Poets Albert Goldbarth, Mark Doty Part of St. Louis Poetry Extravaganza in Honor of Kayak Editor George Hitchcock

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"Kayak at the Confluence: A Tribute to George Hitchcock" will bring writers, editors and publishers to St. Louis from all over the US in the largest celebration of this editor's life in the country, March 18-19, 2011.

"I don't think history has properly recorded what an unusual and important lit mag Kayak was." -- poet Diane Wakoski

“KAYAK at the Confluence: A Tribute to George Hitchcock” sails into St. Louis on Friday and Saturday, March 18-19, 2011, an event celebrating the editor, poet (and later, painter) whose “one-man boat,” KAYAK, became one of the most influential poetry journals of the 20th century. George Hitchcock passed on August 27, 2010 at 96. The event features some of the original "kayak poets," including Albert Goldbarth, Mark Jarman, Mark Doty, William Harmon, Nancy Willard, Gary Young, Willis Barnstone and Hitchcock's longtime companion, poet Marjorie Simon.

“I’m not sure that history has properly recorded just how unusual and important a lit mag Kayak was,” says poet Diane Wakoski. With Hitchcock its sole oarsman, Kayak became known for its poetry, criticism, artwork and even the Correspondence page, where poets duked it out, readers puzzled, and, occasionally, someone would write in with a question about sporting goods.

Most of all, Hitchcock had an eye for great, original poetry, publishing, as it turns out, some of the leading writers of our time. The Table of Contents of every issue reads, today, like a "Who's Who" of American poetry: Ray Carver, Sharon Olds, Charles Simic, W.S. Merwin, Margaret Atwood, Philip Levine, Robert Bly, Yusef Komunyakaa, and literally hundreds of others.

Among the “Kayak poets” gathering in St. Louis are Albert Goldbarth, Mark Jarman, Mark Doty, Nancy Willard, Robert McDowell, William Harmon, Willis Barnstone and Lou Lipsitz. Tom Finkel, editor of the Riverfront Times, will be reading from the work of his late father Donald Finkel, a frequent Kayak contributor.
Other include Aliki Barnstone, Joseph Bednarik of Copper Canyon Press, Christine Neilson, Editor of ViVACE Literary Journal, Richard Newman, Editor of St. Louis-based River Styx, and Michael Basinski, Curator of the University of Buffalo’s famed Poetry Collection, holders of one of the most complete collections of Kayak publications.        

In possible the first such exhibition outside a university, the event will display all 64 issues of Kayak, as well as many other rare Kayak press publications. On hand will be a signed first edition of Charles Simic's first book, and a rare portfolio of prints produced by Hitchcock in 1966 of the work of his good friend, Jean Varda (on loan from Varda’s family), copies of which will also be on sale.

Kayak at the Confluence: A Tribute to George Hitchcock kicks off Friday March 18th with an opening reception at the Gaslight Theater, 360 Boyle, 6:00 p.m. The St. Louis Actors Studio will present a “readers theater” presentation of Hitchcock’s 1958 play, “Prometheus Found: A Tragic—Comedy in Two Acts.” Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Saturday, March 19th, the event moves to The Ethical Society, 9001 Clayton Rd., with writing workshops at 9a.m., seminars and a “publisher’s Salon” in the afternoon, and the keynote Tribute Reading, “Kayak at the Confluence” at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and $40 if purchased in advance, $25/$45 at the door. For more information, visit http://www.kayakattheconfluence.org or call Liz Wiley at 210-601-5784, email wileyliz(at)aol(dot)com.


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