Judith Kitchen

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.

Georgia Review Archive for Judith Kitchen

on Summer Celestial by Stanley Plumly

The Moments that Matter (on Only the Little Bone by David Huddle & And Venus Is Blue by Mary Hood)

Speaking Passions (on An Oregon Message by William Stafford; To the Quick by Heather McHugh; Shades by Heather McHugh; The Imperfect Paradise by Linda Pastan; To the Place of Trumpets by Brigit Pegeen Kelly; & Rose by Li-Young Lee)



A Want Ad (on Parties by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan; Where the World Is by Janet Kauffman; Green the Witch-hazel Wood by Emily Hiestand; Waving from Shore by Lisel Mueller; & Grace Notes by Rita Dove)

Auditory Imagination: The Sense of Sound (on Blessed Coming Off Ladders by Pamela Gross; Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon; The City in Which I Love You by Li-Young Lee; The Drowned River by Thomas Lux; on Echoes of the Unspoken by Wayne Dodd)

Under the Umbrella (on Landscape at the End of the Century by Stephen Dunn; World without End by Dan Masterson; Permanent Change by John Skoyles; Raised Underground by Renate Wood; & After by Ann Douglas)

Excellent Excesses (on Boy on the Step by Stanley Plumly; Blues if you Want by William Matthews; Infrequent Mysteries by Pamela Stewart; Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology by Albert Goldbarth; & The Rabbiter’s Bounty: Collected Poems by Les Murray)

For the Moment: Essential Disguises (on Passwords by William Stafford; Moon Crossing Bridge by Tess Gallagher; Bread Without Sugar by Gerald Stern; A Nostalgist’s Map of America by Agha Shahid Ali; Sweet Home, Saturday Night by David Baker; & Destroying Angel by Nancy Eimers)

The Woods Around It (on Wildwood Flower by Kathryn Stripling Byer; New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver; The Rain that Falls this Far by Dennis Hinrichsen; As If by James Richardson; & The Wild Iris by Louise Glück)

Skating on Paper (on A Dream of Mind by C. K. Williams; Travels by W. S. Merwin; To Put the Mouth To by Judith Hall; Fanatic Heart by Deborah Pope; Shoetown by Gerald McCarthy; & Short Talks by Anne Carson)

A Mind of Winter (on Across the Layers: Poems Old and New by Albert Goldbarth; The Nonconformist’s Memorial by Susan Howe; God’s Loud Hand by Kelly Cherry; Tesserae and Other Poems by John Hollander; 2 Guys on Holy Land by Walid Bitar; A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet by Martha Collins; & Everything Winged Must Be Dreaming by Susan Ludvigson)

Inner Worlds (on Do Not Peel the Birches by Fleda Brown Jackson; The Physicist at the Mall by Janet Holmes; Before Our Eyes by Lawrence Joseph; The City of Women: A Sequence of Poems and Prose by Sherod Santos; & Moss Burning by Marianne Boruch)

Nadine Gordimer: The Realism of Possibility

Fourteen Ways of Looking at Selecteds (on The Darkness Around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford, edited by Robert Bly; Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993 by Heather McHugh; Velocities: New and Selected Poems, 1966-1992 by Stephen Dobyns; New and Selected Poems, 1974-1994 by Stephen Dunn; Study for the World’s Body: New and Selected Poems by David St. John; Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems by Pattiann Rogers; Walking to Cootehill: New and Selected Poems, 1958-1992 by John Engels; and A Marvin Bell Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose by Marvin Bell)

A Terrible Beauty: The Politics in Poetry (on Writing and Being by Nadine Gordimer; The Angel of History by Carolyn Forché; A Wedding in Hell by Charles Simic; Bad Alchemy by Dionisio D. Martínez; That Kind of Danger by Donna Masini; The Prince of the Quotidian by Paul Muldoon; and The Annals of Chile by Paul Muldoon)

The Ladybug and the Universe (on Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected by Stanley Kunitz; New and Selected Poems by Donald Justice; Odd Mercy by Gerald Stern; & Honorable Amendments by Michael S. Harper)

Out of Place: Reading O’ Brien and O’ Brien

A Convention of Things (on Desiring Flight by Christianne Balk; Living at the Epicenter by Allison Funk; Internal Strategies by Anita Feng; Loosestrife by Stephen Dunn; and Flying Blind by Sharon Bryan)

What Persists (on Chickamauga by Charles Wright; Sun Under Wood by Robert Hass; Connecting the Dots by Maxine Kumin; Crossing to Sunlight: Selected Poems by Paul Zimmer; Alive Together: New and Selected Poems by Lisel Mueller; and Collected Poems by Leslie Norris)

“I Gotta Use Words…” (on The Patience of the Cloud Photographer by Elizabeth Holmes; Pears, Lake, Sun by Sandy Solomon; The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by Laure-Anne Bosselaar; Eve by Annie Finch; Candy Necklace by Cal Bedient; The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems by Marilyn Nelson; & Ardor: The Book of the Dead Man, Volume 2 by Marvin Bell)

Simplicities (on From Darkening Porches by Jo McDougall; Journey Fruit: Poems and a Memoir by Kinereth Gensler; What the Living Do by Marie Howe; The Yellow Transparents by Joan Aleshire; and Sky and Island Light by Brendan Galvin)

Against (on Viper Rum by Mary Karr; Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins; Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler by Thylias Moss; and Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes)

Tensions (on Portrait of My Father in an English Landscape by George Szirtes; Hay by Paul Muldoon; Beyond by Albert Goldbarth; Bardo by Suzanne Paola; and Fuel by Naomi Shihab Nye)

A Flash and an Hour (on The Calfbearer by Ida Affleck Graves; Fire & Flower by Laura Kasischke; Donkey Gospel by Tony Hoagland; The Old Liberators: New and Selected Poems and Translations by Robert Hedin; & Extranjera by Lola Haskins)

The Subjective Correlative (on A Saturday Night at the Flying Dog and Other Poems by Marcia Southwick; Then, Suddenly by Lynn Emanuel; In the Surgical Theatre by Dana Levin; Swarm by Jorie Graham; and Lifelines: Selected Poems, 1950-1999 by Philip Booth)

In Pursuit of Elegance (on Learning Human: Selected Poems by Les Murray; Open Closed Open by Yehuda Amichai; Tiepolo’s Hound by Derek Walcott; The Flashboat: Poems Collected and Reclaimed by Jane Cooper; Reign of Snakes by Robert Wrigley; How Things Are by James Richardson; Years Later by Gregory Djanikian; and Different Hours by Stephen Dunn)

Q & A (on Seatown and Earlier Poems by Conor O’Callaghan; Stone Sky Lifting by Lia Purpura; Turning Over the Earth by Ralph Black; & Nightworks: Poems, 1962-2000 by Marvin Bell)

Thinking About Love (on Orpheus and Eurydice by Gregory Orr; Against Love Poetry by Eavan Boland; The Other Life by Andrea Hollander Budy; The Tether by Carl Phillips; The Seven Ages by Louise Glück; Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield; and Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays by James Richardson)

Interlude (on Blue Dusk: New and Selected Poems, 1951-2001 by Madeline DeFrees; Waterborne by Linda Gregerson; Book of My Nights by Li-Young Lee; The Holy Worm of Praise by Philip Schultz; and Bellocq’s Ophelia by Natasha Trethewey)

In Trouble (on The Finger Bone by Kevin Prufer; Trouble Lights by William Olsen; Dumb Luck by Sam Hamill; Beyond the Reach by Deborah Cummins; and Still Life with Waterfall by Eamon Grennan)

Anthologizing—the Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent (on Word of Mouth: Poems Featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, edited by Catherine Bowman; Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, edited by Billy Collins; Stand Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology, edited by Charles Harper Webb; Hammer and Blaze: A Gathering of Contemporary American Poets, edited by Ellen Bryant Voigt and Heather McHugh; The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, third edition, edited by Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O’Clair; Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor; and Poems to Read: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology, edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz)

Second Thoughts: On Rereading Robert Lowell (on Collected Poems by Robert Lowell, Frank Bidart, and David Gewanter)

Row, Row (on Lives of the Animals by Robert Wrigley; Eyeshot by Heather McHugh; Lay Back the Darkness by Edward Hirsch; and Rampant by Marvin Bell)

The Properties of Rain (on Accused of Wisdom by Linda Allardt; The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars by Chris Forhan; Generations by Pattiann Rogers; Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser; The Perishing by Sherod Santos; and The Rest of Love by Carl Phillips)

The Fact of the Room (on Budget Travel through Space and Time by Albert Goldbarth; Controvertibles by Quan Barry; Country of Light by Joseph Stroud; The Coronary Garden by Ann Townsend; Fallen from a Chariot by Kevin Prufer; and First Hand by Linda Bierds)

Grouching toward Bethlehem: A Look at First Books (on The Book of Funnels by Christian Hawkey; The Chronic Liar Buys a Canary by Elizabeth Edwards; The Keepsake Storm by Gina Franco; Sea of Faith by John Brehm; Beautiful Trouble by Amy Fleury; and In the Ghost-House Acquainted by Kevin Goodan)

The Letter of the Life (on The Always Present Present: Letters-Poems by Renée Weiss and Theodore Weiss; The Letters of Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton; A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright, edited by Anne Wright and Saundra Rose Maley; and Love, Amy: The Selected Letters of Amy Clampitt, edited by Willard Spiegelman)

Raindrops on Roses . . . (on The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems, 1972–2007 by Albert Goldbarth; Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems, 1986–2006 by Carl Phillips; Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems by Robert Wrigley; Deep Light: New and Selected Poems, 1987–2007 by Rebecca McClanahan; The Corpse Flower: New and Selected Poems by Bruce Beasley; Crossing to Sunlight Revisited: New and Selected Poems by Paul Zimmer; and Recounting the Seasons: Poems, 1958–2005 by John Engels)

The Omnivorous Omnibus (on Sleeping and Waking by Michael O’Brien; Halflife by Meghan O’Rourke; Time and Materials: Poems 1997–2005 by Robert Hass; Failure by Philip Schultz; Old Heart by Stanley Plumly)

Keeping Company (on Quote Poet Unquote: Contemporary Quotations on Poets and Poetry, edited by Dennis O’Driscoll; A Time in Xanadu by Lars Gustafsson, translated by John Irons; Yellowrocket by Todd Boss; The Invention of the Kaleidoscope by Paisley Rekdal; In Praise of Aunts by M. R. Peacocke; National Anthem by Kevin Prufer; Want by Rick Barot; and Glory River by David Huddle)

Seconds (on Sharon Olds’s One Secret Thing; The Dream We Carry: Selected and Last Poems of Olav H. Hauge, translated by Robert Bly and Robert Hedin; Kevin Goodan’s Winter Tenor; Richard Kenney’s The One-Strand River: Poems 1994–2007; and Carl Phillips’ Speak Low)

Great Expectations (on Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin; Graham Swift’s Making an Elephant: Writing from Within; Heather McHugh’s Upgraded to Serious; David Baker’s Never-Ending Birds; Fred Chappell’s Shadow Box; and Jess Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets)

Puzzles (on Tony Hoagland’s Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty; Terrance Hayes’s Lighthead; Connie Wanek’s On Speaking Terms; & Peggy Shumaker’s Gnawed Bones)

Walking the Line (on James Richardson’s By the Numbers; Robert Wrigley’s Beautiful Country; Elizabeth Bradfield’s Approaching Ice; and Robert Cording’s Walking with Ruskin)

Tradecraft (on Adam Foulds’s The Broken Word; Melissa Range’s Horse and Rider; Nick Lantz’s We Don’t Know We Don’t Know; & Alice Friman’s Vinculum)

A Question Takes (on Marvin Bell’s Vertigo: The Living Dead Man Poems and Whiteout; Jane Hirshfield’s Come, Thief; Kevin Prufer’s In a Beautiful Country; and Kevin Goodan’s Upper Level Disturbances)

With a Little Help from My Friends (on Natasha Trethewey’s Thrall; Kathleen Flenniken’s Plume; John Hodgen’s In My Father’s House; Alice Derry’s Tremolo; and Lola Haskins’ The Grace to Leave)

Register, Resonate, Ring (on Bruce Beasley’s Theophobia; Annette Spaulding-Convy’s In Broken Latin; Bill Neumire’s Estrus; and Stanley Plumly’s Orphan Hours)

Da Capo al Coda

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… read more

When the River Is Ice

It’s 2014, the 100th anniversary of William Stafford’s birth, and people all over the country are celebrating his life and work. Why Stafford, I wonder, when I don’t remember so… read more

Night Piece


Sometimes the things dreamers do seem incomprehensible to others, and the world wonders why dreamers do not see the way others do.

—Queen Marie of Romania, at the

read more