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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA poetry professor passes away

    On Monday morning, the UA community lost a beloved poet, gracious colleague and edifying professor, Peter Wild.

    Wild died Monday morning at the age of 68 after losing his two-year battle with cancer.

    After almost 40 years as a UA professor in the department of english, it would be easy to say Wild was like any other in the field, but those who knew him said he was truly one of a kind.

    “”He was a real character with a wonderful sense of humor and a real spirit about him,”” associate creative writing professor Jason Brown said. “”The university, teaching and poetry – that was his entire life, everything to him.””

    Even though Wild was struggling with his health, Brown said he was determined to finish teaching this semester.

    “”Physically, he knew he was dying but he wasn’t going to let anything stop him.”” Brown said. “”It’s a true loss. We’re really going to miss him here. He died in his boots.””

    “”Peter had published over 2,000 poems in his lifetime, more than anyone else in the history of the UA English department,”” said friend and English professor Carl Berkhout. Wild also wrote prose and historical, biographical and southwestern literature.

    “”He was like an encyclopedia of poetry,”” said Virginia Holmes, a former student of Professor Wild’s and a creative writing senior. “”Poetry was really his thing, it had always been what he loved.””

    Wild’s legacy at the UA extended beyond his scholarly work and into his methods of teaching and mentoring students.

    “”One day, in regards to a title-less poem, Peter bluntly stated ‘you wouldn’t leave your child without a name, so why leave your poem without a title?'”” Holmes said.

    She said Wild gave off a special aura that he cared.

    “”He was interested in what you had to write, what you were trying to say and then helped you get it across well,”” Holmes said.

    Born on April 25, 1940 in Northampton, Mass., Wild finished his undergraduate degree at the UA in 1965, said English senior academic advisor Bridget Radcliff.

    After graduating from the UA, Wild was stationed in Germany where he served in the Army in the mid 1960s.

    Wild went on to receive his MBA at UC Irvine in 1969, and began teaching at the UA shortly after, Radcliff said.

    “”He was like a solid rock and a take-no-shit guy,”” said English graduate student Jacob Levine who first met Wild in his Poetry 309 class. “”When he says something in class, in life, in his poetry, he was behind it 100 percent.””

    Wild was very independent-minded, conservative about literature, and held strong libertarian political views, colleague and friend Steve Orlen said.

    “”He loved to work,”” Orlen said. “”He’d be in his office seven days a week from 6 a.m. until late evening. We used to have a competition (for) who could get here earlier.””

    Radcliff said one of the most “”lovable things”” about Wild was that he would walk around singing or humming.

    “”He would always ask how everyone else is doing while making an effort to learn more about them,”” Radcliff said. “”His research was always so much about other people, maybe it was just his nature.””

    Wild is survived by his brother Arnold Wild.

    Berkhout said Wild’s good friend and neighbor will be handling immediate arrangements and is in touch with his brother about further matters. Wild wished to be cremated and have no formal obsequies.

    “”It was left to Peter’s friends in Tucson to gather in his memory, perhaps not too far from his 69th birthday,”” Berkhout said. “”Maybe celebrate his life with a glass of cheap wine – the only kind he would occasionally ingest – and a measure of simple cheer that he might have diffidently tolerated.””

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