Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell dies at 87

American poet Galway Kinnell, whose work emphasized the ordinary over the fantastical, died from leukemia Tuesday at his home in Sheffield, Vermont. He was 87.

Influenced by Walt Whitman, Kinnell sympathized with common folk in his poems, and pointed toward nature as a source of solace from the social ills of the day. A World War II vet and anti-war activist, Kinnell’s work didn’t shy from addressing social issues of the 1960s.

After decades of writing poems, Kinnell received the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award in 1983 for “Selected Poems.” Later, he received the MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 1984 and became Vermont’s poet laureate from 1989 to 1993.

When the NewsHour interviewed Kinnell in 2006, he read his poem “Why Regret?” a highlight from his last book of poetry, “Strong Is Your Hold,” released the same year.

“I had in mind that the poem is addressed to all readers, including myself,” he said about the selection, “reading it over to tell us to remember the pleasures and the confidence we gain from engaging ourselves with the common acts, the ordinary things, the other creatures, and to remind us in this holiday season, when we get reports everyday of the most horrible killings, that nevertheless we have very much to be thankful for.”

Kinnell is survived by his wife, his son, Fergus; his daughter, Maud Kozodoy; and two grandchildren.

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