You had to go to the giant under the stairs if you wanted advice of the literary kind, because he was the one who made kayak, that “avenue to our rage, our sense of the ludicrous, the unreal that America had become,” Philip Levine would say. I’d been turned away before, with a roar, asking to enter his advanced poetry class as a freshman. But some of us had started a student journal and put up posters all around, never mind that they said Submit to the Blunt Probe, we were surprised no one responded, and now we had to go see a minotaur with hair the color of ivory.
This interested him, and thus began his sponsorship of The Blunt Probe and a set of tutorials in which he showed us what it took for a new literary magazine to take off. As far as submissions, his advice was simple. “At first you’ll need to solicit.”
Solicit sounded both soulful and illicit. He gave us names. We called the names and the people who belonged to the names were glad that their names had been the names that came up when names had to be thought of by George Hitchcock. We drove all over town in the fog finding addresses and fetching manuscripts, and at each stop we’d read the new manuscript right away in the car before we drove on. George Hitchcock had given us a literary treasure map.
The Blunt Probe appeared three times, floated by his support. Kayak had a run of sixty-four. In a few years I would go to a party at his condominium by Neary’s Lagoon and hold a fresh kayak in my hands, magnetized. We’d like to remember kayak as an inspiration in the first issue of Catamaran.
Causes Elizabeth McKenzie Supports
Litquake, International Red Cross, SPCA