Poet Craig Arnold Disappears at Volcano


Chris Arnold is embarking on the journey of a lifetime to help save his brother -- prize-winning poet Craig Arnold, who disappeared on a remote volcano in Japan five days ago.

The poet, a 43-year-old assistant professor at the University of Wyoming went missing April 26 on the island of Kuchino-erabu, where he was studying volcanoes for a new book.

Chris Arnold thinks his brother is still alive.

"My brother doesn't have a great sense of direction and uses a GPS to find my house in Brooklyn," he said. "But he's not a person who takes stupid chances. He is lost and he needs my help."

Japanese officals have said they will end their six-day search on Sunday, the day Arnold's brother arrives.

"I'll get there right at the end [of the official search]," said his brother, a New York filmmaker, while waiting at JFK Airport for his noon flight Friday.

He will travel 30 hours by multiple planes and by ferry to reach the island.

"It's pretty scary, and I wish I could be there sooner," Chris Arnold, 38, told ABCNews.com. "I'm just trying to stay focused, and my main goal is to get there faster and to get more boots on the ground."

The search for Arnold has been complicated not only by the limitations on the search, but a five-day holiday that has kept the American embassy closed.

Arnold's footprints were found going up the path to the mouth of the inactive volcano, but there was no sign of his return. The island is remotely populated by only a few hundred residents and is densely wooded with deciduous trees and bamboo.

Literary Community Galvanized

The literary community has galvanized around the poet, posting the latest information on Web sites, like the the Poetry Foundation and The New Yorker. The University of Wisconsin has involved the state's congressional delegation and the State Department.

Arnold is the author of two award-winning volumes of poetry: "Shells," chosen by W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Young Poets in 1999, and of "Made Flesh" in 2008. Today, he is a fellow with the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Exchange.

He has been described as "one of the most gifted and accomplished poets of his generation" by former poet laureate Robert Pinsky.

"He achieves a distinctive cadence of desire and interdependence," Pinsky said. "His writing about what holds one person to another articulates a tremendous emotional underworld, distinctive and memorable."

"It would a great loss to American poetry," said Mark Strand, who was poet laureate from 1990 to 1991, won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, "Blizzard of One," and mentored Arnold at the University of Utah.

"He's not a frail guy at all," Strand told ABCNews.com. "But I'm not surprised if he got lost. He gets very engrossed in things."

Easy-to-Climb Volcano

Arnold's family said he was physically fit and had lots of experience hiking mountainous terrain in Europe, and Central and South America.

Kuchino-erabu is considered a relatively easy volcano to climb, earning a 2-out-of-10 rating for difficulty.

"He's a tough guy and a smart person," said his brother. "He's visited a lot of volcanoes, and this one is a breeze."

Last Saturday, Japanese time, Arnold checked in to Watanabe, the only inn on the small island of Kuchino-erabu.

Leaving his bags at the inn, he was driven to the path leading to up to the volcano with only a nylon jacket and a walking stick, expecting a two-hour hike, according to his brother. Arnold had an iPhone, but reception was spotty on the island.

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