A Tribute to Nicole Potter

On January 18, 2014, I attended a memorial service for Nicole Potter (August 25, 1954-November 18, 2013) who helped me with Allworth Press from its founding in 1989 and served as Senior Editor for ten years through 2007.

The service took place at the Irondale Ensemble in Brooklyn where Mark Talling, Nicole’s husband, and Daniel Potter, Nicole’s brother, opened this life celebration.

Mark said, “We loved plays of course, and saw dozens. We also patrolled parks, zoos, museums, bookstores. Visiting the farmer’s market was a source of excitement and delight, and we came to love Chinatown.” Daniel recalled her “honesty—her raw, clear, brave insight—was sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, always brilliant.”

Her aunt, uncles, and cousins all recalled her from her early life growing up in PleasantValley with her close-knit family to her profound love of theater. Her colleagues at Irondale Ensemble, where Nicole acted for more than a decade and later returned as Education Director, recalled her as talented, passionate, indefatigable, and ever so intensely alive. Multi-talented, she excelled not only as an actor but also as a director and choreographer.

As friend after friend spoke of Nicole, certain themes repeated—she lived with intensity, honesty, bravery, commitment, concern for others. As her husband Mark said, “When she got sick [with stomach cancer], she apologized to me. And then she fought it bravely and with a surprising stoicism.”

I spoke of Nicole’s role as an editor at Allworth Press. Often, when she believed a manuscript should be published, she would become its passionate advocate. She could take a book apart and save its life when it came back together again. She could just as excellently edit line by line. She engaged her authors and helped every book that she touched be better.

Nicole’s passions included politics and cooking. And she had a great sense of humor. One of the shared stories recounted how her main course at a restaurant came with pieces piled up in a tower with a flourish on the top. “I ordered fish, not architecture,” Nicole observed to her dinner companion.

The celebration of her life ended with everyone singing Fire and Rain by James Taylor and then Let It Be by the Beatles.

Her brother Daniel captured the irrevocable sorrow of his and our loss when he said, “I guess it is normal, typical, after a loved one dies, to have dreams that they are not really gone, that the report or observation of death was a mistake, a misunderstanding, a mis-diagnosis, or itself a dream . . . . I had such a dream just the other night. I was there, at Niki and Mark’s apartment in Bridgeport, and so was she—yes, she had been in a deep sleep that bright November day, but she had woken up, and here she was, her strong, vibrant self—and we were together, looking at each other, holding each other, crying, laughing, and remembering.”

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