The poetry of Muriel Rukeyser (1913-80) confronts the turbulent currents of modern history as it explores with depth and honesty the realms of politics, sexuality, mythic imagination, technological change and family life. Rukeyser was a social activist of unwavering commitment, a tireless experimenter who opened fresh forms and fresh subject-matter in modern American poetry, and a writer who was constantly testing her own limits in a life's work of extraordinary scope. She held a visionary belief in the human capacity to create social change through language, and earned an international reputation as a powerful voice against enforced silences of all kind, against the violence of war, poverty and racism.
Edited and introduced by Adrienne Rich, this new selection provides an indispensable introduction to the adventurous and prolific work of one of the most significant and influential American poets of the 20th century.
'She refused to compartmentalise herself or her work, claiming her right to intellect and sexuality, poetry and science, Marxism and myth, activism and motherhood, theory and vision… She was one of the great integrators, seeing the fragmentary world of modernity not as irretrievably broken, but in need of societal and emotional repair… the range and daring of her work, its generosity of vision, its level of energy are unequalled among twentieth-century American poets. Her poems can be panoramic (yet vividly concrete), intimate, epigrammatic, meditative, sensual, mordantly witty, visionary' – Adrienne Rich.
'One of the most important poets of our time… Her originality, her genius, her courage illuminate our century' – Sharon Olds.
'She was the first poet that I knew personally. I knew her when I was still an undergraduate. She was a very amazing human being and any traces of honesty in my life come from having seen how beautifully honest she was in administering her life and her poetry without any separation – you couldn't get a knife between the two things with her. The real influence was her human model of what a poet could be' – William Meredith, Paris Review.
'Muriel Rukeyser loved poetry more than anyone I've ever known. She also believed it could change us, move the world' – Alice Walker.
North America: Library of America