cover image Nurture


Maxine Kumin. Viking Books, $17.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-670-82438-0

In her ninth volume of poetry, Kumin warns of impending eco-catastrophe and summons up nurturing, conservationist instincts that might yet save us. She observes the rituals of Antarctic birds, warns reindeer against eating radioactive wastes and pens heartbreaking lyrics on the endangered manatee, trumpeter swan, white fox. Occasional and autobiographical poems in this collection carry over the theme of our disrupted relationship with nature. Kumin pays homage to vegetarian George Bernard Shaw and to Georgia O'Keeffe. Alert, conversational, ever-questioning, she muses on a Cape Canaveral shuttle launch, middle age, the possibility of an afterlife, the technology that may destroy us. In travelogue-poems she searches for her roots in Salzburg, Austria, ``for some thin line of comfort that binds us.'' One long, notably candid piece, ``Marianne, My Mother, and Me,'' traces changes in America's mindset over seven decades through the intertwined destinies of poet Marianne Moore and Kumin's mother. (Mar.)