Maxine Kumin

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.[1]

Maxine Kumin
Kumin in 1974
Kumin in 1974
BornMaxine Winokur
(1925-06-06)June 6, 1925
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedFebruary 6, 2014(2014-02-06) (aged 88)
Warner, New Hampshire, U.S.
OccupationPoet, author
SpouseVictor Kumin (married 1946–2014)


Early yearsEdit

Maxine Kumin was born Maxine Winokur on June 6, 1925 in Philadelphia, the daughter of Jewish parents, and 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.[2]


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.[3] She was also awarded the Sarah Joseph Hale Award and the Levinson Prize. She has also received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets.[4] In 1981–1982, she served as the poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. Kumin has been published in Beloit Poetry Journal.

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.[5]

Kumin, aged 88, died in February 2014 at her home in Warner, following a year of failing health.[6]

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.




  • Kumin, Maxine (1961). Halfway. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • The Privilege, Harper & Row, 1965
  • The Nightmare Factory, Harper & Row, 1970
  • The Abduction, Harper & Row, 1971, ISBN 9780060124724
  • Up Country, Harper & Row, 1972 (illustrated by Barbara Swan)
  • House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate, Viking/Penguin, 1975, ISBN 9780670379965
  • The Retrieval System, Viking/Penguin, 1978, ISBN 9780670595761
  • Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief, New and Selected Poems, Viking/Penguin 1982, ISBN 9780140422986
  • The Long Approach, Viking/Penguin, 1985–6, ISBN 9780670804290
  • Nurture, Viking/Penguin 1989, ISBN 9780670824380
  • Looking for Luck, W. W. Norton, 1992, ISBN 978-0-393-30947-8
  • Connecting the Dots, W. W. Norton, 1996, ISBN 978-0-393-31695-7
  • Selected Poems 1960–1990, W. W. Norton, 1997, ISBN 978-0-393-31836-4, cloth; paper; New York Times notable book of the year
  • Maxine Kumin (17 May 2003). The Long Marriage: Poems. W. W. Norton. pp. 71–. ISBN 978-0-393-34799-9. cloth, paper; finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award of the Academy of American Poets, 2002
  • Bringing Together: Uncollected Early Poems 1958–1988, W. W. Norton, 2003, ISBN 9780393326376
  • Jack and Other New Poems, W. W. Norton, 2005, ISBN 9780393059564
  • Still to Mow: Poems. W. W. Norton. 2 February 2009. pp. 68–. ISBN 978-0-393-34773-9.
  • Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010. W. W. Norton. 12 April 2010. ISBN 978-0-393-07649-3.
  • And Short the Season, W. W. Norton, 2014, ISBN 978-0-393-24100-6

List of poemsEdit

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
Xanthopsia 2013 *Kumin, Maxine (July 1, 2013). "Xanthopsia". The New Yorker. Vol. 89 no. 19. p. 33.


  • Through Dooms of Love, Harper & Row, 1965; Hamish Hamilton & Gollancz (England), Panther paper
  • The Passions of Uxport, Harper & Row, 1968, Dell paper, 1969
  • The Abduction, Harper & Row, 1971
  • The Designated Heir, Viking, 1974; Andre Deutsch (England)
  • Quit Monks or Die (animal rights mystery), Story Line Press, 1999, ISBN 9781885266774

Essays and short story collectionsEdit

Children's booksEdit

co-written with Anne Sexton



  1. ^ "Poet Laureate Timeline: 1971–1980". Library of Congress. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
  2. ^ In her own words: Being Maxine Kumin Archived 2015-11-25 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Wulf, Steve (2015-03-23). "Supersisters: Original Roster". Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  4. ^ "About Maxine Kumin | Academy of American Poets".
  5. ^ Maxin Kumin's Biography
  6. ^ "Poet Maxine Kumin Dies at 88", February 7, 2014, ABC News
  7. ^ Oh, Harry!. Roaring Brook Press. 21 June 2011. ISBN 978-1-59643-439-4.

External linksEdit