Dick Gallup, Part of the "Tulsa School of Poetry" That Thrived in NYC in the '60s & '70s, Dies at 79

Feb 18, 2021

The poet Dick Gallup, who grew up in Tulsa and came to prominence in the New York City literary scene of the 1960s and '70s alongside his friends and fellow Tulsans Ron Padgett, Joe Brainard, and Ted Berrigan, died last month at his home in San Francisco. He was 79. Gallup was a part of the so-called "New York School" of poets, publishing books of poetry and a play. He taught writing workshops, gave numerous readings, and taught poetry writing to schoolchildren in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Gallup also taught poetry for two years at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, where he moreover served as interim director. Along the way he received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fund for Poetry. Gallup was born on July 3, 1941, in Greenfield, Massachusetts. In late 1949, his family moved to Tulsa, where he met and quickly befriended Padgett, who had moved into the house across the street. In 1958, while in high school, Gallup and Padgett founded (with the artist and writer Joe Brainard, also a classmate) a small literary magazine, The White Dove Review. This short-lived but important journal published work by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), and Robert Creeley, as well as writing by a fellow Tulsan, Ted Berrigan, who was then attending the University of Tulsa. Gallup attended Tulane University for two years, then transferred to Columbia University's School of General Studies, where he received a BA. By then, his Tulsa friends had moved to New York City, where, living in what came to be known as the East Village, they took on the name jokingly bestowed upon them by the noted poet John Ashbery, the "Tulsa School of Poetry." Gallup's gift for poetry flourished. His writing was celebrated for its combination of graceful lyricism and everyday language, and a willingness to explore unexpected corners of the mind and yet maintain a sense of humor about it all. He became an active member of the Downtown NYC art and literary scene, giving readings, publishing widely in magazines, and authoring books, including "Hinges" (1965), "The Bingo" (1966), and "Where I Hang My Hat" (1970). In 1973, Gallup, his wife, and their children moved to West Virginia, where he had been appointed the state poet-in-the-schools, and then to South Carolina, where he did similar work for several years. Following these stints, the family moved to northern California, where Gallup befriended the poet and NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu. Settling in San Francisco in 1981, Gallup withdrew from the national literary scene and came to lead a somewhat secluded existence, driving a taxi at night, reading science fiction by day, playing guitar for his own pleasure, and raising his son. Although Gallup brought out one more collection, "Plumbing the Depths of Folly" (1983), he had stopped writing and made no effort to promote his work. However, he did accept invitations over the years to give readings of his poetry in New York (1979 and 2001) and in Tulsa (2009). And he said yes when Alan Kornblum, his former student, expressed a desire to bring out Gallup's "Shiny Pencils at the Edge of Things: New and Selected Poems," which appeared in 2001.