Dotty Oliver: The passing of a Primal Force | Street Jazz

Dotty Oliver: The passing of a Primal Force


The death of Dotty Oliver, publisher of the much-missed Little Rock Free Press, leaves a void in the universe that will not easily be filled.

Long before I ever met Dotty, I had read and enjoyed the Little Rock Free Press, though it wasn’t until the early part of the 21st Century that I wrote for the FREEP myself on a regular basis.

The Little Rock Free Press (renamed the Arkansas Free Press in its final year or so) was a a showcase for writers, and every issue was pull of stories which covered a wide range of subject matter. Before I came to the Free Press I had written for publications which had pretty strict word limits, so being allowed 2,000 words was like a gift from the gods of writing.

It has long been my belief that some of the best writing in the world comes from what is often referred to as “alternative media,” and the Free Press was no exception to this rule. Like the very best of publications, it was a place for folks who loved to write, and a number of well-known writers saw their work published, as well as those who have gone on to make their mark further in the world.

That Dotty kept it all going, even through events in her personal life which could only be called “tumultuous” was a miracle in itself.

Dotty Oliver was a force of nature, and courted her share of controversy, including a well-known skirmish with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, which resulted in one of the best Free Press covers ever.

That cover can be found in her book “Mistress of the Misbegotten,” which features some of her best writing from the Little Rock Free Press years.

If you’d like to meet Dotty Oliver herself, read her book. And then, if you wish, you can watch the excellent interview she gave on Fayetteville Public Television a few years ago.

The outpouring of grief I have read online is proof positive that so many loved and admired her.

So this one is for you, Dotty Oliver. Thanks for everything you did, and for what you gave of yourself.


Dotty Oliver and nicest compliment I have ever gotten

A few years after the Ozark Gazette printed its last issue I found myself in a horrifying - yet oddly fascinating - stay in ICU. When I called to ask if I could write about my experiences, she said, “I wondered when you were going to come to your senses and write for me!”

It’s a compliment I had never gotten before, and honestly, don’t expect to ever hear again.

Oh, Dotty, the world is already a smaller place without you in it.


Quote of the Day

“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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