Maurice Kenny ~ Mohawk

Published on November 28, 2012 by Amy

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Maurice Kenny
Maurice Kenny

Maurice Kenny (born on August 16, 1929 in Watertown, New York) is a Mohawk poet.

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Maurice Kenny was born on in Watertown, New York. His father is a Mohawk from Canada, and his mother was born in Upstate New York. The family spent time living both on and off the nearby reservation.

Kenny’s father was a stern man, given to rough treatment of his son, and at 16 Maurice ran away from home, living in New York City for a brief period before returning home.

Maurice Kenny lives between Saranac Lake, and Potsdam. He occasionally teaches at North Country Community College, and retired from his teaching duties at SUNY Potsdam in 2011.


Kenny was educated at Butler University, St. Lawrence University and New York University, where he studied with American poet Louise Bogan.


Kenny was co-editor with Josh Gosciak of Contact/II, a literary magazine, and editor and publisher of Strawberry Press in the 1970s and 1980s. Strawberry Press published poems and artwork, often in postcard form, by Native Americans. Kenny read his poetry in New York City at the Poetry Festival at St. Clement’s Church, West 46th Street, Manhattan, and at Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream readings and book fairs, among other venues.

Kenny has held residencies at a number of colleges and universities, including St. Lawrence University, receiving an honorary doctorate in 1995, the American Indian Community House in New York City, the Oneida Indian Nation of Wisconsin, the University of California at Berkeley, and Syracuse Community Writers, funded by the New York State Council on the Arts.


  • In 2002, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas.
  • In 2000, the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers awarded Kenny the Elder Recognition Award.
  • In 1996, “On Second Thought” was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in fiction.
  • In 1995, he received an honorary doctorate by St. Lawrence University.
  • In 1983, “Wounds Beneath the Flesh” was awarded Bloomsbury review’s best anthology
  • In 1984, “The Mama Poems” received the American Book Award
  • Kenny’s 1982 book of poems, “Blackrobe: Isaac Jogues, B. March 11, 1607, D. October 18, 1646″ was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, as was “Between Two Rivers.” He is the recipient of a National Public Radio Award for Broadcasting.


  • Dancing Back Strong the Nation: Poems, White Pine Press. (Introduction by
    Paula Gunn Allen)
  • Blackrobe: Isaac Jogues, b. March 11, 1607, d. October 18, 1646: Poems (1982)
  • Wounds Beneath the Flesh (1983)
  • The Mama Poems (1984)
  • Greyhounding This America (1988)
  • On Second Thought, University of Oklahoma Press (1996)
  • Source: wikipedia Unabridged
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