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Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry
by Maxine Kumin
Poetics. In her essays, as with her Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, Mazine Kumin speaks to "the encounter": with poetry, poets, and the details of country life. In clear, direct prose she is equally at ease musing over her garden or discussing poetic form, raising horses or critiquing the work of other poets. For Kumin, poetry is inseperable from daily life. "The prose is h ...more
Paperback, 237 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Copper Canyon Press
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When Maxine Kumin died earlier in February at the age of 88, I pulled two books of her prose off my shelves, one I thought I’d read and the other I knew I had not. I’m not sure why I turned to prose for such a well-regarded poet but I did. In any case, I thought I’d browse through one and then read the other. Always Beginning, the one I had thought I read was published in 2000 and it was nestled in my read poetry section. Quickly I realized that the book has been misfiled. I didn’t recognize the ...more
I love these essays on life and poetics by Maxine Kumin. Some of the best essays were prefaced by a poem and then dealt with how Kumin wrote the poem, what inspired it, or what she would have changed in the poem if she had written it as a more mature poet. There are also keynote addresses that she delivered for various occasions, and a lengthy personal interview. Just a great book with a wealth of knowledge and inspiration!
I came to this memoir, or maybe more properly “mostly thoughts on how I write poetry book” curious because I knew Maxine Kumin was a good friend of Anne Sexton and also not far removed from Carolyn Heilbrun, Jane Kenyon, and May Sarton. Plus, she is a swimmer and a horse lover. If you’re not a fan of these authors and you don’t care for things like epiphanies round the birth of a foal, you may not like this book as much as I did. I did like it, and found it loaded with pithy wisdom. If you’re an ...more
May 31, 2007 Joanna rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: formalists or aspiring formalists, those interested in poetry and/or influential contemporary poets
A collection of odds and ends, compiled in a book. Kumin's essays on the intersections between poetry and life are interesting and instructive. She discusses at some length her friendship with Anne Sexton, and the post-WWII acceptance of female poets into the poetry establishment, at which she and Sexton were the helm. What I found most helpful, as a dabbler in poetry myself, was her discussion of and insistance on formal poetics: rhyme, meter, rhythm, etc.
Nov 06, 2008 Ron Mohring rated it 4 of 5 stars
Part memoir, part interviews, part essays on poetics and on the writings of others, this is a fine, intelligent collection from a writer whose steady and sustained focus can't be overestimated, in my opinion.
Maxine Kumin's 17th poetry collection, published in the spring of 2010, is Where I Live: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010. Her awards include the Pulitzer and Ruth Lilly Poetry Prizes, the Poets’ Prize, and the Harvard Arts and Robert Frost Medals. A former US poet laureate, she and her husband lived on a farm in New Hampshire. Maxine Kumin passed away in 2014.More about Maxine Kumin...