Maxine Kumin is the author of 18 collections of poetry, from her first collection, Halfway, published in 1961 when she was 36 years old to her final collection, And Short the Season, published in 2014 after she died at the age of 88.While she never considered herself a “confessional” poet, she chronicled her experiences as a daughter, sister, woman, mother, wife, teacher, equestrian, gardener, farmer, professional writer, fellow poet, vegetarian, humanitarian, naturalist, Jew, atheist, animal rights activist and rescuer, environmental activist, anti-war activist, anti-torture activist, world traveler, up country rural hermit, and an aging human being.
Maxine’s poetry has been praised as “candid and compassionate” (Babette Deutsch) and “stunning, large-hearted, original and acute” (May Swenson). “Kumin writes … with the clear gaze of a journalist and the ire of an activist…. Filled with love.” — Christian Science Monitor
And Short the Season - 2014
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, a stunning collection of poems that course with the rhythms of nature.
A poet of piercing revelations and arresting imagery, Pulitzer Prize winner Maxine Kumin is “unforgettable, indispensable” (New York Times Book Review). In And Short the Season, her stunning last collection, she muses on mortality: her own, and that of the earth. These deeply personal, always political poems blend myth and modernity, fecundity and death, and the violence and tenderness of humankind.
And Short the Season – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2014
Where I Live: New and Selected Poems - 2011
“The power that Kumin draws from and brings to literature is potent and seemingly inexhaustible.” — Booklist
Here is a landmark collection celebrating the remarkable range of Maxine Kumin, one of America’s greatest living poets. Where I Live gathers poems from five previous books, together with twenty-three new poems that pay homage to Kumin’s farm life and also to poets of the past.
Winner – 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry
Where I Live – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2011
Still to Mow - 2007
“Kumin writes … with the clear gaze of a journalist and the ire of an activist…. Filled with love.” — Christian Science Monitor
Here Maxine Kumin’s signature nature poems are shaken up and invigorated by darker, human realities. Both “delicate and powerful” (Library Journal), she faces with equanimity the disappointments and joys of sixty years of marriage—ending with the unspoken question of “Which of us will go down first.”
Still to Mow – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2007
Jack and Other New Poems - 2005
“Measured but warm, this work draws you in; it is another success among her many titles.” — Library Journal
In her fifteenth collection, Maxine Kumin meditates on the social consequences of such events as the bicentennial of the Civil War, and looks to poets writing from circumstances vastly different from her own. With death the central theme, poems of the body and praise songs for beloved animals explore how memory consoles and haunts.
Jack and Other New Poems – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2005
Bringing Together: Uncollected Early Poems, 1958-1988 - 2003
“The power that Kumin draws from and brings to literature is potent and seemingly inexhaustible.” — Booklist
Collected here for the first time, these early poems inhabit Kumin’s own “sneakstorm time,” a space one step to the side, where quiet introspection examines the pain of loss, the idealism of youth, and the endurance of the natural world. Her characteristic earthy wisdom snaps with intensity, offering a refreshing perspective on everyday experiences. “New England farm life, modern American history, Jewish identity and a quietly vibrant feminist consciousness provide themes for this gathering from a long and distinguished career.” — Publishers Weekly.
Bringing Together – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2003
The Long Marriage - 2001
This luminous collection is Maxine Kumin’s twelfth volume of poetry, the first since her remarkable memoir, Inside the Halo.
Themes of loyalty, longevity, and recovery appear here, along with poems addressing the eminent dead: Wordsworth, Gorki, Rukeyser, and others. “Inescapably, many poems come up out of the earth I live on and tend to,” Kumin says.
The Long Marriage – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2001
Selected Poems, 1960-1990 - 1997
Gathered from nine collections representing three decades of work, these poems—newly available here in a rich and varied volume—celebrate the growth of a major artist.
Since the publication of her first book of poetry, Halfway, Maxine Kumin has been powerfully and fruitfully engaged in the “stuff of life that matters”: family, friendship, the bond between the human and natural worlds, and the themes of loss and survival.
Selected Poems 1960 – 1990 – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1997
Connecting the Dots: Poems - 1996
“Kumin’s is a poetry of wide sympathy and tact in which the ecumenical flavor is dominant. . . . This collection is full of generational severance and renewal, and a tart and compassionate irony.” — The New Yorker
In these new poems, her eleventh collection, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet focuses on the themes of family, friendship, the pleasures and rigors of rural life and the animal world that have always engaged her powerfully and fruitfully. Change and the things that never change attract Kumin’s attention equally. Whether chronicling the bounty of summer, the cycle of seasons, or memories of youthful parties, her voice is clear, wise, and compelling.
Connecting the Dots – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1996
Looking for Luck - 1992
“From a marketplace in Bangkok to the fields of New Hampshire, from recollections of her own childhood to celebrations of an infant grandson, Kumin stakes her far-flung claims with authority in her tenth book of poetry.” — Publishers Weekly
“Her poems become increasingly unforgettable, indispensable. . . . Thoreau would commend her honesty, the precision of her language and her occasional moral allegory.” — New York Times Book Review
Looking for Luck – Maxine Kumin, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1992
Nurture - 1989
Maxine Kumin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and acclaimed novelist and short story writer has said, “the impulse for poems is here for me, in the vivid turn of seasons, in the dailiness of growing things, in the primitive satisfaction of putting up vegetables and fruits …” (from her collection of essays, In Deep). Her newest collection of poems, Nurture, revisits her central themes. These poems, enriched by her continued investigation of the natural world and our relationship to it, illuminate themes of loss and survival and the pure strength of the pastoral. Nurture yields some of Kumin’s most rewarding work to date.
Nurture – Maxine Kumin, Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 1989
The Long Approach - 1985
Maxine Kumin’s poetry has always been acclaimed for its toughness as well as its transcendence, its compassion as well as its candor, and above all for its “language both exact and graceful, concerned with the range of human experience” (as the Boston Globe once put it).
Perhaps May Swenson described it best: “stunning, large-hearted, original and acute.” Now, in her first collection since the publication in 1982 of her new and selected poems, Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief, Kumin continues to redefine and expand her own definition of excellence—and sharpens with a new apocalyptic edge the lyricism and virtuosity we have come to expect from her.
The Long Approach shows us a poet at the top of her form who is still eager to venture into dangerous territory—and the result is her riskiest, most exciting, and most rewarding work yet.
The Long Approach – Maxine Kumin, Viking (New York, NY), 1985
Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief: New and Selected Poems - 1982
Since her brilliant debut in 1961 with Halfway, Maxine Kumin has written six volumes of poetry that have been praised as “candid and compassionate” (Babette Deutsch) and “stunning, large-hearted, original and acute” (May Swenson).
Here, arranged in reverse chronological order, are poems from each of the six previous collections — Halfway; The Privilege; The Nightmare Factory; Up Country; House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate; and The Retrieval System. They are prefaced by twenty-nine astonishing new poems that take up Maxine Kumin’s familiar themes – loss and survival, the bonds of family and friends, and the clean srength of the pastoral – and temper them with a subtle note of steel. This collection charts the growth of one of our major artists and provides for all who know and love her work the best she has to offer.
Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief – Maxine Kumin, Viking (New York, NY), 1982
The Retrieval System - 1978.
The Retrieval System, Maxine Kumin’s sixth and most powerful collection, is a searing inquiry into the least acceptable realities of life; the death of a parent, the suicide of a best friend, the growing away of children, the middle age when “The time on either side of now stands fast glinting like jagged window glass.”
For the poet, the lost loved ones are retrieved in the features of the animals of her life: “It begins with my dog, now dead, who all his long life carried about in his head the brown eyes of my father, keen, loving, accepting, sorrowful…” She takes us to meet Henry Manley, a New Hampshire neighbor who claims to be eighty-two though he’s seventy-six, “but people tend to brag agewise bending the facts whichever way they choose and the braggers-up, it seems to me, can be forgiven the more easily.” She gives us the “moment caught,” the here-and-now of splitting wood at six above, of sending the last ewe lamb to slaughter.
Although the inner and outer visions are often bleak—“I think of how it goes on, this dark particular bent of our hungers: the way wire eats into a tree year after year on the pasture’s perimeter”—these poems are above all about survival, about going on.
“…we are, each one of us, our own prisoner. We are locked up in our own story.” Full of questions that have passionate resolve, the poems in the collection hold on and let go, lending each of us the courage to look into our own lives, our own story.
The Retrieval System – Maxine Kumin, Viking (New York, NY), 1978
HOUSE, BRIDGE, FOUNTAIN, GATE - 1975
For those who have never before read Maxine Kumin’s poetry, House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate will come as a revelation, the finding of a poet at once uniquely American and yet as universal as Rilke (from whom the title of this collection comes). For those who have been led masterfully along the paths of such volumes as Up Country, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1973, House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate will arrive as a widening and deepening of her voice. In the words of the Christian Science Monitor, “Neither surreal nor shrill, neither tragic nor transcending, Mrs. Kumin’s poems sign with the music of the middle voice, sing of reality beheld with imagination, sign the world made meaningful by the perceptions of the beholder.”
Here, then, are nature poems which make no claim to “prettiness” in the sense of God and butterflies; poems about growing up during the thirties and forties which are totally without the salve of nostalgia; and poems of what it is like to be a Jew in Danville, Kentucky, where there are thirty-seven churches and no butcher shop. These are affirmative poems that speak with unremitting honesty of a world which contains worms in horses’ excrement as well as last grasshoppers.
House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate – Maxine Kumin, Viking (New York, NY), 1975
UP COUNTRY: POEMS OF NEW ENGLAND, NEW AND SELECTED - 1972
Winner of the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
The special world of rural New England is the focus of Maxine Kumin’s new volume of poems. A delightful gift for all who love this region, it is also a fine collection of new and selected pastoral poems by a poet whose work has been widely published and praised. There are forty-one poems and seventeen striking pen-and-ink drawing by Barbara Swan.
“A distinguished poet on nothing less than the terms of her own human insight.” — Christian Science Monitor
Illustrated by Barbara Swan, Harper (New York, NY), 1972
NIGHTMARE FACTORY - 1970
This third collection of poems by Maxine Kumin records a delving toward roots—within the poet, among ancestors and offspring, in the natural world, in a heritage unremarked until the past is thrust upon the present. This stirring of roots is often painful, but compassion and solace are implicit in the poet’s understanding.
“Almost wherever I open the book I see something fine and beautifully phrased. It seems to me her best work so far.” –Howard Nemerov
“A strong collection. Read ‘A Family Man.’ It is vivid and memorable.” –Anne Sexton
“[Maxine Kumin] is fully a poet as she brings her mind to bear on the fullness of what her heart feels; she is a distinguished poet on nothing less than the terms of her own human insight.” — Christian Science Monitor
“[Mrs. Kumin] is much concerned with the direct rendering of experience…. She can infuse her concrete, sensuous surfaces with emotions of force and subtlety.” —Saturday Review
“Her poetry is … direct, honest, and gentle.” —Yale Review
The Nightmare Factory – Maxine Kumin, Harper (New York, NY), 1970
THE PRIVILEGE - 1965
The hallmark of Maxine Kumin’s poetry is its lucid transcription of experience—whether lived through or observed. Her private past, the natural world before her eyes, and a woman’s emotions in response to both are cast with lovely clarity into poems remembered long after they are read.
“She can infuse her concrete sensuous surfaces with emotions of force and subtlety,” said Saturday Review of her first volume of poems, Halfway. The wit, the felicity and the responsiveness of this new collection will reinforce her place as a poet of distinction.
The Privilege – Maxine Kumin, Harper (New York, NY), 1965
HALFWAY - 1961
Maxine W. Kumin weaves her poems from her own corner of the universe. She writes what she sees and what she feels –as a woman, a mother, as one deeply affected by her Jewish heritage, as a lover of the turbulent New England coast.
Mrs. Kumin has this to say about her work: “I once read something Marianne Moore wrote that marked me for life. ‘We must be as clear as our natural reticence allows us to be.’ I have tried always to do this, both in diction and in intent, to the point of pain.”
Halfway is composed of forty short poems—both lyric and dramatic—conveying a deeply felt admiration for the strength and courage within the human being. A junior life-saving class, a movie with Bogart and Bergman, a subway ride home, the first spring rain—these simple experiences are transformed through Maxine Kumin’s insight into deeply moving poems.
Halfway Poems – Maxine Kumin, Holt (New York, NY), 1961