American Poet. (Famous)
Stanley Jasspon Kunitz was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress twice, first in 1974 and then again in 2000.
Kunitz was born in Worcester, Massachusetts to dressmaker, Solomon Z. Kunitz and Lithuanian-Jewish mother, Yetta Helen Jasspon. His father committed suicide six weeks before he was born, and Kunitz was raised by his mother and stepfather, Mark Dine, who died when Kunitz was fourteen.
Kunitz graduated summa cum laude in 1926 from Harvard College and earned a master's degree in English from Harvard the following year. After Harvard, he worked as a reporter for The Worcester Telegram, and as editor for the H.W. Wilson Company in New York City until he was drafted in 1943. As a conscientious objector, Kunitz served as a noncombatant in the US Army during World War II, and was discharged with the rank of staff sergeant. After the war, he began a teaching career at Bennington College, New York State Teachers College in Potsdam, New York, New School for Social Research, University of Washington, Queens College, Vassar, Brandeis, Yale, Rutgers, and a 22-year stint at Columbia University.
At Wilson Company, Kunitz served as editor of the Wilson Library Bulletin and as co-editor for Twentieth Century Authors, among other reference works. In 1931, as Dilly Tante, he edited Living Authors, a Book of Biographies. His poems began to appear in Poetry, Commonweal, The New Republic, The Nation, and The Dial.
Kunitz's poetry has won praise from all circles as being profound and well written. He continued to write and publish as late as 2005, at the age of 100. Many believe his poetry's symbolism is influenced significantly by the work of Carl Jung. Kunitz was an influence on many 20th century poets, including James Wright, Mark Doty, Louise Glück, and Carolyn Kizer.
His marriages to poet Helen Pearce and actress Eleanor Evans ended in divorce. His third wife, artist Elise Asher, died in 2004. Kunitz divided his time between New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts, for most of his life. He enjoyed gardening and maintained one of the most impressive seaside gardens in Provincetown. He was a founder of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he was a mainstay of the literary community, and of Poets House in Manhattan. He died in 2006 at his home in Manhattan. He had previously come close to death, and reflected on the experience in his last book, a collection of essays, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden.
He was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience award in Sherborn, MA in October 1998.
Elise Asher Kunitz
1912–2004 (m. 1958)
Sophia Kunitz Isenberg
He loved the earth so much, he wanted to stay forever.