Book of the Week #51

The Pawnbroker's Daughter: A Memoir by Maxine Kumin (NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015)

In her own perfectly chosen words Maxine Kumin explains in this memoir how a little Jewish girl from Philadelphia became one of America's foremost poets.
"When my fourth poetry book, Up Country: Poems of New England, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973, I was stunned. The news came in a phone call from a local television station; I was certain someone was perpetrating a cruel hoax. Once I was persuaded the award was real, I was aghast. Harper & Row were, too. In six weeks they managed to renew the print run and bring out a paperback edition as well. However, when my editor, accompanying me to my first reading at the 92nd Street Y in New York, announced cheerfully, "This should be fun. I've never been to a poetry reading before," I was so unsettled that I misplaced the carefully annotated list of poems I planned to read and had to choose as I went along. That summer after the flurry of interviews, including appearances on TV, I fled from suburban Boston to our derelict former dairy farm in New Hampshire. Candide's advice to cultivate my garden helped center me. I was truly afraid I would never write again--but the poems came, as they always had, on their own terms, beginning in the most unexpected ways and demanding that I pay attention." (p.82)

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