April 20th, 2011 / 2:07 am

Jeanne Leiby, 1964-2011

Very sad news today: Jeanne Leiby, editor of The Southern Review, died in a car accident in Iberville Parish, Louisiana. The preliminary news report comes from Avoyelles Today. A tribute from Alex V. Cook, a writer and friend, appears at his blog.

During Leiby’s short tenure at The Southern Review, she distinguished herself for the care and kindness she offered writers. Her short piece “Why I Call,” was her most public statement on the matter.

Condolences and best wishes in this difficult time go to the Leiby family and to Jeanne’s colleagues at The Southern Review and Louisiana State University.


  1. Sad news of Southern Review’s Jeanne Leiby’s death. « We Who Are About To Die

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  2. Jason Gray

      Thanks, Kyle, for the information. This is very sad indeed. My sympathy to her family, friends, and The Southern Review.

  3. Roy Blondeau

      Why do we cry when a writer dies?
      Is it because we know a piece of the puzzle has now gone forever missing?
      Or is it the thought of a word forever unwritten?
      Perhaps it is because the writer’s reference note will never again
      Tune our hearts.
      For the writer’s family and friends it is of course a personal pain that can’t be duplicated,
      But for the rest of us
      The tears flow just the same.

      Roy Blondeau

  4. Sean

      Thanks for opening the comments, Kyle.

      This is an excerpt from an email I sent earlier today about Jeanne.

      Been a sad day. Been writing and looking out the window and thinking of Jeanne and art, in general, I mean what it means when we are gone. If anything. Sort of a gray soap out there in the sky. Sort of low and large.

      I just keep remembering Jeanne sitting cross-legged on the table at University of Tennessee in her all black clothes (every single day!) and up there all Buddha-posing and talking to us in sort of a Alice and rabbit hole way of meandering, picking at something and this was my very first writing class, a night class I took after working all day as a nurse, long shifts and tired, you know, and you know tired, and then Jeanne, and inspiring is a loose word, but it made me think about this possible world, this world where teachers sit on top of tables and curse to effect and say things about writing and working but it seems like play, too, like a life like that is art, a work and play, and it was indeed alluring and I felt was impossible for me. I was wrong. It was possible for me. And, as I said, Jeanne was the first human in the world to tell me, “You should get an MFA.” A sweet curse and blessing that was. But certainly a life affecting a life. So. She affected this life, and others.

      I mean it’s a sad day.


  5. Cathy Day

      How can it be that the woman I knew when I was 22 would be the first teacher of the colleague I’d have at 42? Thank you Sean for sharing your memories of Jeanne as your teacher.