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Essay

Remembering Stanley Kunitz

It was just four days before Stanley Kunitz’s death that my wife, Meg, and I were able to enjoy a short visit with him in his New York City home. I am working on a film called Stanley’s House, about his (and my) childhood home in Worcester, Mass., and I was eager to share with him some recent photos of the finely restored house in which he grew up. I had lived in the same first-floor bedroom some 30 years after Stanley’s family had moved there, and I had only accidentally learned of our joint connection to this house through an article in the New Yorker published in 2003.

His gracious literary assistant, Genine Lentine, suggested that Stanley might want to read a few short “Worcester poems” for us. I had brought my video camera with faint hopes of collecting some “B roll” footage while we were there. Stanley consented to read on camera, and graced us with strong readings of “The Portrait,” “Halley’s Comet” and the opening of “The Testing Tree.” When he finished, he said, “That house still has a strong hold on us both.” He also remarked, “I feel so close to my childhood right now.”

Since he seemed so alert, we were shocked to hear of his death so soon after our visit. We will carry his gift of this visit with us, and his readings will enrich our film celebration of his boyhood home and his Worcester poems.

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Remembering Stanley Kunitz

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