How Shall We Tell Each Other of the Poet?: The Life and Writing of Muriel Rukeyser

Overview

Muriel Rukeyser, the late poet, jourbanalist, translator, biographer, pilot, and social activist, has been described as an "American Genius" and our "20th century Whitman." Anne Sexton and Erica Jong both referred to Muriel Rukeyser as "the Mother of Everyone." To read her collected work is to track American history through the century and to question with her the particular nature of the American imagination. Rukeyser began publishing in the 1930s, writing about Sacco and Vanzetti, the Scottsboro boys, and the ...

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Overview

Muriel Rukeyser, the late poet, jourbanalist, translator, biographer, pilot, and social activist, has been described as an "American Genius" and our "20th century Whitman." Anne Sexton and Erica Jong both referred to Muriel Rukeyser as "the Mother of Everyone." To read her collected work is to track American history through the century and to question with her the particular nature of the American imagination. Rukeyser began publishing in the 1930s, writing about Sacco and Vanzetti, the Scottsboro boys, and the Popular Front’s stand against fascism, insisting always on the link between public subjects and the personal life. Until she died in 1980 at the age of 66, she persisted in bringing the events of the world into poetry, and poetry into the world. Her writing stretches the American poetic imagination, indeed the very definitions of American poetry, and guarantees her place in 20th-century American literature. "How Shall We Teach Each Other of the Poet?" brings together the voices of those who have been challenged by the complexity and richness of Rukeyser’s poems: former friends, colleagues, editors, and students reflecting on their personal knowledge of the poet; contemporary poets probing the significance of Rukeyser as one who influenced their own poetry, and scholars offering new interpretations of her work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Rukeyser does ...emerge from these pages, vibrant, defiant, gifted, and embracing.” —Booklist

“This book celebrates the fact that times have changed. We are at a moment in the history of poetry and ideas in the United States that is particularly receptive to the inclusiveness of Rukeyser's vision. We are ready to know her better, and 'How Sall We Tell Each Other of the Poet?' provides the means.” —Women's Review of Books

Booklist
Rukeyser does...emerge from these pages, vibrant, defiant, gifted, and embracing.
Library Journal
Even if Muriel Rukeyser never attained the status of Whitman or Dickinson, the poets Adrienne Rich compares her to in one of these essays, she was an American original. She was less a marquee poet than a force of nature, an imposing woman who gave herself to a variety of aesthetic positions, political causes, and passionate friendships and antagonisms. Gerald Stern recalls being taunted by an audience member when he and Rukeyser read together once and starting to defend himself by saying, "I don't want to be mean," only to hear Rukeyser whisper, "Be mean, be mean." Herzog and Kaufman, English professors at West Chester University and the University of Utah, respectively, gather writings by 37 Rukeyser fans; a number of these pieces are poems, the most luminous of which is Richard Howard's "A Sibyl of 1979," in which he describes being given a computer that had baffled Rukeyser, finding in it some draft phrases she had left there, and making them into his own tribute to her. For larger public and academic libraries.--David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
This remembrance is comprised of reactions to the life and work of American-Jewish poet, journalist, biographer, political activist and visionary Muriel Rukeyser 1913-1980 as written by scholars, friends, colleagues, students, and contemporary poets. Arranged in five parts<-->poetics of vision; activism and teaching; the body, feminist critique, and the poet as mother; poetry of witness; and remembering Muriel Rukeyser<-->this volume covers aspects of Rukeyser's intellectual, political and passionate life to provide a generous portrait of this remarkable American literary figure. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312238858
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne F. Herzog is on the English Faculty of West Chester University.

Janet E. Kaufman is on the English Faculty of the University of Utah.

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Table of Contents

Contributors: Alicia Ostriker
• Jane Cooper
• Meg Schoerke
• Anne F. Herzog
• Janet E. Kaufman
• Adrienne Rich
• Richard Howard
• Elaine Edelman
• Chris Llewellyn
• Michael True
• John Bradley
• Reginald Gibbons
• Aaron Kramer
• Chris Cokinos
• Sharon Olds
• Lyn Lifshin
• Lorrie Goldensohn
• Almitra Marino David
• Jan Johnson Drantell
• Susan Ayres
• Ruth Porritt
• Susan Eisenberg
• John Lowney
• Stephanie Hartman
• Stephanie Strickland
• Shoshana Wechsler
• Michele Ware
• James Brock
• Leslie Ann Minot
• Daniel Gabriel
• Judith Hemschemeyer
• Jan Heller Levi
• Anne Marx
• Denise Levertov
• Gerald Stern
• Daniel Halpern
• William L. Rukeyser

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