Wilmington Writer Franklin Reeve Dies
Author and scholar Franklin Reeve of Wilmington has died. Reeve was 84. He was the father of the late actor Christopher Reeve.
“Sometimes people make a vivid impression in the world. When you meet them, they have a kind of radiant quality. Frank had this kind of luminous intelligence,” Parini says.
Parini considers Reeve both a good friend and a mentor. Reeve’s knowledge of poetry was profound, Parini says.
Reeve was a young man when he befriended the poet Robert Frost. As a scholar of Russian literature who was fluent in the language, Reeve served as translator when the aging Frost made an historic visit to the Soviet Union in 1962, highlighted by a meeting with then premier Nikita Khrushchev.
Reeve wrote a book about the experience called Robert Frost In Russia.
Reeve first came to Vermont in the 1970s and had lived in Wilmington since 1995. For a number of years he commuted twice weekly from Vermont to Wesleyan University in Connecticut where he taught.
Among the books he wrote was a novel set in Vermont called Nathaniel Purple. Reeve once wrote of Vermont, “I keep looking for ways to express its indifferent magnificence, but the danger of sentimentalizing it restrains me.”
Jay Parini says Reeve was first and foremost a poet. “What will survive of Frank, and I’m sure it will, is he was an incredibly powerful poet.”
Poetry is what we turn to in moments that really matter, Reeve observed.
In an essay Reeve writes about all the places he imagined he belonged, from the New York City waterfront to a dacha near Moscow and finally “the old, white farmhouse with a view west down a valley across the Green Mountains.”
“In a final sense,” he wrote, “all writing, all painting, all music and all art are only efforts to get closer to defining the one, ultimate place where we suppose we’ll know exactly who we are.”
Franklin Reeve died Friday. His ashes were scattered at the Wilmington farm he shared with his wife, novelist Laura Stevenson.
Reeve’s survivors also include four children. Christopher Reeve, his oldest son, died in 2004.