily talented poet with a big heart who also was very private.  He didn’t like all the “hoopla” — something he had all too much of as a young man. Although he appreciated the attention on the one hand, he felt it got in the way of writing poetry on the other. His first book of poetry (Flame People) had an introduction by Robert Bly.  Soon  Greg  got drawn into the “poetry circuit” of which he had both fond and mixed memories.  He still kept up many of his contacts but chose to move away from the more boisterous poetry community in Santa Cruz to lead a more calm life in San Jose for both him and his family.

Despite his enthusiasms, Greg  chose to live what was  in many ways an austere life so he could focus more on what was important to him–writing poetry.  Greg’s interior life was very rich as a result;  he  liked to read  a constant stream of serious writers like Proust,  Mellarme, Fanon, Graves, and Sarte — and listened to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters and  Hank Williams — all of which he would recycle at the local book and music stores.

Despite his often solitary nature, he reached out to people in the poetry community in ways that really mattered  as well as to his neighbors at the cul-de-sac where he lived.  He was  a very deep soul with a warm heart and wonderful sense of humor —  as also evidenced in both his beautifully crafted and evoked lyric love poems and his ironically self-humorous  “dirty Greggie” poems.

His very last bit of writing is below,  found inside his cottage after he died; it is once again a humorous piece of ‘stream of consciousness’. All other writings were sent off to friends, including Walter Martin in Texas whom we hope contacts us very soon. (Note: For examples of his poetry see the listing “Greg Hall poems” off to the right and the listing “poems by Greg Hall” below–more of which I will transfer to the above listing to preserve their original line breaks. Be watching this site also for additional poems that he gave me and said Eos could publish.)


Wonder how snakes
got a bad name…
Well you got
… and all that.
Then you got
the fucking Bible.
…the Bible’s
an iceberg,
it’s melting.
How did I get
into this
…I thought
you give
it your all
you get discovered
they publish
your book
it’s over.
That was
30 years ago.
This is looser
than poetry
it’s better
than talking to yourself
it’s monologue
I’m gonna start
writing this shit down.

by Greg Hall,  copyright June 2009

For more info on Greg Hall please visit the following blog-site by Greg’s long-term friend F. A. Nettlebeck, kindly brought to my attention by writer and psychologist Marilyn Graham, Greg’s ex-wife from his time in Santa Cruz transitioning into San Jose  and mother of his  daughter Danielle Hall:

Post: GREG HALL 1946-2009

Also check out Liz Henry’s wonderful blog entries on Greg–her insights, one of Greg’s drawings,  some of his poems and recordings:

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2 replies

  1. Bea, here’s the direct link to my somewhat rambling reaction to the news.

    I am putting up any recordings of Greg that I have, over here:

    Thanks for publishing Greg’s poems and for all you’ve written here…


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