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From his celebrated seaside garden, a beloved poet-in his one-hundredth year-speaks about life, poetry, and the kindred spirit in all living things.
Throughout his life Stanley Kunitz has been creating poetry and tending gardens. This book is the distillation of conversations none previously published that took place between 2002 and 2004. Beginning with the garden, that "work of the imagination," the explorations journey through personal recollections, the creative process, and the harmony of the life cycle. A bouquet of poems and a total of twenty-six full-color photographs accompany the various sections.
In the spring of 2003, Kunitz experienced a mysterious health crisis from which, miraculously, he emerged in what he called a "transformed state." During this period, his vision of the garden-constant source of solace and renewal-propelled him. The intimate, often witty conversations that followed this time are presented here in their entirety, as transcribed. Their central themes, circling mortality and regeneration, attest to Kunitz's ever-present sagacity and wit. "Immortality," he answers when asked. "It's not anything I'd lose sleep over." 26 color photographs.
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Stanley Kunitz received the 1995 National Book Award in Poetry for Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected. Five years later, The Collected Poems, combining both early and later work, was published. Kunitz has received nearly every honor bestowed upon a poet in this country, including the Pulitzer and Bollingen Prizes, a National Medal of the Arts from President Clinton in 1993, and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America in 1998. He served as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress (and again when the post was later called U.S. Poet Laureate). He was State Poet of New York, and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. For many years Kunitz taught in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. He was editor of the Yale Younger Poets from 1969 to 1977, and was a founder of both the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Poets House in New York City. Stanley Kunitz lives in New York City and Provincetown. Genine Lentine is a poet, teacher, and student of the garden. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Provincetown, Massachusetts. Marnie Crawford Samuelson photographs for magazines and other clients, as well as producing and exhibiting her own work. She lives with her two daughters in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Wellfleet, Massachusetts.From Booklist:
Kunitz, who will turn 100 years old in July, has twice been named Poet Laureate of the U.S. He is not only a distinguished and luminous lyric poet but also an ardent gardener. As he reflects on his callings in this lovely mix of prose, poetry, conversation, and photographs, he illuminates the many ways each practice nurtures the other. Kunitz traces his rapport with nature to his boyhood, when he found refuge from family tragedy in woods and fields. In describing his seaside Provincetown garden, he contemplates the garden as "the cosmos in miniature" and a "compressed parable of the human experience." He observes that both gardening and writing poetry depend on the "wild permissiveness of the inner life." In the aftermath of a serious illness and an amazing recovery, Kunitz talks radiantly about death and art, and how an artist's work expresses "gratitude for the gift of life." In all, this is a graceful and moving glimpse into a rare and giving artist's refined poetics, garden aesthetics, and spirituality. Donna Seaman
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