- Nancy Simpson
- Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."
Sunday, January 4, 2015
The Death of JUDITH KITCHEN the Literary Author, Editor, Writing Instructor and Literary Critic 1941-2014
From the Los Angeles Times
Jan 4, 2014
by David Ulin
Remembering author, teacher and critic Judith Kitchen
Creative Non fiction essayist and teacher Judith Kitchen, who died last week of cancer at the age of 73.
BY DAVID L. ULIN, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
November 11, 2014, 4:30 p.m.
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.”
Do we need to say that the miracle of this passage is that she isn’t writing about death exactly, but rather life? Or, more accurately, about meaning, about the way we are always stitching it together all the time? This was the subject of her 2012 book “Half in Shade: Family, Photography, and Fate,” which uses family photos as a hinge for an interior investigation — into love, doubt, family and time. “This is not art,” she writes there. “This is the black and white of birthdays and summer vacations. Grandma’s Sunday best.”
Not art, no, but time, but living, but the bits and pieces by which we have no choice but to define ourselves. Kitchen lived it as she wrote it, asking questions, keeping focus, working until the end. Over the summer, she came up in conversation at a dinner party; “She’s dying,” a friend said, “but I’ve never known anyone so alive.”
It’s true: Even from a distance, Kitchen redefined death for me, or at least, how we might face death with courage and with grace. This is not to say she wasn’t frightened; “[W]ill thinking be my solace, or my curse?” she wonders in “The Circus Train.” “I have relied on the brain — its tickings and tockings — for an entire lifetime. Can I trust it to take me easily into death, or will it resist, fighting the body until the bitter end?”
I think about these questions also, but for me, they remain (for the moment, anyway) abstract. Kitchen was not writing with that luxury. She was fierce and she was loving — and she was rigorous, with no one so much as with herself. I want to say that she was kind (she was certainly kind to me), but kindness seems too soft for her intensity.
“Visual artists have ‘statements,’” she once wrote, “in order to articulate something of what they do instinctively. But a writer’s medium is words, and if the writer has anything to say, it’s best said obliquely. Understated. So let me call up a visual image for what I want my work to be doing: there’s a juggler in the park, wearing a red hat, and he’s tossing a knife, an orange, and three purple balls into the air, deftly catching them, passing them under his legs or behind his back, twirling and catching, then, balancing a stick with one spinning ball on the tip of his forehead, he holds the knife blade-side-up so that when the orange falls it is sliced cleanly into two equal halves which he catches in both hands and holds up to the light.”
MORE ABOUT JUDITH KITCHEN
From AWP Association of Writers and Writing Programs Nov. 18, 2014
Judith Kitchen Has Died
November 18, 2014
Judith Kitchen—a novelist, poet, essayist, critic, editor, and teacher—died of cancer at age 73 in early November. She was at her home in Port Townsend, Washington, with her husband, Stan Sanvel Rubin, with whom Kitchen co-directed the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.
In an obituary for the late author, Los Angeles Times book critic David Ulin called her last book of nonfiction, The Circus Train, “one of the most astonishing extended essays I’ve read,” and described one cited passage as a “miracle” in its bold-eyed description of mortality.
“Even from a distance, Kitchen redefined death for me, or at least, how we might face death with courage and grace,” Ulin wrote. “This is not to say she wasn’t frightened; ‘[W]ill thinking be my solace, or my curse?’ she wonders in The Circus Train. ‘I have relied on the brain—its ticking and tockings—for an entire lifetime. Can I trust it to take me easily into death, or will it resist, fighting the body until the bitter end?’”
Kitchen authored several books, including, most recently, The Circus Train (2014); Half in Shade (2012), a book of nonfiction; The House on Eccles Road (2002), a novel, which received the S. Mariella Gable Prize in Fiction from Graywolf Press; and Distance and Direction (2002), a collection of essays. She also received two Pushcart Prizes, the Lillian Fairchild Award, the Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
In addition to teaching in the Rainier Writing Workshop, Kitchen served as advisory and contributing editor of the Georgia Review, where her regular poetry reviews were published, and on the Artists Advisory Board for the New York Foundation for the Arts. She served as a nonfiction reviewer for Water~Stone Review (see Water~Stone’s executive editor Mary Rockcastle’s obituary for Kitchen), and edited a number of anthologies, including, most recently, The Poets Guide to the Birds (2009), which she co-edited with former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.
“Judith Kitchen… delivered good deeds and good works far and wide, as a writer, as an editor, as a teacher, and as a model citizen of high-minded literary living and giving,” said AWP’s executive director David Fenza. “She was one of our better angels.”
For its upcoming May/Summer issue, the Writer’s Chronicle magazine will publish an interview with Judith Kitchen.
Works by Judith Kitchen
Perennials (Poetry Series) Poetry Collection by Judith Kitchen, Anhinga Press
UNDERSTANDING (Contemporty American Literature) WILLIAM STAFFORD by Judith Kitchen, U of S C Press
The House on Eccles Road Novel by Judith Kitchen Gray Wolf Press
Only the Dance: Essays on Time and Memory Non Fiction by Judith Kitchen, U of SC Press
Half In Shade: Family, Photography, and Fate Non Fiction by Judith Kitchen, Coffee House Press
Distance & Direction Non Fiction Essays by Judith Kitchen, Coffee House Press
The Circus Train (Ovenbird Books) (Volume 1) Non Fiction by Judith Kitchen
The Poets Guide To The Birds (Editor) Judith Kitchen
The State Street reader : an anthology, 10 years (Editor and Publisher)
In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction (J.K. Editor)
Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction (J.K. Editor) W.W. Norton
In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal (J.K.Editor)
As Editor and Publisher of State Street Press, Judith Kitchen published 76 chapbooks, 2 pamphlets, 5 full length poetry collections, and one anthology.
As reviewer for The Georgia Review, she left some 750 pages of book reviews in print. The Georgia Review has named her as one or two leading poetry critics in the US and one in five in the English speaking world.