George Hitchcock, the influential editor of kayak magazine (1964-1984) has passed away at the age of 96. Hitchcock supported an array of up-and-coming poets, many of whom went on to major success: Simic, Tate, Atwood, Kizer, Carver, Levine, Merwin, and McGrath, to name a few.

Perhaps Philip Levine summed Hitchcock up best in the foreword to One-Man Boat: The George Hitchcock Reader. Levine wrote:  "George gave the American poetry world three priceless gifts: his own writing, kayak--the finest poetry magazine of my era--and his complex and unusual presence, which served as a model for so many of us: the model of the poet as a total human being (as my mother would have said, a mensch)."

The Santa Cruz Sentinel has an obituary:

"At kayak, he was the dictator," said friend Joseph Bednarik. "And that's how he wanted it. It was his tastes, from the surreal and the political to some really ribald articles sometimes. Kayak was famous for its correspondence -- this was before the Internet, remember -- where poets from all over just talked about the art form."

"Kayak was the equivalent of a good saloon," said friend and poet Gary Young, "where the proprietor's personality pervades everything else. It was a pure distillation of George Hitchcock."

Originally Published: September 1st, 2010