Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mary Kinzie  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction Poetry

Born: 1944 in Montgomery, Alabama

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Illinois Connection

Since 1979, Mary Kinxie has been head of the undergraduate creative writing program at Northwestern University.

Biographical and Professional Information

Honored as a teacher and critic, Mary Kinzie has published several collections of critical essays as well as poetry. She has an MA from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and a PhD in English from Johns Hopkins University.Mary has published more than 150 poems in magazines and journals, and has written extensively on contemporary poets in reviews and essays.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Threshold of the Year (Breakthrough Book)
ISBN: 0826203612

Univ of Missouri Pr. 1982

Summers of Vietnam and Other Poems
ISBN: 0935296832

Sheep Meadow. 1990

Poems deal with such topics as love, family, prison, God, and death

Autumn Eros And Other Poems
ISBN: 0679747346

Knopf. 1993

A collection of poems about the author's daughter

The Cure of Poetry in an Age of Prose: Moral Essays on the Poet's Calling
ISBN: 0226437361

University of Chicago Press. 1993

The role of the poet, Mary Kinzie writes, is to engage the most profound subjects with the utmost in expressive clarity. The role of the critic is to follow the poet, word for word, into the arena where the creative struggle occurs. How this mutual purpose is served, ideally and practically, is the subject of this bracingly polemical collection of essays.

A distinguished poet and critic, Kinzie assesses poetry's situation during the past twenty-five years. Ours, she contends, is literally a prosaic age, not only in the popularity of prose genres but in the resultant compromises with truth and elegance in literature. In essays on "the rhapsodic fallacy," confessionalism, and the romance of perceptual response, Kinzie diagnoses some of the trends that diminish the poet's flexibility. Conversely, she also considers individual poets—Randall Jarrell, Elizabeth Bishop, Howard Nemerov, Seamus Heaney, and John Ashbery—who have found ingenious ways of averting the risks of prosaism and preserving the special character of poetry.

Focusing on poet Louise Bogan and novelist J. M. Coetzee, Kinzie identifies a crucial and curative overlap between the practices of great prose-writing and great poetry. In conclusion, she suggests a new approach for teaching writers of poetry and fiction. Forcefully argued, these essays will be widely read and debated among critics and poets alike.

A Poet's Guide to Poetry (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
ISBN: 0226437396

University Of Chicago Press. 1999

A Poet's Guide to Poetry brings Mary Kinzie's expertise as poet, critic, and director of the creative writing program at Northwestern University to bear in a comprehensive reference work for any writer wishing to better understand poetry. Detailing the formal concepts of poetry and methods of poetic analysis, she shows how the craft of writing can guide the art of reading poems. Using examples from the major traditions of lyric and meditative poetry in English from the medieval period to the present, Kinzie considers the sounds and rhythms of poetry along with the ideas and thought-units within poems. Kinzie shares her own successful classroom tactics—encouraging readers to approach a poem as if it were provisional.

The three parts of A Poet's Guide to Poetry lead the reader through a carefully planned introduction to the ways we understand poetry. The first section provides careful, step-by-step instruction to familiarize students with the formal elements of poems, from the most obvious feature through the most devious.

Part I presents the style, grammar, and rhetoric of poems with a wealth of examples from various literary periods.

Part II discusses the way the elements of a poem are controlled in time through a careful explanation and exploration of meter and rhythm. The "four freedoms" of free verse are also examined.

Part III closes the book with helpful practicum chapters on writing in form. Included here are writing exercises for beginning as well as advanced writers, a dictionary of poetic terms replete with poetry examples, and an annotated bibliography for further explanatory reading.

This useful handbook is an ideal reference for literature and writing students as well as practicing poets.




Drift
ISBN: 0375709908

Knopf. 2005

"The world is touched and stands forth," writes Mary Kinzie in this book of seductive poetic experiment. In lines by turns fragmented and reflective, she shatters and reassembles such curiosities as an engraving by Albrecht Durer and the portrait of a notorious suicide whose children develop a secret telepathy. In one of her many powerful longer pieces, she collects glittering shards from myriad versions of the Cinderella story:

Was the young girl running
out of it because
--recall the blood
within the shoe?--
it hurt her?

Kinzie's verse moves mysteriously between folk-lore and urban devastation, between white magic and the concoction of mood drugs in the modern laboratory. In each poem, she draws our attention to the chinks of light in the dark narratives that surround us, in a language animated by her sympathy and deep moral intelligence.


From the Hardcover edition.

California Sorrow
ISBN: 030726680X

Knopf. 2007

In this exceptional new collection, acclaimed poet Mary Kinzie opens her attention to the landscapes of the earth. Her poems of richly varied line lengths develop phrases at the syncopated pace of the observing mind: “Slag and synthesis and traveling fire / so many ways the groundwaves of distortion / pulse / through bedrock traffic and the carbon chain” she writes in the opening poem, “The Water-brooks.” Here, and throughout, her reflection on the natural world embraces the damages of time to which we can bear only partial witness but to which the human memory is bound.

In the collection’s title poem, Kinzie goes on to explore her own romantic griefs alongside the adventures of T. S. Eliot, “inadvertently working on a suntan” as he tours the desert in the roadster of his American girlfriend, whose heart he will break. Kinzie’s conviction that sorrow, too, is a form of passion allows her to lift poems from shattered thoughts and long-ago losses, at times blending prose and verse in a combustible mixture.

Determined not to prettify but still expressing fresh wonder at the beauty we stumble across in spite of our shortcomings, Kinzie delivers her bravest work yet in these new poems.

O God invisible as air

My tears have been my meat

sweet
because no noxious thing runs with themonly
fragrant naïveté of the reflective midday when
bank herb and wood flower and water from the pool
can best be gathered
also the knowledge
that these gifts are tenuous and that the mouth
and the harp
might soon be strange to play


Awards

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