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Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010 Paperback – July 5, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

So bountiful a poet is Pultizer Prize winner Kumin, she has put together her second selected collection, which combines poems from her last five collections with a harvest of glowing new work. Farm and family life in New Hampshire are Kumin’s wellsprings, while her lexicon is built out of the names of plants, rocks, trees, birds, and animals. Kumin favors couplets for their parallels and opposites, but whatever form she chooses, her vital rhythms match a horse’s canter, a human’s stride. She looks to animals for wisdom, from a dog’s delight “in the moment” as opposed to our constant worries about the past and the future, to an old, ailing broodmare who turns suddenly young again in the presence of a companionable gelding. Kumin is earthy and hands-on but hardly rustic as she jets off to Bulgaria and Bangkok; keenly parses Coleridge, Wordsworth, and the women who suffered their obsessions; and decisively critiques Bush-era torture and lies. But Kumin always circles back to the giving land, the clasp of family, and her bedrock belief in the power of art. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393339688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393339680
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. M. VINE VOICE on June 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Many of the poems in Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010 take for subjects the author's New Hampshire horse farm and the animals, domesticated and wild, that run about there. "Allegiance to the land is tenderness," Maxine Kumin tells us in "Hay," a poem about cutting and baling the mixed grasses. "Winter's Tale" considers the orange tree that, with aging, bears less fruit. "The Taste of Apple" recounts the putting-down of a horse. In "Lore," statistics about acorns collected by blue jays become a cheeky reminder that someone actually followed birds around to learn their gathering and retrieval habits. Ever the protector of animals, Kumin's "The Whole Hog" will make any meat lover think twice before popping another boneless pork tenderloin into the oven. And "The Brown Mountain" leaves no doubt that "Compost is our future" and will produce "Dirt fit / for the gardens of commoner and king."

Kumin excels in earthy images that draw us into the necessary balances of nature, including life and death. In some of the poems people don't disturb the natural cycle. In others, they are far from respectful. For example, in "Bringing Down the Birds," the question is asked whether, if we could scientifically restock extinct animals such as passenger pigeons, we would "do them all in again."

WHERE I LIVE encompasses a tableau of subjects though. Some ponder questions about predecessor or contemporary poets. One, for instance, is entitled "Czeslaw Milosz Visits the Library of Congress." There are also "Skinnydipping with William Wordsworth" and "Imagining Marianne Moore in the Butterfly Garden.
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Format: Hardcover
Maxine Kumin seems like a sweet older woman. Harmless, it would appear. After all, she begins her book of poetry with a focus on nature, and makes insightful observations on little things that are often overlooked. For example, in "Lore", she talks about a book she's read about blue jays, and how many acorns they ingest each season. She describes the oak trees that result from the blue jays losses, but takes notice of an even more interesting thought: who is the person, "an aspiring Ph.D." that actually counts these and compiles such data? It's that little bit of twist, from observing nature to questioning a source that make her unique, and makes you realize this is not a simple collection of pretty words. Most of all, as you continue reading Where I Live, you see that she isn't as harmless as you might suspect.

Her topics vary greatly and her observations are often are anything but sweet. In talking about Iraq, she doesn't back away from revealing the discrepancies between the suffering caused by liberators and a religious leader claiming there is a "spiritual value of suffering". She concludes that the sun comes up, "staining the sky with indifference". She also contrasts the ideals of the Geneva Convention with vice-presidents and Supreme Court justices who engage in what she calls "canned hunting". In "Please Pay Attention as the Ethics Have Changed", she wonders what kind of Humane Society (a word play on "human" society) would permit such cruelty to an animal (or moreso, to a person). From Daniel Pearl's tragic death to contaminated drinking water, she reveals her heart in her words.

She also speaks of stray dogs and abandoned cats with great feeling, and you get the impression that it isn't simply the immediate sadness that she's getting at...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Relax. Pick a favorite spot in your home or garden, preferably a seat by a window opening onto a woodsy or garden scene. Or go outdoors and sit down, not on a chair, but on the grass or a stump or a rock. It would be nice if it's sunny, but overcast with a threat of showers will do, too. Now open Maxine Kumin's "Where I live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010" and let her soft lines and softer imagery make you human (that is to say, a part of nature) again.

Maxine Kumin's subtle uses of rhyme, rhythm and modified poetic forms such as the sonnet and villanelle support her revelations about how extraordinary ordinary living can be. How wonderful it is to be alive. How dangerous to be human. Sometimes how incredibly sad. But always, even in her darkest thoughts on how savage we can be as a species - even to our own kind - there is redemption through our ability to learn, to regret, to feel shame.

Kumin's language is clear, her phrasing simple, and her imagery vibrant. Now in her 85th year, she writes with a spiritual vitality that only comes through having experienced many losses and great loves - and having gained wisdom through them. Or, as she puts it, in life "Nothing makes up for losing, though love is a welcome guest."

And when you finish this book, order her "Selected Poems: 1960-1990."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to choose the best poem in this book of poetry "Where I Live, New & Selected Poems 1990-2010," to illustrate how much I admire and love Kumin's poetry. I open the book at random and I read "The Chambermaids in the Marriott at Midmorning," and declare it the best. Then the page accidently flips to the previous poem, "Remarkable Women: An Apostrophe" and I vote for this one. Open the book anywhere at random and her poetry grabs you -- how about "Praise Be" the story of birthing a foal? Kumin is a horsewoman -- and you are there with her kneeling beside the mare. This book will be at my bedside forever.
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