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3 Elegies for Bob Trammell

Ben Fountain of The Dallas Morning News

Robert Marshall Trammell, born September 9, 1939 in Dallas; died May 8, 2006 at his home in Old East Dallas. A beloved Texas poet whose ancestors helped establish the earliest frontier settlements in East Texas, Bob was a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School and Southern Methodist University, was founder and executive director of the Dallas literary organization WordSpace, and was a Fellow of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

His numerous books of poetry and prose include Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas, Cicada, Cam I Sole, Famous Men, Epics, No Evidence, Birds: An Almanac, A Book Of Diseases, The Quiet Man Stories, and  Queen City of the Plains, and his work appeared in over 200 magazines, including Southwest Review, Exquisite Corpse, Another Chicago Magazine, The Texas Observer, Texas Jazz and Bob was a regular contributor to DallasArtsRevue (when it was published on paper).

Bob spoke his mind whatever the situation and cut a wide and irreverent swath wherever he went. As director of WordSpace, and as founder and operator of the Barnburner Press, he supported and encouraged countless writers, singers and artists throughout Texas and beyond, and he inspired many with his example of living and writing on his own terms.

He is survived by his wife Adrienne Cox Trammell; son Clinton Hot Horse Trammell; sister and brother-in-law Billye Sue and Wade Byrum, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial will be held at 4 pm Tuesday, June 20 at Winfrey Point at White Rock Lake in Dallas, with a reception to follow. Map. Memorials may be made to Wordspace at: Treasurer, Wordspace, 926 Valencia Street, Dallas, Texas, 75223-1329. Email: web:


“A wary, feisty lizard that will bite readily and hard, given the chance. It feeds on insects and other lizards. When fleeing would-be “captors, it lifts its body and tail and dashes along on its hind legs, giving it the appearance of a fierce little dinosaur. ..." is the surprisingly poetic description of this animal from Bebler and King’s The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians (Knopf). In Dallas poet Roxy Gordon's story, Easter, "A mountain boomer is a green lizard with colored, mostly yellow markings. He is more officially called a Yellow-Collared Lizard and is supposed to be the state lizard of Oklahoma."
My special memories of Bob include

Him sweating profusely and his voice shaking violently through every reading I ever saw him do — I had thought I was the only one who did that (It stopped me. It never even slowed Bob down.);

Bob with our friend Roxy Gordon (also deceased) standing at the back of the room drinking and talking loud during the next poet's reading;

Bob insisting that close friend and fellow poet Gerald Burns (also deceased now) submit an entry to a national poetry competition (that Gerald won $20,000 for, then spent every penny on a trip to Europe.);

Visiting Bob's house for readings and fine parties with intelligent friends;

One special time at another place and another wife, I only remember colors and a dark stairway up into a close apartment I visited to see the new crop of art he'd been making hot and heavy for those last few weeks. He had them lined up on the mantel. Bright colors and wiry little shapes.

Bob contributed a column about artists he knew to DallasArtsRevue on paper, and he told me he was working on nonprofit status for us. Next I heard, he'd established himself as that nonprofit.

I started his website as an online literary magazine with an accompnanyin in-print newsletter featuring a short story from Roxy and a photo of a lizard (Texas Boomer, above), and though I respected Bob for many reasons, we never got along well enough to actually work together.

I suspect we were too much alike. I hope so.

by J R Compton



Bon voyage bob

A loss, how many 5th generation Texas poets are there?
He was reading Grave's The White Goddess, so was i.
He was planting vegetables, so was i.
He was a '39 vintage, so was i.
He was a symbolist, so was i.
But Bob is among the stars whirling around in his holy native dimension. Whoop de looping. Know this is true.
Bon voyage bob — we will surely miss you — but have a blast.



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