In honor of the 100th birthday of Stanley Kunitz today, NPR's "All Things Considered" had a very nice story, featuring Kunitz reading his poem "The Long Boat." You can listen to the audio on NPR's website (and there's some additional material there as well). According to the story, he is spending the day with friends & family at his home in Provincetown. I hope he has a wonderful birthday. It is a beautiful day in Provincetown, 75 and sunny with a light breeze.
Also see this nifty graphic from the New York Times: "You have to fight for your poems."
And this article from the Boston Globe: "One hundred years of plenitude."
I was fortunate enough to hear Kunitz read at the Fine Arts Work Center in August of 2003, when he was only 98 (only!) -- a reading that was special enough even the New Yorker covered it (towards the end of this long and very interesting article). I was deeply moved by his presence, his spirit, and his commitment that night -- which was also my first experience with FAWC, where I had such an amazing, life-changing week this summer. Kunitz was instrumental in the founding & development of FAWC, so I (like so many others) owe him a debt of gratitude even beyond what we all owe him for his poetry. As if poems like "The Wellfleet Whale" and "The Layers" and "Touch Me" weren't enough.
And when I feel like a late bloomer, at the ripe old age of 44 and haven't published a book yet, I think about how much of his best work happened in his eighties, and I feel hopeful again.
Happy, happy birthday, Stanley Kunitz. The world's a better place for poetry because of you.
And happy birthday, too, to bloggers Rebecca Loudon and Teresa Ballard. Note to mothers anticipating elective C-sections in July: Avoid the 29th unless you want the kid to grow up and write poetry, apparently. And what mama in her right mind would ever wish for that? *grin*