Maxine Kumin is a prolific writer who covers several genres in addition to poetry including novels, short stories, essays, and memoir. Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1925 Maxine has received numerous awards for her work including the Ruth Lily Prize for her poetry. I picked up her book, Jack and Other New Poems at my local library and thought that you, too, may have been under a rock and not read her yet either.
The link below can lead you to her poem about her horse, Jack, that is also mentioned in the title. What I like about this book of poems is that she covers a wide range of subjects such as pets and war. Luckily, the change of subjects doesn’t come as a shocker nor does it leave you feeling confused about the arrangement of the poems. Everything seems to come very naturally. If you have a sense of humor, I highly recommend the poem “Leech Spit.” Also, the poem “The Apparition” is a wonderful ode to a pet who has passed. Lines such as “That night the old dog works/his way back up and out/gasping, salted with dirt/….I swear I recognize:/some flap of ear or fur/swims out of nothingness…” I think we all visualize loved ones appearing before us after they’ve passed and pets are no exception. This poem is tender and heartening. She even addresses Siamese twins Cheng and Eng and compares them to relatives of her own. What I enjoy is how clever Maxine Kumin is. There are fresh view points on the subjects she writes about and I hope that you will find her clever as well. Please pause and read her work when you happen upon it.
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