Selected Poems, 1960-1990
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Selected Poems, 1960-1990

by Maxine Kumin
     
 

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Gathered from nine collections representing three decades of work, these poems—newly available here in a rich and varied volume—celebrate the growth of a major artist.
Since the publication of her first book of poetry, Halfway, Maxine Kumin has been powerfully and fruitfully engaged in the "stuff of life that matters": family, friendship, the bond

Overview

Gathered from nine collections representing three decades of work, these poems—newly available here in a rich and varied volume—celebrate the growth of a major artist.
Since the publication of her first book of poetry, Halfway, Maxine Kumin has been powerfully and fruitfully engaged in the "stuff of life that matters": family, friendship, the bond between the human and natural worlds, and the themes of loss and survival.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Testifying to the generous contribution that Kumin's perceptive, distinctive voice has made to contemporary American poetry, this balanced volume traces 30 years of the 1973 Pulitzer Prize winner's work. Drawn from 10 collections (the dates of which are regrettably omitted), the works map Kumin's terrain, which is the shared spheres of human and animal life. Kumin's unsentimental affinity for animals has been her divining rod for locating and observing the natural world's seemingly inexhaustible beauty and mankind's terrifying willingness to destroy it: "Bombs and grenades, the newly disappeared,/ a kidnapped ear, go unrecorded/ but the foals flutter inside/ warm wet bags that carry them/ eleven months in the dark." Considering moral questions of privilege and suffering ("Pulling the garden I always think/ of starving to death"), she dismisses ecological politics and lets go organized religion, acknowledging with dry humor that: "Having never acceded to an initial coming/ I hold out no hope for a second/ let alone this bland vision of mail-order angels...." Her hope, like her poetry, takes nature as its source of grace, strength and renewal. Solid craft supports Kumin's plain style: surprising imagery, such as "chromosomes tight as a chain gang," and recurring reflections about suicide mark her close personal and working relationship with Anne Sexton. The evolution and inherent integrity of Kumin's poetry, wise, generous and passionate, is deftly captured in this forceful selection.
Library Journal
A pastoral poet who was strongly influenced by friend and mentor Anne Sexton, Kumin is quite simply one of the very best poets writing today. The present collection represents a lifetime (until now) of Kumin's work and includes selections from all her published volumes, dating from her earliest volume Halfway (1961) to Nurture (LJ 3/1/89), although it excludes Closing the Ring (1984), which was published in a limited edition. The reader can move slowly, meanderingly, deliciously through the stages of Kumin's poetic life, from the young woman who writes, "My bones drank water; water fell/ through all my doors. I was the well" through the pastoral years of farm life ("The doomed cattle, wearing/ intelligent smiles, turn.") to her fierce 1980s dedication to wildlife conservation and animal welfare. One could only wish that Kumin had included a few poems from her wonderful 1996 volume, Connecting the Dots (LJ 6/15/96). But she gives us a peek at an apparently unpublished group of poems called Joppa Diary, which seems to have been written sometime in the late 1960s. Feeling a compelling connection to far-off troubles, she writes poems with near-hidden hints of violence: "Reading late,/ last-awake in the country,/ I think I hear burned babies screaming,/ screaming in the basswood by my window." -- Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393318364
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
12/28/1998
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(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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