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The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden

4.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  293 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Throughout his life (1905-2006) Stanley Kunitz created poetry and tended gardens. This book is the distillation of conversations, none previously published, that took place between 2002 and 2004. Beginning with the garden, that "work of the imagination," the explorations journey through personal recollections, the creative process, and the harmony of the life cycle. A bouq ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2005)
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May 21, 2016 Jimmy rated it really liked it
The book is based on conversations between Genine Lentine and Mr. Kunitz. One particularly great scene when he has a health crisis and he talks about his garden with young Ms. Lentine.

"My garden, my life, my poems--a planned disorder."--Stanley Kunitz
Jun 29, 2016 Jgrace rated it it was amazing
The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden – Stanley Kunitz with Genine Lentine
Photographs by Marnie Crawford Samuelson

5 stars

Before his death at 101 in 2006, Stanley Kunitz engaged in a series of conversations about gardening, poetry, the creative process, and life. This is a beautiful book of related essays, poetry, and photographs of the great poet in his garden. Every word in this book feels like a distillation of great wisdom. Each sentence is very easy to understand, and ye
Violette Stepaniuk
Nov 21, 2015 Violette Stepaniuk rated it it was amazing
You don’t need to be a gardener or to love poetry to enjoy The Wild Braid, an unassuming volume of less than 150 pages of prose, poems and beautiful photographs by Marnie Crawford Samuelson of the poet in his garden. This mini-memoir – based on conversations between Stanley Kunitz and Genine Lentine, collected between 2002 and 2004, as the poet was approaching his hundredth birthday in 2005 – is a touching reflection on a creative life that anyone can be inspired by. I was hooked after the first ...more
Jul 26, 2013 Trisha rated it it was amazing
Stanley Kunitz will certainly be remembered as one of our most beloved, as well as distinguished, poets. He was the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for poetry. He was over one hundred years old when he died in 2006 and all throughout his life he was a gardener as well as a poet because he associated both gardening and poetry with the whole experience of being alive. “One of the mysteries of gardening,” he says, “is that the garden ref ...more
sloane scott
Jan 24, 2016 sloane scott rated it it was amazing
Kunitz is the rare writer (so in touch with the natural world) who not only realizes the answers are everywhere, but also possesses the righteous, transcendental ability to transcribe those answers, ephemeral and finicky as they are, into poetry.

"When Hopkins wrote, in "Inversaid," "Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet," that's exactly what he was saying. When people say they are moved by a poem, they are saying that they have been in touch with the untouchable."

"These are questions that c
Jan 08, 2013 Wendy rated it it was amazing
This lovingly composed book - a mix of poems, reflections, dialogue, photographs - is like a stroll through the garden with this great soul. Dedicated gardeners in particular may want to keep it by the bedside to read a little at a time. One example:

"The compost pile is a site of transformation, taking what has been cast off and returning it to the garden. It's not just garbage, after all.

"The distillation of any philosophy of composting has some connection with the positive concept of waste a
Deborah Feingold
Apr 27, 2015 Deborah Feingold rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Kunitz helps the reader appreciate not only the importance of the garden as "wilderness" but of the necessity of accessing one's own wilderness, or unconscious, when composing poetry. I also loved his thoughts, linked metaphorically to his experience in the garden, about what is important to a poem. Rather than the showy flower, he is more interested in the underlying structure, the "tensions and physicality." Finally this hybrid text, which presents many candid pictures of the hale nonagenarian ...more
Jan 28, 2015 Barry rated it it was amazing
The ultimate combination of gifts to be bestowed upon man - that of being an accomplished gardener and a poet. I do not think there is any greater achievement in life, and it is one that I have secretly been harbouring and hoping for myself! Stanley Kunitz lived to be one hundred years old, and in that time he created a living legacy, both with his garden, and the bouquet of poems that he has left behind. Forget the unending spew of mass market book a year authors, and come bask in the quiet sol ...more
Sep 29, 2009 Kitty rated it it was amazing
A treasure of a book to read and read again. Given to me for my 57th birthday, and in this year of much summer rain, the poems, reflections and discussions of the book, match the energy of my garden --
which says, "I am not done with my changes" -- and invites living in the layers. Check out Stanley Kunitz reading "Touch Me" on Youtube and you will tremble. We discussed "The Long Boat" 9/28/09, "An Old Cracked Tune" and "the Testing Tree" yesterday. Haunting music for the dance -- whether flying
Nicole Kapise-Perkins
Sep 16, 2014 Nicole Kapise-Perkins rated it really liked it
I have never read any of Stanley Kunitz's poetry before finding this book. This volume is a collection of essays interspersed with poems, written when Kunitz was one hundred years old, reflecting on garden life and metamorphosis. He draws parallels between tending the garden and tending the poetic spirit; Kunitz likens the cultivation and nurturing of plants to the creation and construction of a poem, all the while making the two so real, a tangible process that the mind and heart can fully und ...more
Dec 19, 2012 Molly rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous, perfect book! The poems, which are classic, fit perfectly with the conversations throughout which they are interspersed. The whole idea and execution of this book is just really, really commendable--I want to read it over and over and over again; it's pleasurable down to the texture of the pages. Kunitz's ideas concerning poetry, gardening, and his life story are so unified, how he sees them as all parts of the same thing. I stumbled upon this book at a poetry reading in a ma ...more
Jun 28, 2012 Jann rated it it was amazing
I heard Stanley Kunitz himself read "The Long Boat" on NPR on his 100th birthday, and was so moved I had to pull my car over to the side of the road. Since then, he has been my favorite poet. He, like me, was a "licker of the earth"---a person who truly loved life. This beautiful book of his thoughts on his garden, interspersed with his poems, and transcripts was an exquisite reading experience for me. I am also a gardener. How wonderful to have an entire century of bringing beauty to the earth ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing
This was a lovely, insightful little book. Using his literal garden and the garden as metaphor, the poet reflects on writing and on life. The first half (plus) of the book meditates on gardening and how it is very much like writing. His poems are wound throughout. The last part of the book is a meditation on death and dying. Each part is lovely and beautiful and true. Beautiful color photographs of the poet in his garden are scattered throughout. I’m so very glad I read it.
Jan 17, 2009 Carolynz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gardening, poetry
A friend told me to look into Kunitz writing about gardens....and well this one is near perfect.

Kunitz was at the end of his life when this was being put together.
It is part poetry collection, part interview and a thoughtful meditation on what it is to quietly garden through out your life. The photos of Kunitz among his plants- hands fresh with dirt and clasped behind his back, are as moving as the poems.
May 23, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it
A beautiful idea for a book, Kunitz's poems are interspersed with his reflections how his experience with the natural world-- how he came to see his place & his memories within a cosmic pattern-- shapes his life, and therefore, his writing. Very simple but moving, I think this is an especially interesting read for writers because it contextualizes how all themes are dug straight from a muddy, emotional well.
Therese Broderick
Sep 02, 2012 Therese Broderick rated it it was amazing
"The Wild Braid" is NOT a how-to handbook of gardening or poetry. It's an eloquent, elegant, and erotic ("What makes the engine go? / Desire, desire, desire.") ceremonial object: a Creativity Testament with ravishing photos, searing poems, and fearsome revelations about living and dying. I will honor Mr. Kunitz's principle that poems & gardens are most vital when they keep some secrets: I will say no more.
Leisha Wharfield
Dec 24, 2009 Leisha Wharfield rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poetry lovers and gardeners
Recommended to Leisha by: Roz
Thanks to Roz for loaning me this book. I immediately bought another copy as a gift. Stanley Kunitz, that old fossil, tells us all about his near-death experience and how it transforms him. He discusses the genesis of several of his poems with the interviewer, after which each poem is printed. The photos are rich and I recommend this book highly for poetry lovers and gardeners.
Patti K
Apr 08, 2013 Patti K rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs-auto-bio
This charming 2005 book was written when the poet was in his late 90's
and is full of vigor and beauty. It is more of a meditation than memoir,
centering on his love of gardening and poetry. Poems are included as well
as some interviews along with the meditations. A reflective and vibrant
look at an individual making a soul through passions and art.
Nov 06, 2010 Melody rated it it was amazing
Kunitz in old age is a force of nature, a conduit for purity of language. The only (minor) jarring note in here is a bit of dialogue toward the end where the interviewer comes too much to the fore. The meditations on gardening, on process, on dying and living and love are nearly as lovely as the poetry. Highly recommended.
Nov 11, 2015 Marcie rated it it was amazing
A friend recently read a poem to our group. In in, she included that the Wildest Braid lay open upon the desk When I asked about the book, she urged me to read it. It is lovely. I have sent the library copy back, purchased myself a copy to keep, and four more for friends. I will read this book for years to come.
Aug 15, 2011 Shirley rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book. I so enjoyed reading of Stanley Kunitz's life in his garden. The poetry is beautiful but I got lots of tips on writing as well. He must have been an incredible person, someone you just wish you knew personally. A very warm, loving and extremely feeling read. You know this man loved life.
Aug 25, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I read this autobiographical poetry book while on vacation and it was a perfect(re)introduction to Cape Cod. Poet Kunitz lived in Provincetown, CC and loved the place. He passed away last year at the age of 100 after spending most all his life writing and editing. Beautiful book!
Apr 14, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
Lovely, lovely, lovely. Life, vitality, joy in the world, death, poetry and plant cycles. Part poetry, part reflective journal, part interview, part photography. So glad for the experience. A big "thank you for sharing" to Mr. Kunitz.

Sandy D.
Interesting short combination of essays, an interview, photographs, and poetry by a 99 y.o. poet - he had an incredible garden in Provincetown, MA.

Themes include creativity, wilderness vs. domestication, death, and wildlife.
Jun 10, 2009 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, poetry
Kunitz has changed my thinking about gardening, and deepened, confirmed, and changed my thinking about poetry. Some really wonderful insights about death as well. Bravo!
Jun 01, 2008 Jana rated it it was amazing
This book was gifted to me by a dear friend. His musings on writing and gardening are as interesting as his poetry, and applicable to all creative pursuits. Very inspiring.
Corie Sanford
Apr 11, 2016 Corie Sanford rated it it was amazing
What a blessing, to encounter such a small wealth of grace and art.
Aug 21, 2015 Edd rated it it was amazing
I cannot say enough about this book. Simply beautiful.
Tamara Hill Murphy
Feb 04, 2016 Tamara Hill Murphy rated it it was ok
At the time of this book's publication award-winning poet and master gardener Stanley Kunitz was planning his 100th birthday. This book was lovingly conceived by those who admired his long years creating beauty in words and soil. A lovely, relaxing read.
Jun 17, 2009 Clay rated it it was amazing
Because of the beauty of this book, I've created a shelf of All-Time Favorites. His true story of taming the owls is miraculous, in a book full of wonders. Five stars not enough.
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Stanley Jasspon Kunitz was an American poet. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress twice, first in 1974 and then again in 2000.
More about Stanley Kunitz...

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