In Steve Kowit: This Unspeakably Marvelous Life, four editors and numerous poets and essayists pool their understanding of and admiration for a brilliant poet/ essayist/ teacher/ animal-rights advocate/ political activist and self-proclaimed “all-around no good troublemaker” who died April 2, 2015.
The contributors to this collection have created an anthology that is also something of a biography, encomium, accolade, homage, and love-song for a master who deeply touched their lives and, in many cases, changed their art—always for the better, they say again and again in their acknowledgments.
Dear Reader, you hold a luminous book in your hands. It is full of wisdom and humor. A touch of sadness here and there. Some poems and/or essays may make you wistful; others may make you laugh out loud; and certainly many will make you examine your own judgments and beliefs. Turn the page and welcome to the world of Steve Kowit.
Edited by Duff Brenna, Walter Cummins, Clare MacQueen, and R. A. Rycraft
Art by Mary Kowit
Steve Kowit’s Poetic Credo
“Like all poets, I cherish le mot juste and the perfect combination of sounds, and the phrase that is right enough to come with an almost audible click. . . . What do I want from my poems? I guess I want to move the reader with memorable tales that celebrate the whole inexplicable business—this strange, unspeakably marvelous life. That’s what poems do at their best.” (From Steve Kowit Greatest Hits 1978–2003)
“I love Kowit’s poems—he has more energy, more passion, more fire, and more humor in his left little fingernail than most poets have in their whole bodies.”
“Steve Kowit seems willing to take almost everything into his arms.”
“. . .memorable exhilaration, a singular concentration of language, and a flow of razor-sharp images springing irrepressibly from the author’s humanity”
—Choice (from a review of Lurid Confessions)
“Whether describing the Devil reciting poetry in Hell, the fate of uprooted mice, or a last encounter with a doomed friend, Steve Kowit’s poetry has chosen, in the manner of Sufi tales, a disarmingly earthy presence. Rhapsodic and hilarious by turns, the poetry is as engaging and accessible as vivid prose. (From the back cover of The Dumbbell Nebula)
“The late Czeslaw Milosz said Kowit sharply grasps our common, mortal fate. He can hear this when he speaks to the Raven. ‘Forgive me,/ sweet earth, for not being shaken more often/ out of the heavy sleep of the self.’”
About Steve Kowit
(June 30, 1938–April 2, 2015)
From the Editors of Serving House Journal
We are heartbroken by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, the acclaimed poet, editor, and teacher Steve Kowit, who passed away at his home in Potrero, California on the second of April. He was seventy-six.
Steve joined Serving House Journal (SHJ) as esteemed Poetry Editor in 2010. He published hundreds of wonderful poetic works in our journal—to be specific, 371 poems by 152 poets in Issues Two thru Twelve.
He described himself as “a poet, essayist, teacher, workshop facilitator, and all-around no good troublemaker.” A founding member of the San Diego chapter of the Jewish Voice for Peace, he lived with his wife Mary and several companion animals.
Steve taught poetry workshops in San Diego, and his handbook for writing poetry, In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop, is widely used. His most recent collections include The Gods of Rapture (City Works Press, 2006), The First Noble Truth (University of Tampa Press, 2007), and Lurid Confessions (Serving House Books, 2010). His final collection, Cherish: New and Selected Poems, is forthcoming soon from the University of Tampa Press.
“A strong and vibrant force for poetry,” and a true mensch, Steve will be profoundly missed.