Judith’s last essay published in The Georgia Review

winter14coverJudith’s final review/essay, “Da Capo al Coda”, in which she treats five books was completed for The Georgia Review just days before her passing and appears in their Winter 2014 issue. Here is the start from The Georgia Review:

“From the beginning, I knew there could be trouble: a box of cheeky new books on my doorstep, all dressed in their shiny covers, waiting to be read. All week I had been ranting about the contemporary world—its lack of tradition, its misuse of grammar, its insidious technologies. One television ad talked about the motel’s recent “refresh.” I was certain those brash new books would be full of such travesties, and my trusty old dictionary had been published in 1976. The newer dictionary is heavier, taller, three times the volume, and that means I can hardly lift it from the only shelf it fits on. So I stick with the flimsy pages that, for thirty-eight years, have given me most of the words I will ever need.

Oh, I’m aware that technology has outpaced my old red companion, and that I could just as easily consult online dictionaries. But that would feel strange. When it comes to technology, it’s nice to be able to revise with a simple “cut” and “paste” (I can remember retyping whole pages because of one mistake, usually making another in the process). It’s not so nice to read everyone’s private life spilled out on Facebook as though they were next-door neighbors and we were talking over now-nonexistent clotheslines. Well, then, don’t go on Facebook, you say, and I retort All well and good, but I’ve also encountered some interesting discussions and/or opportunities there. So change is . . . well, change: something we might be cautious of, but also something we need to open ourselves to. […]

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Upcoming anthology: Brief Encounters

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Available November 9, 2015
W.W. Norton

The late Judith Kitchen, editor of the perennially popular anthologies Short Takes, In Short, and In Brief, was greatly influential in recognizing and establishing flash creative nonfiction as a form in its own right. In Brief Encounters, she and writer/editor/actor Dinah Lenney expand this vibrant field with nearly eighty new selections: shorts—as these sharply focused pieces have come to be known—representing an impressive range of voices, perspectives, sensibilities, and forms. Brief Encounters features the work of the emerging and the established—including Stuart Dybek, Roxanne Gay, Eduardo Galeano, Leslie Jamison, and Julian Barnes—arranged by theme to explore the human condition in ways intimate, idiosyncratic, funny, sad, provocative, lyrical, unflinching. From the rant to the rave, the meditation to the polemic, the confession to the valediction, this collection of shorts—this celebration of true and vivid prose—will enlarge your world.

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Tribute article by Michael Steinberg

jk-bookstoreNote: After a long, courageous struggle with cancer, Judith Kitchen, essayist, poet, literary critic, and teacher died in early November at the age of 73. I’d like to dedicate this post to her.

I’ll begin with some short email excerpts I sent to her husband, Stan Sanvel Rubin. Stan, a first-rate poet and critic in his own right, along with Judith co-founded the Pacific Lutheran/Rainier Writing Workshop, one of our finest low residency MFA programs, a program that Stan directed for 10 years.

In my note, I wrote the following “I’ve always admired Judith’s remarkable, versatile writings as well as her vitality, passion, and dedication to teaching. In the mid-90’s, when creative nonfiction was just beginning to emerge as a legitimate literary genre, Judith was one of the first people who wrote, taught, and could speak with authority on/about what we’ve come to describe as ‘creative nonfiction.

I’ve been recommending and using her anthologies, In Short, In Brief, and Brief Takes in my undergraduate and MFA workshops since the first one came out in 1996. And it goes without saying that today, some eighteen plus years later, I consider Judith to be a pioneer and a highly regarded writer/spokesperson for the genre.”

In his reply, Stan said ‘Yes, she was an early innovator in creative nonfiction/lyric essay– and, as you suggest, was a unique forerunner in developing a critical language to discuss it as a genre with its own purposes and dignity. She stood staunchly for the creative exploration of truth as an important task and challenge.’

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Article by The LA Times

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Remembering author, teacher and critic Judith Kitchen

I only met Judith Kitchen once. It’s my loss. Kitchen, who died last week at 73 of cancer, was a rare spirit, both on the page and in the world. Teacher, essayist, critic, she and her husband and partner Stan Rubin ran the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., where I spent a couple of days last year visiting.

She was also the author of a novel, a collection of poetry and four books of nonfiction, including the luminous “The Circus Train,” which came out at the beginning of this year. The title piece, novella-length, is one of the most astonishing extended essays I’ve read. Moving back and forth through memories, invoking her literary hero Samuel Beckett, it is a meditation on mortality and meaning from the edge of the abyss.

“Here’s what I want: to stitch it all together,” she writes. “Give it the dilated eye of attention. To make it add up. But of course it doesn’t add up, no more than any other life. We take from the box of photos those that lead, one to another. We leave behind the singular, solitary moments that go nowhere except into, and out of, themselves.”

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Article by Jeff Oaks

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Where to Begin? Judith Kitchen

When I heard Judith Kitchen died, I couldn’t take it in. Like everyone who knew her, I knew she’d been battling cancer, but still I couldn’t, I think, take in the knowledge that she wouldn’t live forever. She always had plans, was working on something, editing an anthology, talking on a panel, reading, reviewing. When I taught her book Half in Shade last year, a collection of essays about family photographs which include, as all families include, a number of unexplained strangers, her essays about her own mortality provide an essential depth to her “device of writing ‘around’ a photograph.” I recommend that book to anyone interested in reading her, anyone looking for a model of attentiveness or to anyone teaching others how to be perceptive readers of images. Maybe in that way that writers and artists have, in which we quietly convince ourselves that by writing about our lives we’ll somehow free ourselves of the facts of life (because hasn’t working in words sometimes led to real changes in those facts?), I became convinced that she would write away her death by writing about it in that book.

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Tribute by The Georgia Review

kitchen_headshotJudith Kitchen—essayist, teacher, critic, poet, and reviewer nonpareil for The Georgia Review for more than a quarter of a century—died on 6 November 2014 after a years-long up-and-down struggle with two potentially fatal illnesses. Judith’s doctors more than once gave her a length of time to live, and more than once she beat the rap with a determination born of her passion for living—and for speaking and writing her piece.

No, her pieces: numerous, various, and oh-so-smart and articulate and loving, but sometimes with an element of the just-plain-pissed-off.

JJudith wrote for us some fifty substantive essay-reviews from the late 1980s forward; she finished revising her latest—and now her last—only days before her passing, and it will appear in our Winter 2014 issue, due out in mid-December. The totality of her intelligent, incisive, and humane discussions runs to some 750 of our pages—enough to fill nearly four full issues—and we are planning to bring out a generous selection of these poetry studies in book form by late 2015.

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Tribute by The Georgia Review

kitchen_headshotJudith Kitchen—essayist, teacher, critic, poet, and reviewer nonpareil for The Georgia Review for more than a quarter of a century—died on 6 November 2014 after a years-long up-and-down struggle with two potentially fatal illnesses. Judith’s doctors more than once gave her a length of time to live, and more than once she beat the rap with a determination born of her passion for living—and for speaking and writing her piece.

No, her pieces: numerous, various, and oh-so-smart and articulate and loving, but sometimes with an element of the just-plain-pissed-off.

Judith wrote for us some fifty substantive essay-reviews from the late 1980s forward; she finished revising her latest—and now her last—only days before her passing, and it will appear in our Winter 2014 issue, due out in mid-December. The totality of her intelligent, incisive, and humane discussions runs to some 750 of our pages—enough to fill nearly four full issues—and we are planning to bring out a generous selection of these poetry studies in book form by late 2015.

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Article by Ela Harrison

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Judith Kitchen: Despite Body, With Body

As a person who talks to dead people and who has tended toward disembodiment herself, I have some different words to add to the celebration and mourning pouring out for Judith Kitchen —

Wife, mother, grandmother. Cofounder, with her husband, poet Stan Sanvel Rubin, of the Rainier Writing Workshop (the MFA program from which I graduated). Writer in every genre, with a style both limpidly readable and fiercely intelligent. Superbly influential critic, mentor, editor. Supernaturally gifted “matchmaker” of mentors and students, and so inaugurator of many valuable and productive literary relationships. Founder of Ovenbird Press; champion of fine writing in a changing literary culture. Someone who never suffered folly gladly, but who never made a fool out of anyone.

By the time I joined the MFA program, Judith had been dealing with cancer for several years. It’s a low-residency program, done by correspondence (and Facebook!) with a jamboree of Residency (writing, workshopping, discussions, readings, graduation, shenanigans) each August. So unless we’re very lucky and meet up at a conference, or have classmates visiting or local, the periodicity of our meetings is one whole year.

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Article from Meagan Mac’s blog

A show about planes aired on PBS last night. Images of early wood-and-canvas aircrafts flashed on the screen. A black-and-white still of a World War I general. The narrator’s deep voice captured the general’s sentiment without irony: These flimsy flying contraptions have no place in battle! One hundred years later, the general seems so distant.

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I can’t stop thinking about her. I bought her book, Distance and Direction, but forgot when last I saw her to have her sign it. Another time, I thought. In the book, Judith writes, “The time that’s gone inhabits a realm of its own.” Where? I wonder. How distant?

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From Water~Stone Review

W-S_17_Cover_FlattenedLast night we celebrated the publication of our 17th issue of Water~Stone Review. It was a happy, festive evening. Patricia Francisco, Creative Nonfiction Editor, noted the winner of the 2014 Judith Kitchen Creative Nonfiction Prize judged by Brenda Miller, “Rainier Valley Notebook” by Jennie Goode, and the Honorable Mention, “A Striking Resemblance” by Chelsey Clammer. Patricia, and the members of the CNF editorial board, were thrilled to publish both pieces.

This morning I woke to the news that Judith Kitchen died on Thursday, at home with her husband, Stan Sanvel Rubin. She had lived with cancer for many years. Beyond the personal sadness I feel for the loss of this beautiful, fierce, talented soul, and my sympathy for Stan, is the sense of loss for our literary community.

Judith was a force of nature. A master teacher—generous and smart and deeply devoted to her students and to writers she believed in; a passionate advocate of literature; a visionary; an optimist; an astute, rigorous, and constructive critic; a writer with extraordinary gifts.

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