The poet Maxine Kumin was born in Germantown, Philadephia, in 1925, into a nominally observant Reform Jewish family that lived next door to the Convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a teaching order. Here she attended the first few years of primary school, which, she says, accounts for the juxtaposition of Jesus and Jewish rituals in many of her poems. She attained a BA and MA from Radcliffe before it was subsumed by Harvard, was a Scholar in 1962-3 at the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study.
Maxine Kumin's 16th poetry collection, Still to Mow, published by W.W. Norton in 2007, has just come out in paperback. Norton has also published Jack and Other New Poems and earlier collections, including Selected Poems 1960-1990. Kumin is the author of a memoir about a nearly fatal carriage-driving accident, Inside the Halo and Beyond: Anatomy of a Recovery, and Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry. Her awards include the Pulitzer and Ruth Lilly Poetry Prizes, the Poet's Prize, the Aiken Taylor Award, the 2005 Harvard Arts Medal, the Robert Frost Medal in 2006 and the 2008 Paterson Prize for Distinguished Literary Achievement. In 1981-2 Kumin served as Poet Laureate of the United States. She and her husband, married 62 years, live on a farm in Warner, New Hampshire.
Kumin served as the poet laureate of New Hampshire from 1989 to 1994. From 1991 to 1994 Kumin was a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. She has taught at many of the United States' most respected universities, including Princeton, Columbia, Brandeis, MIT, Washington at St. Louis and the University of Miami, served on the staff of the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Bread Loaf and Sewanee writer's conferences, and given readings or conducted writers' workshops in every state in the Union, save Hawaii and North Dakota. In 2005, Kumin was the recipient of the Harvard's Arts Medal.
Together with fellow-poet Carolyn Kizer, she first served on and then resigned from the board of chancellors of the Academy of American Poets, an act that galvanized the movement for opening this august body to broader representation by women and minorities.