Remembering Jim Phillips

As many of you know, Blue Mesa Review is staffed by the graduate students in the MFA program at the University of New Mexico. Every semester we are assisted by a hardworking and knowledgeable team of undergraduate students who have participated in the Creative Writing program. This last semester the BMR staff and volunteers had the privilege of working with one particular undergrad: Jim Phillips. Sadly, Jim passed away, well before his time, on May 12th  due to a swift illness.

Not all of us knew Jim well, but he was an Albuquerque staple. He was the lead singer for Lousy Robot, wrote for many local publications, and helped BMR select the best literary works for Issue 31.  Those of us at BMR who worked with Jim more frequently offered these words about his passing:

I appreciated the sense of humor and the compassion he brought to each submission.—Lucy Burns, Former Associate Editor

I took a few classes with Jim, in and out of those classes I came to realize just how awesome he was. He was one of the kindest people I had ever met in my time at UNM, he always made me feel welcome in his presence, and he had a very poetic way of seeing the world. I was extremely lucky to have him as a friend.—Trevor Wiggins, undergraduate reader

He was an enthusiastic, pleasant, and reliable reader. –Cat Hubka, Nonfiction Editor

I can still hear his voice, you know? He was full of grace. Uniquely interesting, uniquely diffident yet exorbitantly confident; he was a treasure that was held close enough to hear the heartbeat of, and he will truly be missed. –Nathan Coleman, undergraduate reader

I enjoyed reading his heartfelt comments on every submission. He often saw things in the submissions that the rest of us overlooked or undervalued. He was enthusiastic. – Aaron Reeder, Poetry Editor

Jim was an essential part of the fiction process this semester and helped me determine which pieces to publish in the spring issue. His aesthetic was unique, but he was great at finding the most beautiful, most interesting, and most poetically bizarre submissions. If Jim liked something, I would be sure to read it quickly. His passion was infectious.  I didn’t know him all that well, as much of the work we do is not face-to-face. I’m sad I didn’t get the chance to know him better. –Brenna Gomez, Editor-in-Chief (former Fiction Editor)

Thanks for working with BMR this semester, Jim. You made a difference and you’ll be missed. If you’re an Albuquerque resident who knew Jim, we’ve included a link to his family’s fundraising campaign to assist them with the unexpected medical bills they are facing from Jim’s illness: