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Selected Poems, 1960-1990 Paperback – December 17, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


A welcome addition to any poetry library. -- Richard Tillinghast, New York Times Book Review

This collection by a versatile elegist and observer of nature features vivid poems that are, refreshingly, about something. Many tell stories that serve to preserve her family's history. Last year [1997], Richard Tillinghast called the book "a welcome addition to any poetry library." -- The New York Times

About 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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (December 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393318362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393318364
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #766,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Maxine Kumin’s poems are at their best when they are the most earthy. By earthy, I mean “of the earth”, rather than as a mocking term for a liberal hippie. Kumin’s 1997 book, Selected Poems: 1960-1990, is like reading someone’s autobiography of living on a farm, of living in rural America. Spend a few days reading these 250+ poems, and you’ll feel as if you’ve just learned everything there is to know about a new friend.

Kumin’s poems are based on the simple idea of telling a story. Kumin doesn’t write in the abstract, obfuscationist way that many poets do. You won’t need an unabridged dictionary and a degree in Poetry Interpretation to read her poems. Instead, you’ll find them open, warm, accessible (which, in my world, is never, ever, a dirty word when applied to poetry). This isn’t to say that Kumin’s poems are without a deeper meaning. On the contrary. Many of her poems leave you with a new way of looking at the world. Especially if, like me, you’re city born and raised. My sensibilities are very urban in nature, and while I don’t mind a drive in the country, I’m not predisposed to wanting to live there. I don’t want to live off the earth, or as a part of the earth. I’m not one to find pleasure in picking beans, or riding horses, yet, Kumin brings her world to life so vividly that one almost feels as if they’re a guest in her home.

As a poet, Kumin doesn’t go for the verbose, highly metaphoric, dense, lyrical language that some poets rely on. Kumin doesn’t need to use flowery words to disguise a lack of substance (as some poets do). Kumin’s poetry language, like the poems, like her life, is everyday, conversational. Yet, she wields her words with great skill, bringing out the natural poetry of the poem’s subject.
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