Muriel Rukeyser


By Salon Staff

Published October 5, 2000 7:23PM (EDT)

Muriel Rukeyser was born in New York City in 1913. She attended Vassar College and later, Columbia University. Her work was influenced by the violence and inequities she saw around her, such as the Scottsboro trial in Alabama, the Gauley Bridge tragedy in West Virginia and the civil war in Spain.

In her poems, she frequently expressed her own experiences within the context of a greater social event. Her wide stylistic range, which includes lyrical forms and the documentary narrative, is illustrated in her Collected Poems (1979). Many women poets have claimed Rukeyser's influence on their work, Anne Sexton among them. She died in New York City in 1980.

Listen now to this recording of Rukeyeser reading her poem "Despisals," from The Poetry and Voice of Muriel Rukeyser, courtesy of HarperAudio.

"Despisals" (1:33)

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