Maxine (Winokur) Kumin 1925–
American poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and author of children's books.
Kumin is best known for her poetry, which often portrays the simple workings of day-to-day life at her New Hampshire farm. Animals, children, the seasons, and neighbors are recurring subjects. Often classified as a transcendentalist, Kumin probes the human relationship to nature and celebrates the redemptive qualities of the natural world. Her writing has been compared to that of her friend, Anne Sexton, and in some aspects to the work of Sylvia Plath. Like Sexton, Kumin writes personal poems which focus on the inner lives of her characters. Unlike Sexton or Plath, however, she does not dwell on despair.
Since the publication of Halfway (1961), her first collection of poetry, Kumin's verse has generally been praised by critics. Many feel that her work is impressive both technically and in its portrayal of deep feelings and emotions. Although sometimes faulted for sentimentality and forced metaphors, among other things, Kumin's poetry is often described as authentic, believable, and refreshing in its affirmation of life.
Kumin's recent collection of poetry, Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief (1982), continues her exploration of the importance of personal relationships and human ties to nature. This work introduces into Kumin's poetry her increased awareness of the process of aging and death and the fleeting nature of life. Critics praise the intensity this awareness has added to her work and applaud her refusal to submit to despair. Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief is assessed as the honest and mature work of a poet sure of herself and her craft.
(See also CLC, Vols. 5, 13; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 1; Something about the Author, Vol. 12; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 5.)