Friday, September 10, 2010

Where I Live, by Maxine Kumin

Where I Live is a collection of poems written between 1990-2010, and many of the poems are indeed about Kumin's farm in New Hampshire. But others are about political issues, from the U.S. government's approach to fighting terror, to animal abuse and environmental problems. Still others focus on poets, from Wordsworth and Coleridge to Marianne Moore and Stanley Kunitz. Age and death also emerge as themes.

Whatever she is writing about, Kumin makes the poems accessible to the ordinary reader, a fact I (the average reader) appreciate greatly. Her poems reflect her humor, her love of nature and animals, her connections to people, her grief over her husband's death, and her passion about the world and how we, as people, live in it. The emotions reflected in the poems are wide-ranging. A poem like "The Taste of Apple," about the death of one of Kumin's horses, is terribly sad while "Which One" is one of numerous angry works--in this case Kumin excoriates people who throw away animals.

If you don't normally read poetry, but you love nature and/or animals, this book would be a great place to start the poetic journey!

Favorite passages:
From "Winter's Tale"
. . . life was bleak and sweet and you

made marmalade.

From "Extraordinary Rendition"
. . .
Extraordinary how the sun comes up
with its rendition of daybreak,
staining the sky with indifference.

From "Death, Etc."
. . . We try to live gracefully
and at peace with our imagined deaths but in truth we go for-

stumbling, afraid of the dark,
of the cold, and of the great overwhelming
loneliness of being last.

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