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Contemporary Gay American Poets and Playwrights: An A-to-Z Guide

By Emmanuel S. Nelson | Go to book overview

MAURICE KENNY (1929–)

Linda E. Rosekrans


BIOGRAPHY

Maurice Kenny, Mohawk (also Seneca heritage), was born in Watertown, New York, on August 16, 1929, and grew up both on and off the nearby Mohawk reservations. Educated at Butler University (B.A., English literature, 1956), where he says he became most affected by the lyricism of Dylan Thomas and Walt Whitman (Bruchac 149), Kenny went on to St. Lawrence University, and New York University, where he was influenced by American poet Louise Bogan. He remained in New York City for several years; from there he traveled to Mexico and the Virgin Islands in the 1960s and on to Chicago for one year. Kenny then moved to Brooklyn, until his recent return to the Adirondacks in New York State. His belief in poetry as performance—public enactment—has pulled him to residencies in many learning communities throughout America, including The American Indian Community House in New York City, the Oneida Indian Nation of Wisconsin, the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University, Gettysburg University, and most recently, the Silver Bay Association (for The Writer’s Voice), a NYSCA (New York State Council for the Arts) Writer’s Residency at the Syracuse Community Writers and a residency in “Women’s Studies/Creative Writing” at State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia, New York. In 1995, Kenny was presented an honorary doctorate by St. Lawrence University. He has been poet-in-residence at North Country Community College, near his home at Saranac Lake, New York, and visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, at the En’owkin Center at the University of Victoria, British Colombia, and at Paul Smith’s College. Currently he is a visiting professor at SUNY, Potsdam. Recognized as a leading figure in the renaissance of Native American poetry since the 1970s, Kenny was honored in 2000 with the Elder

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