I’m just learning the sad news that Tom La Farge died on October 22, 2020 after a long battle with cancer. In his email correspondence with me two years ago, he’d mentioned he’d gone “through a lot of medical distractions.” I had no idea of the severity of the “distractions.” Verklempt.
I’m honored to have published Tom’s “Ode from a Mockingbird” in Big Other back in 2019. As you’ll discover, the poem is a wonderfully playful, tactile lexical experiment, where birdsong mnemonics (sounds humans use to imitate the calls and songs of birds) are used to revise John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale.” Call it a kind of textual becoming-animal.
Read his obituary in the New York Times and a beautiful collection of tributes from members of the community garden he was instrumental in saving from deed thieves trying to build luxury housing.
And while you’re reading, be sure to read his books.
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.