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"Pitt Poetry"

In Memory of Ed Ochester, Poet & Editor, RIP








We have asked Ed Ochester (above) to edit our Sunday poetry pages for the next few months. Here is one of Ed's poems:

March of the Penguins

       The editor of National Review urged [Young Republicans]
       to see the movie because it promoted monogamy.  A widely
       circulated Christian magazine said it made a strong case for
       intelligent design --The New York Times, 9/13/05

What the hell are they going to do now
with the libidinous bluebird, who lines up
a couple of extra girlfriends every summer,
not to mention the evil house wrens--
don¹t be fooled by their cheery little calls,
they have up to five mates at a time!
I won¹t even mention the gay rabbits
we had once, in love with one another’s ears,
etc., and even now my old friend Walter may be
declaiming how God planted dinosaur bones
to test the faith of Christians with the appearance
of evolution, thereby demonstrating once again
we are the first country to pass from barbarism
to decadence without an interlude, and as for
“intelligent design,” even Britney Spears
wouldn’t drop her eggs
at 70 below.

(Autumn House Press, 2007)

Under Ed Ochester's leadership, the Pitt Poetry Series has maintained a reputation for feisty independence -- so much so that "the pit bull poetry series" is an inevitable pun. He writes:

<< I've been the editor of the Pitt Poetry Series for thirty years. Some of our best-known poets are Billy Collins, Denise Duhamel, Russell Edson, Bob Hicok, Etheridge Knight, Ted Kooser, Larry Levis, Malena Morling, Sharon Olds, Alicia Ostriker, Afaa Weaver, David Wojahn and Dean Young.  Most of these were not very well known when they started to publish with Pitt, and many of our younger poets who aren't well known yet are terrific and deserve (and will get) wider readership.  That's one of the pleasures of the business –- to "discover" new poets and watch their reputations grow.  Another pleasure, for me, is making eclectic choices.  American poetry is bigger than one or two schools, one or two ways of doing things.  I like to think I irritate or, even better, outrage certain academic critics and poetry gangs with the eclecticism of the Pitt list. I do think we've helped increase the readership for poetry: many of our books have sold more than 10,000 copies, and a couple have even reached 100,000. We're also one of the few poetry publishers – maybe the only one? – that doesn't require subsidies. For the next few months on this site I've chosen poems from recent books of ours, mainly.  I hope that you enjoy them, of course, and that the enjoyment will motivate you to buy some. We need to remember Kenneth Patchen's gentle observation: "People who say they love poetry and never buy any are a bunch of cheap sons-of-bitches. >>

Ed Ochester's most recent books are  UNRECONSTRUCTED: POEMS SELECTED AND NEW (Autumn House Press,  2007), THE REPUBLIC OF LIES (chapbook, Adastra Press, 2007), THE LAND OF COCKAIGNE (Story Line Press, 2001), and AMERICAN POETRY NOW (University of Pittsburgh Press,  2007), an anthology of contemporary American poetry. In addition to editing the Pitt Poetry Series, he is the general editor of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for short fiction (University of Pittsburgh Press). From 1978 to 1998 he was director of the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh, and was twice elected president of Associated Writing Programs. He is co-editor of the poetry magazine 5 AM and is a core faculty member of the Bennington College MFA program.

from the archive; first posted January 4, 2009.

March 29, 2009

March 22, 2009

March 15, 2009

March 08, 2009

March 01, 2009

February 15, 2009

February 08, 2009

February 01, 2009

January 25, 2009

January 18, 2009

January 11, 2009

November 10, 2008

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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