Born the fourth of four children to immigrant parents (his mother was from Ireland, his father from Scotland), Galway Kinnell spent most of his youth in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where his father, James Scott Kinnell, earned his living as a carpenter and woodworking teacher. Kinnell left home his senior year of high school to attend Wilbraham Academy in Massachusetts on scholarship. From there he entered Princeton University, where for two of his undergraduate years, he was a member of the U.S. Navy, training as an officer, and where he also met W. S. Merwin and Charles Bell. Bell became Kinnell’s mentor. In 1949, following his graduation from Princeton summa cum laude, Kinnell received his M.A. from the University of Rochester. Between 1951 and 1964, Kinnell spent two years at the University of Grenoble in France as an instructor of American literature, two years in Iran as a lecturer and journalist, periods of teaching in Chicago and New York City, and periods of retreat to an abandoned farm he purchased in 1961 in northern Vermont. Kinnell’s commitment to social justice during the period was evidenced both in his poetry and his membership in the Congress of Racial Equality. Later he would be an active participant in Poets Against the Vietnam War.
Marriage to Ines Delgado de Torres in 1965, and the subsequent arrival of a daughter, Maud, in 1966, and a son, Finn Fergus, in 1968, temporarily stinted Kinnell’s wanderlust; in 1969, following two years...
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