Outlaw Against the Thinking Fathers Chapter uri icon


  • Book Abstract: Muriel Rukeyser, the late poet, journalist, translator, biographer, pilot, and social activist, has been described as an "American Genius" and our "20th century Whitman." Anne Sexton and Erica Jong both referred to Muriel Rukeyser as "the Mother of Everyone." To read her collected work is to track American history through the century and to question with her the particular nature of the American imagination. Rukeyser began publishing in the 1930s, writing about Sacco and Vanzetti, the Scottsboro boys, and the Popular Front’s stand against fascism, insisting always on the link between public subjects and the personal life. Until she died in 1980 at the age of 66, she persisted in bringing the events of the world into poetry, and poetry into the world. Her writing stretches the American poetic imagination, indeed the very definitions of American poetry, and guarantees her place in 20th-century American literature. "How Shall We Teach Each Other of the Poet?" brings together the voices of those who have been challenged by the complexity and richness of Rukeyser’s poems: former friends, colleagues, editors, and students reflecting on their personal knowledge of the poet; contemporary poets probing the significance of Rukeyser as one who influenced their own poetry, and scholars offering new interpretations of her work.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ayres, S.

editor list (cited editors)

  • Herzog, A., & Kaufman, J.

publication date

  • January 1, 1999 11:11 AM