A Fond Farewell

The Bard of Tate Street

Remembering Jim Clark

 

Seven years ago, as we prepared to launch O.Henry magazine, one of the first souls I sought out to talk about the prospect of an arts and culture magazine for the Gate City was Jim Clark, a friend of many years, longtime editor of the esteemed literary journal The Greensboro Review and director of UNCG’s vaunted M.F.A. program. I was secretly hoping he would join our growing, merry band of contributors.

After hearing out my hopes and plans for a very different kind of magazine, one deeply rooted in the cultural life and history of the city, Jim gave me one of his sage and beardy smiles, and lifted his drink in a kind of Socratic salute. “You know,” he said, “I’m old enough to have been part of a couple commercial magazine projects that started up in this city. Unfortunately, none of them actually lasted long.”

That said, he paused and added with a wry twinkle: “But I have a feeling O.Henry may just be the proverbial third charm, the real keeper — what O.Henry himself called the voice of a city. I wish you the best of luck and would be happy to help out in any way.”

Indeed, if this magazine has enjoyed any good fortune, it’s due in part to the spirit and guidance of Jim Clark, who passed away on the penultimate day of October.

His encyclopedic knowledge of the city and diverse storytelling gifts enriched our pages and provided us with half a dozen fabulous tales over the years, highlighted by his unique memories of UNCG during its most colorful decades. T. Gilbert Pearson, aka “Citizen Bird,” and the eponymous Clacker King of Greensboro were some of the most memorable local figures Jim brought to life.

Needless to say, our lives as writers and editors were deeply enriched by our warm association with the Bard of Tate Street, as I will always think of Jim.

The hundreds of students and gifted writers whose lives he touched and careers he help shape will be this gentle sage’s greatest legacy.

He was a true Voice of the City and will be greatly missed by us all.

Jim Dodson

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