I've just received this email from fellow poet Jamie Reid which I felt compelled to share with you.
Our dear comrade and brother poet, Billy Little, slipped away from this life at about 5 AM on New Years Day. It almost seems to me as if he were imitating one of his idols, dada hero Tristan Tzara, who died on Christmas Day in 1963. For several days he had been telling his friends that each day might be his last, but he hung on and continued to breathe one day after another for several days, until finally he lost the ability to speak and passed away. Billy spent his last days on his beloved Hornby Island, surrounded by his friends.
He had been resigned to this final result since hearing from his doctors last January that the abdominal cancer through which he had endured several rounds of chemotherapy and surgery would finally take his life in a matter of months rather than years. He lived the months that were left to him with great courage and good humour, sometimes in tears, he told me once, that he should have to leave the world, the life and the people that he loved with such passion and devotion. The people at his bedside near the end, his son Matt Little, Gordon Payne and his caregiver, Colleen Work, confirmed that through his last hours, though he could not speak, he was clearly smiling.
Billy’s son, Matt, will be inviting friends to the Hornby Island ball park on Sunday, January 4. In commemoration of Billy’s life-long devoted attachment to books and ideas, Matt will be handing out items from Billy’s book collection.
Further notice of an expanded memorial event will be posted later.
Typically, Billy left his life with a jest, a protest, leaving behind his own obituary:
after decades of passion, dedication to world peace and justice, powerful frindships, recognition, being loved undeservedly by extraordinary women, a close and powerful relationship with a strong, handsome, capable, thoughtful son Matt, a never ending stream of amusing ideas, affections shared with a wide range of creative men and women, a long residence in the paradisical landscape of hornby island, sucess after sucess in the book trade, fabulous meals, unmeasurable inebriation, dancing beyond exhaustion, satori after satori,
billy little regrets he's unable to schmooze today.
in lieu of flowers please send a humongous donation to the war resisters league.
I'd like my tombstone to read:
hydro is too expensive
but I'd like my mortal remains to be set adrift on a flaming raft off chrome island