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Kirkland Found: “Lost Orchard”

Cover - "Lost Orchard"

Cover art by Kirkland alumna Linda Branch Dunn, K’77

As the twin celebrations launching Lost Orchard draw closer, I thought it might be interesting to trace how this landmark anthology came about. With the help of Liz Horwitt, I organized an alumnae reading in the Red Pit. On June 1, 2007, seven writers from far-flung parts of the country presented their work: me, Liz, Gwynn O’Gara, Nancy Avery Dafoe, Maria Theresa Stadtmueller, Alice Hildebrand, and Billie Jean Stratton. During the reading, the word anthology flitted through my head. It took two years for that thought seed to land and take root. I put out a call for submission in spring 2010—and waited. Would Kirkland alumnae and members of the Kirkland community submit? What would they submit? What themes would emerge?

Soon, submissions trickled in from Hawaii, Amsterdam, France, New England, the Pacific Northwest, the mid-Atlantic states. A year or so later, I had enough submissions to make a book. After reading and selecting pieces I wanted to include, I had an anthology!

Babbitt,chain,handsinpockets

Sam Babbitt

Lost Orchard consists of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction essays by fifty contributors, including many Kirkland alumnae and faculty. It also includes four commissioned one-act plays, which were performed at the 2007 All-Kirkland Reunion. I have also included a lovely collaboration between Sam and Natalie Babbitt that alludes to Natalie’s writing of Tuck Everlasting during their Kirkland years. Although I didn’t do this intentionally, Lost Orchard contains submissions that span the college’s lifetime, from nearly every Kirkland class from 1972 through 1980, and from nearly all professors who taught creative writing at Kirkland.

Lost Orchard, published in January 2014, was exquisitely produced by the State University of New York Press. The book reflects the vibrant community we all shared and is one of only a couple of multi-genre alumni anthologies from a single institution. (I’m quite sure it’s the ONLY anthology from a small, defunct, experimental college.) I’m most proud that the anthology represents Kirkland’s creative writing program—one of the earliest in the country to confer an undergraduate degree—and gives voice to alumnae of the last private women’s college established in the United States.

Jo Pitkin, K’78

Jo P on pasteup

Jo Pitkin working on publication layout

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