Poet Stanley Kunitz smiles as he talks with a visitor to a reception for his new book "The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden." May 2005. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, file)
Photo: AP/Tina Fineberg

Stanley Kunitz


A Poet Laureate of the United States, Stanley Kunitz was one of the most acclaimed and influential poets of our time, remaining active in the poetry community as a writer, activist, and mentor to young poets until his death, at the age of 100, in 2006.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1905, Kunitz was the child of an immigrant dressmaker from Lithuania. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University in 1926, he spent his early career working as a reporter and editor. He then served in the army during World War II. Following the war, he began teaching, first at Bennington College in Vermont, and later at universities including Columbia, Yale, Princeton, Rutgers, and the University of Washington.

His published poetry spans much of the 20th century, from his first book, Intellectual Things (1930), to Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected (1995), which won the National Book Award. His last book was published on his 100th birthday, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on A Century in the Garden, with Genine Lentine, featuring photographs by Marnie Crawford Samuelson. Other books include Passport to War, and Selected Poems, 1928-1958, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

In 1993, President Clinton presented Kunitz with the National Medal of Arts.