an online showcase curated by Maya Kóvskaya


by David Bowen and Raul Clement



On Sunday, March 19th, 2017, we received the devastating news that our longtime friend and one of the founding editors here at MAYDAY Magazine, Okla Elliott, had passed away in his sleep during the night. He was not yet 40 years old. He had three books in various stages of pre-publication. He left behind two sisters, many friends, and a literary world that mourns his prolific, engaging, and multifaceted voice.

After the grief and shock—which of course still haven’t gone away and never will—and after all the immediate practical concerns, one thing became clear: Okla’s publishing ventures, including MAYDAY Magazine, should forge on. At MAYDAY, we were finalizing our spring issue. Okla Elliott was born on May 1st—Mayday, in fact—and the month of May was fast approaching. What better way to celebrate his life than a tribute issue in the birth month of his 40th year?

So we reached out to dozens of his friends and colleagues. The list was long and varied. Some are poets or fiction writers, some academics, some in fields completely unconnected to the written word. As expected, we received many heartfelt, powerful, and well-crafted pieces in response. We have collected them here.

We also wanted Okla’s voice to be a prominent part of this issue. His entire adult life, he worked with passion, intelligence, and remarkable devotion to the written word and all the literary genres where it finds form and meaning. For this issue, we included a selection of his poems, book reviews, a story, and the last interview he conducted, as well as a couple of interviews others conducted with Okla. We hope that these pieces will help us remember the range and depth of the man's talents and intellectual preoccupations, which were many.

Okla enjoyed saying that literature is a history of friendships. With this issue, we celebrate the personal and professional friendships we all shared with Okla Elliott. We also hope that this special issue reflects the sense of personal and literary community that we intend to foster at MAYDAY by continuing to publish thoughtful and engaging work from writers across the United States and around the world.

We hope you enjoy this issue and find it to be a suitable tribute to MAYDAY's cofounder, Okla Elliott, an energetic writer and thinker who was a generous friend to so many of us.

—DB and RC



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