Les Plesko, the Poet of Prose

Les Plesko, the poet of prose

I woke up this morning and remembered that Les is gone..gone the way he did. The sun was absent and I was still in shock and there was no word capable of consoling me and all those who adored him, loved him and depended on him to realize their own dreams.

Les Plesko was my teacher, my friend, and my mentor. I took his classes for five years at UCLA Extension and at his private workshop.  The first time I met him, his toothless smile, his sun-burst skin and his distorted gaze reminded me of a homeless man. I had no idea that soon, his very class, would turn into the place where I’d feel the most at home.

Before knowing him, I was a sad mediocre housewife, a sad successful engineer, a sad anxious mother, and a sad good wife; just an ordinary woman with a dream: the dream of being a writer.

I met Les and my whole life changed. I was born again. Writing one single perfect page became my daily mission. I was saved from a full-length empty life filled with regrets. Because of him I dared to write. He made my life worth living. In the last years, he mentored me in writing The Suicide Note, a book born by the image of someone jumping off a building…and now this! Such an irony!

 It is impossible for me to describe Les Pleasko since whatever I say is cliché. All I can do is to write about what he taught me:

– Write every day
– Don’t over-think the plot
– Avoid exclamation points
– Be the protagonist and tell the story of his/her emotions
– Be scared of clichés! Cliché is the first thing that comes to your mind. Go the opposite way.
– Read your page out loud
– Read
– Read more
– Read good stuff
– Don’t rush! Nobody’s out there waiting for you and for your novel

He touched so many lives, like mine, and yet couldn’t save his own.

From now on, this vision – this dream– will break my heart, always.  From now on, and forever, every sentence I write will be marked by his absence.


About lifeacrossthesun

Writer/ 2011 PEN USA Emerging Voices fellow
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4 Responses to Les Plesko, the Poet of Prose

  1. Thanks for posting this. I was really saddened by the news too. Rest in peace, Les Plesko.
    Lisa Sanchez

  2. Varsha Thebo says:

    I think the problem with the world today is that we no longer show or tell our loved ones how much they are actually loved and needed… We should do it often.
    This made me so sad and I am so sorry for the loss.
    Rest in peace, Les Plasko.

  3. Wendy Meyer says:

    Azarin, the way he looked – not at you, not at anyone or anything – rather just the look, the awe and appreciation that showed on his face – after you read your pages… well, let’s just say you could see he had a deep admiration and respect for you. Even said so, “She’s just a great F-ing writer.” Sorry for f-word but in his sense it was anything but profane. I can’t believe Les is gone. Like you, like many, he changed me as a writer and person, made them one and the same. All year long I’ve been rewriting from his notes, eager to show him. “I hope Les likes this.” He’s been a driving force for me for several years. It’s just so shocking. The best thing about Les was that he could find something good, great even, in everyone’s work. “It’s cool how you did that.” That’s how I’ll remember Les. Just a cool, wonderful, generous, positive person. I imagine him sitting in a café somewhere, smoking a cig, and saying, “Pfft. What’s all the fuss?”

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