Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Karl Pohrt, R.I.P.

Karl Pohrt, a kind, intelligent soul and a true Flintoid who grew in the Civic Park neighborhood, died Wednesday at his home in Ann Arbor. Karl was the longtime owner of Shaman Drum Bookshop, an iconic place for great books and intelligent conversation in Ann Arbor for many years.

Janet Miller of AnnArbor.com writes
He also was a man with a big heart, said Susan Pollay, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. Pohrt, a DDA member for eight years, was running a meeting when a member who had just returned from maternity leave came with her baby. “The baby sat on Karl’s lap for the whole time,” Pollay said. “That was a Karl moment: leadership and humanity.”

While he was a kind man, he had a wicked sense of humor, Pollay said. He ran a highbrow bookstore, but he also loved bad movies, she said. “The worse the movie, the better.”
Pohrt also had a deep intellect and was a scholar on literature from the Beat Generation and a friend of Beat poet Gary Snyder. That’s what helped bring them together, said Arthur Nusbaum, a close friend and sometimes business partner. They traveled to the European Beat Studies Network conference in the Netherlands last fall. “Two dharma bums, finger poppin’ angels of desolation, real cool daddys, materialize out of the void into the harsh Amsterdam morning," Pohrt wrote on his blog. "Ahh, not really. Who am I trying to kid? It would be more accurate to describe us as two late middle-aged Americans, blurry-eyed and disheveled, stumbling into Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.”
Karl was the brother of Tom and Dick Pohrt. They shared many happy memories of growing up at 1407 W. Paterson Street in Flint. His father, Richard A. Pohrt, was an early and enthusiastic collector of Native American art. His mother, Marion Dena Pohrt, taught at Civic Park School for many years.

Karl will be missed.

Karl (left), Tom (middle), and Dick Pohrt on W. Paterson Street in Flint in the fifties.

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Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.