Telling the Barn Swallow: Poets on the Poetry of Maxine Kumin

Emily Grosholz, Editor
Emily Grosholz, Editor University Press of New England $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87451-788-0
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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Despite her many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, and her appointment as consultant to the Library of Congress, Kumin has largely been ignored as a serious subject of critical study. Groscholz and the other 14 contributors (who include Wendell Berry, Mark Jarman, Carolyn Kizer, Wesley McNair and Alicia Ostriker) to this volume seek to change that and to show why Kumin has been overlooked and why her work deserves greater study and appreciation. In these 12 essays, fellow poets discuss Kumin's structure, style and dominant themes. Among those themes are the relationship between the human and animal worlds, human mortality and the inevitability of change. Often seen as merely a nature poet and the heir to Thoreau and Frost, the contributors show that Kumin is much more. She goes deeper, examining human tragedy and the need to connect with the natural world. The poets in this volume warn us against taking Kumin too lightly; though her poetry is traditional and formalistic, it is constantly examining the world around her. At the end of this tribute, there are 14 poems about Kumin or dedicated to her. They show a feeling for Kumin's optimistic view of life, and they pay homage to a writer who deserves the attention of serious readers. (Feb.)
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