“I remember mother saying : Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot”-Muriel Rukeyser, “Waiting for Icarus”
Several years ago, when my son was obtaining his graduate degree at one of the fine colleges of the CUNY (City University of NY) system, he took a course focused on the Jewish American poet, Muriel Ruykeyser. His professor was a Rukeyser scholar. I had read her poetry as a teenager and young woman, but lost track. His course and a little help here and there as he had to do papers, refreshed my memory of this courageous poet who opened doors for other female poets in the 20th Century. Today, 12-15-13 is the Centennial Birthday of Muriel Rukeyser and her words reverberate just as strongly as they did when she put pen to paper.
“beautiful Muriel, mother of Everyone.”-Anne Sexton, Poet
“Muriel Rukeyser loved poetry more than anyone I’ve ever known. She also believed it could change us, move the world.”–Alice Walker (Muriel Rukeyser was her mentor!),
Here are sites to read brief bios of Rukeyser:
And to read some of her poems and prose:
Poem by Muriel Rukeyser from “The Speed of Darkness,” 1968
I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.
I lived in the first century of these wars.