Where I Live

Maxine Kumin has been laboring diligently in the fields for half a century—those of poetry and those in which her horses, dogs, and family dwell. Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010, her sixteenth volume of poems, gathers the best of five most recent books.

 

Kumin won the Pulitzer Prize (for her 1972 collection Up Country) yet remains a "poet's poet" with the makings of a wildly popular writer. Her work is beautiful, brave, down-to-earth, accessible, moving, and formally rigorous.

 

Where I Live flaunts an uneven magnificence. Animals take center stage. ("Perhaps in the last great turn of the wheel/ I was some sort of grazing animal./") There's the burial of a loved horse: "…his yellow teeth as he lay/ deep on one side and my hand shook—I could hardly see--/ rocking my grief back and forth over this kind death/ the taste of apple wasting in his mouth." Kumin honors old age and departures, but this is a book of shimmering life. "Sunrise is a peach curtain,/ the river a woman/ in a lame dress."

 

Kumin celebrates her long marriage; ("I hope, he says, on the other side there's a lot/ less work, but just in case I'm bringing tools."); she pays homage to poets and writers, relatives and heroines. More, she pays attention to everything. A newborn foal "sticks a foreleg out/ frail as a dowel quivering/ in the unfamiliar air." Magic is rooted in the real. As this poet reminds us, "Allegiance to the land is tenderness."

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.