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Maxine Kumin
Maxine Kumin

NYS Writers Institute, March 15, 2005
4:00 p.m. Seminar | Campus Center 375, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performaing Arts Center

One of America's most important and best-loved poets, Maxine Kumin is renowned for her meditations on farm life, the love between parents and children, and the New England landscape. A longtime resident of rural New Hampshire, where she owns a small horse farm, Kumin has observed barnyard dramas, the life and death of animals, and the change of seasons for decades. Critics often compare her to fellow New Englanders Henry David Thoreau and Robert Frost.

Her many honors and awards include the Pulitzer Prize for the collection, "Up Country" (1972), the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Excellence in Literature, the Levison Award and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

In July of 1998, at the age 73, Kumin was critically injured in a horse carriage accident, and was expected to die of her injuries. Her survival is the subject of her 2000 memoir, "Inside the Halo and Beyond: The Anatomy of a Recovery."

"This book, while telling of a most personal catastrophe, ties us continually to the natural world that is the center of this author's life and work…. [Kumin] resonates wisdom while announcing a triumph of body and soul." - Anne Roiphe, "New York Times"

Born in 1925, Kumin began writing and publishing in midlife, as the married mother of three children. Kumin's poetry is openly autobiographical, and often concerns the experience of being a mother.

Jack and Other New Poems"No poet writes more richly and more subtly of mother-daughter relations."
- Poet Alicia Ostriker

Critics have also remarked on Kumin's unsentimental relationship to nature as a hardworking breeder of Arabian and quarter horses.

"In an unforgiving environment, Kumin neither flinches at the strenuous physical labors that comprise her usual responsibilities, nor quails before her emotional disappointments…. Her poetry records how she stands up to the disasters of weather, disease, difficult births and lamentable deaths, and how she's confident she'll remain standing until the very end." - Brad Crenshaw, in "Parnassus"

Inside the Halo and BeyondKumin's newest collection is "Jack and Other New Poems" (2005), which features reflections on death, the body, beloved animals, politics, and the nature of memory. The collection is named for one of the poet's beloved horses, whom she "sold down the river" much to her later guilt and regret. The "Library Journal" reviewer said, "Measured but warm, this work draws you in; it is another success among her many titles."

The Long MarriageOther recent poetry collections include "Bringing Together: Uncollected Early Poems, 1958-88" (2003) and "The Long Marriage" (2001), the first volume to be published after her accident. Dedicated to her husband Victor, whom she married in 1946, "The Long Marriage" explores themes of loyalty, longevity, recovery, love, poetry, and nature.

Bringing Together"'The Long Marriage' could possibly be Kumin's best book of poems. Poetry doesn't get much better than this." - Henry Taylor, in the "Washington Times"

A new collection, "Mites to Mastodons: A Book of Animal Poems, Small and Large" is due to be published in 2006. Kumin is also the author of six novels, including the 1999 mystery novel, "Quit Monks or Die!" and 22 children's books, four of which she wrote with her friend, the late poet Anne Sexton.

Maxine Kumin has served as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (1981-82), and Poet Laureate of the State of New Hampshire (1989-94).

Additional Links:
Writers Online Magazine Intro
Writers Online Magazine Article

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.