R.I.P. Joel Deutsch, Writer, Poet, World Hum Contributor

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  12.29.11 | 8:16 PM ET

I couldn’t let the year end without noting the recent death of Joel Deutsch, an accomplished poet and writer who contributed an essay to World Hum in the site’s earliest days. He was 67.

I met Joel in the late-‘90s in a novel-writing class at UCLA Extension. He was going blind as a result of retinitis pigmentosa and asked whether anyone could give him a ride home. I volunteered. We talked about reading and writing on that first drive across Los Angeles. Over time, we became good friends.

Joel had been a poet before I met him, publishing in literary journals, editing one of his own. He went on to write moving essays about going blind, many of which appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

In 2001, we published his essay Exits and Entrances, about introducing Russian immigrant friends to American life at a Fourth of July picnic. It captured the shrinking-planet sensibility we always like to explore at World Hum. It was the only piece we published of his, but he never stopped following the development of the site.

Shortly before his death, he completed his first novel, “The Book of Danny.” He was seeking representation for it when he died.

He was a good friend. I miss him.



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