MAXINE KUMIN, 1925-2014
Seven Poets Laureate in Washington, Oct. 2010: Mark Strand, Charles Simic, Kay Ryan, Maxine Kumin, Daniel Hoffman, Rita Dove, Billy Collins
Maxine Kumin relished her role as the first politically active female Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the position now known as Poet Laureate. She was the last laureate to move to Washington, yet she was there only one year; her outspokenness and political activism were probably the reason she was not asked by then Librarian of Congress, Daniel J. Boorstin, to stay for a second year as is the custom. Equestrian, gardener, scholar, professor, critic, novelist, essayist, memoirist, author of children’s books, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, and activist for women writers, human and political justice and animal rights, Maxine boldly jumped the fences built around women and showed us what a woman untethered can do. Married to chemist and engineer Victor Kumin, who helped invent the Atomic Bomb (and who later refused to continue his work after the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki) for nearly 68 years and the mother of three, Maxine proved with the fiery determination with which she lived her life that, yes, a woman can have it all.
More on MAXINE KUMIN’s year in Washington.