On Stanley Kunitz and the Fine Arts Work Center


“When my wife and I first started dating, the poet Stanley Kunitz, one of the founders of the Fine Arts Work Center, visited her in a dream. She told him about our budding romance, and he said, with all the brightness and benevolence one would expect, “That’s wonderful! Wonderful!” (We later named our spaniel after him, though he turned out to be more like Stan Laurel than Stanley Kunitz.) That Stanley Kunitz might travel through the weird ether of dreams seems not wholly far-fetched. He believed in the necessary work done by the secret, sleeping self, busy “tunneling the purple sea,” as he puts it in an early poem. That belief was at the bedrock of his poetry and his teaching, and it continues to shape the institutions that he helped create, Poets House in New York City and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in particular.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Fine Arts Work Center. At its heart is its fellowship program, which from October to May each year hosts ten artists and ten writers in the early stages of their careers. Fellows are given a monthly stipend and a place to live and work. The Work Center also holds a robust summer program of workshops, readings, and artist talks, as well as online classes all year round. It is, as the name suggests, a place to work and was built, fittingly, on the site of a former lumberyard.”


Read “On Stanley Kunitz and the Fine Arts Work Center” by Geoffrey Hilsabeck, published in The Paris Review on July 17, 2018.

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