Poet, essayist, and community arts activist Gil Ott lived for many years in Philadelphia, where he was a vital member of the city’s literary arts scene. Ott founded Singing Horse Press, worked for many years with Painted Bride Art Center, and acted as director of development for Liberty Resources, an organization advocating for people with disabilities. Ott’s many books of poetry include within range (1986), The Yellow Floor (1987), Public Domain (1989), The Whole Note (1996), and Traffic (2000). Kristen Gallagher edited The Form of Our Uncertainty: A Tribute to Gil Ott (2001), a book that collects previously uncollected poems of Ott’s as well as tributes from writers and poets such as Kevin Killian, Leslie Scalapino, Ron Silliman, and Ott’s wife, Julia Blumenreich.
Ott’s honors and awards included fellowships from the Headlands Center for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Ott died in 2004; in 2012, Blumenreich and artist Wendy Osterweil mounted an installation in his honor, Reforesting: An Homage to Gil Ott. In their work, artists featured in the exhibit, including Sarah Dekker, Marie Elcin, and Carolyn Hesse, investigated grief and loss through natural imagery.