Kumin, Maxine (Winokur) 1925-

views updated

KUMIN, Maxine (Winokur) 1925-

PERSONAL: Born June 6, 1925, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of Peter (a pawnbroker) and Doll (Simon) Winokur; married Victor Montwid Kumin (an engineering consultant), June 29, 1946; children: Jane Simon, Judith Montwid, Daniel David. Education: Radcliffe College, A.B., 1946, M.A., 1948.

ADDRESSES: Home—40 Harriman Lane, Warner, NH 03278. Agent—Curtis Brown, 10 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003.

CAREER: Poet, children's author, and fiction writer. Tufts University, Medford, MA, instructor, 1958-61, lecturer in English, 1965-68; Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA, scholar of Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study (now called The Bunting Institute), 1961-63. University of Massachusetts—Amherst, visiting lecturer in English, 1973; Columbia University, New York, NY, adjunct professor of writing, 1975; Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, Fannie Hurst Professor of Literature, 1975; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, visiting senior fellow and lecturer, 1977; Washington University, St. Louis, MO, Fannie Hurst Professor of Literature, 1977; Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, VA, Carolyn Wilkerson Bell Visiting Scholar, 1978; Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, 1979; Princeton University, visiting lecturer, 1979, 1981-82; Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, poet-in-residence, 1983; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, visiting professor, 1984; Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL, master artist, 1984; University of Miami, Miami, FL, visiting professor, 1995; Pitzer College, Claremont, CA, visiting professor, 1996; Davidson College, Davidson, NC, McGee Professor of Writing, 1997; Florida International University, Miami, visiting professor, 1998-99. Member of staff, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 1969-71, 1973, 1975, 1977, and Sewanee Writers' Conference, 1993-94. Traveled with the United States Information Agency's Arts America Tour, 1983. Poetry consultant to Library of Congress, 1981-82. Elector, The Poet's Corner, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1990—; Chancellor, Academy of American Poets, 1995—.

MEMBER: Poetry Society of America, PEN, Authors Guild, Writers Union, Radcliffe Alumnae Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Lowell Mason Palmer Award, 1960; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1966; National Council on the Arts and Humanities fellow, 1967-68; William Marion Reedy Award, 1968; Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize, Poetry, 1972; Pulitzer Prize for poetry, 1973, for Up Country: Poems of New England; Borestone Mountain Award, 1976; Radcliffe College Alumnae Recognition Award, 1978; Woodrow Wilson fellowship, 1979-80, 1991-93; American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters award, 1980, for excellence in literature; Academy of American Poets fellowship, 1985; Levison award, Poetry, 1986; named Poet Laureate of the state of New Hampshire, 1989-94; Sarah Joseph Hale Award, Richards Library (Newport, NH), 1992; Poets' Prize, 1994, and Aiken Taylor Poetry Prize, 1995, both for Looking for Luck; Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Award, 1996; D.H.L., Centre College, 1976, Davis and Elkins College, 1977, Regis College, 1979, New England College, 1982, Claremont Graduate School, 1983, University of New Hampshire, 1984, and Keene State College, 1995.



Halfway, Holt (New York, NY), 1961.

The Privilege, Harper (New York, NY), 1965.

The Nightmare Factory, Harper (New York, NY), 1970.

Up Country: Poems of New England, New and Selected, illustrated by Barbara Swan, Harper (New York, NY), 1972.

House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate, Viking (New York, NY), 1975.

Progress Report (sound recording), Watershed, 1976.

The Retrieval System, Viking (New York, NY), 1978.

Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief: New and Selected Poems, Viking (New York, NY), 1982.

Closing the Ring: Selected Poems, Press of Appletree Alley, Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA), 1984.

The Long Approach, Viking (New York, NY), 1985.

Nurture, Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 1989.

Looking for Luck, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1992.

Connecting the Dots: Poems, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1996.

Selected Poems, 1960-1990, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1997.

The Long Marriage, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2001.

Bringing Together: Uncollected Early Poems, 1958-1988, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2003.


Through Dooms of Love (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1965, published as A Daughter and Her Loves, Gollancz (London, England), 1965.

The Passions of Uxport (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1968.

The Abduction (novel), Harper (New York, NY), 1971.

The Designated Heir (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 1974.

Why Can't We Live Together Like Civilized Human Beings? (short stories), Viking (New York, NY), 1982.

Quit Monks or Die! (mystery novel), Story Line (Ashland, OR), 1999.


Sebastian and the Dragon, Putnam (New York, NY), 1960.

Spring Things, Putnam (New York, NY), 1961.

A Summer Story, Putnam (New York, NY), 1961.

Follow the Fall, Putnam (New York, NY), 1961.

A Winter Friend, Putnam (New York, NY), 1961.

Mittens in May, Putnam (New York, NY), 1962.

No One Writes a Letter to the Snail, Putnam (New York, NY), 1962.

(With Anne Sexton) Eggs of Things, Putnam (New York, NY), 1963.

Archibald the Traveling Poodle, Putnam (New York, NY), 1963.

(With Anne Sexton) More Eggs of Things, Putnam (New York, NY), 1964.

Speedy Digs Downside Up, Putnam (New York, NY), 1964.

The Beach before Breakfast, Putnam (New York, NY), 1964.

Paul Bunyan, Putnam (New York, NY), 1966.

Faraway Farm, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1967.

The Wonderful Babies of 1809 and Other Years, Putnam (New York, NY), 1968.

When Grandmother Was Young, Putnam (New York, NY), 1969.

When Mother Was Young, Putnam (New York, NY), 1970.

When Great-Grandmother Was Young, illustrated by Don Almquist, Putnam (New York, NY), 1971.

(With Anne Sexton) Joey and the Birthday Present, illustrated by Evaline Ness, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1971.

(With Anne Sexton) The Wizard's Tears, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1975.

What Color Is Caesar?, illustrated by Evaline Ness, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1978.

The Microscope, illustrated by Arnold Lobel, Harper (New York, NY), 1984.


(Author of introduction) Carole Oles, The Loneliness Factor, Texas Tech University Press (Lubbock, TX), 1979.

To Make a Prairie: Essays on Poets, Poetry, and Country Living, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1980.

(Editor) William Carpenter, Rain, Northeastern University Press (Boston, MA), 1985.

In Deep: Country Essays, Viking (New York, NY), 1987.

Women, Animals, and Vegetables: Essays and Stories, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1994.

Diane Ackerman and Maxine Kumin Reading from Their Work (sound recording), Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, Library of Congress (Washington, DC), 1994.

Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry, Copper Canyon (Port Townsend, WA), 2000.

Inside the Halo and Beyond: The Anatomy of a Recovery, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2000.

Former columnist, Writer. Contributor of poetry to New Yorker, Atlantic, Poetry, Saturday Review, and other periodicals. Kumin's manuscripts are held at the Bienecke Library, Yale University.

SIDELIGHTS: Even though the awards she has received for her work have included the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, Maxine Kumin's works have yet to be the subject of serious study by academics. A former poetry consultant for the Library of Congress and a staff member of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Kumin has remained active in teaching and writing during a career that has spanned over three decades. Despite the necessity of traveling away from home to lecture at schools and universities around the United States, Kumin has retained close ties with her farmhouse in rural New Hampshire; in an interview with Joan Norris published in Crazy Horse, the poet disclosed, "Practically all of [my poems] have come out of this geography and this state of mind."

Kumin is often referred to as a regional pastoral poet as her verse is deeply rooted to her native New England. "I have been twitted with the epithet 'Roberta Frost,' which is not a bad thing to be," Kumin told interviewer Karla Hammond in the Western Humanities Review. In other efforts to classify her work, critics have also described her as a transcendentalist, like Henry David Thoreau, or a confessional poet, like Kumin's friend and coauthor, the late Anne Sexton. But New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani found her most like Galway Kinnell, since both are "concerned with human mortality, with the love shared between parents and their children, with the seasonal patterns of nature and the possibility of retrieving and preserving the past." In many ways, critics also point out, Kumin is not like other poets. "In a period when most contemporary poetry reflects a chaotic and meaningless universe, Kumin is one of a handful of poets who insist upon order," Susan Ludvigson elaborated in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Whatever her link to other poets may be, Philip Booth maintained in the American Poetry Review that "what is remarkable . . . is the extent to which poets like Maxine Kumin can survive and outdistance both their peers and themselves by increasingly trusting those elements of their work which are most strongly individual." For Kumin, Booth noted, these elements include "the dailiness of farm life and farm death."

Her "well-made poems and stories are two ways of coming at the same immemorial preoccupations: aging and mortality," wrote Clara Claiborne Park in the Nation, and deemed Kumin's work "the fiction and poetry of maturity." Her poems are also mature for another reason: Kumin did not begin to write and publish until mid-life, though she had shown an inclination to write poetry much earlier. During high school, she wrote what she considered to be very poor poetry of a late adolescent. And later, as a freshman at Radcliffe, Kumin presented a sheaf of poems to the instructor for his comments. Kumin told Norris, "He had written on the front: 'Say it with flowers, but for God's sake don't try to write poems.' That just closed me off. I didn't try to write another poem for about six years." By that time she had become the wife of an engineer, the mother of three children, a resident of a Boston suburb, and was acutely miserable. When Kumin began writing again as a kind of therapy, she at last found encouragement in workshops at the Boston Center for Adult Education.

The poems Kumin began to compose during the early period in her writing career recall her childhood in a home on a hill "between a convent and a madhouse." In these poems, wrote Ludvigson, Kumin displays "an early mastery of technique" and "deals skillfully with subjects that she continues to explore throughout her career: religious and cultural identity, the fragility of human life, loss and the ever-present threat of loss, the relation of man to nature." Many of these early works were collected in Kumin's first book of poems, Halfway, which was published in 1961 when she was thirty-six. Another outgrowth of the Boston workshops Kumin attended was her friendship with Anne Sexton. Both homemakers with children when they began their literary careers, they wrote four children's books together and in general contributed to each other's development. "Maxine, a Radcliffe graduate, possessed a technical expertise and an analytical detachment that balanced Anne's mercurial brilliance," explained Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, editors of Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters. The two poets "often communicated daily, by letter if separated by oceans, otherwise by telephone. They supervised each other's poetry and prose, 'workshopping' line by line for hours." Consequently, critics tried to trace a strong mutual influence, but both poets denied one. Ludvigson noted, "In a 1974 interview in Women's Studies, each claimed she never tampered with the other's voice, and each offered, according to Sexton, 'to think how to shape, how to make better, but not, how to make like me.'" Nonetheless, there were some significant exchanges. As Kumin related in the chapter she contributed to Anne Sexton: The Artist and Her Critics, Sexton had written several poems based on fairy tales that later became part of her Pulitzer Prizewinning book, Transformations. Sexton "had no thought of a collection at first," said Kumin. "I urged and bullied her to go on after the first few poems to think in terms of a whole book of them." Kumin also suggested the title. "We had been talking about the way many contemporary poets translated from languages they did not themselves read, but used trots or had the poems filtered through an interpreter, and that these poems were adaptations. It struck me then that Anne's poems about the fairy tales went one step further and were transformations." Sexton reciprocated by suggesting the title for the book that was to become Kumin's Pulitzer Prize winner. "In that same conversation Annie was urging me to collect the 'pastoral' poems I'd written, and I said, 'but what would I call it?' and she said, 'Up Country, of course.'"

"It is the tie between Kumin and Sexton that fascinates many readers," Ludvigson noted, and the public's interest peaked when Sexton committed suicide in 1974. . . . . Yet, despite her connection to Sexton, Kumin's work shows little signs of being included in the confessional school. Rather, observed Monroe K. Spears in the Washington Post Book World, "much of her poetry throughout is openly autobiographical, and the reader becomes acquainted with her family. . ., her Frostian New Hampshire neighbor Henry Manley, . . . and so on." The "loss of the parent" and the "relinquishment of the child" are two central themes Kumin identified in a lecture on her work given at Princeton in 1977 and reprinted in To Make a Prairie: Essays on Poets, Poetry, and Country Living. Booth explained the presence of these themes in Kumin's 1978 book, The Retrieval System, by noting that the poet "is familiar (in every sense) with how one's parents depart toward death at nearly the same time one's children leave to find lives of their own. Inevitable as such desertions may be, their coincidence . . . is the shock which these seismographic poems record and try to recover from." Booth believed Kumin's poems "amply show that suffering doesn't require confession to validate pain," and that her "mode is memorial rather than confessional."

"Transcendental" is another label sometimes applied to Kumin but in a modified sense; while Kumin's poetry may call up images of Thoreau and "insist on man's affinity with the natural world," Ludvigson noted that it falls short of suggesting the "merging of the self with nature" that transcendentalism requires. Joyce Carol Oates wrote in the New York Times Book Review that Kumin's 1972 work Up Country "acknowledges its debt to Thoreau" but provides "a sharpedged, unflinching and occasionally nightmarish subjectivity exasperatingly absent in Thoreau." Ludvigson suggested that "her unsentimental relationship with nature . . . allows Kumin to write poems . . . which are ostensibly 'about' the necessary killing of woodchucks and mysterious tracks in the snow, but which chill us with her portrayal of man's capacity for brutality." Brad Crenshaw considered it "a major plus" that Kumin "is not much addicted to transcendental escapes." Rather, as he elaborated in a Parnassus review of 1982's Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief: New and Selected Poems, "the voice of the poems is that of a strong woman. In an unforgiving environment, Kumin neither flinches at the strenuous physical labors that comprise her usual responsibilities, nor quails before her emotional disappointments. She's mentally tough. 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."

Whereas critics debate Kumin's similarity to Thoreau, they unanimously recognize how her work resembles that of Robert Frost. The works of both poets show a close attention to the details of New England rural life. The poet told Hammond, "I particularly observe things in nature because they interest me, but I don't think of it as observing. What I'm always after is to get the facts: to be true to the actuality." Attention to nature provides Kumin with images well-suited to her themes of loss and survival. Oates explained, "Any group of poems that deals with nature is more or less committed to the honoring of cycles, the birth/death/birth wheel, the phenomenon of creatures giving way to creatures." Booth expressed a similar opinion when he commented: "The distinctive nature of Maxine Kumin's present poems derives from the primary fact that she lives in, and writes from, a world where constant (if partial) recovery of what's 'lost' is as sure as the procession of the equinoxes, or as familiar as mucking-out the horses' daily dung."

Kumin's preference for traditional verse forms is also what causes critics to liken her to Frost. Not only is there an order "to be discovered . . . in the natural world," she told Martha George Meek in a Massachusetts Review interview, "there is also an order that a human can impose on the chaos of his emotions and the chaos of events." Kumin achieves this order by structuring her poetry, controlling the most emotional subjects by fitting them to exacting patterns of syllable count and rhyme. As she told Hammond, "The harder—that is, the more psychically difficult—the poem is to write, the more likely I am to choose a difficult pattern to pound it into. This is true because, paradoxically, the difficulty frees me to be more honest and more direct."

When Kumin finds she has more to say than a poem's structure will accommodate, she approaches her subject again in fiction. "I tend to steal from myself," she said in an interview published in To Make a Prairie. "The compass of the poem is so small and so demanding, you have to be so selective, and there are so many things that get left out that you feel cheated. So you take all those things . . . and they get into fiction." Comparing Kumin's work in both genres, Tribune Books contributor Catherine Petroski commented, "Kumin's practice of poetry buttresses her practice of short fiction: The turns of phrase and points of view come from a poet, not a recorder of events. Similarly, the concerns of fiction—the chains of cause and effect, the explorations of character, the sense of scene—have much to do with the power of Kumin's best poems." Spears summed up his review by commenting: "One of the pleasures of reading Kumin is to see the same experience appear differently in the different forms of poems, stories, and novels."

If there is one experience that Kumin confronts in all her works, it is loss. The poet talked about her obsession with mortality in the conclusion of a Country Journal article in which she reflected on the death of a foal: "A horse-friend from New York state writes me her condolences. She too has lost not one foal, but twin Thoroughbreds. . . . According to some astrological prognosticatory chart, we are both sixes on the scale. Sixes, Mary Beth writes, practice all their lives to die well, 'act as Morticians of All Life and hold private burying rituals in their hearts.'" Accordingly, Kumin wrote, she believes "very strongly that poetry is essentially elegiac in its nature, and that all poems are in one sense or another elegies." She explained to Hammond, "Love poems, particularly, are elegies because if we were not informed with a sense of dying we wouldn't be moved to write love poems."

"Kumin writes as well as ever in her customary modes," Robert B. Shaw said in Poetry of The Long Approach, Kumin's eighth book of poems. Many critics concurred with Shaw's assessment, yet some criticized those poems that examine such world problems as pollution, religious persecution, nuclear holocaust, and famine. These poems "are aimed resolutely outward," wrote Washington Post Book World contributor Wendy Lesser, who believed that Kumin's "issue" poems "founder on their opinion making." Holly Prado, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, similarly said that the poet "doesn't arrive at her best work until . . . she arrives at her farm in New Hampshire." In this part of the book, Kumin "reverts . . . to what is close, ordinary, . . . [upon] which she can meditate with X-ray gaze," Harold Beaver explained in the New York Times Book Review. In his analysis of The Long Approach in Poetry, Shaw suggested: "If Kumin wishes to venture into public terrain, perhaps her voice, which is essentially private, needs to adjust itself to the new and very different demands she is now placing on it. This will no doubt take some time. It can be assumed, at any rate, that a poet of her intelligence stands an even chance of solving the problems involved."

Of Nurture, Kumin's next collection of poems, New York Times Book Review contributor Carol Muske remarked, "Maxine Kumin sounds weary . . . and with good reason. These poems are exhaustive in their sorrow: they are predominantly short, brutal elegies for the natural world." The poems in this 1989 collection reflect the author's trademark environmental consciousness and her anger at the devastation wrought by humans on the natural world; Diane Wakoski, writing in the Women's Review of Books, criticized these poems as "bitter, overstated, trivial." But Wakoski praised the more personal poems in the collection, noting that in these pieces "the goddess voice and stance returns." Kumin's 1992 verse collection, Looking for Luck, leaves behind some of the bitterness and anger apparent in her previous collection in exchange for "cheerful, chatty bulletins from the New Hampshire farm where she gardens and raises horses," commented Lisa Zeidner in the New York Times Book Review. And in her 1996 work, Connecting the Dots: Poems, the poet similarly "reexamines the familiar materials of her previous books with her far-ranging eye and technical skill," according to Fay Weldon, who reviewed the volume in the Boston Book Review. As with other Kumin collections, some criticism arose regarding the insubstantial theme and tone of some of the poems included in these volumes. "Sometimes the emotions seem too politely underplayed," declared Zeidner. However, reviewers commended Kumin's better poetry, praising her "linguistic brilliance and formal excellence," in the words of Weldon. Weldon concluded that Kumin "commands the nuances and music of rhyme and slant-rhyme as powerfully as any living poet."

In 1997, Kumin published Selected Poems, 1960-1990. Extending from her first volume, Halfway, through 1989's Nurture, Selected Poems was praised by Judy Clarence in Library Journal for allowing the reader the opportunity to "move slowly, meanderingly, deliciously through the stages of Kumin's poetic life." Noting that the poet'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," a Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the collection for illustrating this through Kumin's "plain style," "surprising imagery . . . and recurring reflections." Praising Kumin's collection for its accessibility by the average reader, Richard Tillinghast commented in his review for the New York Times Book Review that "her poems bracingly remind us of several enduring virtues valued by anyone who reads verse for pleasure. . . . She has the versatility to build an orderly, measured structure in rhyme and meter, or to adopt the easier virtues of free verse for a more transient, informal effect." Furthermore, the critic maintained, Kumin's poems are about something; they tell a story that carries the reader into the world Kumin creates and leads to a satisfying conclusion.

Kumin followed Selected Poems with The Long Marriage, which celebrates her five-decade marriage to her husband, their life together in New Hampshire, and nature. Donna Seaman, writing in Booklist, stated that Kumin's observations are "crisp" and added that "Kumin moves surefootedly" in her work. New York Times Book Review contributor Megan Harland similarly called Kumin's observations "earthy" and "practical," and she declared that "Kumin's tonal clarity is transformative."

Kumin's 1994 prose collection, Women, Animals, and Vegetables, offers insight into the author's pastoral life on her farm in New Hampshire. In essays and short stories, she "describes the pleasures of raising and riding horses, of gardening and mushrooming, of learning how in the country 'things have a way of balancing out,'" explained Christopher Merrill in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Anne Raver, writing in the New York Times Book Review, averred that some of the material in the book pales in comparison to Kumin's poetry, which covers many of the same themes and issues "more brilliantly." She continued, "It is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet's misfortune, perhaps, to be judged harshly by the standards she herself has set." But Merrill concluded of the collection: "This is a book many readers will find companionable."

In 1999 Kumin published a mystery novel reflecting her commitment and concern for animals. Quit Monks or Die! is an unusual tale centering around the disappearance of a pair of monkeys at a testing lab and a murder of the lab director. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the plot for Quit Monks or Die! a "masterpiece of construction" and declared the book "one of the best mysteries of the year." New York Times Book Review critic Laura Jamison commented that Kumin's character sketches were "effective" and that she is "a capable stylist." And while Jamison was disappointed in the mystery's outcome, she commended Kumin for her "highly original prose" and was captivated by "her provocative analysis of human nature."

When Kumin was seventy-three she suffered an accident while preparing a horse for competition. In the accident, she broke her neck and received serious internal injuries, injuries that kill ninety-five percent of those who receive similar ones. She was able to make a successful recovery, however, and her book Inside the Halo and Beyond: The Anatomy of a Recovery describes her road to recovery. Anne Roiphe, writing for the New York Times Book Review, described the language Kumin used in Inside the Halo and Beyond as "precise and spare." As her poetry deals with everyday life, so does the book. Roiphe noted that although Kumin is a poet, this book "is rarely poetic in the usual sense of heightened metaphor or compacted image." She did not write an autobiographical tell-all, but simply wrote about the specific experience of her time in recovery and people and feelings she encountered along the way. Roiphe likened the tenet "to a dignified prayer of thanks" that resonates "wisdom while announcing a triumph of body and soul." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented, however, that the book was "uneven and overlong," but believed that Kumin's fans would find Inside the Halo and Beyond "irresistible."

The same year that Inside the Halo and Beyond was released, Kumin also published Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry, a collection of essays and poems describing Kumin's daily life as a poet. She includes interviews, diary entries, and keynote addresses, as well as poetry. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called Kumin's life as presented "wonderful[ly] poetic." Although New York Times Book Review reviewer Sunil Iyengar was less impressed, calling the book "bland" and "haphazard," Library Journal contributor Doris Lynch asserted that the essays encapsulate "a kind of grace."

Reviewing Kumin's multidecade career, Booth commented that the poet "has simply gotten better and better at what she has always been good at: a resonant language, an autobiographical immediacy, unsystematized intelligence, and radical compassion. One does not learn compassion without having suffered." Crenshaw noted that "Americans traditionally have preferred their women poets to be depressed and victimized," but he claimed that Kumin's "posture regarding despair" sets her apart from "the sweet innocents who have been driven to insane passions and flamboyant destructions." And Wakoski wrote in Contemporary Women Poets: "The one thing that is clear throughout [Kumin's] substantial body of work is that she believes survival is possible, if only through the proper use of the imagination to retrieve those things which are loved well enough."



Authors in the News, Volume 2, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1976.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 5, 1976, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 28, 1984.

Contemporary Women Poets, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 5: American Poets since World War II, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1980.

Grosholz, Emily, Telling the Barn Swallow: Poets on the Poetry of Maxine Kumin, University Press of New England (Boston, MA), 1997.

Kumin, Maxine, Halfway, Holt (New York, NY), 1961.

Kumin, Maxine, To Make a Prairie: Essays on Poets, Poetry, and Country Living, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1980.

McClatchy, J. D., editor, Anne Sexton: The Artist and Her Critics, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1978.

Sexton, Anne, Linda Gray, and Lois Ames, editors, Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters, Houghton Mifflin (New York, NY), 1977.


America, February 28, 1976.

American Poetry Review, March, 1976; November, 1978.

Atlantic, October, 1971.

Belles Lettres, fall, 1992, p. 51.

Booklist, August, 1999, Donna Seaman and Emily Melton, review of Quit Monks or Die!, p. 2035; May 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Inside the Halo and Beyond: The Anatomy of a Recovery and Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry, p. 1639; November 15, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of The Long Marriage, p. 542.

Boston Book Review, July 1, 1996, Fay Weldon, review of Connecting the Dots: Poems.

Boston Herald, April 30, 2000, Elizabeth Hand, "Pain Purged on Journey; Kumin Heals from Horse Accident," p. O62; May 18, 2000, Stephanie Schorow, "Inside the Halo Justice," p. O59.

Choice, January, 1966.

Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 1961; February 28, 1973.

Country Journal, spring, 1979, article by Maxine Kumin.

Crazy Horse, summer, 1975, Joan Norris, interview with Maxine Kumin.

Hudson Review, summer, 2001, R. S. Gwynn, review of Always Beginning, p. 341.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1994, p. 609; July, 1999, Margaret A. Smith, review of Quit Monks or Die!, p. 142; August 1, 1999, review of Quit Monks or Die!, p. 1176.

Library Journal, June 15, 1997, Judy Clarence, review of Selected Poems, 1960-1990, p. 74; July, 1999, review of Quit Monks or Die!, p. 142; June 1, 2000, Doris Lynch, review of Always Beginning, p. 124; September 1, 2001, Judy Clarence, review of The Long Marriage, p. 184.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 13, 1982; December 1, 1985; June 26, 1988, p. 14; November 6, 1994, p. 13.

Massachusetts Review, spring, 1975, Martha George Meek.

Nation, July 24, 1982, Clara Claiborne Park, review of Why Can't We Live Together Like Civilized Human Beings?, p. 89.

New Leader, January 22, 1973.

New Letters, summer, 2000, Jeffrey S. Cramer, "Peaceable Island," p. 61.

New Republic, August 10, 1974.

New Yorker, December 4, 1971.

New York Times, June 26, 1974, review by Michiko Kakutani.

New York Times Book Review, March 28, 1965; May 5, 1968; November 19, 1972; June 23, 1974; September 7, 1975; April 23, 1978; August 8, 1982, Alicia Ostriker, review of Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief: New and Selected Poems,p. 10; March 2, 1986, Harold Beaver, review of The Long Approach, p. 14; August 30, 1987, Adrienne S. Barnes, review of In Deep: Country Essays, p. 21; November 5, 1989, Carol Muske, review of Nurture, p. 32; March 21, 1993, Lisa Zeider, review of Looking for Luck, p. 14; August 28, 1994, Anne Raver, review of Women, Animals, and Vegetables: Essays and Stories, p. 12; August 3, 1997, Richard Tillinghast, review of Selected Poems, 1960-1990, p. 10; September 26, 1999, Laura Jamison, review of Quit Monks or Die!, p. 15; July 30, 2000, Anne Roiphe, review of Inside the Halo and Beyond, p. 15; September 3, 2000, Sunil Iyengar, review of Always Beginning, p. 15; December 9, 2001, Megan Harlan, review of The Long Marriage, p. 33.

Parnassus, spring-summer, 1973; spring, 1985, Brad Crenshaw, review of Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief.

Poetry, January, 1979; April, 1990, p. 48; November, 1992; June, 1999, p. 181.

Prairie Schooner, spring, 1976.

Publishers Weekly, May 30, 1994, review of Women, Animals, and Vegetables, p. 41; June 3, 1996, review of Connecting the Dots, p. 73; January 6, 1997, "Telling the Barnswallow: Poets on the Poetry of Maxine Kumin," p. 58; April 28, 1997, review of Selected Poems, 1960-1990, p. 70; August 23, 1999, review of Quit Monks or Die!, p. 50; May 15, 2000, review of Inside the Halo and Beyond, p. 100; August 14, 2000, review of Always Beginning, p. 349; August 27, 2001, review of The Long Marriage, p. 75.

Saturday Review, May 6, 1961; December 25, 1965; May 9, 1970; March 25, 1972.

Sewanee Review, spring, 1974; winter, 1995, p. 141.

Shenandoah, spring, 1976.

Smithsonian, November, 1987.

Times Literary Supplement, May 9, 1975.

Tribune Books August 29, 1982; February 2, 1986; July 9, 1989, p. 6.

Village Voice, September 5, 1974; July 20, 1982.

Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 1971.

Washington Post, May 6, 1980.

Washington Post Book World, May 5, 1968; October 10, 1971; June 22, 1982; February 2, 1986; November 22, 1992, p. 8.

Western Humanities Review, spring, 1979, Karla Hammond, interview with Maxine Kumin.

Women's Review of Books, October, 1989, Diane Wakowski, review of Nurture, p. 20; April, 2001, Judith Barrington, review of Always Beginning and Inside the Halo and Beyond, p. 6.

Yale Review, autumn, 1968.


Atlantic Unbound,http://www.theatlantic.com/ (February 2, 2002), Erin Rogers, "The Art of Living."*