A Tribute to My Father


Martha @ Athena's Head
James L. Nichols (1995) @ Nichols Estate

James L. Nichols (1995)
@ Nichols Estate

My father passed away the morning of January 22, 2014. By that point, he had moved several times, until he arrived at his last board-and-care home, a kindly place where he lived his final two-and-a-half years. He died peacefully, in hospice care, several days after a stroke took him down. My brother Mark and I were with him, as were the caregivers Dad had grown fond of.

In Talking Writing, I’ve republished a piece I originally wrote for him in 2010: “I Know What Poetry Can Do.” This TW publication also includes a memorial tribute to my dad, one that emphasizes the great solace he derived from writing poetry in his last years, even as his body succumbed to Parkinson’s disease. Here’s an excerpt from my memorial “Afterword”:

My father’s strong moral compass and deep love of literature, especially poetry, have made me who I am. Because of him, I’m a skeptic, a critic, a journalist, an editor. Most of all, I’m a writer. It never has been easy to make a living as an author, let alone to start a literary magazine like Talking Writing, yet my belief that creative work can make a real difference goes straight back to my childhood: to my mother the artist and my father the academic. It’s as ingrained in me as religious faith.

He truly was a remarkable man. To read the complete memorial tribute to my father, including one of his poems, please click on “I Know What Poetry Can Do.”