Maxine Kumin in 1974

Maxine Kumin in 1974. Photo by Marthe Willendyck Courtesy Thierry Bingen & Wikimedia Commons.

Maxine Kumin
Born Maxine Winokur
June 6, 1925 (1925-06-06) (age 92)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupation Poet, author
Nationality United States United States

Maxine Kumin (born June 6, 1925) is an American poet and prose author. She was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1981-1982.[1]


Kumin was born Maxine Winokur, in Philadelphia,  the daughter of Jewish parents. She attended Catholic kindergarten and lower schools. 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 have 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 has also held appointments as a visiting lecturer and poet in residence at many American colleges and universities. Since 1976, she and her husband have lived on a farm in Warner, New Hampshire, where they breed Arabian and quarter horses.(Citation needed)

She currently teaches poetry in New England College's Low-Residency MFA Program. She is 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.[2]


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.


Kumin's many awards include the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize for Poetry (1972), the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1973) for Up Country, the Aiken Taylor Prize, 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 1981-1982, she served as the poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.



  • Halfway. New York: Holt, 1961.
  • The Privilege. New York: Harper, 1965.
  • The Nightmare Factory. New York: Harper, 1970.
  • Up Country: Poems of New England, new and selected (illustrated by Barbara Swan). New York: Harper, 1972.
  • House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate. New York: Viking, 1975.
  • The Retrieval System. New York: Viking, 1978.
  • Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief: New and selected poems. New York: Viking, 1982.
  • Closing the Ring: Selected poems. Lewisburg, PA: Press of Appletree Alley, Bucknell University, 1984.
  • The Long Approach. New York: Viking, 1985.
  • Nurture. New York: Viking / Penguin, 1989.
  • Looking for Luck. New York: Norton, 1992.
  • Connecting the Dots: Poems. New York: Norton, 1996.
  • Selected Poems, 1960-1990. New York: Norton, 1997.
  • The Long Marriage. New York: Norton,, 2001.
  • Bringing Together: Uncollected early poems, 1958-1988. New York: Norton, 2003.
  • Jack, and other new poems. New York: Norton, 2005.
  • Still to Mow. New York: Norton, 2007.


  • Through Dooms of Love (novel). New York: Harper, 1965.
    • published as A Daughter and Her Loves. London: Gollancz, 1965.
  • The Passions of Uxport (novel). New York: Harper, 1968.
  • The Abduction (novel). New York: Harper, 1971.
  • The Designated Heir (novel). New York: Viking, 1974.
  • Why Can't We Live Together Like Civilized Human Beings? (short stories). New York: Viking, 1982.
  • Quit Monks or Die! (mystery novel). Ashland, OR: Story Line, 1999.


  • To Make a Prairie: Essays on poets, poetry, and country living. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1980.
  • In Deep: Country essays. New York: Viking, 1987.
  • Women, Animals, and Vegetables: Essays and stories. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994.
  • Always Beginning: Essays on a life in poetry. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon , 2000.
  • Inside the Halo and Beyond: The anatomy of a recovery. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000.


  • Sebastian and the Dragon. New York: Putnam, 1960.
  • Spring Things. New York: Putnam, 1961.
  • A Summer Story. New York: Putnam, 1961.
  • Follow the Fall. New York: Putnam, 1961.
  • A Winter Friend. New York: Putnam, 1961.
  • Mittens in May. New York: Putnam, 1962.
  • No One Writes a Letter to the Snail. New York: Putnam, 1962.
  • Eggs of Things (with Anne Sexton). New York: Putnam, 1963.
  • Archibald the Traveling Poodle. New York: Putnam, 1963.
  • More Eggs of Things (with Anne Sexton). New York: Putnam, 1964.
  • Speedy Digs Downside Up. New York: Putnam, 1964.
  • The Beach before Breakfast. New York: Putnam, 1964.
  • Paul Bunyan. New York: Putnam, 1966.
  • Faraway Farm. New York: W.W. Norton, 1967.
  • The Wonderful Babies of 1809 and Other Years. New York: Putnam, 1968.
  • When Grandmother Was Young. New York: Putnam, 1969.
  • When Mother Was Young. New York: Putnam, 1970.
  • When Great-Grandmother Was Young (illustrated by Don Almquist). New York: Putnam, 1971.
  • Joey and the Birthday Present (with Anne Sexton, illustrated by Evaline Ness). New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.
  • The Wizard's Tears (with Anne Sexton). New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975.
  • What Color Is Caesar? (illustrated by Evaline Ness). New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978.
  • The Microscope (illustrated by Arnold Lobel). New York: Harper, 1984.
  • Mites to Mastodons: A Book of Animal Poems, Small and Large (illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, edited by Liz Rosenberg). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.


  • William Carpenter, Rain. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1985.
  • Lofty Dogmas: Poets on Poetics (editor, with Deborah Brown and Annie Finch). Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2005.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[3]

Audio / video Edit

Poetry Everywhere "After Love" by Maxine Kumin01:18

Poetry Everywhere "After Love" by Maxine Kumin

  • Progress Report (sound recording), Watershed, 1976.
  • Diane Ackerman and Maxine Kumin Reading from Their Work (sound recording). Washington, DC: Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, Library of Congress, 1994.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[3]

See alsoEdit

Preceded by
Donald Hall
New Hampshire Poet Laureate
Succeeded by
Jane Kenyon


  1. "Poet Laureate Timeline: 1971-1980". Library of Congress. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  2. Maxin Kumin's Biography
  3. 3.0 3.1 Maxime W. Kumin b.1925, Poetry Foundation, Web, June 26, 2012.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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