Saturday, February 7, 2015

Remembering Muriel Rukeyser

As a follow-up to our previous post by Adas Emuno Trustee Doris White, Poetry is Alive and Well at Adas Emuno, and with the monthly meeting of our Poetry Garden group coming up this Sunday, February 8th, at 7 PM in our temple social hall (the group meets every 2nd Sunday evening), it seems only appropriate that we take this opportunity to recall the Jewish-American poet, Muriel Rukeyser, who passed away on February 12th, 1980, at the age of 66.

A political activist with a deep commitment to social justice as well as a poet of no small renown, Rukeyser attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx, then Vassar College and Columbia University. In addition to her poetry, she also wrote several plays, including one on Houdini, and published a number of  prose works as well. According to her Wikipedia entry, she is "best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism."

According to her entry on,

“She was the first poet that I knew personally," William Meredith once told the Paris Review, “I knew her when I was still an undergraduate. She was a very amazing human being and any traces of honesty in my life come from having seen how beautifully honest she was in administering her life and her poetry without any separation—you couldn’t get a knife between the two things with her. The real influence was her human model of what a poet could be.”

In addition to Meredith, the entry states, "many poets have claimed Rukeyser’s influence on their work, Anne Sexton among them," and another author who sings Rukeyser's praises is Alice Walker, as can be seen from the following video:

As for our Poetry Garden group, here's the link to the original blog post with all of the meeting dates: Poetry Garden. And when you go to that earlier entry, you may notice that the quote we use as a motto of sorts for Poetry Garden is from none other than Muriel Rukeyser.

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