Welcome to the Muriel Rukeyser Website.

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As a “Living Archive,” our website is designed to engender lively interdisciplinary conversations about this important twentieth-century poet. We include a rotating number of selected poems by Muriel Rukeyser. Published with permission of Bill Rukeyser, the poet’s son, these are meant to provide a representative sample of her voluminous and variegated body of work. The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser, edited by Janet Kaufman and Anne Herzog and available from the University of Pittsburgh Press, remains the most comprehensive collection of Rukeyser’s poetry.

Please take a minute to acquaint yourself with the site. Also consider contributing responses–critical, pedagogical, or creative–to the website by contacting us here.

Rukeyser News

Our “Living Rukeyser Archive” is now in its fifth year. Over the past years, our bloggers have included Joe Sacksteder (now a PhD student at the University of Utah), Marian Evans, a writer and cultural activist living and working in New Zealand, Catherine Gander, lecturer in American Literature in the School of English at Queen’s University Belfast and author of Muriel Rukeyser and Documentary: the Poetics of Connection, Adam Mitts (now a PhD student at SUNY Buffalo), and poet and independent scholar Laura Passin.  We have published critical essays by Dara Barnat, Charlotte Mandel, Chelsea Lonsdale, Alice Thomsen, Laura Passin, Elisabeth Daumer, Kelly Nadler, Kyle EvansTrevor Snyder, Adam Mitts, and Alicia Ostriker.  We’ ve been lucky to receive wonderful creative contributions: Stephanie Strickland permitted us to post her poem “Striving All My Life”; Kellie Nadler, Ned RandolphVictoria Emanuela Pozyczka produced sound remixes of Rukeyser poems.  A recent addition is Helen Engelhardt’s “Muriel: In Memoriam” and her essay “Muriel’s Gift–Rukeyser’s Poems on Jewish Themes.”

In January of last year, a group of Rukeyser Scholars came together for a panel at the 2016 annual convention of the Modern Language Association: Re/Considering Muriel Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry. The panel, convened by Rowena Kennedy-Epstein and Elisabeth Däumer, included Eric Keenaghan, Stefania Heim, Catherine Gander, Cecily Parks, Hadji Bakara, Rowena Kennedy-Epstein, and Elisabeth Däumer.

New to our team this year is Arica Frisbey. She is serving as our web assistant and student blogger, with an aim to provide a millennial perspective on Rukeyser and her work. Have a look at her recent blog on Muriel Rukeyser’s Poetic Responses to Sylvia Plath.

Our featured poem this month is her beautiful, tightly written poem, “The Minotaur,” presented here with additional background of the originating myth via Modern American Poetry.

Featured Poem

© Marie-Lan Nguyen 

© Marie-Lan Nguyen

The Minotaur

Originally published in Beast in View (1944)

Trapped, blinded, led; and in the end betrayed
Daily by new betrayals as he stays
Deep in his labyrinth, shaking and going mad,
Betrayed. Betrayed. Raving, the beaten head
Heavy with madness, he stands, half-dead and proud.
No one again will ever see his pride.
No one will find him by walking to him straight
But must be led circuitously about,
Calling to him and close and, losing the subtle thread,
Lose him again; while he waits, brutalized
By loneliness. Later, afraid
Of his own suffering. At last, savage and made
Ravenous, ready to prey upon the race
If it so much as learn the clews of blood
Into his pride his fear his glistening heart.
Now is the patient deserted in his fright
And love carrying salvage round the world
Lost in a crooked city; roundabout,
By the sea, the precipice, all the fantastic ways
Betrayal weaves its trap; loneliness knows the thread,
And the heart is lost, lost, trapped, blinded and led,
Deserted at the middle of the maze.

You will find the entire poem here.