by poet and egyptologist Daniel Kolos, 2016
As an American-educated Hungarian-born Egyptologist in Canada, I met Robert Zend thinking - or believing - that he was a comedian. Then he turned into a cartoonist, a chain smoker, a musician, a poet, a radio documentary writer and a few dozen more talents. His documentaries brought us together. Creating hour-long programs for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, specifically for the long-running "Ideas" show, allowed Zend to travel the world and interview, record and bring to Canadian audiences such great names in Literature as Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda. He urged me to do the same for the great men and women - as well as the gods - of ancient Egypt. I took his advice. For nine years I followed his footsteps at CBC.
As he mentored me, though, what he revealed to me was the depth of his poetry. I had been writing poetry all my life, but would not reveal it to anyone. Not even to Zend. When another friend pulled me out of the closet and offered a stage for me, I had to come to terms with the influences such talented, creative poets like Zend had on me. It took me twenty years after his death to dare to publish what I learned from him:
"Mentored," by Daniel Kolos
You mentored me
and once you proudly
declared to my wife
you were her mentor-in-law.
Was I your trainee?
Your apprentice? No!
If you had been a knight,
I would have been your page.
Since you were a writer, a poet,
I was your blank page
upon which you exercised
your creativity for ten years.
Sometimes I was a mirror
that reflected your wit,
or a sounding board who laughed
when you tried out your humour.
Other times I was a sieve
who let through your finest ideas
but trapped the rough,
unformed ones for further refining.
At times I was a funnel
and you fed into me the chaos
that arose in you day after day,
and watched what poured out of me.
I dutifully spun your chaos.
Often I made it too ordered,
until you taught me not to fear
disorder but play with it,
let it form itself into creative
dissonance or hilarious
nonsense, unusual twists
and turns of words and phrases.
One day I realized it was
your mind that was the mirror,
and everyone a sounding board,
a sieve and a funnel.
You have, in your own unique way,
modeled the creative process for me,
that I might begin to use
my own unbounded imagination.
I was in Egypt when you died
and did not have a chance to thank you
for inviting me into your madness,
nor to show you what I did with it.
- Published in "From One Child to Another" by Daniel Kolos
(Shelbourne, Ontario, 2007: The Silicon Dispatch Box)