Thursday, October 30, 2014

Galway Kinnell, Poet: Dead at 87

Photo: NY Times
On Tuesday, October 27 Galway Kinnell died of leukemia at his home in Sheffield, Vt. He was 87 years old.

Galway Kinnell was one of the great American poets. He won both a Pulitzer and a National Book Award for his poetry, and should, in my opinion, have joined Robert Frost - whose poems also evoked the fields and forests of New England - among the ranks of  Poet Laureates.

Kinnell was not a gentle poet. His poetry was direct, no-holds-barred, and straight from the gut. He used natural imagery to convey the profoundest of human experiences in a way that defied convention and dragged us back to our roots.

Of his poems, one of my favorites is The Porcupine, which I had the pleasure of hearing him read. One stanza (I can still hear Kinnell's powerful, booming voice) has stuck with me for 30 years.

"I roll
this way and that in the great bed, under
the quilt
that mimics this country of broken farms and woods,
the fatty sheath of the man
melting off,
the self-stabbing coil
of bristles reversing, blossoming outward—
a red-eyed, hard-toothed, arrow-stuck urchin
tossing up mattress feathers,
pricking the
woman beside me until she cries."

Kinnell was a big man, a big poet, and a true son of New England. His voice will be sorely missed,

Read the NY Times article HERE.

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