My Friend John Wulp: A Man of Many Roles

My friend John and I have known each other for 44 years. He is 88, I am 69, and when I recently told him for the first time that I love him, he laughed and said “OK”.

My friend John Wulp, in 1977

My friend John Wulp in 1977 

In 1973, my husband, Roger Morgan, introduced me to John as a Photographer, Scenic Designer, Painter, Playwright, Lyricist, Broadway Producer, Chef, Professor and Entrepreneur; I thought he was joking.  Over the years, however, I watched as this exceptional man collected Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Tony Awards, while somehow managing to found the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School along the way.

As John Guare wrote in the introduction to John’s 2003 autobiography, John Wulp: ”Wouldn’t a bewildering array of identities imply no identity at all? Maybe, but in Wulp’s case that elusoriness of identity, its very multiples, become part of his intriguing and powerful persona.”

John is a solitary fellow; he’s never married or sustained a longterm relationship. Over the decades I’ve watched him listen to his muse (though he never called it that) as he seemingly stumbled into his next project. His unflagging spirit was inspiring. 

About a year ago John began to phone me from his home in Vinalhaven, Maine, to read me poems he’d written. Poems, John?  I’m not a poetry person!  Maybe that’s what appealed to him, because he kept calling for weeks, and I listened to not just a few poems, but hundreds… he said he just couldn’t stop. 

In fact, a collection of his poems was released a few weeks ago: 

Cormorant Time – A Madman’s Journal – Poems Written in a Time of Fever

So John has added yet another role to his life. 


Cormorant time
Is devouring me
Each day it eats
A part of me
The very heart and soul of me
And yet I feel
More alive
Than I’ve ever felt before 

Published by Hugh Martin, edited by Philip Conkling: ISBN 978-0-692-80513-8 © 2016  

John with his portrait of neighbor (Name) Crossfield

John with his portrait of Foy Brown, a neighbor in Maine  


Recently I was compelled to call John to let him know how important he’s been to me over the years, and that he was my model for an artistic life.

It was when I told him I loved him and he laughed and said “OK”.

It meant so much to me.



7 Responses to “My Friend John Wulp: A Man of Many Roles”

  1. The term “Renaissance Man” doesn’t even cover as much ground as John. A wonderful tribute!

  2. Mindy Srebnik says:

    An extraordinary man. Glad I’ve had the chance to meet and spend some time with him (even had the honor of typing a page or two or three of his play for him). Wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet him without you, Ann.

  3. Patricia Chess says:

    So right, Sam!

  4. Ann Sachs says:

    Thanks for your comments, Sam, Mindy and Patricia. It was great fun writing about him! (And Mindy, I had forgotten that you typed some pages for him… thank you for that.)

  5. I inadvertently stumbled on this piece this evening. I was looking up something about John who is a friend and was deeply touched. We met John years ago in Nantucket and I have watched this unsung genius bring Soviet dancers to the island… there too was produced his play: the Saintliness of Marjorie Kemp, a message way ahead of its time, its moving stage still in my head.
    His paintings hang in our home: one an oil of his apple orchard and his pruner. Another an un-joined couple (if I may), a fisherman and his wife, clearly disengaged. We went to Philadelphia for GOREY STORIES, sophisticated beyond belief. Then the show which emanated from Vinalhaven with kids and parents (NYC) a victory!
    He was a poet then and is now. I don’t know the person who wrote this, but I would like to. I will call John tomorrow. I miss that rasping voice asking me for just a bit more money for his next project. He never stopped creating, he simply has no choice.

  6. Jonathan Stensland says:

    I was delighted to find this — this past weekend, April 5-7, 2019 — then saddened to learn I had missed him by less than 5 months. So close. Yours were the first words, by which I “discovered” and, through them, was introduced to John Wulp.

    After reading, watching, absorbing word of him (through his own voice and other voices) theses past 4-5 days, I decided — bereaved, without ever meeting him — it would be nice to return to your blog to post my “thanks” to you, as a long term friend of his, a tangible witness to his life.

    By way of introduction, as it happens, I am his first cousin, thrice-removed — he died on my Birthday, this past year, Nov 27, 2018 — less than a handful of months before I made discovery of him or could reach-out to him.

    It is starting to break my heart up into grief-drunk Moon, hovering there, dragging driftwood logs to his island, washing-them-up on shore, I’m certain — even now, on Vinalhaven — building his soul a nest there in driftwood and stone.

    As I have gone through his “My Life” section on his webpage at ‘’…I am feeling that strange sense of being the bookend to his life…at the other end, among the living. The Aunt Edna he refers to there at the piano keys on the Island of Pines during the summers over the stone bridge in Lake Sunapee was my own great-grandmother.

    I never knew her, nor my Great Uncle Edwin (the “tap dancer”, who died in 2013) nor my grandfather Ted (Edwin’s oldest brother and John’s cousin, also, who had already died in the late 1940’s).

    John Wulp passed away on my 53rd Birthday, this past year, and I have the sense that a word from me earlier (had I known) might well have been an added consolation offered at the end of a brave life, well-lived.

    I am sorry for your loss, Ann, and happy for the riches of your friendship with him.

    Thank you,
    Jonathan Arlen Stensland

  7. Ann Sachs says:

    Dear Jonathan,

    I hope this message reaches you; here it is FOUR years later, and I deeply apologize for the time it has taken me to respond to your comment about John Wulp, and your connection to him.Thank you for your powerful and touching words.

    Do you live in NYC? If so, and if you’re interested… would you like to meet for a cup of tea or coffee? Please let me know. (Should I say “within four years?” Just kidding!)


    Ann Sachs

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