Essays

Dara Barnat: Finding Muriel

I did some thirty years of living before encountering the work of Muriel Rukeyser. I don’t remember the exact day when I came upon this subversive Jewish-American poet, but my affinity to her is so strong that I think of … Continue reading

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Elisabeth Däumer: Muriel Rukeyser’s Presumptions

Muriel Rukeyser was presumptuous. Her presumptions were multifold and risky. They involved contentious claims for poetry’s many “uses”—emotional, intellectual, and cultural; for its kinship with science, particularly “abstract science”; and for its value as “meeting place,” capable of linking not … Continue reading

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Kellie Nadler: Constructing Women as Sources of Power in “The Book of the Dead”

Muriel Rukeyser constructs women as sources of power in The Book of the Dead.1 The prominent female voices in the poem come from two women, Philippa Allen and Mrs. Jones. Both Philippa Allen and Mrs. Jones were actual women who … Continue reading

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Kyle Evans: Muriel Rukeyser and Authorial Power in “The Book of the Dead”

As we discuss the iterations of power revealed in Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Book of the Dead,” I think it is important to consider the power that the poem itself represents.  That is, Muriel Rukeyser’s authorial power.  In Rukeyser’s documentary Poem … Continue reading

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Trevor Snyder: Challenging Expert Authority

Rukeyser’s Book of the Dead is a voice to the voiceless, a poem that seeks to give power to those devastatingly affected by the Hawk’s Nest Incident. In order to do so, it must not turn away from or fail … Continue reading

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Context for The Orgy

By Amy Hildreth Chen © Photo by Amy Hildreth Muriel Rukeyser’s only monograph-length travelogue, The Orgy (1965), depicts Puck Fair, an annual festival held in rural Killorglin, County Kerry, Ireland. The largest of Ireland’s annual horse and cattle festivals, Puck is … Continue reading

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Charlotte Mandel: Muriel Rukeyser’s Rabbi Akiba Inheritance

By Charlotte Mandel Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry allows no canonical containment.  She was born in New York Cityin 1913 and died in that city on Lincoln’s Birthday, 1980.  Her lifetime encompasses both World Wars, the Great Depression, Sacco and Vanzetti, the … Continue reading

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Alicia Ostriker: Learning to Breathe Under Water

By Alicia Ostriker There are… two kinds of reaching in poetry, one based on the document, the evidence itself; the other informed by the unverifiable fact, as in sex, dream, the parts of life in which we dive deep and … Continue reading

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Alice Thomsen: In Defense of the Doctors

  The Book of the Dead explores the corruption of the body that echoes the corruption of the land as humans attempt to harness power and take control of the natural world. However, another corruption shows itself when we meet … Continue reading

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The Poem as Meeting Place

Witness, Fear, and Conversation in the Poetry of Muriel Rukeyser By Chelsea Lonsdale If the poem is a meeting place, it cannot be dismantled into disciplines. It cannot be disassembled into individual parts that, on their own, are worth more … Continue reading

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