Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Kinnell said that as a youth he was turned on to poetry by Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson, drawn to both the musical appeal of their poetry and the idea that they led solitary lives. The allure of the language spoke to what he describes as the homogeneous feel of his hometown, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Kinnell studied at Princeton University, graduating in 1948 alongside friend and fellow poet W.S. Merwin. He received his Master of Arts degree from the University of Rochester. He traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East, and went to Paris on a Fulbright Fellowship. During the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement in the United States caught his attention. Upon returning to the US, he joined CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and worked on voter registration and workplace integration in Hammond, Louisiana. This effort got him arrested. In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. Kinnell draws upon both his involvement with the civil rights movement and his experiences protesting against the Vietnam War in his book-long poem The Book of Nightmares.
While much of Kinnell's work seems to deal with social issues, it is by no means confined to one subject. Some critics have pointed to the spiritual dimensions of his poetry, as well as the nature imagery present throughout his work. “The Fundamental Project of Technology” deals with all three of those elements, creating an eerie, chant-like and surreal exploration of the horrors atomic weapons inflict on humanity and nature. Sometimes Kinnell utilizes simple and brutal images (“Lieutenant! / This corpse will not stop burning!” from “The Dead Shall be Raised Incorruptible”) to address his anger at the destructiveness of humanity, informed by Kinnell’s activism and love of nature. There’s also a certain sadness in all of the horror—“Nobody would write poetry if the world seemed perfect.” There’s also optimism and beauty in his quiet, ponderous language, especially in the large role animals and children have in his later work (“Other animals are angels. Human babies are angels”), evident in poems such as “Daybreak” and “After Making Love We Hear Footsteps”.
In addition to his works of poetry and his translations, Kinnell published one novel (Black Light, 1966) and one children's book (How the Alligator Missed Breakfast, 1982).
A close friend of James Wright until Wright's death in 1980, Kinnell wrote two elegies to Wright, which appear in From the Other World: Poems in memory of James Wright.
Kinnel has served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
- What a Kingdom It Was. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960
- revised, 2002.
- Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1964
- revised, 2002.
- Body Rags (also see below). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968.
- Poems of Night. London: Rapp & Carroll, 1968.
- The Hen Flower. Frenshaw, UK: Scepter Press, 1969.
- First Poems: 1946-1954. Mt. Horeb, WI: Perishable Press, 1970.
- The Shoes of Wandering. Mt. Horeb, WI: Perishable Press, 1971.
- The Book of Nightmares. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
- The Avenue bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World: Poems, 1946-1964. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974
- revised, 2002.
- St. Francis and the Sow. Chicago: Ravine Press, 1976.
- Three Poems. New York: Phoenix Book Shop, 1976.
- Fergus Falling. Newark, VT: Janus Press, 1979.
- "There Are Things I Tell to No One" (single poem). New York: Nadja, 1979.
- Two Poems. Newark, VT: Janus Press, 1979.
- Mortal Acts, Mortal Words (also see below). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980.
- The Last Hiding Place of Snow.New York: Red Ozier, 1980.
- Selected Poems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.
- "The Fundamental Project of Technology" (single poem; also see below). Concord, NH: Ewert, 1983.
- The Geese. Newark, VT: Janus Press, 1985.
- The Seekonk Woods (photographs by Lotte Jacobi). Newark, VT: Janus Press, 1985.
- The Past (includes "The Fundamental Project of Technology"; also see below). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
- When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone. New York: Knopf, 1990.
- Three Books (includes Body Rags, Mortal Acts, Mortal Words, and The PastBoston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
- Imperfect ThirstBoston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
- A New Selected PoemsBoston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
- Strong is your HoldBoston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
- Black Light. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966
- revised edition, San Francisco, CA: North Point Press, 1980.
- Thoughts Occasioned by the Most Insignificant of All Human Events (essay; first published in Pleasures of Learning, 1958). Concord, NH: Ewert (Concord, NH), 1982.
- The Poetics of the Physical World (lecture). Colorado State University, 1969.
- Walking down the Stairs: Selections from Interviews. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1978.
- Remarks on Accepting the American Book Award. Concord, NH: Ewert, 1984.
- (Author of postscript) Paul Zweig, Eternity's Woods. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1985.
- How the Alligator Missed Breakfast (illustrated by Lynn Munsinger). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.
- Rene Hardy, Bitter Victory. New York: Doubleday, 1956.
- Henri Lehmann, Pre-Columbian Ceramics. New York: Viking, 1962.
- Francois Villon, The Poems of François Villon. New York: New American Library, 1965
- new edition, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1982.
- Yves Bonnefoy, On the Motion and Immobility of Douve. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1968
- reprinted, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Bloodaxe, 1992.
- Yvan Goll, Lackawanna Elegy. Sumac Press, 1970.
- Yves Bonnefoy, Early Poems (with Richard Revear). Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1991.
- Rainer Maria Rilke, The Essential Rilke (with Hannah Liebmann). New York: Ecco Press, 1999.
- Walt Whitman, The Essential Whitman. New York: Ecco Press, 1987.
Audio / videoEdit
- The Poetry of Galway Kinnell (casette). New York: J. Norton, 1965.
- The Poetry and Voice of Galway Kinnell (casette). New York: Caedmon, 1966.
- Poetry Breaks I: Galway Kinnell (video reading). Boston: Leita Hagemann and WGBH Educational Foundation, 1988.
- Conesa-Sevilla, J. (2008). Dreaming With Bear (Kinnell's Poem). Ecopsychology Symposium at the 25th Annual Conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Montreal, July 11.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Charles Molesworth (1987). "The Rank Favor of Blood". In Howard Nelson. On the poetry of Galway Kinnell. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 9780472063765. http://books.google.com/books?id=7cXV26PmJUYC&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=Galway+Kinnell+transcendent.
- ↑ Press release of November 8, 2000, from the University of Rochester
- ↑ “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post
- ↑ Poets.org
- ↑ Modern Poets
- ↑ Poetry Archive
- ↑ Poetry, Past winners & finalists by category, The Pulitzer Prizes. Web, Oct. 21, 2014.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Galway Kinnell b. 1927, Poetry Foundation. Web, Feb. 4, 2014.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Search results = au:Galway Kinnell, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Feb. 4, 2014.
- "The Bear" at Poem of the Week.
- Galway Kinnell profile & 6 poems at the Academy of American Poets.
- Galway Kinnell b. 1927 at the Poetry Foundation.
- Galway Kinnell: Online Poems.
- Galway Kinnell at PoemHunter (24 poems).
- Audio / video
- Galway Kinnell (b. 1927) at The Poetry Archive.
- "Galway Kinnell reads 'Wait' " for the WGBH series, New Television Workshop
- Galway Kinnell at YouTube
- " 'Since you asked..,' with Galway Kinnell for the WGBH series, New Television Workshop
- "Interview with Galway Kinnell by Mike Edgerly on Minnesota Public Radio" MPR Interview
- Galway Kinnell (1927- ) at Modern American Poetry.
- "The Loveliness of Pigs: Galway Kinnell searches for the real beauty" interview and poem “Daybreak” on the Christian Science Monitor
- Cortland Review interview and poem “The Fundamental Project of Technology”
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