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To Be the Poet
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To Be the Poet

By Maxine Hong Kingston
2002, 144 pages, hardback.
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Book Description from the Front Cover Flap

"I have almost finished my long-book," Maxine Hong Kingston declares. "Let my life as Poet beginů I won't be a workhorse anymore; I'll be a skylark." To Be the Poet is Kingston's manifesto, the avowal and declaration of a writer who has devoted a good part of her sixty years to writing prose, and who, over the course of this spirited and inspiring book, works out what the rest of her life will be, in poetry. Taking readers along with her, this celebrated writer gathers advice from her gifted contemporaries and from sages, critics, and writers whom she takes as ancestors. She consults her past, her conscience, her time - and puts together a volume at once irreverent and deeply serious, playful and practical, partaking of poetry throughout as it pursues the meaning, the possibility, and the power of the life of the poet.

A manual on inviting poetry, on conjuring the elusive muse, To be the Poet is also a harvest of poems, from charms recollected out of childhood to bursts of eloquence, wonder, and waggish wit along the way to discovering what it is to be a poet.

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Background on Maxine Hong Kingston

Maxine Hong Kingston, Senior Lecturer for Creative Writing at the University of California, Berkeley, delivered the 2000 William E. Massey Lectures at Harvard, on which this book is based. For her memoirs and fiction, The Woman Warrior, China Men, Tripmaster Monkey, and Hawai'i One Summer, Kingston has earned numerous awards, among them National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Pen West Award for Fiction, an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Literature Award, and a National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the rare title of "Living Treasure of Hawai'i."

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