A posthumous publication of five essays by former Poet Laureate Kumin (And Short the Seasons: Poems, 2014, etc.), who died in 2014.
The last essay, written when she was 88 years old, shows a still-sharp, sensitive woman, happy in her life on a New Hampshire farm with her 92-year-old husband, Victor. They met at the end of World War II when she was a Radcliffe student and he, an engineer stationed at Los Alamos. Her essays, as much as her poetry, reflect her outlook on life and the importance of her animals: her horses and dogs, many now buried near the pond that she and her husband dug so many years ago. Even those not attuned to the music of poetry will be moved by her work, which is very much rooted in the rural landscape. Her eventual move toward strong political statements took her from light verse to the poetry of witness. She grew up in the 1930s and fought to become a poet against the usual attitudes against women becoming, well, much of anything. A grant in 1961 from the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study gave her the validation she needed to spur her career on. She became a staff member at Bread Loaf Writers Conference at Middlebury, Vermont, received the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for Up Country: Poems of New England, and was named poet laureate in 1981. By that point, Kumin had ensured her place among the great American poets of the 20th century. The real joy of this book is the author’s love of all things country and New England.
Kumin and her husband experienced an idyllic life on their 200-acre horse farm in New Hampshire, “living a wide-open lifestyle.” Happily, she shared that life with the rest of us through her writing.