Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Richard Jackson | Go to book overview

Maxine Kumin, 1975


Settling in Another Field

POETRY MISCELLANY: The world portrayed by your new book seems more populated, its imagery more diverse, used more to counterpoint ironically some of the statements the poems make. Are you conscious of such a shift?

MAXINE KUMIN: Not really. I'm conscious that there is a continuing shift in voice, but it seems to me that it arises directly from the earlier book, that what had begun in Up Country simply gets continued in House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate. My intention is always the same, to be specific, clear about the naming quality of things. The focus, though, is continually narrowing. The more narrowed the focus becomes, then perhaps the more sharpened and ironic the language becomes. I think any shift is toward being more natural so that everything I write comes out of the world I am close to, out of the manure pile, out of the garden. That's the texture of the world I'm living in.

POETRY MISCELLANY: Your sequence, "The Kentucky Poems," presents a kind of self-definition, a focusing of yourself in a particular world.

MAXINE KUMIN: One reviewer, though she liked House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate overall, thought that this section was meretricious, that it focused on old themes, my sense of estrangement as a Jew. I was taken back by the comment because I thought she totally missed the point of the poems. She was saying that the subject was something I wrote less well about than the natural world, perhaps more so than the other sections. What I like about

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Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Path of Saying 1
  • The Sanctioned Babel 7
  • Untelling the Hour 13
  • The Domain of the Marvelous Prey 19
  • The Hallowing of the Everyday 27
  • Event: Corrective: Cure 32
  • Stepping into the Sky 39
  • Unnaming the Myths 48
  • On the Horizon of Time 53
  • Distilled from Thin Air 61
  • The Imminence of a Revelation 69
  • Renaming the Present 77
  • Lives We Keep Wanting to Know 84
  • Doubling the Difference 93
  • Questions of Will 101
  • Settling in Another Field 107
  • Living the Layers of Time 113
  • Double Vision 120
  • Emergencies of the Moment 126
  • The Languages of Illusion 132
  • The Mystery of Things That Are 140
  • Before the Beginning 146
  • On the Margins of Dreams 153
  • Unbreakable Codes 158
  • Projecting the Literal Word 164
  • Answering the Dark 172
  • Shaping Our Choices 178
  • Magic: Power 183
  • On the Periphery of Time 191
  • The Candle in the Pitcher 196
  • Selected Bibliography 206
  • Index 213
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