Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Steven Ratiner | Go to book overview

7
—NEW LIFE IN THE BARN
Maxine
Kumin

IT IS A FALSE-SPRING DAY in late February, and so my car fishtails lazily, hauling itself up the once-frozen, now mud-slushed road. The first thing my eye catches when I arrive at Maxine Kumin's home is the sign high on the barn wall: Pobiz Farm—a bit of humor twice compounded, just what one would expect from a crafter of language. This modest horse farm survives (the sign implies) only through the auspices of that other business Ms. Kumin is engaged in: poetry. And, of course, only another poet would grasp what a tenuous and absurd occupation it is—selling words: practicing the art of making language and images sing themselves alive so that a reader's mind might join them.

Maxine Kumin has long survived in the “pobiz” precisely because of her unreasonable and passionate commitment to the life of language. Never one to be steered by literary fashion or academic orthodoxy, she has cultivated

-129-

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Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • Giving Their Word *
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 9
  • 1 - —Opening the Moment 11
  • 2 - —A Solitary Walk 39
  • 3 - —Poetry and the Common Work 65
  • 4 - —The Toy of Language 75
  • 5 - —The Words Worth Saying 95
  • 6 - —The Work That Makes a Home 109
  • 7 - —New Life in the Barn 129
  • 8 - —The Poetry of Witness 147
  • 9 - —Poetry and the Burden of History 169
  • 10 - —The Communal Voice 183
  • 11 - —A Chorus of Voices 199
  • 12 - —Reclaiming the Word 221
  • 13 - —Without and Within 237
  • Selected Sources 267
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