In July, 95-year-old Stanley Kunitz became the 10th poet laureate of the United States, the oldest poet to hold that distinction. Shortly after learning of the appointment, he told the Washington Post, "In my work, at this age, this is gratifying and astonishing. I must say, I was not prepared for that call."
Kunitz may not have expected the call, but his lifetime of achievement has more than prepared him for his latest honor. His first poem appeared in 1930, the same year that T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday" was published. He is the author of 11 volumes of poetry, including "Passing Through," which won the National Book Award in 1995.
Kunitz has received nearly every honor bestowed upon poets in this country, including the Pulitzer and Bollingen prizes, a National Medal of Arts from President Clinton in 1993 and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America in 1998. He has also served as the State Poet of New York and chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, taught graduate writing at Columbia University and was a founder of both the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., and Poets House in New York.
Hear Stanley Kunitz read three poems recorded live in New York.