Monday, May 15, 2006

Stanley Kunitz Dies at 100

The poetry community suffered a great lost with the passing of Stanley Kunitz.

When I lived in New York, I had the opportunity to hear him read many times, in particular at his 90th birthday celebration.

Here is one of his most famous poems, and one of my favorites:

The Portrait

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.

Also, you can hear him read the poem at


Left-handed Trees... said...

I am so happy to see this poem, as it is also one of my favorites of his. I actually got to see Kunitz once at a workshop in MA. He was as beautiful as his words are--for this reader, too, both will be missed.

January said...

I never met him, but he seemed to live his life as a technician, constantly working on his craft. And he was an amazing gardner.


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