Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006). Courtesy Library of Congress.

Stanley Kunitz
Born Stanley Jasspon Kunitz
July 29 1905(1905-Template:MONTHNUMBER-29)
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died May 14 2006(2006-Template:MONTHNUMBER-14) (aged 100)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Poet
Nationality United States United States
Alma mater Harvard College

Stanley Jasspon Kunitz (July 29, 1905 - May 14, 2006) was an American poet and academic.[1] He served as appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress twice, in 1974 and again in 2000.[2]

Life[edit | edit source]

Kunitz was born in Worcester, Massachusetts to dressmaker, Solomon Z. Kunitz and Lithuanian-Jewish mother, Yetta Helen Jasspon. His father committed suicide 6 weeks before he was born, and Kunitz was raised by his mother and stepfather, Mark Dine, who died when Kunitz was 14.

Kunitz earned a B.A. in 1926 from Harvard College and an M.A. from Harvard the following year.[1] After Harvard, he worked as a reporter for The Worcester Telegram, and as editor for the H.W. Wilson Company in New York City until he was drafted in 1943. As a conscientious objector, Kunitz served as a noncombatant in the US Army during World War II, and was discharged with the rank of staff sergeant.

After the war, he began a teaching career at Bennington College, New York State Teachers College in Potsdam, New York, New School for Social Research, University of Washington, Queens College, Vassar, Brandeis, Yale, Rutgers, and a 22-year stint at Columbia University.

At Wilson Company, Kunitz served as editor of the Wilson Library Bulletin and as co-editor for Twentieth Century Authors, among other reference works. In 1931, as Dilly Tante, he edited Living Authors: A book of biographies. His poems began to appear in Poetry, Commonweal, The New Republic, The Nation, and The Dial.

Kunitz's poetry has won praise from all circles as being profound and well written. He continued to write and publish as late as 2005, at the age of 100. Many believe his poetry's symbolism is influenced significantly by the work of Carl Jung. Kunitz was an influence on many 20th century poets, including James Wright, Mark Doty, Louise Glück, and Carolyn Kizer.

His marriages to poet Helen Pearce and actress Eleanor Evans ended in divorce. His 3rd wife, artist Elise Asher, died in 2004. Kunitz divided his time between New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts, for most of his life. He enjoyed gardening and maintained one of the most impressive seaside gardens in Provincetown. He was a founder of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he was a mainstay of the literary community, and of Poets House in Manhattan. Kunitz also judged for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition.

He was considered by many observers to be the most distinguished and accomplished poet in the United States at the time of his death.

He died in 2006 at his home in Manhattan. He had previously come close to death, and reflected on the experience in his last book, a collection of essays, The Wild Braid: A poet reflects on a century in the garden.

Writing[edit | edit source]

Kunitz's debut collection of poems, Intellectual Things, was published in 1930. His second volume of poems, Passport to the War, was published fourteen years later when the author was serving on the European front in World War II. Although it featured some of Kunitz's best-known poems, the book went largely unnoticed and soon fell out of print. Kunitz's confidence was not in the best of shape when, in 1959, he had trouble finding a publisher for his 3rd book, "Selected Poems: 1928-1958." Despite this unflattering experience, the book, eventually published by Little Brown, received the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

His next volume of poems would not appear until 1971, but Kunitz remained busy through the 1960s editing reference books and translating Russian poets. When twelve years later The Testing Tree appeared, Kunitz's style was radically transformed from the highly intellectual and philosophical musings to more deeply personal yet disciplined narratives; moreover, his lines shifted from iambic pentameter to a freer prosody based on instinct and breath—usually resulting in shorter, three-four stressed lines.

Recognition[edit | edit source]

His 1959 collection, "Selected Poems: 1928-1958", won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Throughout the 70s and 80s Kunitz became one of the most treasured and distinctive voices in American poetry. He was appointed the inaugural New York State Poet in 1987.

His collection Passing Through: The Later Poems won the National Book Award in 1995.

He was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience award in Sherborn, MA in October 1998.[3]

Kunitz received many other honors, including a National Medal of Arts, the Bollingen Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry, the Robert Frost Medal, and Harvard's Centennial Medal. He served two terms as Consultant on Poetry for the Library of Congress (the precursor title to Poet Laureate), one term as Poet Laureate of the United States, and one term as New York State Poet.

Library Bill of Rights[edit | edit source]

Kunitz served as the editor of the Wilson Library Bulletin from 1928 to 1943. In this capacity he was highly critical of librarians who did not actively oppose censorship. He published an article in 1938 by Bernard Berelson entitled "The Myth of Library Impartiality". This article led Forrest Spaulding and the Des Moines Public Library to develop the Library Bill of Rights which was later adopted by the American Library Association and continues to serve as the cornerstone of intellectual freedom in libraries.[4]

Publications[edit | edit source]

Poetry[edit | edit source]

  • Intellectual Things. New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1930.
  • Passport to the War: A selection of poems. New York: Holt, 1944.
  • Selected Poems, 1928-1958. Boston: Little, Brown, 1958.
  • The Testing-Tree: Poems. Boston: Little, Brown, 1971.
  • The Terrible Threshold: Selected poems, 1940-70..London: Secker & Warburg, 1974.
  • The Coat without a Seam: Sixty poems, 1930-1972. Northampton, MA: Gehenna Press, 1974.
  • The Lincoln Relics. Port Townsend, WA: Graywolf Press, 1978.
  • The Poems of Stanley Kunitz: 1928-1978. Boston: Little, Brown, 1979.
  • The Wellfleet Whale, and companion poems. Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY: Sheep Meadow Press, 1983.
  • Next-to-Last Things: New poems and essays. Boston: Little, Brown, 1985.
  • Passing Through: Later poems, new and selected. New York: Norton , 1995.
  • The Collected Poems. New York: Norton, 2000.
  • The Wild Braid: A poet reflects on a century in the garden (with Genine Lentine). New York: Norton, 2005.

Non-Fiction[edit | edit source]

  • Robert Lowell: Poet of terribilita. New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1974.
  • A Kind of Order, a Kind of Folly: Essays and conversations. Little, Brown, 1975.
  • ''Interviews and Encounters with Stanley Kunitz (edited by Stanley Moss}. Sheep Meadow Press, 1993.

Translated[edit | edit source]

  • Anna Akhmatova, Poems of Anna Akhmatova (translator with Max Hayward). Little, Brown, 1973.
  • Andrei Voznesensky, Story under Full Sail, Doubleday, 1974.
  • Anna Akhmatova, Poems of Akhmatova/Izbrannye stikhi (editor, author of introduction, translator; with Max Hayward) Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

Edited[edit | edit source]

  • Living Authors: A book of biographies. Bronx, NY: H.W. Wilson, 1931.
  • Authors Today and Yesterday: A companion volume to 'Living Authors' (edited with Howard Haycraft), H.W. Wilson, 1933.
  • The Junior Book of Authors: An introduction to the lives of writers and illustrators for younger readers (edited with Howard Haycraft). H.W. Wilson, 1934
    • second revised edition, 1951.
  • British Authors of the Nineteenth Century (edited with Howard Haycraft). H.W. Wilson, 1936.
  • American Authors, 1600-1900: A biographical dictionary of American literature (edited with Howard Haycraft). H.W. Wilson, 1938, 8th edition, 1971.
  • Twentieth-Century Authors: A biographical dictionary (edited with Howard Haycraft). H.W. Wilson, 1942
    • 1st supplement, 1955.
  • British Authors before 1800: A biographical dictionary (edited with Howard Haycraft). H.W. Wilson, 1952.
  • John Keats, Poems of John Keats. New York: Crowell, 1964.
  • European Authors, 1000-1900: A biographical dictionary of European literature (with Vineta Colby). H.W. Wilson, 1967.
  • Ivan Drach, Orchard Lamps (editor and author of introduction). Sheep Meadow Press, 1978.
  • Selections: University and college poetry prizes, 1973-78. Academy of American Poets, 1980.
  • William Blake, The Essential Blake (author of introduction). New York: Ecco Press, 1987.
  • Karl Shapiro, The Wild Card: Selected poems, early and late (edited with David Ignatow). Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation. [5]

Audio / video[edit | edit source]


Poetry Breaks Stanley Kunitz Reads "The Portrait"

  • Stanley Kunitz Reads His Work (LP). New York: Carillon, 1961.
  • Stanley Kunitz (cassette). Kansas City, MO: New Letters, 1982.
  • Stanley Kunitz (audiobook). New York: Academy of American Poets, 2004.

  • Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[6]

See also[edit | edit source]

Preceded by
New York State Poet
Succeeded by
Robert Creeley

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Stanley Kunitz, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Web, Mar. 29, 2013.
  2. "Poet Laureate Timeline: 1971-1980". Library of Congress. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  3. The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Recipients List
  4. McCook, Kathleen de la Peña (2011). Introduction to Public Librarianship, pp. 62-63.
  5. [ Stanley Kunitz 1905-2006, Poetry Foundation, Web, Jan. 12, 2011.
  6. Search results = au:Stanley Kunitz + audiobook, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, June 26, 2018.

External links[edit | edit source]

Audio / video
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. (view article). (view authors).
This page uses content from Wikinfo . The original article was at Wikinfo:Stanley Kunitz.
The list of authors can be seen in the (view authors). page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.