Poet Max Ritvo ’09 passes away after battling pediatric cancer

Danielle Spitz

Max Ritvo ’09 passed away Aug. 23 after battling with the pediatric cancer Ewings Sarcoma.

Ritvo was diagnosed at age 16 and dropped out of high school to receive treatment. Ritvo eventually became cancer-free and was able to return to Los Angeles and graduate from high school. He received both the Sandifer Creative Writing Award and the Lamar Trotti Award for overcoming a hardship.

“He was unforgettable,” performing arts teacher Ted Walch said. “From the minute you met him, you knew you would remember him forever. He was incandescently bright. He was true to himself.”

Ritvo attended Yale College. Despite a cancer recurrence during his senior year, Ritvo still graduated and received his Masters of Fine Arts. He then taught Creative Writing at Columbia University. He pursued a career in poetry and was awarded a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship in 2014 for his book “AEONS.” His work has been published in multiple publications.Ritvo is survived by his wife Victoria Ritvo, his mother Riva Ariella Ritvo Slifka, his father Edward Ritvo, his siblings Victoria Black (Rayon), Skye Oryx (Marco) and David Slifka (Michele).

Milkweed Editions will publish his debut collection “Four Reincarnations” in October.

“Even though I haven’t seen him in the last couple of years, Max was more than my student, he was my friend, and I will miss him very much,” performing arts teacher Christopher Moore said.