Albert Huffstickler

(1927 - 2002 / Texas / United States)

Biography of Albert Huffstickler

Albert Huffstickler (December 17, 1927 – February 25, 2002) was an American poet. He was born in Texas and lived in Austin during his later years, contributing to the poetry scene there and further afield. Huffstickler published hundreds of poems in his lifetime in both chapbooks and academic and underground journals. A 1990 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review article reporting on an interview by Felicia Mitchell described Huffstickler’s natural poetic voice as "an attempt to meld the human voice with the poetic spirit to present a highly charged, story-filled verse.”
Albert Huffstickler was born in Laredo, Texas, surviving a twin who died at birth. As the son of a teacher and soldier, he and his two siblings (a brother and a sister) moved often growing up. After graduating from high school, he worked in Charlotte, North Carolina prior to attending, but not graduating from, the University of North Carolina where he discovered poetry. Marriage and children followed as well as various jobs in Florida and Arizona, where he briefly studied Scientology. Drafted in 1954, he spent two years in the army. After completing armed service he returned to Texas where he attended Southwest Texas State University, majoring in English and developing an interest in Jungian psychology. During the 1960s, Huffstickler continued writing poetry as well as erotica, publishing the erotic pulp fiction under a pseudonym.
Huffstickler moved to Austin, Texas, in 1964, and the town became his home base as he moved around and travelled. In 1973 he began working at the Perry-Castañeda Library at the University of Texas at Austin, where he remained until retirement at the age of 62. Brett Holloway-Reeves of The Austin Chronicle wrote, "This poet of the road-trip would stay at the university for over 20 years, but his heart still wandered." "I had trouble with work," Huffstickler told Holloway-Reeves. "All my life. I didn't like it. I had trouble with time... and my battle with time, that meant I didn't make much of a living. When I got on with the Library, I made peace with the job situation, but I never really resolved it. I used to be embarrassed about it. But kids now, they don't care. They just slough along, spare-changing for what they can get. They're not ashamed."
Huffstickler believed in giving back to his community and helping others less fortunate. While in Austin, Huffstickler began the Hyde Park Poets Series, where he was known as the “Bard of Hyde Park” and taught poetry seminars, inspiring other well-known Austin poets including W. Joe Hoppe. He also did volunteer work in hospitals, including the state hospital, and other care facilities. In 1989 the Texas state legislature honored his contribution to poetry. Working with Huffstickler, Richard Spiegel and Barbara Fisher included some of his work in their books Dealing with Differences and Service Learning: The Alternative Approach.
Late in life, Huffstickler began focusing more and more on visual art, working with various media including charcoal and pastels, sometimes selling his artwork or showing it in local venues. A documentary film about Huffstickler, Holy Secrets by Matthew Listiak, highlights Huffstickler's personality and poetry and includes images of his art. A longtime resident of Hyde Park neighborhood in Austin, Texas, Huffstickler died on 25 February 2002, of an aneurysm.

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Claiming the Dead

They asked him if he
wanted the body. He said
No, he didn't want it.
They said Somebody's got
to claim it. He said Why?
They said So it can be
buried. He said You mean
they won't bury it if
nobody claims it. They

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