Leonard Pung

Leonard Pung

Leonard Pung died on Monday 3 September 2012 from complications caused by leukemia. My condolences to his friends, colleagues and family. Seeing people from other aspects of Leonard’s life is heartwarming, full of remarkable kith and kin. Clarion has founded a scholarship in his honor.

I met Leonard when we went to Clarion together. Clarion Class of ’09, I love us. We had such a great balance of people, community builders in so many different, complementary ways. Leonard was an important part of our social glue and it’s hard to imagine what Clarion would have been like without him. We have such a great balance of creative voices too, from high fantasy to complex literary to hard SF. Leonard’s work was physical and philosophical, full of memories and the now.

There are stories I wanted him to write that will never happen. I wanted him to write wilderness survival fiction so much, but there was other work his muse needed him to do first. Wilderness fiction helped me feel strong and resilient when I was growing up and I knew he would write it well. He would have given stories of endurance and nature to a new generation. I hope some day I can write fiction of wilderness survival, but it won’t be the same.

In June, seeing communities grieve for people I did not know I wrote “There’s no such thing as no impact.” I’m glad I did, sometimes it takes distance to be able to put together words. And now, when there is less distance, I can look at them.

The day before Leonard died I sent a short story to one of my critique groups. “Shadow Play” starts like this:

Every time the shadow puppets play someone is saying goodbye. Someone is saying please don’t go. Someone is saying, if only, please. Someone is saying I remember when, and laughing.

Every shadow play is a memory.

The day he died I wrote this on facebook:

Pung, I’ll never forget walking in the sun in San Diego and talking. Walking slow as if that would draw Clarion out just a little bit longer, hold that moment, no need to rush. You introduced me to the Sierras. You gave us The Picard. You were kind and funny and thoughtful and worked so damn hard. And you had so many more words in you. And I am lucky that I can say you were, and you are, my friend.

Since then people have written about him

Photos and many posts to and about Leonard can be found on his facebook wall  https://www.facebook.com/leonard.pung

Leonard reading from his short story “Crossroads” in March 2012 at the Los Angeles County Mueseum of Art.

If you have written about Leonard and would like me to add it here for easy reference please let me know. If you would prefer I didn’t link to you please let me know and I’ll remove it.

There is comfort in words, and sometimes pain. Trying to find my own and reading others can be like the monsoon. Words like shadow puppets.

Every time the shadow puppets play someone is saying goodbye. Someone is saying please don’t go. Someone is saying, if only, please. Someone is saying I remember when, and laughing.

7 thoughts on “Leonard Pung

  1. Liz thanks for sharing this, it was really quite nice to finally meet you wonderful people from Clarion.

    I do have something I wrote about Leonard in my journal. I will post it up on my almost abandoned blog tonight. I think I may get busy on that blog again. I think it is kind of selfish to keep all my words locked up in my own journal. Some of them need to get out and breathe!

    – louis

  2. Thank you Louis. It was great to hear you speak at the memorial and I wish I’d grabbed the chance to chat to you afterwards. I look forward to reading your blog post. Here’s to writing and climbing mountains (real and metaphorical).

  3. And I forgot to say. I stopped by 2nd Street Cigar Lounge on my way to the airport. That place has a very nice community feel. I’m glad I have one of the house cigars in my bag.

  4. Thanks Louis, that’s beautiful.

    I realize I don’t know your last name, so for now I have updated the blog to say “Words by Louis.”

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