(Above, a video tribute from Kyle Kinane, below, a collection of Rumpus editors and contributors talking about the man who made this place so special.)
THE LOVE SONG OF ISAAC FITZGERALD - The Rumpus
When Isaac was in Boston recently, he told me he was going to leave The Rumpus. I started to cry. I didn’t want him to see me weak and vulnerable, so I stood behind him, and every time he tried to turn around to find out what that whimpering noise was, I would move to maintain my position. We were like a dog, chasing its tail, although neither one of us truly wanted it to be caught.
When I first began writing for The Rumpus, back in 2009, I would type up my reviews and mail them to Isaac, who would then enter them into the internet. He hardly ever made any typos, and when he did, I forgave him, because of his ongoing struggle with illiteracy. He’s been a key player in making me the successful Professional Reviewer I am today. I wish him good luck in his new venture working with his friend Mac Swinney!
— Ted Wilson
Isaac makes writers feel safe enough to tackle big, ugly subjects and politically fraught subjects and even the subjects that have our popular attention in any given moment. He is always there encouraging me to BRING IT, no matter what I want to write about. Without Isaac, I would have never had the courage to publish, What We Hunger For, the essay I am probably proudest and most terrified of. It was overwhelming to put something so personal out there, to say, “This terrible thing happened and then other terrible things happened but reading and writing saved me, and continue save me,” while also talking about my love for The Hunger Games and Peeta and his frosting abilities. As an editor andfriend, Isaac made me feel like I could blend the serious and the not so serious and still have something worthwhile to say.
When do you write for free? When you can put your work in the hands of an Isaac Fitzgerald. There’s always a story behind the writing, and when you’re lucky, there’s an amazing editor behind the writer. For the past two, almost three years, the story behind a lot of my writing has been shaped by Isaac. He is the editor behind the writer. Really, Isaac is the editor alongside the writer.
— Roxane Gay
Isaac Fitzgerald is the funniest woman I know.
When I first met Isaac, almost two years ago, I felt at ease in his company. At the time I didn’t know exactly what it was that made me feel this way—his tiny bicycle? his affinity for knifes?—but since then, I’ve come to realize what it was: Isaac’s ability to bring out the best in people is at his very core. It’s what makes him an incredible editor, friend, and mentor. Everyday I’m so grateful to be a part of the Rumpus community, and I’m just as grateful to have had the opportunity to sit across from Isaac and learn from him.
— Lisa Dusenbery
Isaac, I will love you forever and ever and ever and always. Thank you for making The Rumpus so beautiful. Thank you for being my friend. You are not leaving us. You are only moving forward. Deep blessings on the journey, sweet pea.
— Cheryl Strayed, aka Sugar
In conversation and laughter, in person and in writing, he always manages to find a way to re-introduce the writers he works with to their best self, the self that manages — somehow — to translate memories into words worth reading and sharing. What Isaac offers us is more than sound editorial advice: it’s a way forward. What did we do to deserve such light?
— Saeed Jones
And from Paul Madonna: