Monday, May 20, 2024


Poet Galway Kinnell reflects on mortality

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Poet Galway Kinnell. (MPR Photo/Mike Edgerly)

St. Paul, Minn. — "Mortality makes everything worth more to us," says Galway Kinnell.

In his 12 volumes of poetry, Kinnell, 78, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, has spent a lot of time writing about mortality -- in sinuous poems that weave together the natural world and his own personal history.

Galway Kinnell was born in 1927 in Rhode Island. He has worked as a journalist and as a volunteer for the Congress of Racial Equality in the South. His 1971 book-length poem, "The Book of Nightmares," is based on that experience.

Kinnell published his first book of poetry, "What a Kingdom it Was," in 1960. Kinnell won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his 1982 collection, "Selected Poems." In 2002 he was awarded the Frost Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Poetry Society of America.

Galway Kinnell's new book of poems will be published next year.

Kinnell reads Monday night at 7 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, as part of the Literary Witness program.

He spoke with Minnesota Public Radio's Mike Edgerly. To listen to their interview, choose the audio link in the right column.