Letter from the Editors
oh wesley why — i held your hand that day
you asked me to and drove you to kaiser
and felt your fear through lasik surgery
the better to see the world in which we live
where students write their stories from true life
you teach them how to write as facile as fiction
set love and hate to dance with painful precision
up late each night you mark each breathing page
don’t waste a single line on lies but make
each phrase bear weight and travel fast as light
across the desperate straits of time and space
to plant a seed with words pragmatic as gism
go fuck yourself and your final silent decision
smashed atoms explosive grieve your loss of vision
–Allan Tinker, “In Memoriam Wesley Gibson”
Last December, we lost our friend and mentor Wesley Gibson. His passing was a shock, and the way he chose to leave doesn’t matter—except that it does. The way he chose to leave matters because he chose to leave. It mattered to him, and it matters to us—we may never fully traverse the vast area that lies between those two ways of mattering, but we’re doomed to try because that’s just how this kind of loss works.
The monitor reads, Wesley’s death has left us feeling, followed by a blinking cursor. Finishing this particular sentence is a struggle, yet that incomplete thought in and of itself seems fitting. Wesley’s death has left us feeling. The cursor blinks. And blinks. And blinks. Until more words come, and then we try to move on the best we can.
Here’s what matters to us, and we hope it mattered to him: Wesley’s generosity, and brilliance, and sharp sense of humor helped shape us as writers, and without him there would be no East Bay Review. That is an undeniable truth. Without him, there would be no us. Wesley’s brilliant 2004 memoir is entitled You Are Here, and we are indeed here. Because of him. He gave us so much. He gave us everything he had, except the chance to say goodbye. But in his own way, Wesley did have that chance to say goodbye, in those days after he was gone, when we picked up his books and read random passages because we needed some kind of light, any kind of light, in the darkness:
“You already suspect that the world is a steaming pile of shit,” Wesley wrote in his novel Shelter, “and indeed, most of it is. But God—yes, of course, I believe, or perhaps should say hope—arms us with shovels and yours are anger and intelligence. Anger is not despair and it is imperative you not confuse the two. Anger calls us to arms. You have seen how I have been treated–the fear, the bigotry, the blinding hatred—but it is not a parable whose moral lesson is to retreat to your darkened room scowling at the world’s ignorance. People do change, and they don’t do so willingly or by accident, but because others force them. The retreat I spoke of is self-pity and arrogance, both of which the two of us possess in abundance. Don’t give in.”
It’s been three months since he’s passed, and we’re still processing our grief—and, yes, our anger—we’re all still trying to find our way through this, to not give in, and the only small comfort in Wesley’s passing has been the ways in which it’s brought us closer together. Distant friendships renewed, old grudges brushed aside, the love we’ve shared reaffirmed—these are things to be grateful for, and we are indeed grateful. We’re grateful to our friends in the literary community for their support and condolences (our Saint Mary’s MFA Program family, the Bay Area, Virginia, NYC, and beyond). We’re grateful for the generosity of his family, who helped set up a scholarship fund in his name, so that his legacy will carry on throughout the years (and we hope every future recipient of said scholarship will understand the importance of the gift they’ve received—they fucking better if they know what’s good for them). We’re grateful to Wesley’s dear friend Allan Tinker for the beautiful sonnet that accompanies this note.
And we’re grateful to Wesley for justifying our existence.
Thanks, wg. The cursor will never stop blinking because you are still here. You’ll always be here.
Cheers xo. jc, ms, ah, kv, mc
If you would like to donate to the Wesley Gibson’s St. Mary’s College scholarship fund, The Velvet Archer Scholarship, please follow this link: https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/mfa-in-creative-writing/prospective-students/funding/scholarships-0
Please indicate you are donating to The Velvet Archer Scholarship when making out the check. Thank you!