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The Muriel Rukeyser Living Archive
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 offer 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.
FIRST ELEGY: ROTTEN LAKE
As I went down to Rotten Lake I remembered
the wrecked season, haunted by plans of salvage,
snow, the closed door, footsteps and resurrections,
machinery of sorrow.
The warm grass gave to the feet and the still tide water
was floor of evening and magnetic light and
reflection of wish, the black-haired beast with my eyes
walking beside me.
The green and yellow lights, the street of water standing
point to the image of that house whose destruction
I weep when I weep you. My door (no), poems, rest,
(don’t say it!) untamable need.
When you have left the river you are a little way
nearer the lake; but I leave many times.
Parents parried my past; the present was poverty,
the future depended on my unfinished spirit.
There were no misgivings because there was no choice,
only regret for waste, and the wild knowledge:
growth and sorrow and discovery.
We are now accepting proposals for Revisiting Rukeyser's Elegies in Times Like These, a two-day webinar, February 19 and 20, 2021, centering on Rukeyser's critically neglected cycle of ten Elegies.
We are pleased to announce that Muriel Rukeyser: The Contemporary Reviews, 1935-1980 is now available. Vivian Pollak, Professor of English at Washington University, has put together this invaluable resource in collaboration with Washington University's Digital Commons and Bepress. Have a look: Washington University Open Scholarship.
Catherine Gander's introduction to the Special Issue of Textual Practice centered on Rukeyser's The Life of Poetry can be accessed, free of charge, here.
Muriel Rukeyser’s iconic The Book of the Dead has been published as a free-standing volume from West Virginia University Press. The book, so Bill Rukeyser tells us, gets “as close as possible to realizing the 80-year old vision of both MR and [photographer] Nancy Naumburg that Book of the Dead be published as a photo/poetry work.” The book is beautifully introduced by writer and multi-media producer Catherine Venable Moore. In order to facilitate publication of the poem, we have taken down its digital copy on our website, including, unfortunately, the marvelous annotated copy prepared by former webassistant Adam Mitts, who is now pursuing a PhD at SUNY-Buffalo. Fortunately, Adam also wrote an essay on the poem, “The Book of the Dead–Rukeyser’s Map of America,” available right here, on our website.
Our “Living Rukeyser Archive” is entering its eighth year and planning to expand in significant ways. We hope you consider joining the growing number of contributors and bloggers, who have enriched this living archive over the 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 at Maynooth University, Ireland, 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 Evans, Trevor Snyder, Adam Mitts, Alicia Ostriker, Walter Hogan, Helen Engelhardt, Arica Frisbey, Vivian Pollak, Tim Decelle, Alexandra Swanson, Heather Macpherson, and, most recently, Aaron Pinnix and Trudi Witonsky. We’ ve been lucky to receive wonderful creative contributions: Stephanie Strickland permitted us to post her poem “Striving All My Life”; Kellie Nadler, Ned Randolph, Victoria Emanuela Pozyczka produced sound remixes of Rukeyser poems. We are always looking for more!
More InfoCopyright Permission
Who was Rukeyser?
JNT Special Issue on Muriel Rukeyser Ordering Information
Rukeyser symposium 2013
Recent PostsA Visit with Louise Kertesz--Pioneer of Rukeyser Studies
The Power of Suicide: Muriel Rukeyser’s Poetic Responses to Sylvia Plath
Discovering Muriel Rukeyser as a Young Writer
Muriel Rukeyser and Other Writers
On the centenary of Muriel Rukeyser’s birth: the lives of a poet
‘Islands’: Dragging Our Heads Back