Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Galway Kinnell

Sad to see that poet Galway Kinnell died.

I remember seeing/hearing him read at U.C. Davis in the late 1970s. It was in a relatively small classroom in Olson Hall, next to Sproul.

I recall he read a poem about not being with his mother when she died. A kind of Freudian poem, for lack of a better description, that was not rare in those days, as Freud's influence hadn't waned quite yet.

I also recall a poem in which the speaker tries to talk someone out of suicide, or at least thoughts of suicide. After he read the poem, Kinnell said, "I have to admit, it wouldn't convince me, either."

Self-deprecating, at least at that reading, and the broad, craggy face and what used to be called "an unruly shock of hair."

Fine free-verse poet.




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