anonymous tributes

Father-figure Frederic Bryton

Image courtesy of the Huntington Library.

In commemoration of Valentine’s Day, we offer this poem of familial love written by a California daughter:

A Poem for My Father

A man saw a bird and wanted to paint it. The problem, if there was one, was simply a problem with the question. Why paint a bird? Why do anything at all? Not how, because hows are easy—series or sequence, one foot after the other—but existentially why bother, what does it solve?

           -Richard Siken


My father is a mountain man,

both in practice and in preach.

Every morning,

upon waking,

he greets the trees.

“I pine fir you,”

he says to the trees.

“I long for you,”

he says to the pale grass.

How to fit so much love

in one brain?

How to teach all that

one knows?

My father is a scholar,

a wonder,

a friend.

“Teach me how to live,”

I say to him.

“Here’s how,”

says my father.

And, suddenly, life!


You may have heard that Alan Jutzi, Avery Chief Curator of Rare Books, is retiring after a 45-year career at The Huntington. In his honor, I have been asked to pass along the following:


On the Retirement of the Avery Chief Curator of Rare Books, Alan Jutzi

with apologies to Robert Mezey


Who knows his Heber from his Hoe?

His Pembroke, Patton, Pound, and Poe?

Or where the Chew and Chaucer go?

Don’t ask me, ask Jutzi.


When did we get the plant that’s stinkin’?

Who remembers stuff on Lincoln?

Or why de Worde was always Wynkyn?

Don’t have a clue? Ask Jutzi.


Bukowski—was he real or fakin’?

Do we keep much on Francis Bacon?

And why, oh why, was Conrad Aiken?

Search me, ask Alan Jutzi.


How did Henry store his plonk?

Do we have Alchemy, by Franck?

Where did the scholars play petanque?

I don’t know, ask Jutzi.


Who takes on rare books mano a mano?

Who’s every curator’s hermano?

And what the hell’s a zamarano?

You’d better go ask Jutzi.


Whose tennis game is strong and gutsy?

Whose love of fishing’s slightly nutsy?

Who makes the rest of us look putzy?

God only knows—and Jutzi.


Based on Robert Mezey’s “On the Retirement of the Scholar, Thomas Pinney.”