First UK edition of one of the most significant and influential American poets of the 20th century.
Bloodaxe Books Ltd
Date of Publication
Poetry Texts & Poetry Anthologies
Place of Publication
Tyne and Wear
Country of Publication
Bloodaxe Books Ltd
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-80) was born in New York City. She attended Vassar College for two years and then moved back to New York where she took classes at Columbia University. After college, she worked as an editor of the Student Review and witnessed events which were to make a serious impact on her life and poetry, including the Scottsboro trial in Alabama, the Gauley Bridge tragedy in West Virginia, and the civil war in Spain. The violence and injustice she saw, in the United States and abroad, led her poetry to function as a mode of social protest. She felt a deep responsibility to comment on human issues and was particularly concerned with inequalities of sex, race and class. With her poems, she frequently documented her own emotional experiences within the context of a greater political or social event. She was a powerful visionary and her work reflects her wish for a greater world community united by love. Rukeyser experimented with language and form, and her wide technical range, including lyrical forms and the documentary narrative, is illustrated in Adrienne Rich's edition of her Selected Poems (Library of America, USA, 2004; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2013). Many women poets have claimed Rukeyser's influence on their work, notably Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds and Marilyn Hacker. Two seminal anthologies of American women poets, The World Split Open (1974) and No More Masks (1973), took their titles from Rukeyser's poems, the latter from her poetic manifesto, 'The Poem as Mask', in which she declared: 'No more masks! No more mythologies!/ Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,// the fragments join in me and with their own music.' Ruth Rosen's The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America (2000/2006) also took its title from Rukeyser's poem 'Kathe Kollewitz'.
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