Stan Rice was born in Dallas, Texas 1942. He met his future wife in a high school journalism class in Richardson, Texas, and they married in Denton, Texas in 1961. They briefly attended together North Texas State University in Denton, before moving to San Francisco in 1962, to enroll at San Francisco State University, where they both earned their MA.
Rice was a Professor of English and Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. In 1977 he received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Whiteboy, and in subsequent years was also the recipient of the Joseph Henry Jackson Award as well as a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Rice retired after 22 years as Chairman of the Creative Writing program as well as Assistant Director of the Poetry Center in 1989.
It was the death of his and Anne's first child, daughter Michele (1966-1972), at age six of leukemia, which sparked Stan Rice's becoming a published author. His first book of poems, based on his daughter's illness and death, was titled Some Lamb, and was published in 1975. He encouraged his wife to quit her work as a waitress, cook and theater usher in order to devote herself full time to her writing, who both eventually encouraged their son, novelist Christopher Rice, to become a published author as well.
Rice, his wife and his son moved to Garden District, New Orleans in 1988, where he eventually opened the Stan Rice Gallery.
Stan Rice paintings are represented in the collections of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art. He had a one person show at the James W. Palmer Gallery, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. The Art Galleries of Southeastern Louisiana presented an exhibition of selected paintings in March 2005. Prospective plans are underway to present exhibitions of Rice’s paintings at various locations in Mexico.
In Prism of the Night, Anne Rice said of Stan: "He's a model to me of a man who doesn't look to heaven or hell to justify his feelings about life itself. His capacity for action is admirable. Very early on he said to me, 'What more could you ask for than life itself'?"
Poet Deborah Garrison was Rice's editor at Alfred A. Knopf for his 2002 collection, Red to the Rind, which was dedicated to Christopher, in whose success as a novelist his father greatly rejoiced. Garrison said of Rice: "Stan really attempted to kind of stare down the world, and I admire that."
Knopf's Victoria Wilson, who edits Anne's novels and worked with Stan Rice on his 1997 book, Paintings, was particularly impressed by his refusal to sell his artworks, saying, "The great thing about Stan is that he refused to play the game as a painter, and he refused to play the game as a poet."
Stan Rice died of cancer at age 60, on December 9, 2002, in New Orleans where he lived and was survived by Anne and Christopher, as well as his mother, Margaret; a brother, Larry; and two sisters, Nancy and Cynthia.
Rice is entombed in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.
Two series of recordings ... one from 1973 at San Francisco State University and the other from 1999 at the poet's New Orleans home ... capturing Stan Rice reading several of his poems can be currently viewed at the YouTube site dedicated to the poet, StanRiceDotCom.
A first book of poems, and a second, is usually and fairly read “upward”: for foliage, for extension. Perhaps at the third or fourth book you will take a shot at reading “down” and nose around for the taproot, the nourishing gene; but until then, depending on his skill, a poet can safely sing in the peace and various ease of his motley. Harmonium, for instance, suddenly comes at you from nowhere like a magician’s sleeve of paper flowers, and only a churl without an ear complains that Stevens is effulgent. Stan Rice’s first book does its share of noodling, of fine and sensual draping, of solid tricks — but then his second comes down upon the first like a just barely-opened fist, causing its niceties to fly, raiding it in order to capture one familial germ. A good, sturdy book and then, before it was reasonably expected, a shattering one.
Parnassus: Poetry in Review,Fall / Winter 1977
Singing Yet: New and Selected Poems
In a rare declarative moment (most of the poems are musical and evocative), the poet announces his stance: “we hang between two seemingly irreconcilable facts / the capacity to Sing & the inevitability of Death.” This traditional and dark metaphysical theme is thrust into the harsh light of the autobiographical real; the crucial event shaping the book is the death from leukemia of the poet’s young daughter, which occurred when Rice was a young man. Angry as Blake, who is both a formal and a philosophical influence, the poet confronts the “Experience” of death as his lamb-child confronts it through her “Innocence.” The poems move toward and into the horrifying event, and then away from it, as the author considers its consequences. Subject matter and metaphysics can be treacherous...the first fraught with the danger of sentimentality, the second with the potential for cliche. Rice succumbs to neither. Instead, he affirms the physicality of language and flesh, the “doctrine of perception as animal things defined.” And through affirmation, he acquires compassion and tenderness. This is serious stuff, urgent and original.
Publisher’s Weekly,May 11, 1992
Inlaid with imagery that merges the oneiric with the everyday, many poems in Rice’s arresting fifth collection (after Singing Yet) are populated with gods and angels bound to the stuff of the real world: “Orifices ordinary / As laundry rooms fill / With deities.” Rice’s highly extracted, empirical style, carried in short, deeply carved lines, yields poems that read like excerpts form some kind of vision journal; he admits influence by the imagist poet H.D., claiming in a poem to her; “I am the goatman / To your ice nymph...” and, like H.D., he reworks classical symbols and ideals in poems like “The Greek Statues.”At their most trenchant, Rice’s precise, sensuous poems capture fears whose cause may be amorphous and existential, yet whose effect is chillingly pinpointed: “It was years before I became unafraid to be known. / Fear is brighter than sea foam./ The Japanese have bred a chicken with black bones.” Whether ironic, philosophical or funny (“Isaiah Speaks: Lust”), Rice is continuously moved by concretely delineated, powerful — perhaps fearsome — desire.
Publisher’s Weekly,October 23, 1995
The Radiance of Pigs
This triptych... is structured as a personal journey.
The voice we hear singing in these poems is that of Stan Rice, strong and true; it’s no accident that his collected poems were called Singing Yet. Like his paintings, his poems are a mixture of primitive and sophisticated, dark and light, Fauve-like outward energy and inward-looking, self-referential themes. These poems are weirdly compelling, striking as they do such strong chords of a New Orleans closely observed — via a piece on an ant carrying a termite’s wing, to the “The Thing in the Dirt,” which we all too often find in our own backyard — to intimate notes on an artist’s personal life.
And about the title — In a 1997 collection of reproductions of his artworks, “Paintings,” Rice described the origin of his work, “The Flying Pig”: “Anne bought me a large, winged pig, which she hung from my studio ceiling while I was on a trip. This was in 1995. The metaphor of a flying pig had been with me for over twenty-five years. It all goes back to a poem I wrote in 1969. The idea of a flying pig ... of that most earthy and sod-rooting of all mammals flying on wings ... may be my aesthetic writ small. The ordinary, the simple, are Visions. Matter and spirit are mutually dependent. Anne knew of my fascination with the image; and so her gift ...”
The Radiance of Pigs also conjures the humble Wilbur of Charlotte’s Web, who managed radiance in an effort to save himself from the grim reality of the slaughterhouse. “Look,” these poems seem to be saying. “See what’s all around.” Ordinary creatures have a radiance all their own, the radiance of life itself — that is what shines through in these often dissonant, anxious yet bravely life-affirming poems.