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Judith Kitchen at THE

Judith Kitchen who died the first week of November five years ago, practiced the art of essay and memoir with consummate skill and probably did more than any of us to teach, promote, explore, and explain the forms that The Humble Essayist celebrates. Each year around this time we feature her work, and this year my mind went back to the title piece of her first volume of essays, “Only the Dance,” which I read some twenty-five years ago. The book came out the year after my first book, A Geometry of Lilies, and was published by the same press, so I have long had an affection for it.



For Judith, fall was a season that taught essential lessons about “time and memory,” the subtitle of her book.  “October,” she writes, gazing at the autumn day. “Outside my window, purple flowers, pale as ghosts on tall, unwieldy stems. And by the fence, a flamboyance of late roses. Overnight, the trees have turned. Maples on fire. Or gone mottled, yellow to green to orange under our feet.” Truth may be beauty, she insists, but in the fall, purple blossoms going to seed and late blooming roses make room for another truth well.

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