Modina Jackson, Activism and Shared Consciousness in Muriel Rukeyser’s “Breaking Open”

“Most demonstrators and marchers did not worry over fine points of strategy; they were simply ‘against the war’” (Bricks and Phelps 141). This sentiment of undirected defiance resonated with the radicalism that emerged in the 1960s protests of the Vietnam War. Even more pertinent, the same sentiments reverberate today. When I was first writing this essay, in the fall of 2019, there had been several protests in Hong Kong throughout the entire year. The citizens of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) were fighting for their democracy, which had been infringed upon by [...]

2020-10-11T16:33:20+00:00October 11, 2020|Essays, Scholarship|0 Comments

Vered Ornstein, The Blood is Justified

CHARACTERS MURIEL: Muriel Rukeyser. An activist and poet, Jewish. Begins the play in her mid-thirties. FRIEND 1: A friend of Muriel’s, any gender, Jewish. FRIEND 2: Same as Friend 1. FRIEND 3: An activist friend of Muriel’s, Black, any gender. NEWSCASTER: A radio host, male. PRIME MINISTER: A future nondescript Prime Minister of Israel, male. SCENE 1 A New York City apartment, May 14, 1948.                                                               Morning. A large clock on the wall shows that the time is just past 9 AM. A group of thirtysomethings is huddled around a radio at the kitchen table. The young adults listen intently [...]

2020-10-11T16:32:10+00:00October 11, 2020|Essays, Scholarship|1 Comment

Lily Pratt, Another Day in the Life of a Persevering Woman

6:00 AM The alarm clock begins its song and dance promptly as the time strikes six, ringing out and shaking Marie out of her dreams. She rubs her eyes open, forcing herself up and swinging her legs around and over the side of the bed. The sunlight sneaks its way through the translucent curtains, lighting up Marie’s small apartment with its golden dew, preparing the start of a new day. But first, coffee. After twenty silent minutes of steady caffeine consumption, Marie shuffles from her chair in the kitchen back to her bedroom. She sheds her comfy clothes, replacing them [...]

2020-11-23T14:22:57+00:00October 11, 2020|Essays, Scholarship|0 Comments

Sam Buczeksmith, The ‘C’ Word

Perhaps I have become bitter. I have lived in the Palace now for three weeks, and I have begun to learn all of the Princess things. How to walk (apparently, I have been doing it wrong all of these years), how to talk, how to set flower arrangements, how to organize servants, how to organize a banquet, on and on…Still something feels off about all of it. My living here. I know some of the Maids scoff, Madame even found the idea pitiable to begin with.  A servant becoming a Princess. I have heard them talk. A Common orphan becoming [...]

2020-10-17T15:22:57+00:00September 9, 2020|Essays, Scholarship|0 Comments

Eric Keenaghan, Total Imaginative Response: Five Undergraduate Studies from “The Lives of Muriel Rukeyser”

I do and I do. Life and this under-war. Deep under protest, make. For we are makers more. —Muriel Rukeyser, “Breaking Open” (Collected Poems 527) How should one approach Muriel Rukeyser’s vast body of work and multifaceted life? My first inclination is through her role as poet,one of the few identity categories she embraced, uncritically, alongside those of “American,” “woman,” and, after the birth of her son in 1947, “mother.” But given pervasive misconceptions about poetry’s apolitical or antipolitical nature, and given the variety of forms Rukeyser explored over her long career, even that identity seems too limiting. Other forms of [...]

2022-01-18T16:46:35+00:00September 5, 2020|Essays, Pedagogy|0 Comments

Aaron Pinnix, Learning to Breathe Underwater–The Tidalectics of Rukeyser’s “Anemone”

Over the course of her career Rukeyser was consistently interested in the ocean as a space of possibilities. For instance, her first book of poems, Theory of Flight (1935), begins with overlapping references to drowned Sappho, Sacco (an Italian-American anarchist executed in 1927), and “Rebellion pioneered among our lives, / viewing from far-off many-branching deltas, / innumerable seas.”((Muriel Rukeyser, “Poem Out of Childhood,” Theory of Flight (1968). Other poems in which Rukeyser engages with the ocean as a space of possibilities include “Child and Mother” (1935), “Ryder” (1939), “Sea Mercy” (1944), Elegies (1949), “On the Death of Her Mother” (1958), [...]

2019-12-29T19:42:27+00:00March 1, 2019|Essays, Scholarship|0 Comments

Heather Macpherson–She Sings the Body Electric: Soundscape in Two “Songs” by Muriel Rukeyser

In “Dream Drumming,” an interview with Pearl London from February 22, 1978, Muriel Rukeyser responds to the “processes of craft,” providing a provocative and telling explanation of what she felt was the most important aspect of poetry writing: It’s very hard to talk about the rewriting that goes into [poems] because the major rewriting is likely to be in the matter of sound, the sound that is deep in the structure, almost a crystalline structure of sound in the poem. (28-29) Sound is both pronounced and buried in Rukeyser’s poetry, initiating multiple conversations yet begging to be revealed. When reading [...]

2023-09-04T21:02:37+00:00March 30, 2018|Essays, Scholarship|0 Comments
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