Jack J. Locke z”l
(AJNews) – Born in Calgary, Alberta, Jack Locke resided in Westmount, Quebec for the past 15 years with his wife Karen Elaine Spencer. He was known for his humour, passion, gentleness, and compassion, “a true joy from hat to boot.”
Besides being a mayoral candidate, bus driver, baker, handyman, aquarium flusher, and avid protester, Jack (or “J.J. Lokshtanov” as he liked to be called) was a poet, editor, and freelance journalist. In 2011, Jack was Via Rail’s Destination’s Magazine In-House Poet. He read his work in Canada, the U.S., and France.
Jack was a great fan of the poets Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, and Dylan Thomas. He inspired others to learn about the power and beauty of poetry by inaugurating poetry events, establishing groups such as Montreal’s Foundation For Public Poetry/Fondation Poésie Publique, and publishing poetry books.
In 2009, Jack was the editor-in-chief of Leonard Cohen: You’re Our Man, a collection of 75 poets reflecting on the writing of Leonard Cohen. Other titles he has released include Journeys of a Left Wing Sheep Farmer (MacKillop, 2011), The Life and Rhymes of a Jewish Mother (Golick, 2012), and Let There Be Light Verse (Golick, 2013.)
Jack was selected as a contributing artist for Art Song 2019. He worked with composer Kelly Krebs to develop his poem, “I Am a Cowboy from Hat to Boot”, presented on July 6, 2019, for a performance with baritone vocalist Steven Bélanger and pianist Corey Hamm.
Jack discovered his poetic form, Villanelle, while living in France in 2005. Like Jack, this 19-line poetic form frequently treats the subject of obsessions and often appeals to outsiders. Its defining feature is an unconventional tone.
Jack had a passionate social conscience. Protesting public institutions’ infliction of harm on the community became a thread in his life, both in the West and Quebec. He ran for Mayor of Calgary repeatedly on one issue: the removal of fluoride from the water system. His most recent battle was against Quebec’s Bill 21 (“secularism law”), which he felt trampled on the rights of all Canadians.
Jack passed away on February 17, 2020.