Thursday, 3 November 2011

Two Responses from William Rukeyser

In response to my posting of a Muriel Rukeyser poem last week, I was delighted to receive this email from no less than her son, William:

I saw your recent blog today and thank you for your kind thoughts about my mother.
The good news is that we've actually kept most of her work in print... or brought it back into print. As a matter of fact, recently there were more of her books in print simultaneously than at any time during her life.
Right now there's a really well done Collected which has numerous historical and biographical annotations (U. of Pittsburgh Press) and a slim book of her poems (the Library of America's American Poets Project series) that serves as a good introduction to her work.) Also, her thoughts about poetry, in prose based on her lectures at the California Labor School are in Print in The Life of Poetry (Paris Press)
William L Rukeyser
Davis CA
I replied that the point I was trying to make - no doubt ineptly - was that no UK edition of MR's work is extant. William Rukeyser responded:
My mother was acutely aware of the situation you mention. (There were exceptions, 29 Poems was issued by Rapp and Whiting; Deutsch. Her biography of an Elizabethan scientist and associate of Walter Raleigh was published as The Traces of Thomas Hariot by Victor Gollancz and The Orgy, a thinly disguised memoir about attending Ireland's Puck Fair, was published by Deutsch.) That's it in England as far as I can recall. And all those were a long time ago. She did have a number of staunch friends and advocates in the English literary establishment, but attributed the lack of publication (in addition to editors simply not liking her unique voice) to a general disinclination at that time to print American poets and women. She counted that as two strikes against her.

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