Deceased December 15, 2022
Tom Hibbard died Dec. 15. His death was sudden. A native of Hartland, Wis., Tom was an English major at Amherst. He was funny and smart. He was a managing editor of the Student in 1968.
After Amherst, Tom worked for a while as a reporter for the Madison, Wis., Capital Times but soon left journalism to write poetry, which he did for the rest of his life. He lived and worked in New York—where he published his first set of poems, Delancey Street—and also in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Wichita, Kan.
Tom moved back to the family home in Hartland in the early 2000s to take care of his mother and continued to work as a poet, critic, essayist, reviewer and translator. Published collections of his works include Ghotki Crater and Place of Uncertainty. His writings appeared in a wide variety of avant-garde books and magazines. He enthusiastically took part in poetry meetings and readings from one end of Wisconsin to the other. One poet eulogized Tom as a “Wisconsin poetry elder.”
Tom became active in the Wisconsin and Waukesha County Democratic Party organizations, twice running unsuccessfully for the assembly in an overwhelmingly Republican district. He firmly opposed what he called “the aimless expansion of commercial development” in rural areas. For many years, he took part in the New Year’s Day polar bear plunge into Lake Michigan. One year was so cold, he told me, his swimsuit froze before he could get his pants back on.
Tom posted often on Facebook, usually a few poetic lines and a photo. Just before he died, Tom posted a photo of a neighbor’s Christmas lights. “supposedly getting some more [snow] this week,” he wrote. “winter is a Surrealist metaphor for life.”
David L. Michelmore ’69