1930 - 2014
Henry Braun (1930-2014)
WELD, MAINE - Henry Braun of Weld passed away on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. Henry was a poet, teacher, anti-war activist, husband, father, grandfather, loyal friend and very sweet man.
Born in Olean, N.Y. in 1930, he attended the University of Buffalo and Brandeis University. He then received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in France, his M.A. at Brandeis, and an ABD at Boston University, where he was a teaching assistant and student of Robert Lowell's.
In the 1960s he organized poetry read-ins against the war in Vietnam and participated in the War Tax Resistance movement. He donated part of his taxes to the Philadelphia Veterans Hospital and to Philadelphia public schools. For this he was convicted in a federal court for tax evasion and received a fine of $500.
Henry helped organize a draft card turn-in at the Justice Department, and was an non-indicted co-conspirator at the Boston Five trial. He helped write "The Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority" in 1967: "We are planning an act of direct creative resistance to the war and the draft in Washington on Friday, Oct. 20... [Signed] Mitchell Goodman, Henry Braun, Denise Levertov, Noam Chomsky, William Sloane Coffin, Dwight Macdonald."
For turning in his draft card he was reclassified, at age 37, from 4F to 1A, the oldest 1A in the country, as reported in Time magazine.
Henry taught literature and creative writing at Temple University and at Temple Tokyo. He served as coordinator of the Poetry Center of the Philadelphia YM-YWHA. His first book of poems, The Vergil Woods, 1968, was selected by Atheneum editor Harry Ford for the Pulitzer Prize
His second book, Loyalty, was published in 2006 by Off The Grid Press and received the Maine Poets and Writers Award for best book of poetry in Maine that year. Maine's first Poet Laureate, Kate Barnes said of this book "... What did Thoreau say about the cost of any great work, that it cost a lifetime? It's an extraordinary lifetime that we feel in this book. . . . "
His work has appeared in many magazines, including Poetry, The Nation and the American Poetry Review, and in several anthologies, including The Body Electric, Best Poetry from the American Poetry Review. He was a contributing editor of APR and served on the editorial board of the Beloit Poetry Journal.
He is survived by his wife Joan, his daughter Jessie Braun Iwata and her husband Yuzo Iwata and their children Natsuo and Elena, and his daughter Sarah Braun and her partner Josh Nadeau, and Sarah's daughter Sophie.
His earlier book, The Vergil Woods, is online here and portions of an eventual film by Morgan Walker "Strange Attractors," here. His book, Loyalty, is available here from Off the Grid Press in Somerville, Mass.
A poetry scholarship will be established in his name at the University of Maine at Farmington. Checks for the Henry Braun Poetry Memorial Fund can be sent to P.O. Box 84, Weld, ME 04285.
Published in New York Times from Oct. 23 to Oct. 24, 2014.