Remembering Poet Thomas Lux

Poet Thomas Lux passed away this weekend on Sunday. Here’s a short tribute from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Thomas Lux

Thomas Lux

As you may know, Lux volunteered as a former guest judge for the April PAD Challenge, and he was interviewed for this blog (read it here). He was a force within Atlanta poetry and throughout the country, but he was not an egocentric one.

I remember the first time I met him, he didn’t even tell me his name, but instead asked a round of questions about me and my wife (after we’d finished reading at the Decatur Book Festival), including where I grew up, topics my blog covered, and about my children. And he asked me about other poets who read with us. It was only later that Tammy told me who I’d been talking with.

Make no mistake, his poetry is incredible, but I think more importantly he was an incredible person.

Here are some words I collected via social media about him from other poets:

“We’ve lost a great poet and friend of poetry. With his unruly mane of blonde hair and his gruff, warm-hearted friendliness, Tom Lux was Atlanta’s literary lion. So many poets around the world can be grateful for his support and encouragement. That, and his own brilliant work, will live on.” -Dan Veach

The first time I ever met Tom Lux was at the Palm Beach Poetry Conference. He had just given a reading, and a bunch of us went to buy his book, as you do, but when we lined up to have him sign them he was gone. I walked back to my hotel (which was the hotel hosting the open mic for all the festival attendees), and there he was, sitting in the lobby, listening to each and every reader. He did that every night, the entire week.” -Danielle Jones-Pruett

He was one of my favorite teachers. And such a good man. I loved him. I’m so sorry.” -Marie-Elizabeth Mali

“Tom Lux was my teacher in grad school, a wonderfully supportive one whose enthusiasm and faith and straight-to-the-point criticism filled me with hope at just the right time. Later we were colleagues at Sarah Lawrence, where Tom helped me get a job that made it possible for me and Wally to move to Provincetown — and so allowed made us to experience the last three years of my partner’s life in a very different way than we could have otherwise, with enough help and enough joy to see us through. Just this fall I visited Tom in Atlanta to read at Georgia Tech, a terrific time. He threw a party at his eccentric house in midtown; the house was full of his friends and students, and a whole wall was devoted to Bill Knott’s marvelous paintings (who knew?) because Tom had taken on the massive job of editing his friend’s posthumous selected poems. There he was, generous as ever, happy, in a house full of conviviality and the evidence of a happy marriage, the perennially youthful maestro, with his life around him.” -Mark Doty

He was a lovely, generous man. He often showed up at readings in Atlanta just to be supportive. I was truly honored and humbled to know him. And I’m broken hearted to hear that he is gone.” -Beth Gylys

Here are a few poems by Lux that are available online:

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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5 thoughts on “Remembering Poet Thomas Lux

  1. Bruce Niedt

    I only met him briefly at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival about 6 years ago, but my first impression was how others have described him. He was the heart and soul of that festival, where he taught almost every year. Unfortunately, I missed a few opportunities to study with him, which I now regret deeply, The poetry world has lost a great man.

  2. seingraham

    Thanks for telling us about Thomas Lux, Robert. I studied with him at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival the year before last and this makes me sadder than I can say. Not only a wonderful, inventive poet – Lux was also a generous, patient, and unfailingly constructive teacher. Those who’ve commented before me (including you) have done a better job of describing him and much more eloquently than I seem able to tonight. Too soon gone by far. He will certainly be missed.

  3. PressOn

    I didn’t know of this man’s work, but just read the examples to which you linked. It feels like the words are like the man, and in particular, I was deeply moved by Ode to the Unbroken World, Which Is Coming.

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