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Unread 09-07-2010, 02:38 AM
Tony Barnstone's Avatar
Tony Barnstone Tony Barnstone is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 685
Default George Hitchcock Dies--And a Memory or Two

If you didn't know George, you missed one of life's great pleasures. He was a big personality in every way, founder of the seminal magazine Kayak, a fantastic, strange writer of surreal poetry, and a man who lived large.

When I was an undergraduate, serious about loving and trying to write poetry but without much in the way of talent or skill, George invited me to his house in Santa Cruz to be part of his private poetry workshop, an act of validation that helped put me on the strange path I've followed since. I remember one workshop where George began to introduce the metrically regular, true-rhymed sonnets he created with a computer scientist friend. George provided sample sonnets, which were analyzed by part of speech and by stress, and then words from a rhyming dictionary and a vocabulary he provided were substituted in. The result was hundreds of pages of nonsense sonnets that George then read through to cull out the best lines and stanzas and construct them into surreal sonnets. They were strangely effective, despite the way they were written--or perhaps because of it!

A wonderful man.
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Unread 09-07-2010, 11:36 AM
W.F. Lantry's Avatar
W.F. Lantry W.F. Lantry is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Inside the Beltway
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What a life! You have to love this:

"With great ingenuity, he created Kayak's archly cruel rejection slips: Victorian engravings depicting a beheading, or a mountain climber slipping into a crevasse, with a brush-off caption appended."

and this:

"During the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1957, the House Committee on Un-American Activities summoned him to testify in San Francisco, where he delivered what may well have been his finest performance.

When asked to state his profession, he answered: "I am a gardener. I do underground work on plants." He then refused to answer questions about membership in the Communist Party, "on the grounds that this hearing is a big bore and waste of the public's money."

The director of the Shakespeare Festival demoted him to spear-carrying roles."

And especially this:

"The long list of poets and writers who found a home in his pages included W.S. Merwin, Anne Sexton, Robert Bly, Margaret Atwood and Hayden Carruth."

Everywhere we turn is loss.



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george hitchcock

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