Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Kowit’s Korner: Issue 17

A Note by Clare MacQueen

This issue of Kowit’s Korner features two haiku and a photograph of poet and teacher Steve Kowit by venus pax, one of his former students who continues to miss him as so many of us do. venus and I shared a few memories this last summer via email. She was a student of his at Southwestern College, and at San Diego Writers Ink where they had first met. While living elsewhere, she had read one of his books; after moving to San Diego, she “just had to meet the man in person.”

I was fortunate enough myself to enroll in two of Steve’s writing classes at Southwestern College, but decades ago, in the mid-1980s. In addition to his exuberant wit, I had also admired his compassion, his ability to show us students when and why our poems and essays weren’t working, but in a funny and loving way which avoided tearing anyone down personally. Serendipitously, I learned from Steve one of my bedrock editorial philosophies: to separate the work from the artist, to edit the work itself, not the person who created it.

Thirty years after those college classes (and 25 years after moving 1200 miles north to Seattle), I was blessed to reconnect with Steve as one of his editorial colleagues at Serving House Journal. He was such a joy to work with here in cyberspace, and his witty, irreverent emails kept me laughing. How I miss him! And I’ll always be grateful that he introduced me to the works of so many fine poets—including Alexis Rhone Fancher, our guest poetry editor for SHJ:17, who also shares in her Intro Note her fond memories and admiration of Steve.

How Kowit’s Korner came to be:

Our founding editor, Duff Brenna, conceived of Kowit’s Korner in 2015 as an ongoing memorial to our beloved colleague Steve Kowit, who served so generously and with such enthusiasm as our Poetry Editor for five years: In eleven issues (2 thru 12, Fall 2010 thru Spring 2015), he published 371 works (primarily poems, but several essays as well) by 152 authors.

Steve passed away on the second of April 2015 (far too soon!), and we dedicated our 12th issue to commemorating his life. Since July 2015, that issue has also been available as a print anthology—Steve Kowit: This Unspeakably Marvelous Life (Serving House Books)—and includes not only a good number of Steve’s poems and essays, but also many tributes and accolades from folks who joined us in celebrating his life and mourning his passing.

Thanks to the generosity of William “Bill” Harry Harding, publisher of the San Diego Poetry Annual and president of the San Diego Entertainment & Arts Guild (SDEAG), Kowit’s Korner will feature each spring the winners and Honorable Mentions selected for The Steve Kowit Poetry Prize for the previous year. The poems for the inaugural Prize appear in SHJ-16, our spring 2017 issue.

More in SHJ-6 about Steve Kowit and “The Kowit” Poetry Prize

Tributes welcomed:

We continue to solicit tributes—poems, prose poems, essays, anecdotes, etc.—to be published in each issue of Kowit’s Korner. Photographs and visual artworks will be considered as well. Please see our guidelines for email addresses and other submission details.


Photograph of Steve Kowit Vintage photograph of Steve Kowit
Vintage photo of Steve Kowit copyrighted 1983 by Joan Levine Gannij and reproduced here by her
permission; photographs of Steve Kowit in SHJ reproduced with permission from Mary Kowit.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury