Early Grrrl: The Early Poems of Marge Piercy


The 'Grrrl' phenomenon is a contemporary expression of young women's humor and rage exploding in books and zines, concerts, films, and the internet. In homage to a new generation of tough young feminists, Marge Piercy presents a gathering of poems that reveal the poet as an early 'Grrrl.' Comprising over ninety poems selected from four books now out of print; poems previously published in literary magazines but never before collected and very early poems never published, this volume presents the bold and ...

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The 'Grrrl' phenomenon is a contemporary expression of young women's humor and rage exploding in books and zines, concerts, films, and the internet. In homage to a new generation of tough young feminists, Marge Piercy presents a gathering of poems that reveal the poet as an early 'Grrrl.' Comprising over ninety poems selected from four books now out of print; poems previously published in literary magazines but never before collected and very early poems never published, this volume presents the bold and passionate political verse for which Piercy is well known alongside poems celebrating the sensual pleasures of gardening and cooking and sex; funny poems about New Year's Eve and warring boom boxes; vulnerable poems in which a young working class woman from the Midwest takes stock of herself and the limits of her world. For longtime fans and those new to Piercy's early work, this volume is an indispensable addition to the oeuvre of one of America's best-known and best-selling poets.

Marge Piercy is the author of fifteen novels and fifteen books of poetry, most recently The Art of Blessing the Day (Knopf, 1999) a selection of Piercy's Jewish-themed poems. What Are Big Girls Made Of?(Knopf, 1997) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and selected as one of their Most Notable Books of the Year by the American Library Association. In October, 1999, she will be a featured poet on the Bill Moyers' PBS-TV poetry specials "Fooling with Words" and "The Sounds of Poetry" and her newest novel, Three Women will be published by William Morrow.


Preface, .xi


The meaningfulexchange, 4
Five thousand miles, 5
The summer invasion, and the fall, 6
Nothing you can have, 9
Archipelago, 12
The first salad of March, 15
Exodus, 16
Ask me for anything else, 18
What is permitted, 20
A gift of light, 22
Short season, 27
Ghosts, 29
The new novel, 31
Women of letters, 32


The token woman, 37
The clearest joy, 39
Make me feel it, 40
Sage and rue, 42
River road, High Toss, 44
Paradise Hollow, 45

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Editorial Reviews

Piercy is a poet of womanhood and compassion, conscience and spirit, and her poems are as magnetic as mirrors: no one can resist them, and all, at least every woman, will catch a glimpse of themselves in their warm and dancing light ... It is obvious from the bright, saucy and shrewd early poems collected in Early Grrrl that Piercy''s gift ... is the truth of both nature and nurture. Piercy has dedicated this collection of long-out-of-print and never-before-published works to the women of the vibrant Grrrl movement - a feisty form of feminist expression found in zines and music and on the web - because Piercy has been Grrrl long before Grrrl got its name.
Library Journal
Piercy's 15th collection of poetry starts in the mid-1970s and works backwards, beginning with excerpts from out-of-print works and ending with juvenilia and a section of previously uncollected work written over the last quarter-century. The "nudge" ("Song of the Nudge") is a familiar presence here, for this writer likes to fly in the face of restraint, decorum, and subtlety. When asked to have patience, she replies, in "Ask Me for Anything Else," "I am empty with wanting,/ not like a box/ but like a tiger's belly." Her poems acknowledge two types of readers: one presumably male, who while loving, opposes and resists her ravenous appetites; the other female, the women "retelling/ agonies like amber worry beads." In her introduction, Piercy claims to be a source of inspiration to young writers she admires--the "grrrls" of web-based feminism--and she even has her own web page. This selection may not include her strongest work, but will be important to those who follow her closely.--Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780965457866
  • Publisher: Leapfrog Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1999
  • Pages: 156
  • Sales rank: 834,544
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Marge Piercy is the author of 16 novels, including the bestsellers Gone to Soldiers and The Longings of Women and the classic Woman On the Edge of Time, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir, Sleeping With Cats. The author of 16 books of poetry, she is the most anthologized poet of her generation. Her work has been translated into 18 languages.
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Read an Excerpt


Always unsuitable

She wore little teeth of pearls around her neck.

They were grinning politely and evenly at me.

Unsuitable they smirked. It is true

I look a stuffed turkey in a suit. Breasts

too big for the silhouette. She knew

at once that we had sex, lots of it

as if I had strolled into her diningroom

in a dirty negligee smelling gamy

smelling fishy and sporting a strawberry

on my neck. I could never charm

the mothers, although the fathers ogled

me. I was exactly what mothers had warned

their sons against. I was quicksand

I was trouble in the afternoon. I was

the alley cat you don't bring home.

I was the dirty book you don't leave out

for your mother to see. I was the center-

fold you masturbate with then discard.

Where I came from, the nights I had wandered

and survived, scared them, and where

I would go they never imagined.

Ah, what you wanted for your sons

were little ladies hatched from the eggs

of pearls like pink and silver lizards

cool, well behaved and impervious

to desire and weather alike. Mostly

that's who they married and left.

Oh, mamas, I would have been your friend.

I would have cooked for you and held you.

I might have rattled the windows

of your sorry marriages, but I would

have loved you better than you know

how to love yourselves, bitter sisters.

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Table of Contents

The meaningful exchange 3
Five thousand miles 4
The summer invasion, and the fall 5
Nothing you can have 8
Archipelago 11
The first salad of March 14
Exodus 15
Ask me for anything else 17
What is permitted 19
Short season 21
Ghosts 23
The new novel 25
Women of letters 26
The token woman 33
The clearest joy 35
Make me feel it 36
Sage and rue 38
River road, High Toss 40
Paradise Hollow 41
Kneeling here, I feel good 43
Sixteen in '53 44
The big one 45
There is no known way to tickle a clam 46
Two higher mammals 47
Beautiful weeper 48
The legacy 49
A short dark turning 50
For a Brazilian 'Bandit' 52
The box 54
January thaw 56
Phases of the sun 58
Lies 59
For Inez Garcia 62
Easy 67
Joy as a point 68
The fisherman 69
Your eyes are hard, and other surprises 70
I still feel you 71
Missing person 72
Song of the nudge 73
This is a poem for you 74
Reopening 75
Rain falls on loannina 76
To grow on 77
A kid on her way 81
How you stare 82
Dismissal 83
Lapsed 84
Lipsky on Ninth Avenue 86
The miracle 87
Clinic hallway 88
Sunday evening 89
The simplification 90
August 91
August, submerging 92
Night of the bear and polar light 93
Exactly how I pursue you 94
Running toward R 95
Nocturne 99
Face in the mirror 100
Committee hearings, 1952 102
Lil's monody 103
Black solstice 105
October 106
Storm outside, storm inside 107
The ceremony 108
Don plays Mozart 110
Smoke in the wind 112
Woman with suitcase 114
Grand tour 1957 115
The well-preserved man 121
Nightcrawler 123
Red brick monument 124
Dream of order at the carnival 126
How easy is forgetfulness 128
Eye contact 129
On technique 130
For a radical poet 131
The music wars 133
Between the end and the acceptance of the end 135
The air like stained glass cuts me 136
Wise dreaming 138
Man hung on himself 139
I vow to sleep through it 141
Midsummer night's stroll 143
Turn about 144
I have offended 146
The long drought 147
The correct method of worshipping cats 149
The name of that country is lonesome 150
Thou shalt not complain about anything I might have to fix 152
Always unsuitable 154
A note about the author 157
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