The Inner and Outer Worlds of Poets Robert Lowell and Maxine Kumin

Lowell once wrote to his friend Elizabeth Bishop: “My trouble is to bring together in me the Puritanical iron hand of constraint and the gushes of pure wildness. One can’t survive or write without both but they need to come to terms.”

This seems to get at the heart of his poetic output. Between bouts of manic-depressive illness, Lowell wrote extended examinations of the influence of the past on New England history and culture. He also probed into his own illustrious family and his relationships with his wives, in sometimes searing and sometimes more meditative verses.

Maxine Kumin was one of his students, along with Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, but she was spared the mental instability of her teacher and those classmates. Though also politically engaged and very anti-war, she was deeply connected to nature. Kumin celebrated the quotidian and often humorous and ironic details of the rural landscape of New Hampshire, where she lived most of her life. One doesn’t feel such strong tension as with Lowell, but Kumin expresses greater acceptance of life’s dichotomies.


Group Leader: LIZ CABOT
Venue: Chilton Club
Meets on: Tuesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 10/4/2022
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 24
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 1-1.5 hours
Group Leader Biography:

After 20 years of graduate study and teaching English literature and composition in colleges, Liz Cabot needed a change. She shifted sideways to English as a Second Language (ESL, now properly English Language Learning) and made the right move. She loves the mix of students, their motivation and appreciation of practical help in adjusting to new lives.  Now she happily moves between two spheres: volunteer tutoring and teaching ELL to adults and leading some BHS literature classes and taking others.