SAL/on air is a literary podcast featuring the best author talks from over thirty years of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ programming.
Maxine Kumin, whom we lost in 2014, once said that, quote, “The garden has to be attended every day, just as the horses have to be tended to. Not just every day, but morning, noon and night. Writing, I think, exerts the same kind of discipline. I think of myself as a Jewish Calvinist. You know: salvation through grace, grace through good works and working is good, just that simple.”
In this episode, recorded in April of 2005, we hear poems from across Maxine Kumin’s impressive body of work, including her collection Jack and Other New Poems. Acclaimed for her meticulous observation and her mastery of traditional forms, Kumin’s poetry draws comparisons to Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and Anne Sexton, her longtime friend and collaborator. But her voice defies easy comparisons.
Often reflecting the dailiness of life and death on her New Hampshire horse farm, her powers lay in the unsentimental way she translated personal experience into resonant verse. “The paradoxical freedom of working in form…” as she says in this reading, is that it “gives you permission to say the hard truths.” Let’s listen to some of those hard truths now, and to Kumin’s good works.