Joanne Gabbin, Ph.D., remembers former Furious Flower Advisory Board member


by Megan N. Medeiros


SUMMARY: Joanne Gabbin, Ph.D., remembers former Furious Flower Advisory Board member John Wharton Lowe, III.

Remembering John Wharton Lowe, III

believe that you
are a heart, carrying songs, carrying dreams, carrying
and when you play your saxophone, know that jazz is a people's republic, and anyone can enter!
—erren geraud kelly

We are deeply saddened by the loss of John Wharton Lowe, III (August 10, 1945 – August 5, 2023). The longest serving board member for the Furious Flower Poetry Center, he was so in tune with our mission. He generously supported the Center with his time and his treasure, and he was a prime mover in the Nominating Committee and the Gabbin Retirement fundraising effort. We will miss his brilliant mind, his sincerity, his hospitality, and his stunning intellectual curiosity.  

john-lowe-articleDr. Lowe was the Barbara Lester Methvin Distinguished Professor of Southern Literature at the University of Georgia, Athens. Previously, he was Robert Penn Warren Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Director of the Program in Louisiana and Caribbean Studies at Louisiana State University. Dr. Lowe taught at the University of Munich, Harvard University, Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame) and Columbia University, where he earned his Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature. He was the author or editor of eight books, including Jump at the Sun: Zora Neale Hurston’s Cosmic Comedy, Summoning Our Saints: The Poetry and Prose of Brenda Marie Osbey, and Calypso Magnolia: The Crosscurrents of Caribbean and Southern Literature. He co-edited, with Herman Beavers, Approaches to Teaching Gaines’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Other Works. Dr. Lowe was the recipient of the MELUS Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Contributions to Ethnic Literary Studies and served as President of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, the Southern American Studies Association, MELUS, and the Louisiana Folklore Society. At the time of his death, he was completing revisions for Faulkner’s Fraternal Fury: Sibling Rivalry, Racial Kinship, and Democracy, and completing an authorized biography of Ernest J. Gaines. 

He was so proud of the students that he has taught, and he was excited to share a poem that one of his students wrote at the announcement of Joy Harjo as Poet Laureate of the United States. The final lines of that poem serve as a fitting epitaph for John, who epitomized joie de vivre in his love of literature, culture, travel, fine cuisine, and especially in the love of his life, his wife June. They created a space of hospitality and graciousness for all those who were fortunate enough to enter. 


Joanne V. Gabbin 

Professor emerita and founder of Furious Flower Poetry Center 

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Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Last Updated: Friday, September 15, 2023

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