Kumin in 1974
June 6, 1925|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
February 6, 2014 (aged 88)|
Warner, New Hampshire, U.S.
|Spouse||Victor Kumin (married 1946-2014)|
Maxine Kumin (June 6, 1925 - February 6, 2014) was an American poet and author. She was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1981-1982.
Born Maxine Winokur in Philadelphia, the daughter of Jewish parents, she attended a Catholic kindergarten and primary school. She received her B.A. in 1946 and her M.A. in 1948 from Radcliffe College. In June 1946 she married Victor Kumin, an engineering consultant; they had three children, two daughters and a son. In 1957, she studied poetry with John Holmes at the Boston Center for Adult Education. There she met Anne Sexton, with whom she started a friendship that continued until Sexton's suicide in 1974. Kumin taught English from 1958 to 1961 and 1965 to 1968 at Tufts University; from 1961 to 1963 she was a scholar at the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study. She also held appointments as a visiting lecturer and poet in residence at many American colleges and universities. From 1976 until her death in February 2014, she and her husband lived on a farm in Warner, New Hampshire, where they bred Arabian and quarter horses.
Kumin's many awards include the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize for Poetry (1972), the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1973) for Up Country, in 1995 the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the 1994 Poets' Prize (for Looking for Luck), an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for excellence in literature (1980), an Academy of American Poets fellowship (1986), the 1999 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and six honorary degrees. In 1979, the Supersisters trading card set was produced and distributed; one of the cards featured Kumin's name and picture. In 1981-1982, she served as the poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.
Critics have compared Kumin with Elizabeth Bishop because of her meticulous observations and with Robert Frost, for she frequently devotes her attention to the rhythms of life in rural New England. She has been grouped with confessional poets such as Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell. But unlike the confessionalists, Kumin eschews high rhetoric and adopts a plain style. Throughout her career Kumin has struck a balance between her sense of life's transience and her fascination with the dense physical presence of the world around her. She served as the 1985 judge of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and she selected Patricia Dobler's Talking To Strangers.
She taught poetry in New England College's Low-Residency MFA Program. She was also a contributing editor at The Alaska Quarterly Review. Together with fellow-poet Carolyn Kizer, she first served on and then resigned from the board of chancellors of the Academy of American Poets, an act that galvanized the movement for opening this august body to broader representation by women and minorities.
Kumin, aged 88, died in February 2014 at her home in Warner, following a year of failing health.
Kumin is believed to be the last person to have seen Anne Sexton alive, as the two of them had had lunch the day of Sexton's suicide in 1974.
|Xanthopsia||2013||*Kumin, Maxine (July 1, 2013). "Xanthopsia". The New Yorker. 89 (19): 33.|