Maxine Kumin Essay

3064 words - 12 pages

Maxine Kumin is considered one of the best Jewish American poets of her time. She has won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for her work in Up Country. She has been compared to Anne Sexton, who was a fellow American confessionalist poet. Confessionalist poets tend to focus their poetry on personal matters that took place in their lives. For example, Kumin discusses the inner lives of her characters in her personal poems. She is considered a naturalist feminist because she gives her utmost importance to ecological things, such as plants, animals, the overall environment surrounding her. Kumin "asserts that her connection with animals is essential to her work as a poet, and later implies that through her association with them she has discovered a creatural self that is deeper and better than the human self" (Lyman, 23). To some she is not only ecological, but and ecological feminist. Unlike other confessionalist poets who wrote mainly about despair and depression, Kumin focuses her writing on happier things, such as family life, farming, subjects of life and nature, and loss. Her first published writings included Connecting the Dots, Nurture, Looking for Luck, Up Country: Poems of New England, The Long Approach, and House, Bridge, and Fountain Gate. She has been recognized for her tremendous work and the attention that she drew from women in the American society. Critics have even compared her work to Henry David Thoreau and Robert Frost. Kumin became an important figure in the feminist literary society.
She was born and raised in Philadelphia to Jewish parents. She grew up on a farm and was always surrounded by animals, which is reflected in her poetry. Kumin's "poetry is political and environmental, she is sometimes public about the personal, and the poems in this work illustrate both by kind and degree how she presents the relationships between these concerns of her poetry" (Griffin, 103). Her love for animals and nature is everlasting and can be read in most of her poetry such as in The Long Marriage. Her inspiration to write came from her best friend Anne Sexton whom she met while she was attending classes for poetry. Her work in Up Country: Poems of New England talks about her observations on rural life. From the collection of Up Country, comes the story called Woodchucks. In this poem, Kumin uses extremely symbolic diction when talking about sensitive issues, such as war and killing.
In Woodchucks, the gardener is annoyed with the woodchucks because they are eating and vandalizing the garden. He decides to put an end to this problem by purchasing cyanide gas to kill the woodchucks. This plan backfires and the woodchucks continue to destroy her plants. His frustration builds up and she finally decides to purchase a rifle to kill the woodchucks. ...

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