“O Captain! My Captain!”
It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. Okla Elliot, longtime managing editor, champion, and co-founder of As It Ought To Be died unexpectedly this past weekend. He was far too young, and the depth of this loss is incalculable. The contributions he made while on this earth were of superheroic proportions, and the contributions this ambitious, talented, exceedingly capable man would have made had he lived to a ripe old age are beyond our wildest dreams.
Remembrances are pouring out from the many communities Okla inspired, alongside unimaginable grief from the countless individuals whose lives he changed for the better. From an obituary by David Bowen: “The Misicordia University professor, a prolific novelist, poet, short fiction writer, and translator, would have turned 40 this year. Those of us who knew him – and his circle of acquaintance and friendship was very wide indeed – are in shock from this wholly unanticipated death. He was kind, generous with his time, and indefatigable in his writing. He was much loved.”
He was much loved. Indeed. He was many, many things, and should have had the chance to be so many more. But not least among them, this exceedingly generous, one-of-a-kind human being was much loved.
Below are a few ways the world is remembering him.
VIA HIS POETRY
Entrances and Exits
When I was a younger man, a boy,
the intrigue of washing machine doors
trunks, windows, manholes–secret passages
of all sorts–possessed me. I spent hours
passing through and back through
a simple hole in the wall of a condemned house
careful to step with the other foot
or at a new angle each time,
conducting experiments that might foretell
how the world would receive me
and how I would leave.
Tilting Toward Winter
The air is gray and quiet as the sea’s
wet-dying warmth. A blackbird
screams out from memory and, pleased
with its sour chirping, keeps at it undeterred
by the browning season. I have everything
I could wish for —this air, this sea, this night.
We tilt toward winter, though the sand is spring
sand, erotic and youthful. Spirits are light
as May lasciviousness. But blood swells
to shore in cool disintegrating waves—
gone summer and gone winter aren’t real.
I walk into the unwarm froth, say farewell
to my selves that have died and pray for those still
to die — their wet wombs, their thick-salt graves.
WITH THE SONG HE WANTED PLAYED IN HIS MEMORY
WITH THE WORDS OF ONE OF HIS HEROES
WITH ONLINE TRIBUTES AND MEMORIALS
“Some testimonies to Okla Elliott, 1 May 1977 – 19 March 2017” – Days and Memory
“Requiescat in pace: poet, novelist, translator Okla Elliott, 1977-2017” – Book Haven
“Go Read Okla Elliott’s Stuff, Please. (A Remembrance)” – Great Writers Steal
“Remembering Okla Elliott” – Mildred Barya’s House of Life
BY WRITING POEMS IN MEMORIUM
“Okla’s Last Emails” by Lynn Houston
“For Okla Elliot” by Jay Sizemore
REMEMBER OKLA WITH AS IT OUGHT TO BE
As It Ought To Be welcomes art and writing that remembers, eulogizes, and celebrates Okla. We would also love to include any additional tributes and memorial pieces that have been published elsewhere here in this memorial post. Please email sivan.sf [at] gmail [dot] com with your submissions.
A service to remember Okla Elliott will be held at 11:00am this coming Friday, March 24, in the chapel located in Mercy Hall of Misericordia University:
301 Lake Street
Dallas, PA 18612
There will also be a memorial at 2:00 pm on Friday, March 31, in the Lucy Ellis Lounge, FLB, UIUC campus, Urbana, IL.
6 thoughts on “AS IT OUGHT TO BE MOURNS THE LOSS OF OUR FOUNDER”
I was introduced to Okla by Matt and we exchanged lovely messages back and forth – sometimes in the middle of the night by either timezone’s standards. I didn’t know him well but I was touched by his kind, imaginative musings. Rest in Peace Okla.
Thank you for sharing. You have been a longtime friend to Okla and AIOTB. I know you are mourning this loss along with us.
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Tilting Towards Winter says so much about its author! So sorry for your loss which must be everyone’s loss.
Thank you, Philippa. Indeed the loss is all of ours. The world’s loss, in truth.
Hi thanks so much for this. There will also be a memorial from at 2pm in Lucy Ellis Lounge, FLB, UIUC campus, Urbana, IL on Friday March 31 and I’ve gathered some of the thoughts and memories here. All best, Brett http://hgmsblog.weebly.com
Thank you so much for this, Brett, and for letting me now about all that you are doing. I have updated this page with the info. you’ve shared, and am thinking of you and the UIUC community.