I was saddened to read of Maxine Kumin’s passing at 88 yesterday; and grateful that her long life gave us so much of her poetry. In her honor, here’s a selection of her poems I was able to find available online in the short time since I read the news and which I am fairly confident have been reproduced in the public domain with permission.
From Poetry Magazine, July 2002, “Getting There.”
From The Writer’s Almanac, “Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief.”
From the archives of The New Republic, “History Lesson” and “Saying Goodbye.”
At The Hudson Review, “Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts I,” “Red Tape and Kangaroo Courts II,” and “Old News.”
From The Poetry Center at Smith College, “Waterboarding, Restored.”
From Poetry Daily this essay by Kumin “Metamorphosis: From Light Verse to the Poetry of Witness” originally published in The Georgia Review, Winter 2012.
And I’ll leave you with Kumin’s words from a 1973 conversation with Pearl London as recorded in Poetry in Person: Twenty-five Years of Conversation with America’s Poets, edited by Alexander Neubauer (if you don’t have this book, get it!):
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Because, you see, this is what I conceive the function of the poet to be. Not to moralize, not to polemicize, not to grieve, not to praise, and not to damn. But to name, to tell, to authenticate, to be specific, to report what he [sic] sees and what he [sic] feels. I suppose if I have a credo, that would be the credo that I have.