Here are some words I read for Dave Nolan's funeral on behalf of the 92nd St. Y this Wednesday afternoon at St. Mark's Church. The service for Dave was sublime. I am still reeling from all of the lives he touched, the immensity of his circles...
Dave Nolan was both a friend and my colleague at the 92nd St Y on the Upper East Side. We worked there together for what would have been four years this spring. Dave was a loved person at the Y. Loved for his friendliness and collegiality, and for his unique fashion sense (I will never forget the signature cowboy hat coupled with business attire and Hippie accessories). I would look forward to having a conversation with Dave usually at my desk about archival issues related to our jobs, but also about Downtown poetry and music, and the social histories surrounding St. Mark’s Church and The Bowery Poetry Club.
Dave and I worked on a project together at the Y to digitize the Unterberg Poetry Center’s collection of audio recordings from the center’s ongoing literary events series. Through Dave’s example as an archivist I learned a lot about archivism both as a profession and an art. Not only did Dave teach me to think about what the job of the archivist is and how properly to perform it, but also about archivism as an ethical relationship to cultural materials. Without the care and dedication of rare people like Dave we wouldn’t have archives, and therefore would lose our relationship to the past, to history, and to possible futures. As a result of Dave’s efforts, many hundreds of the Y’s programs are preserved for posterity. Likewise, Dave was instrumental in creating an infrastructure for further preservation projects across the Y’s many departments and programs.
To take on many of the archival projects that Dave undertook, made him that much more rare a person. This past New Years day right here at St. Mark’s Church Dave recorded yet another poetry marathon for the Poetry Project. This is a work of love. To attend local poetry, to attend poetry culture as a marsh for more visible cultural expressions and forms, to attend poetic language as a glue which binds us all. Dave served poetry and poets through his work at the Y, but also through his work at Poets House, Bowery Poetry Club, and The Poetry Project. Poetry will miss him and so especially will I.