George Michael Evica touched me deeply when I was an English major at UHa. I had never met anyone remotely like him. He was the smartest guy I'd ever known, the most creative, the most discerning, the most charismatic, the most empathetic, the funniest and the nicest. I took every class he gave and came back to UHa for a masters degree because he "strongly suggested" it, and I kept many of the papers I wrote for him because of the large bold flair-tip notes of encouragement he penned in the margins. I can still remember some of his comments, too, although the most remarkable utterance that I can recall, which is right at the top of the most remarkable utterances I have ever heard, was his response to a question from one of his senior colleagues after GM read aloud some of his astonishing poems. I don't remember the exact terms of the question, but it had to do with what George Michael wanted to do with his life (I assumed, like most of us, students, his colleague realized that George Michael was capable of doing anything he wanted to, whether it was actually physically possible or not).
George Michael instantly replied, with no false modesty, that he wanted to "Create and maintain a dynamic reciprocity with the bio-cosmic rhythms of the universe."
It's easy to focus now on my naivete and not on George Michael, but that principle of dynamic reciprocity, expressed with such incandescence, has been a touchstone for me in my writing and in my life, and I have always understood that it articulates an idea of immense truth, that it is a poem of two words from a poet who saw into the heart of things.
A couple of more things. I remember walking by a faculty meeting one afternoon, and catching sight of George Michael sitting by the door. He was wearing his amazing electric blue suit, and, quite bizarrely, I suddenly couldn't grasp that he would attend anything as mundane as a faculty meeting. Why wouldn't he? He was on the faculty, and there would be faculty matters that needed his attention, and yet, it seemed unfathomable: like running into Aristotle at a coop meeting. He saw me staring at him through the window on the door, and smiled in this large, conspiratorial, way and placed a sheet of paper (the agenda?) on top of his head. I couldn't tell whether he was implying that I, with my mouth open, looked like a baboon, or if he felt the faculty meeting was reducing him and everyone else in the room to baboons. I just felt so immensely honored by the attention.
A couple of years ago when I published a book about teaching, I acknowledged GME, even though we hadn't exchanged a word in over thirty years, and while I teach, I am always careful not to emulate him. (It would be disastrous: like attempting to swim across the ocean in imitation of a whale, or jumping out of a window in imitation of a rocket.) But even after thirty years of distance, I couldn't pass up the chance to acknowledge that he was the exemplary model, the poet/teacher par excellence, and how sincerely I appreciated and loved him.