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Biographical background on 2006 Dartmouth honorary degree recipientsMAXINE KUMIN(Doctor of Letters)

Posted 05/01/06 • Roland Adams (603) 646-3661

Maxine Kumin
Maxine Kumin

Maxine Kumin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, novelist, and author. Her writings explore rural New England life, various social and cultural issues, and family.

She was born in 1925 in Philadelphia. After receiving her B.A. and M.A. from Radcliffe College, Kumin taught English at several colleges. In the 1950s she met the poet Anne Sexton, who received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967, and who influenced Kumin and collaborated with her on several children's books.

Kumin has published fifteen books of poetry, starting with Halfway in 1961. She was awarded the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Up Country: Poems of New England (1972) and the Poets' Prize for Looking for Luck (1992). Among her more recent book are Jack and Other New Poems (2005), Bringing Together: Uncollected Early Poems 1958-1988 (2003), and The Long Marriage (2002). Her Selected Poems: 1960-1990 was a New York Times Notable Book in 1997. She is also the author of a memoir, Inside the Halo and Beyond: The Anatomy of a Recovery (2000); a mystery, Quit Monks or Die (1999); twenty children's books; and four books of essays, including Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry (2000).

Her works have tackled issues of Jewish identity and family, and have explored love between men and women. Her life in New Hampshire has been the inspiration for numerous works. Beginning in the 1980s, she began to address social issues in her poetry.

Kumin was the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a post now titled Poet Laureate, from 1981-1982. She served as New Hampshire's Poet Laureate from 1989-1994.

Kumin has received several awards, among them the Aiken Taylor Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets and the National Council on the Arts. She is a former chancellor of The Academy of American Poets, a post she resigned in 1999 to protest its lack of multicultural diversity. In 2005, she received the Harvard Arts Medal, which honors a distinguished Harvard or Radcliffe graduate or faculty member who has achieved excellence in the arts and has made a contribution through the arts to education or the public good.

With her husband of 60 years, Kumin resides in Warner, New Hampshire, accompanied by two rescued dogs and two retired horses. They have two daughters, a son, and two grandsons.

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