Stanley Kunitz (Very) Brief Biographical Notes
Summer - Death by suicide of his father, Solomon Kunitz.
July 29 - Stanley Kunitz is born in Worcester, Massachusetts. His mother, Yetta Jasspon Kunitz, remarries. After one idyllic year with his stepfather, Mr. Dine dies.
1922 – 1926
Attends Harvard University, graduates summa cum laude. Works for Worcester Telegram. Leaves Worcester for New York City, works for H. W. Wilson, Co. reference publisher. Attempts to find publisher for the letters of Vanzetti, of Sacco-Vanzetti Trials; fails.
Publishes first book of poetry: Intellectual Things. Marries Helen Pearce; moves to farm in Manfield Center, Connecticut.
Moves to farm in New Hope, Pennsylvania; Theodore Roethke comes to visit him.
Divorced from Helen Pearce.
Marries Eleanor Evans.
1943 – 1945
Drafted as conscientious objector; serves in Air Transport Command.
Publishes second book of poetry, Passport to the War; Awarded Guggenheim fellowship.
1946 - 1949 Theodore Roethke has Kunitz replace himin classes at Bennington College.
Birth of daughter, Gretchen.
1949 - 1957
Teaches poetry in colleges and workshops.
Receives Ford Foundation grant; Divorced from Eleanor Evans; marries artist Elise Asher. Begins teaching as poet-in-residence, Brandeis University; Publishes third book of poetry, Selected Poems, 1928-1958.
Receives Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Receives Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree, Clark University.
Begins teaching at Columbia University.
Establishes Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
1969 – 1977
Edits Yale Series of Younger Poets.
Publishes his fourth book of poetry, The Testing-Tree.
1974 – 1976
Serves as Consultant in Poetry to Library of Congress, this position now entitled: Poet Laureate.
Publishes his fifth book of poetry, The Poems of Stanley Kunitz, 1928 - 1978.
Publishes a chapbook, The Wellfleet Whale and Companion Poems.
Worcester celebrates Stanley's 80th birthday with the week-long Stanley Kunitz Poetry Festival.
Publishes book of poetry and essays: Next-to-Last Things: New Poems and Essays
Receives the National Medal of Art from President Clinton.
Publishes Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected, winning the National Book Award.
Publishes The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz.
October, 2000 - October 2001
Serves as tenth U. S. Poet Laureate; reads in Worcester to benefit the Worcester County Poetry Association's The Worcester Review Endowment Fund.
Severely ill, near death, poets gather at his bedside in New York City. Summer, 2003
Returns to summer home at Provincetown.
Elise Asher, his wife for over 45 years, dies.
Publishes The Wild Braid, A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden.
Stanly Kunitz celebrates his 100th Birthday in Provincetown.
May 15, 2006
Stanley Kunitz dies in his Greenwich Village apartment.
Researched by Heather Macpherson and Carle Johnson, WCPA.
A Brief Stanley Kunitz Biography
Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) was born on Providence Street in Worcester on July 29, the son of Solomon and Yetta Jasspon Kunitz. His early years are the subject of several poems. “The Magic Curtain” recalls memories of movies he had seen in his childhood. “The Portrait” is an extremely powerful piece which recalls his father’s untimely death and his mother’s refusal to discuss it. “The Testing Tree” tells about Kunitz’s boyhood ritual which involved throwing rocks at an oak tree on the edge of the city. This ritual carried implications which “challenged his destiny.” A later poem, “My Mother’s Pears,” describes the pear tree in the back yard of his home on 4 Woodford Street, where he lived until 1922.
Kunitz graduated from Worcester’s Classical High School and then earned an AB and an MA from Harvard. He edited the Wilson Library Bulletin and numerous important reference works on British and American authors. Kunitz established himself as an extremely influential writer in this country. He won the Pulitzer for Selected Poems 1928-1958; other awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Fellowship Award of the Academy of American Poets, the Bollingen Prize and the Lenoire Marshall Prize, the Brandeis Medal of Achievement, the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit, the National Book Award, and in 1993 President Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Art. He was a Professor of Poetry at Columbia, a translator of the works of several Russian writers, including Voznesensky, Akhmatova, and Mandelstam, an editor of the Yale Series of Younger Poets, and was named the first official New York State Poet. From 1974 to 1976, he served as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress and again named U.S. Poet Laureate (as the position is now designated) in July 2000, a few days after his 95th birthday.
At the age of 100, he published his last book, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden. Written in collaboration with his literary assistant Genine Lentine and accompanied by photographs by Marnie Crawford Samulelson of the writer in his beloved Provincetown garden, the book includes essays, favorite poems, and reminiscences. Stanley Kunitz died in his Greenwich Village apartment on May 15, 2006