Judith’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. […]
Available November 9, 2015
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.
Sunday, May 31, 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Richard Hugo House
1634 11th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
A chance for friends, former students, and other admirers to spend time together, remember Judith Kitchen and honor her work. In addition to a few planned remembrances by Stan Rubin, Stephen Corey, Kevin Clark, Peggy Shumaker, Dinah Lenney, Ann Pancake, Jennifer Culkin, Kelli Russell Agodon, Anne McDuffie, and Tina Schumann, there will be a chance for anybody who is so moved to speak briefly about Judith, read something of hers, or read something influenced by her.
Michael Steinberg, founding editor of the journal Fourth Genre and co-editor of the textbook/anthology of the same name, pays tribute to Creative Nonfiction pioneer Judith Kitchen on his blog this week. Steinberg acknowledges Kitchen for being “one of the first people who wrote, taught, and could speak with authority on/about what we’ve come to describe as ‘creative nonfiction’.” She certainly was, and Judith was among the most generous of literary figures as well.
She is greatly missed. Michael’s blog tribute, with excerpts from Kitchen’s essay “Mending Wall,” is well worth a read, including this gem of a paragraph, quoting Judith on the overuse of the term lyric essay:
“This past year, I attended a reading of “lyric essays,” and nothing I heard was, to my mind, lyric. My ears did not quicken. My heart did not skip. What I heard was philosophical meditation, truncated memoir, slipshod research, and just-plain-discursive opinion. A wall of words. But not a lyric essay among them. The term had been minted (brilliantly, it seems to me) by Deborah Tall, then almost immediately undermined. Not all essays are lyric. Repeat. Not all essays are lyric. Not even all short essays are lyric. Some are merely short. Or plainly truncated. Or purely meditative. Or simply speculative. Or. Or. Or. But not lyric. Because, to be lyric, there must be a lyre.”