The Life of the Letter
Judith Kitchen passed away on 6 November 2014, just days after completing work on the essay-review in Spring 2015 Georgia Review. The contributor’s note she supplied read as follows: “Judith Kitchen has three new forthcoming essays—in the Harvard Review, Great River Review, and River Teeth. Her most recent book, The Circus Train, was the lead publication in a new venture—Ovenbird Books, at ovenbirdbooks.org.” To that we respectfully add this brief overview of her writing and teaching career: Kitchen began as a poet, publishing the volume Perennials as the winner of the 1985 Anhinga Press Poetry Prize. She then shifted to prose writing of several sorts, with emphases on essays and reviews. Her four essay volumes are Only the Dance: Essays on Time and Memory (University of South Carolina Press, 1994); Distance and Direction (Graywolf Press, 2002); Half in Shade: Family, Photographs, and Fate (Coffee House Press, 2012); and The Circus Train (Ovenbird Books, 2013)—which appeared first, almost in its entirety, in the Summer 2013 issue of The Georgia Review. In 1998 Kitchen published a critical study, Writing the World: Understanding William Stafford (University of Oregon Press), and in 2002 a novel, The House on Eccles Road (Graywolf Press). She also conceived and edited three important collections of brief nonfiction pieces, all published by W. W. Norton: In Short (1996), In Brief (1999), and Short Takes (2005)—the first two coedited by Mary Paumier Jones. Kitchen also founded State Street Press in the early 1980s, bringing out over the next twenty years seventy-six poetry chapbooks, two pamphlets, five full-length poetry volumes, two collections of translations, and a poetry anthology—the State Street Reader. After teaching for many years at SUNY-Brockport—not all that far from her birthplace of Painted Post, NY—Judith retired and moved with her husband Stan Sanvel Rubin to Port Townsend, WA, from which they founded and co-directed for a decade the Rainier Writing Workshop low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. The collection What Persists
Selected Essays on Poetry from The Georgia Review, 1988–2014 was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2015.