Kate Barnes

American, 1932 - 2013

Kate Barnes was born on April 19, 1932, in Hingham , Mass. to parents Henry Beston and Elizabeth Coatsworth. Six weeks later she came to Maine on the train, in a basket, wreathed with flowers, to spend the summer at the Bestons’  Chimney Farm, in Nobleboro, Maine. Growing up she spent her summers in Maine, and attended the Derby School in Hingham, Mass. She graduated from the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and then from Scripps College, in Claremont, California. While Kate was attending Scripps College her parents sent her $30 a month for clothing and extras, which Kate instead used to rent a horse and spent every free moment riding horses and exploring the countryside. She said of that time “it was a drunkenness of such joy as I had never known…I just ate that landscape up. I couldn’t get enough.” The friendships that she made in college, in California and later in Maine continued in strength and richness throughout her life.

In 1953, Kate married Richard G. Barnes, and their life in California was full of children, horses, dogs and poetry. In 1955, at the age of 23, Kate had her first poem published in the New Yorker magazine. Her life in poetry blossomed, with poems published in many magazines and anthologies, and four books of poems published, two by the publisher David Godine. She was a well – loved reader, and teacher, and after returning to Maine in the early 1980s, she was named Maine’s first official Poet Laureate, and served from 1996 to 2000. She was also a gifted artist, a serious scholar of literature, a maker of beautiful handmade books, and a serious student of song.