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Myra Cohn Livingston; Children’s Poet, Anthologist

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Myra Cohn Livingston, a poet and anthologist who published 83 books of poetry and other literature for young people, has died. She was 70.

Livingston died Friday of cancer in her Los Angeles home.

Her first book, “Whispers and Other Poems” published in 1958, was written while Livingston was a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College.

The author’s vast output included volumes of poetry such as “B Is for Baby"; anthologies such as “A Tune Beyond Us,” and critical texts such as “The Child as Poet: Myth of Reality.”

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When Livingston compiled the anthology “I Like You if You Like Me: Poems of Friendship” in 1987, a Times book reviewer said:

“Angeleno Myra Cohn Livingston . . . evidently took much care with this volume, for the variety of emotions and the simple layout will surely appeal to youngsters either privately or at slumber party read-alouds. It is meticulously organized. . . . What could have been a mere textbook instead evokes dignity and thought.”

Livingston taught in the UCLA Extension Writers Program from 1973 until her death. She also was a poet in residence in the Beverly Hills Unified School District from 1966 to 1984, and occasionally wrote book reviews for The Times and the New York Times.

Considered an authority on children’s literature, Livingston conducted workshops for the National Council of Teachers of English, International Reading Assn., American Library Assn., and at universities and schools throughout the United States.

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Among her many awards were an excellence of poetry award from the National Council of Teachers of English, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota, two awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, two from the Southern California Council on Books for Children, and this year, the Claremont Reading Institute award.

Born Maya Cohn in Omaha, the prolific writer moved with her family to Southern California at the age of 11. She married Richard Roland Livingston in 1952. He died in 1990.

For many years, Maya Cohn was a privately tutored professional French horn player who performed with the California Junior Symphony Orchestra and in several movies.

Livingston is survived by three children, Joshua and Jonas, both of Los Angeles, and Jennie of New York City; a sister, Hannah Pakula of New York, and one grandson.


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