May 18, 2004

Is writing poetry hazardous to one's health?

The New York Times | April 24, 2004, Saturday
Going Early Into That Good Night

By FELICIA R. LEE
ABSTRACT - Article on study of 1,987 dead writers conducted by California State University's Learning Research Institute director James Kaufman, which concludes that poets tend to die younger than other types of writers; study finds that, overall, poets lived average of 62.2 years, compared with nonfiction writers, who lived longest at 67.9 years; photos; chart (M)

Not everyone is impressed with Mr. Kaufman's findings. Maxine Kumin, 79 and the former poet laureate of New Hampshire, said, ''The suicide rate among poets is not nearly as high as it is among dentists.'' As for her own ripe old age, she said, ''Well, I'm not depressed. I am relatively solitary. I was in my 30's when I started to write, so I don't think I peaked early.''

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