Ode to Bill Turner

December 31, 2021
I was very saddened to hear about the death of NW painter William Turner. He died at age 81 on Christmas Eve. I felt Bill was a genius painter and tremendously under-appreciated. Maybe that changes in death, that he gets the attention his work deserved, but that’s a shitty deal if you asked me. Look at his art here.

& at that site his artist’s statement is:

My paintings are alive with color and shapes that are sometimes figurative, sometimes landscape

William Turner

William Turner (1940-2021)

based. They are intended to be simultaneously stimulating and contemplative. As I paint while listening to jazz, viewers will often see rhythmic and colorful patterns. I do not go into my studio with a pre-conceived idea but I allow the painting to evolve as I physically interact with the paint and let the emotional center of the painting come to light. As I have been painting daily for over 45 years, I have come more and more to believe in the spirituality of beauty. With all the daily turmoil in our world, I strive for my paintings to be my contribution, in the most human way possible, to the creation, celebration, of grace and beauty. I get no greater pleasure than when someone tells me how they made a personal discovery in one of my paintings; how my paintings make them smile; how a painting is a daily refreshment in their life. That’s the greatest gift I, as an artist, can give to my world – joy.

Bill’s widow Josie and I go back to the old days in Auburn, when she was helpful in getting what became SPLAB (& is now the Cascadia Poetics Lab) off the ground. Bill was always kind to me and could hear the Jazz improvisation in my work. He was hip to the polyrhythms and allusions.

I had just spent several days on retreat where I was able to upload many of my videos of FLEXIBLE MIND poems to my YouTube channel. Due to having my hand in this new series of poems, and taking the love I felt for Bill and the grief for an artist who did not get the recognition I felt he deserved, I was able to quickly write this poem from the FLEXIBLE MIND series. Please enjoy, give Bill’s work a look and please reach out to a friend you’ve not seen for a while. As it said in the 40s pop song my Dad liked to quote: “It’s later than you think.”


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