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Planting poetry; Kunitz bequest an opportunity.


Stanley Kunitz wrote beautiful poetry, threaded with gentle marvels and questions. Sometimes, he reveals haunting childhood pain - his father killed himself shortly before he was born - and in spare language he tells of deep loves and longings. Nature and gardening were fertile sources for his thoughts.

The Worcester-born wordsmith was for years famously uneasy about his heritage here. His home at 4 Woodford St., on the city's East Side, held unhappy memories. But in old age the twice-appointed U.S. poet laureate - and long-ago Worcester Telegram reporter - warmly reconciled to his roots.

The Worcester County Poetry Association now has the chance to tend new poems and poets in Mr. Kunitz's memory. He died in New York in 2006 at age 100, leaving part of his estate to the association for establishing a prize in his name.

After a year's legal tussle, the poetry association last week received about $16,000. Though less than the $75,000 reportedly stipulated in the will, it's still strong seed money for growing and encouraging this quiet craft.

We eagerly await how the association's officers and board members will decide to spend the gift. An annual $1,000 book prize to help publish a manuscript or cash prize for a deserving local poet are among options to be considered, WCPA president Mark G. Wagner told the Telegram & Gazette.

Because Mr. Kunitz cherished his role as a mentor, recognition could perhaps also be considered for someone who serves in that role in some form, such as a teacher or a promoter of poetry. Mr. Kunitz entrusted Worcester as nest for the prize, so maybe a contest on the theme of home, childhood or wisdom would be appropriate.

Whatever details are worked out, it's a kindness and an honor that Mr. Kunitz arranged to encourage future works via this nod back to his beginnings. It's also a testament to the enduring power of the past, and to his faith in the value, the longevity andthe joy of poetry.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 16, 2009
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