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I’ve known two writers very well that I’ve worked closely with and become good friends with who have been taken from the world all too soon. One was Ken Rand, an amazing writer, teacher, and friend, who passed away in 2009.

Today, I say goodbye to Jay Lake, who passed away this morning at 5:45. I’d not been online until a bit ago, and didn’t find out until good friend John Pitts texted and let me know. It was a blow, even though I’ve known it was coming. It is hard to put into words everything that Jay was to me. I worked with Jay, through Fairwood, to publish his first novel Rocket Science. We also put out a chapbook called Green Grow the Rushes-O. And finally, his metafiction novelette The Specific Gravity of Grief, where he talked about his cancer. Proceeds from this book go to the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund (you can still make donations there in his name).

He was a Talebones alum, a frequent guest at conventions, and of course he attended some of the earliest Rainforest retreats, including the very first one in 2007, where he infamously “walked on water,” due to the constant rainfall during the weekend flooding the lower area of the resort. He made the trek to his last retreat a few years back, even though his health was deteriorating.

I will miss you, Jay. We all will. Miss your self-assured, fight-and-take-no-prisoners mentality, your gregarious spirit, your wild, thoughtful writing, your steadfast friendship, and your commitment to LIFE. Even in death, you’ve inspired us to be kinder to one another, to love better, to write more, and to dream big.

Fuck cancer.

Jay has passed away. Long live Jay Lake.



Jay Lake at the first Rainforest Writers Village, 2007. Photo courtesy Bob Brown.