Max Ritvo, "an accomplished poet who spent much of his life under the cloud of cancer while gaining wide attention writing and speaking about it," died August 23, the New York Times reported. He was 25. His poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine and the New Yorker, which featured his poem "Poem to My Litter" in June.
Ritvo's first published volume of poetry, Four Reincarnations, will be released this fall by Milkweed Editions. On Milkweed's blog, publisher and CEO Daniel Slager recalled reading the manuscript last spring and being "completely transfixed. It is not easy to describe Max Ritvo's poetry adequately. Along with the intelligence, the music, the beautiful lines, there is a profoundly boundless energy at work. And yet this boundlessness confronts throughout a real, concrete grasp of the finite nature of life. I had never encountered such a rapprochement of ecstasy and pain, of beauty and dread. Put simply, reading Four Reincarnations for the first time, I had an overwhelming sense of awe and admiration--an initial sense that has only deepened."
He added that Ritvo "possessed the rarest kind of genius. Even more uncommon, his brilliance was accompanied by the most beautiful kind of humanity. Max did hold an advance reading copy of Four Reincarnations in his hands, and I know he was delighted. Soon we will publish the book, and I know his vision and artistry will endure."