The Sunday Poem : Judith Kitchen

 
 

 

(Note: Today’s Sunday Poem is part of Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” series and is made possible by The Poetry Foundation This one is for all of the gardeners out there!)

 

By describing the relocation of the moles which ravaged her yard, Washington poet Judith Kitchen presents an experience that resonates beyond the simple details, and suggests that children can learn important lessons through observation of the natural world.        -Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

 

 

 

 

Catching the Moles

 

First we tamp down the ridges
that criss-cross the yard

then wait for the ground
to move again.

I hold the shoe box,
you, the trowel.

When I give you the signal
you dig in behind

and flip forward.
Out he pops into daylight,

blind velvet.

We nudge him into the box,
carry him down the hill.

Four times we’ve done it.
The children worry.

Have we let them all go
at the very same spot?

Will they find each other?
We can’t be sure ourselves,

only just beginning to learn
the fragile rules of uprooting.

 

 

 

About Judith Kitchen

“Judith Kitchen is a gifted writer of immense humanity, grace, and depth,” says poet Naomi Shihab Nye. “Travel with her, trusting where she takes you.”

Judith Kitchen teaches nonfiction in the Rainier Writing Workshop, the Low-Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. She is the author of five books: Perennials (poetry, Anhinga Press); Writing the World: Understanding William Stafford (criticism, Oregon State Univ. Press); Only the Dance (essays, Univ. of S. Carolina); Distance and Direction (essays, Coffee House Press), and The House on Eccles Road (novel, Graywolf Press; Penguin paperback), which was awarded the S. Mariella Gable Prize in fiction. A third book of nonfiction, Half in Shade, was published by Coffee House Press in Spring 2012. In addition, she has edited or co-edited three popular collections of nonfiction (In Short, In Brief, and Short Takes, all W. W. Norton) and, with Ted Kooser, an anthology, The Poets Guide to the Birds (Anhinga Press).

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including recent essays in Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Great River Review, and The Georgia Review. Her awards include two Pushcart Prizes for an essay, the Lillian Fairchild Award for her novel, the Anhinga Prize for poetry, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She has served as judge for the AWP Nonfiction Award, the Pushcart Prize in poetry, the Oregon Book Award, and the Bush Foundation Fellowships, among others. Kitchen is an Advisory and Contributing Editor for The Georgia Review where she is a regular reviewer of poetry.
 

 
A native upstate New Yorker, she grew up in Painted Post, a small town on the Pennsylvania border. After college in Vermont, a junior year in Edinburgh, Scotland, and some years living in both Scotland and Brazil, she returned to upstate NY where she worked as a part-time secretary, an assistant in a carnival supply business, with the New York state Poets in the Schools, and finally as an instructor at SUNY College at Brockport, where she taught courses in Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and The Writer’s Craft.

For twenty years, she served as editor and publisher of the State Street Press Chapbook Series, producing a total of 76 chapbooks, two pamphlets, five full-length books, two translations, and one anthology. In 1997, she was named Writer-in-Residence at SUNY Brockport, and in 2003, she and her husband, Stan Sanvel Rubin, moved to Port Townsend, WA, where they act as co-directors of the Rainier Writing Workshop

For more information about Judith Kitchen and her writing, please visit her website.

 


 
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American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 1986 by Judith Kitchen, whose most recent book is Half in Shade, (Coffee House Press, 2012). Reprinted from Perennials, Anhinga Press, 1986, with permission of the author. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Note: Author biography courtesy of Judith Kitchen’s website.

 

By | 2016-11-11T21:52:33+00:00 09.08.12|The Sunday Poem, Words|4 Comments

About the Author:

I’ve spent almost 20 years helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. (One friend likes to call me “the arts enabler.”) From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I've also done time at an arts magazine, a library, an art museum, and a raptor rehabilitation center. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, curating, and creative projects full-time. In 2015 I was named a “Top 100 Artist, Innovator, Creative” by Origin magazine. I've appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, and in 2017 I was the recipient of the Wampler Art Professorship at James Madison University. I am the founder of the Gwarlingo Salon series, which connects artists like DJ Spooky with rural audiences in the Monadnock region. In 2017 my collaborator Corwin Levi and I will publish our first book, Mirror Mirrored, which combines Grimms’ fairy tales with vintage illustration remixes and the work of contemporary artists like Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Cutler. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but have called New Hampshire home since 1999. My studio is located in the historic, mill village of Harrisville. I miss fried okra, the early southern spring, and restaurants that stay open past 9:00 p.m., but rural life agrees with me. In New Hampshire I can see the stars, go kayaking or snowshoeing, watch bald eagles fish in the lake, and focus on my creative work in silence. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams; deer, wild turkeys, and frost heaves are the primary road hazards here. Although I live in the country, I’m fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant arts community that extends beyond this small New England village. The quiet days are punctuated by regular travel and frequent visits to museums, theaters, readings, arts events, lectures, and open studios around the country. (You can read my full CV here.) Thanks for visiting Gwarlingo. I hope you'll be in touch.

4 Comments

  1. bill stockton September 9, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Thank you for presenting this poem. I must go get some more Judith Kitchen today.

    • Michelle Aldredge September 9, 2012 at 7:58 am

      I’m glad you liked the mole poem, Bill. I too was happy to stumble on Kitchen’s work, which was new to me. I’m looking forward to reading more. Have a great Sunday!

  2. […] poetry workshops easily took up three or four years. The best ones were led by local poets, Judith Kitchen for one, was amazing. She still is. After more than 20 years, I still hear her voice as she guided […]

  3. […] site Gwarlingo, the source of the photograph of Kitchen in the mirror, features one of her poems and a brief biography. There’s a reminiscence at Water-Stone […]

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