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Maxine Kumin

Maxine Kumin explored her position as a Jewish woman in the larger Christian culture through her highly acclaimed poetry, and fought to ensure equal representation for minorities in the Academy of American Poets. Kumin’s first book of poetry, Halfway, was published in 1961, and in 1973 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Up Country: Poems of New England. In her poetry, novels, and essays, she examined themes of nature and the seasonal rhythms of country life, her relationship with her family, and her position as a Jew in a Christian culture. She taught poetry in a variety of settings, including Tufts, Columbia, Brandeis, and Princeton Universities, and served as a consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. In 1996, she was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, but resigned from the organization in 1998 to protest the absence of minorities from the board of chancellors. That year, a fall from a horse carriage left Kumin severely injured and confined to a “halo,” that stabilized her head and spinal column, and she wrote a moving account of her recovery called Inside the Halo and Beyond.

Kumin, Maxine - still image [media]
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Early on in life, Maxine Kumin discovered the difficulties inherent in being a woman and a writer: "It was commonplace to be told by an editor that he’d like to publish more of my poems, but he’d already published one by a woman that month." She persevered, and American literature is the richer for it.

Institution: Sylvia Edwards, Longview Community College

Date of Birth
June 6, 1925
Place of Birth
Germantown, Pennsylvania
Date of Death
February 6, 2014

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Maxine Kumin." (Viewed on March 31, 2015) <>.


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