Thank You, Gerry Locklin. You Will Be Missed.
Yesterday morning, the great Gerry Locklin passed away due to Covid-19, and I (like many of us in the Southern California poetry community) saw my social media feed overflow with touching tributes by the countless writers whose lives he impacted in so many ways. Gerry had a hand in shaping so many of us as poets, whether we were learning from him in a college classroom, watching him up on stage, or just chatting after a poetry reading. He was a man who gave great care to the community.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge that so many of Moon Tide's authors were among those whose lives he touched. I myself was lucky enough to have had Gerry as a workshop instructor my first semester in Cal State Long Beach's MFA program, which, coincidently, was his last year teaching. It was a difficult semester. A lot of work. But, Gerry always made it fun and was so encouraging of all us. He authentically cared and wanted us each to be the best versions of ourselves, on the page and off. Back in 2010, when Moon Tide (under Michael Miller's helm) agreed to publish my first collection of poems, Gerry was the first I turned to for a blurb. He graciously agreed. Having Gerry's words of praise on the back of that book filled me with such pride, because he really made me feel like I had earned them from him and that he too was proud.
I wouldn't be exactly where I am today without knowing Gerry Locklin and, while it is indeed sad to be mourning such a man, I find solace in knowing I am just one of many who feel the same. That his influence was so far reaching that we all share the same remarkable gift of knowing him and having our lives changed a little--or a lot--by his hand.
While it is a devastating blow to the Southern California poetry community to have lost Gerry, I can only imagine the grief his family must feel right now. My heart goes out to my friend and his son, Zach, and their whole family.
Moon Tide Press will miss you Gerry, but those authors of ours (including myself) who you influenced will never forget you. Thank you for building us all up.
*Photo Credit: Alexis Rhone Fancher