Galway Kinnell

Galway Kinnell

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in Providence, Rhode Island, The United States
February 01, 1927



About this author

Kinnell studied at Princeton University, graduating in 1948. He later obtained a Master's degree from the University of Rochester.

As a young man, Kinnell served in the US Navy and traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East. His first volume of poetry, What a Kingdom It Was, was published in 1960.

Kinnell became very involved in the U.S. civil rights movement upon his return, joining CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) as a field worker and participating in a number of marches and other civil actions.

Kinnell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for Selected Poems (1980), a MacArthur Fellowship, a Rockefeller Grant, the 1974 Shelley Prize of the Poetry Society of America, and the 1975 Medal of Merit from National I...more

Average rating: 4.16 · 5,136 ratings · 378 reviews · 45 distinct works · Similar authors
The Book of Nightmares
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 1,287 ratings — published 1971 — 4 editions
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A New Selected Poems
4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 302 ratings — published 2000 — 5 editions
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The Essential Rilke
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 293 ratings — published 1999 — 2 editions
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Selected Poems
4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 221 ratings — published 1980 — 7 editions
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Strong is Your Hold
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 191 ratings — published 2006 — 5 editions
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When One Has Lived a Long T...
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 158 ratings — published 1990 — 5 editions
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Imperfect Thirst
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 105 ratings — published 1994 — 6 editions
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Mortal Acts Mortal Words
4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 78 ratings — published 1980 — 3 editions
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Three Books: Body Rags; Mor...
4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 72 ratings — published 1993 — 3 editions
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Body Rags
4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 63 ratings — published 1968
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“We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. And it isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that make you truly who you are—that we’re ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person—someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.”

I will find that special person who is wrong for me in just the right way.

Let our scars fall in love.”
Galway Kinnell

“Let our scars fall in love.”
Galway Kinnell


Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.”
Galway Kinnell

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