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Jack and Other New Poems

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"Measured but warm, this work draws you in; it is another success among her many titles."—Library Journal
In her fifteenth collection, Maxine Kumin meditates on the social consequences of such events as the bicentennial of the Civil War, and looks to poets writing from circumstances vastly different from her own. With death the central theme, poems of the body and praise songs for beloved animals explore how memory consoles and haunts.

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Overview

"Measured but warm, this work draws you in; it is another success among her many titles."—Library Journal
In her fifteenth collection, Maxine Kumin meditates on the social consequences of such events as the bicentennial of the Civil War, and looks to poets writing from circumstances vastly different from her own. With death the central theme, poems of the body and praise songs for beloved animals explore how memory consoles and haunts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This 14th outing from Kumin (The Long Marriage) focuses on three subjects the poet knows well: first, the fauna (wild and domestic) in and around her New Hampshire farm; second, the troubles and lessons of advancing age; third, large-scale political history, "this century born in blood and bombs" as this Jewish-American poet has known it. Kumin's deftly accessible verse (sometimes rhymed, sometimes not) finds in her rural America both symbols, and consolations, for the disasters she sees in the public realm, as in "New Hampshire, February 7, 2003" (just before the start of the war in Iraq): "Snow here is/ weighting the pine trees/ while we wait for the worst." Several poems follow veterinarians to (and past) beloved pets' graves, or follow the spectres of relatives killed in the Holocaust; Kumin's Philadelphia childhood, her long-estranged brothers, and their children provide other recurrent threads. If some readers find her clean-cut forms and earnest attitudes predictable, others will certainly admire the generosity and the patience those attitudes model. Most of her strongest work (the title poem included) concerns elderly or deceased animals, obvious analogues for Kumin's ill, deceased or grieving human beings. "I oversee the art of dying," a hospice worker says in another poem; "art/ is what we try to make of it." At its best, Kumin's carefully wrought verse becomes part of that process. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Jack was one of the poet's beloved horses, whom she "sold down the river" much to her later guilt and regret. Kumin's poems ride closely on her life, and her prodigious output-14 volumes of poetry, as well as fiction, essays, and a memoir-revolves around her home, a 200-acre horse farm in New Hampshire. As ever, Kumin offsets the rituals and joys of farm life with meditations on family and politics. There is only one mention of the carriage accident that nearly killed her in 1998, but the poems return again and again to aging and death: "If only death could be/ like going to the movies./ You get up afterward/ and go out/ saying, how was it?/ Tell me, tell me how was it." Kumin, a Jew among yankees and a self-professed atheist among churchgoing folk, loves her land with a passion yet still argues with her deceased father about the wisdom of her adopted life: "Didn't I tell you/ never buy land on a hill? What's/ an educated dame like you/ doing messing with horses?" Measured but warm, this work draws you in; it is another success among her many titles.-E.M. Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine LLP Law Lib., New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393328523
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/17/2006
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Maxine Kumin (1925—2014), a former U.S. poet laureate, was the author of nineteen poetry collections as well as numerous works of fiction and nonfiction. Her awards included the Pulitzer Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Aiken Taylor Award, the Poet’s Prize, and the Harvard Arts and Robert Frost medals.

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Table of Contents

The highwaymen 13
New Hampshire, February 7, 2003 14
Fox on his back 16
Widow and dog 17
The brothers 19
The Sunday phone call 24
The snarl 28
Magda of hospice house 31
Getting there 33
Seven caveats in May 37
Summer meditation 39
Leech spit 45
The apparition 47
The survivor 49
Broody 50
The dog of her life 52
Requiem on I-89 54
Women and horses 55
Jack 59
Which one 61
Appropriate tools 63
The Jew order 66
Inge, in rehab 69
Last days 71
Historic Blacksburg, Virginia 73
The help 74
Crossing over 77
Where any of us 79
The burners, the buriers 83
Eating babies 86
The rapist speaks : a prison interview 90
The agony 92
On being asked during a national crisis to write a poem in celebration of the bicentennial of Ralph Waldo Emerson 95
Key West 96
Nostalgia 101
Male privilege 102
Ode 103
The zen of mowing 105
For Stanley, some lines at random 107
Sonnet in so many words 109
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