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Biography of Poet Maxine Kumin

1344 words (5 pages) Essay in Literature

08/02/20 Literature Reference this

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According to Webster’s Dictionary, a hypocrite is a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right or wrong but behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs. A poet can demonstrate this within their work, as did the late Maxine Kumin. Some would say she is a multi-talented and well-educated contemporary period poet. Maxine is by no means a person who could be called a hypocrite, in life or in a literary sense. She is a double degree graduate from Radcliff College and one of the best published literary figures to this day. Though not all people know her name, it is almost a certainty to have heard or read one of her inspiring pieces of work. Kumin is an animal rights activist and strongly believes in her morals which were taught to her mainly by her father. Maxine Kumin illustrated the unthinkable when she showed how hypocritical our human race can be in a split second of self-revealing reality.

Georgetown, Pennsylvania native Maxine Kumin entered this world on June 6th, 1925. She was the youngest and only girl of the 4 children raised in her family’s Jewish household. Since her childhood years a strong emotion of fear has always motivated Maxine. Hearing horrid news of the mass genocide amongst the Jews in Germany she feared the unthinkable would soon conquer her own country. Growing up with an evil and corrupt society Maxine formed a strong- willed open mind. Her work throughout the years, is a deep-thinking reflection of what she has witnessed as an adolescent as well as what she viewed was wrong and right morally.

Transforming a short story into a novel is one of humans many talents for which she is recognized. The short story which is titled Buying A Child and continued the story line to which Maxine published a novel The Designated Heir. In an interview with Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo) she describes the thoughts and process towards the stories by reading the poem from which the two works were inspired. The Vealers is among the many poems that refers to the real-life situations of which Maxine has encountered while living on her two-acre farm. A fun fact about her farm, is that she named is “PoBiz” which is short for “Poetry Business.” In the interview she relates the poem to the actuality of a vealer who was her neighbor, speaking of how much of a disgrace his career was in her mind. Personally, Maxine Kumin said, “It should be outlawed.” In just a blink of an eye ones wandering mind may see this as something else, for instance, Maxine describing a child who has been home schooled moving to a public school which relates to what occurred to Maxine when she was in 3rd grade. A belief her father influenced her at a young age to live by, “A home school child will not survive in the real world, they do not experience nothing like it.” Kumin’s father repeated the moral to the little girl more than a few times.

Take this poet and try to define and dissect her work with each different detail she published, it is clear her poetry can be a manipulation of all different aspects of someone’s beliefs. While researching different takes on Maxine’s poem from 1973, it is obvious that Maxine leaves her work open to creative minds alike. Woodchucks is an astonishing point of view from in an opinion, a Nazi Army’s soldier as they change over the time of the unforgettable Holocaust. Perhaps Kumin is writing in a hypothetical or close to hypocritical way as she describes her one and most damned emotion, Fear. Simple words can become so much more once the mind is unleashed within an individual’s morals and follows that same someone’s personal beliefs of which they live. Picture this, Woodchucks might be a hypocritical point of view story as Maxine described, in line 15 “A lapsed pacifist” who, in line 23, becomes “a murderer inside me.” Underneath all the personal opinions this poet may have introduced one’s mind to a story of a little woodchuck which to her is resembling a Jew, that is undoubtedly murdered by the speaker of the poem (most likely a farmer) resembling a Nazi soldier.

Now picture Maxine Kumin, an animal rights activist, digging around and uncovering a disgraceful act of animal violence, in her eyes. Can someone imagine the activist herself withstanding so much disgust for their own race, constantly fighting the inside urge to go out and protest an animal testing company. It must have killed her inside, coincidently enough Maxine took matters into her own hands and published a fantastic novel titled Quit Monks or Die the mystery novel is almost a painted picture in a imaginative sense as to what Maxine’s jumbled up thoughts within her animal rights believing mindset might look like while she was composing the piece of work.

Turning the topic around towards the innocence and hypocritical points of view, if one throws a freshman level PSYC1101 course into the research, Maxine Kumin is simply letting all her readers piece together her works main ideas on their own. Which allows the mind of each individual to become reality containing the underlying evils and morals of themselves a truth. Within this freshman level PSYC1101 course students will discover an experiment which reveals that a human being will become an exact to the definition of a hypocritical person, if instructed to do so. This experiment included a random person who is wearing a doctor lab coat who in turn orders human beings, whose beliefs are defied, and most are eventually forgotten, to become a hypocrite who will not disappoint the higher educated person. When in the end the person in the coat is not even a doctor, but a random participant for the experiment as well.

Kumin opens her readers intellectual thinking abilities up, presenting a wide variety of questionable view points for which could be described in her work. Even though some non-literary poem readers may tend to stay confused from the open ending of most all of her work, she is said to be an extravagant literary genius who steers clear of any and all allegations of the public or even her private life personal relationship partners starting to depict her as a hypocritical human being herself.

Works Cited

  • Brownworth, Victoria. “In the Garden of Life: A Tribute to Maxine Kumin.” Lambda Literary, 11 Feb. 2014,
  • Dictionary, Webster’s N., and Editors O. Dictionaries, editors. “Hypocrite.” Webster’s II New College Dictionary, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005.
  • HoCoPoLitSo “The Writing Life”. “Maxine Kumin Talks of Farm Life and Poetry.” YouTube, 11 Feb. 2014,
  • Kumin, Maxine. “How to Survive Nuclear War.” Ploughshares, Emerson College, vol. 10, no. 4, 1984, pp. 171-173, JSTOR. Accessed 22 Apr. 2019.

    • —. “Writing in Multiple Genres.” Prairie Schooner, vol. 79, no. 4, 2005, pp. 5-8.
  • “Maxine Kumin.” Encyclopedia Britannica,
  • Maxine Kumin,
  • “Maxine Kumin.” Poetry Foundation,
  • Rubin/Pennsylvania State University, New Kensington, Lois Elinoff. “Jewish Identity over the Life Cycle: Poems by Maxine Kumin and Linda Pastan.” Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal Winter 2010 Volume 7 Number 2, vol. 7, no. 2, 2010, pp. i1-i1, file:///C:/Users/jlble/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/15068-Article%20Text-36108-1-10-20110309%20(1).htm.
  • “Sunday Poetry: Woodchucks, by Maxine Kumin « Gone Mild.” Gone Mild, 20 Dec. 2009, Accessed 5 Apr. 2019.
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