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MAXINE W. KUMIN


1925 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
MAXINE W. KUMIN Obituary
KUMIN, Maxine W. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, novelist, essayist, and tireless advocate for literature, and for many another writer, particularly women, as well as for animal rights and human and political justice, died February 6th at her home in Warner, NH following a period of increasing frailty. She was 88. Former U.S. Poet Laureate (then titled Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, 1981-82) and Poet Laureate of New Hampshire (1989-94), and author of more than three dozen books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and childrens literature, Ms. Kumins volume Up Country won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for 1973. Her work was recognized with numerous other awards over the years including the Ruth Lilly Prize (1999), the Harvard Medal, the Levinson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Poetry Award (2011), as well as honorary degrees from numerous schools. Kumin was also a prominent teacher of writing, occupying graduate or undergraduate visiting chairs or fellowships at Boston University, Brandeis, Columbia, MIT, Princeton, and many others, and most recently at New England College in Henniker, NH, where she helped establish a new poetry MFA program. Writing to the end, her final volume of poems, And Short the Season, will appear later this year. Born June 6, 1925 in Germantown (Philadelphia) PA to Peter and Doll (Simon) Winokur, Kumin was raised there and attended Cheltenham High School matriculating to Radcliffe College of Harvard University, (A.B. 1946; A.M. 1948; Radcliffe [Bunting] Institute Scholar, 1962-63). On a blind date in 1944 she met Victor Kumin, then on leave from Army service in Los Alamos, NM, with whom in 1946 she would undertake The Long Marriage, the title of one of Kumins best-known poems, and volumes; it would endure 67 years. The Kumins first settled in Newton, MA moving permanently to the hillside Warner, NH farm familiar to her readers in 1973. Kumins work and life were linked to those of another noted poet, Anne Sexton, with whom she workshopped, in person or by phone, every day for twenty years, ending only with the latters suicide in 1974. The two also collaborated on several childrens books. In New Hampshire Kumin continued producing the work that would ultimately span six decades, informed by a love and deep observation of nature, both external and human, and an unwavering commitment to the craft of writing. There she also shared her life with four generations of horses and numerous rescue dogs. Besides her work and her animals, Kumins abiding passion was her organic vegetable garden, which each season enjoyed a degree of planning, execution and care that few could rival. Maxine W. Kumin is survived by her husband, Victor; daughters Jane, of San Francisco, and Judith, of Hopkinton, NH; son Daniel and spouse Elizabeth Hodges of Concord, NH, and grandsons Yann and Noah, and by long-time personal assistant, devoted friend, and enthusiastic co-gardener Suzannah Colt of Warner. The family is inexpressibly grateful to care-giver Cari Young for her unflagging attention through Kumins final year. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to the Concord Merrimack SPCA, 130 Washington Street, Penacook, NH 03303 or to the Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice, 107 Newport Road, PO Box 2209, New London, NH 03257. A celebration of Maxine Kumins life and work will be held in the spring. The Bennett Funeral Home of Concord is in charge of the arrangements. Messages of condolences may be offered at: http://www.bennettfuneral.com/
Published in The Boston Globe on Feb. 8, 2014
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