Surrounded by friends and fans, Daniel A. Waters — poet and musician, among his many avocations — on Tuesday accepted this year’s Creative Living Award from the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard with characteristic humility.
“I feel so lucky to have come to live in a place where a community comes out to honor somebody just for doing what they love,” Mr. Waters told a packed audience at the Grange Hall.
And honor him they did.
A succession of people took the podium to describe Mr. Waters as a friend, artist, inspiration, fundraiser, mentor and mensch.
“A mensch is a person whom you would be happy to befriend and associate with, because you feel genuine in a mensch’s presence,” said Jemima James, a West Tisbury folksinger, who credited Mr. Waters with helping her find her way back to music, not once, but twice. “A mensch is a highly evolved human being. The art of the mensch has nothing to do with looks, with wealth, with success or with intellect. A person is a mensch because he simply makes others feel good.”
Ms. James spoke of playing music with Mr. Waters and Hal Garneau in their West Tisbury living room and rediscovering the fun of making music with others.
The Creative Living Award honors the memory of the late Ruth J. Bogan. The list of recipients is a diverse picture of the Island over time. The honorees have included singers, painters and a photographer, those who work in three dimensions doing sculpture or building boats, and writers, historians and others who work with ideas and move others to do good things. The spectrum has ranged from someone in the medical field to someone who inspired people with animals.
Beth Kramer, director of the West Tisbury Free Public Library, said she was surprised to learn that Mr. Waters had not already been honored by the award. Finding that out, she set as a mission to see to it that he was. She said: “Wow! How could the person who completely embodied creative living not have been recognized.”
Fan Ogilvie, West Tisbury’s poet laureate, said the poet’s light verse made the depth of his insight all the more profound. “Thank you for what you do for us,” she said.
Among the poignant accolades was one from James Evans, a West Tisbury artist, who said Mr. Waters encouraged him to embrace his own creativity — “as a father figure and a friend and confidant” — when he was a confused and angry high school student.
“I am grateful that Dan is being recognized with this award, not just because he is creative, or because he has built a career and a life pursuing his passions, but because it is Dan’s nature to recognize others for their creativity and because it is that very quality of Dan that has so positively affected my life,” he said.
But it was Mr. Waters who got the final word on the afternoon recognition. In receiving the award from Sandra Grymes, board member of the endowment fund, Mr. Waters turned the honor back on those in the audience:
“I suppose I’m a particularly obvious pick for a creative award because I’m involved in art and music and poetry,” he said. “But I know just about everybody here today and I can tell you that this room is full of wildly creative people.”