Award Winners

2006 Frost Medalist

Maxine Kumin


The Final Poem

Bread Loaf, late August, the chemistry
of a New England fall already
inviting the swamp maples to flare.

Magisterial in the white wicker rocker
Robert Frost at rest after giving
a savage reading

holding nothing back, his rage
at dying, not yet, as he barged
his chair forth, then back, don't sit

there mumbling in the shadows, call
yourselves poets?
All
but a handful scattered. Fate

rearranged us happy few at his feet.
He rocked us until midnight. I took
away these close-lipped dicta. Look

up from the page. Pause between poems.
Say something about the next one.
Otherwise the audience

will coast, they can't take in
half of what you're giving them.

Reaching for the knob of his cane

he rose, and flung this exit line:
Make every poem your final poem.




All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.


Selected by William Louis-Dreyfus

There is a tendency, perhaps especially in our times, to classify poets in groups of similarity and influence. So it has been said of Maxine Kumin that she emerges from the movement that gave us Sexton and Plath and Adrienne Rich, that she is a confessional poet like Lowell because of the autobiographical starting point of many of her poems, that she is, like Frost, attentive to the rural rhythms of life or like Elizabeth Bishop in the precision of her detail. All of that may have its relevance, but it is not a central truth. She is a poet whose womanhood is an expanse to her poetry not merely a subject of it. She resembles Frost in her clarity and she is confessional only by way of connecting narrow dots to the broad universe—that is, not at all. Good poetry defies definition. Perhaps it is what results from the degree of accuracy with which something is said—the more acute, the more concentrated, the more extreme the accuracy, the more superb the poetry and the more extreme is the good of the poetry. It is an honor for the PSA to award the Frost Medal to this extreme poet, Maxine Kumin.


All Winners

2022

Sharon Olds

2021

N. Scott Momaday

2020

Toi Derricotte

2019

Eleanor Wilner

2018

Ron Padgett

2017

Susan Howe

2016

Grace Schulman

2015

Kamau Brathwaite

2014

Gerald Stern

2013

Robert Bly

2011

Charles Simic

2001

Sonia Sanchez

2000

Anthony Hecht

1999

Barbara Guest

1998

Stanley Kunitz

1997

Josephine Jacobsen

1996

Richard Wilbur

1995

John Ashbery

1994

A. R. Ammons

1993

William Stafford

1992

Adrienne Rich
David Ignatow

1991

Donald Hall

1990

James Laughlin
Denise Levertov

1989

Gwendolyn Brooks

1988

Carolyn Kizer

1987

Sterling Brown
Robert Creeley

1986

Richard Eberhart
Allen Ginsberg

1985

Robert Penn Warren

1984

Jack Stadler

1976

A. M. Sullivan

1974

John Hall Wheelock

1971

Melville Cane

1967

Marianne Moore

1955

Leona Speyer

1952

Carl Sandburg

1951

Wallace Stevens

1947

Gustav Davidson

1943

Edna St. Vincent Millay

1942

Edgar Lee Masters

1941

Robert Frost