THURSDAY, March 12, 1987
KUNITZ STARTS 2-YEAR REIGN AS OFFICIAL NEW YORK POET
By Paul Grondahl Staff writer
Stanley Kunitz became the official New York state poet Wednesday with a handshake from Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, a glass sculpture and a check for $10,000 that accompanies the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit for Poets.
Kunitz, 81, who lives in New York's Greenwich Village, has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other prizes during six decades of publishing poetry. He will carry the state poet designation for two years and will give two public readings throughout the state during his term.
Kunitz published his first book of poems, "Intellectual Things," while in his mid-20s and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1959 for his "Selected Poems." His most recent collection, published in 1985, is titled "Next-to-Last Things: New Poems and Essays."
The Whitman award is funded by the state Legislature to promote and encourage poetry in New York and is given by the New York State Writers Institute at the State University at Albany.
In presenting Kunitz with the award, Cuomo said, "For over half this century, his poems have been illuminations of our daily lives, singing of the pain and gain of the search for what it is that we have lost - be it a father or memory."
The official presentation by Cuomo at an afternoon ceremony and reception in the Legislative Office Building capped a two-day celebration of the poetry of Kunitz, who is often called America's "senior statesman of poetry."
On Tuesday, Kunitz and his work were praised at an evening tribute at SUNYA featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Mary Oliver and Carolyn Kizer and others.
Kizer and poets Daniel Halpern and Sharon Olds made up the panel which chose Kunitz for the Whitman award, and he was the unanimous choice without debate.
After learning of his award last month, Kunitz expressed surprise and thanks but suggested it would not much change his thinking about the state and establishments.
"I've tried to tell the truth about how it feels to be alive in this moment of time and in this place," he said then. "I've tried to be an honest witness and a responsible adversary of the power structure."
Copyright 1987, Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
WEDNESDAY, February 11, 1987
POET WINS A PRIZE FROM YALE
Poet Stanley Kunitz has been named the 1987 recipient of the Bollingen Prize in Poetry by the Yale University library.
The prize is given every two years to one or more living American poets for the best collection published in that period, or for a body of poetry written over several years.
Judges Tuesday said Kunitz, 81, is a "subtly powerful presence in the poetic world of his day." The panel also noted his influence on younger poets Theodore Roethke and Robert Lowell.
The prize, established in 1949, carries a $5,000 award. Past winners include Wallace Stevens in 1949, Archibald MacLeish and William Carlos Williams in 1952, Robert Frost in 1962 and James Merrill in 1973.
Kunitz' most recent volume, "Next- To-Last Things," was published in 1985. It includes poems and essays. His first book of poems, "Intellectual Things," was published in 1930. He won a Pulitzer Prize for "Selected Poems" in 1958.
Kunitz was a visiting professor of poetry at Yale in 1970. He maintains homes in New York City and Provincetown, Mass.
Copyright 1987, Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
Sunday, March 23, 1997
NO, I DON'T WANT TO SEE HALE-BOPP
I'm up early in the morning, worrying about stuff. The last few days, a comet has been hovering outside my windows, but I refuse to look at it.
I'm sure the comet has its share of problems, too. Being a comet is no picnic. For one thing, people are never happy to see you, no matter what they say. Comets are upsetting, ``roaring down the stormtracks of the Milky Way,'' as the poet Stanley Kunitz wrote.
And in choosing to make its first appearances at 4:30 a.m., Hale-Bopp has gone after the wrong demographic. We early risers tend to have troubled souls. We're up at 4:30 a.m. because gnawing existential pains have pried us loose from sleep.
The last thing we need is a 20-mile-wide chunk of cosmic ice and dust heated into a vaporous mass hurling itself across the black early morning skies.
It's really more than we can handle. Some quietly floating semi-animate puffballs in a not-too-upsetting shade of lavender would be nice to look up and see. But not a comet, not a shrieking lump of unstable, frozen outer-space gas. No thank you.
The universe is an insomniac. You may be able to fall asleep in it, but the stars keep blazing and protons keep decaying and the quarks keep quarking. It's the cosmic all-night delicatessen.
A comet is an insomniac's insomniac, moving sleeplessly through the rooms of the constellations, turning on and off the lights, opening the refrigerators, rattling the doorknobs.
You can see why looking at Hale-Bopp would be kind of a busman's holiday for those of us awake at 4:30 a.m.
We don't really want to bundle up and go watch a hypercaffeinated astronomical marvel. It reminds us too much of what we might very easily become.
Hale-Bopp is, however, supposed to be the most gratifying comet ever. It has a very cute name. It's bigger than Halley's or Hyakutake, and it'll stick around for a while. There's even a little streak of old-fashioned comet paranoia popping up on the Internet.
In a world of CD-ROMs and Florida theme parks, it's very tough for something as unengineered as a comet to gain market share. But apparently there are folks who believe that the comet is concealing a Saturn-shaped spacecraft full of creatures that want to eat us.
Those of us who are up early will direct the hungriest ones to those of you sleeping blissfully. We never liked you anyway.
Colin McEnroe, journalist and book author, is currently a radio commentator and host in his native Hartford, Conn. FACTS:Comet watch For those of you who don't share the sentiment expressed here, Comet Hale-Bopp can be seen through April 10. Early risers can see it in the northeastern sky just before dawn. For a better view, look to the northwestern sky in the evening.
Copyright 1997, Times Union, Albany, N.Y.