Cover image for Contemporary American women poets : an A-to-Z guide


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PS151 .C665 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Feminist efforts have recovered the works of early women poets, and much of this rediscovered work now appears in anthologies. As a result, women poets writing today must not only struggle against a largely male tradition, but must also confront existing feminist expectations. In mapping the achievements of contemporary American women poets, this reference helps liberate them from restrictive conventional views and illustrates the tremendous diversity of their works.

Included are alphabetically arranged entries on nearly 70 American women poets who published significant works after 1945. Each entry is written by an expert contributor and presents a short biography, a discussion of major works and themes, a survey of the poet's critical reception, and primary and secondary bibliographies. Included poets come from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, geographical regions, and social classes. Some, such as Maya Angelou and Adrienne Rich, have received significant critical attention, while others are only beginning to attract interest and acclaim.

Author Notes

CATHERINE CUCINELLA is a Faculty Teaching Fellow at California State University, San Marcos./eThere she teaches literature, writing, humanities, and women's studies. She has published articles on women poets and writers in various journals and reference books.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Into the crowded field of biographical reference sources come two new works from Greenwood. Each covers 60 to 70 women writers who have written the majority of their works since 1945. Some authors, such as Toni Morrison, are established authors, while others, such as Sandra Cisneros, are still building their reputations. The writers are racially and ethnically diverse. However, in neither volume have the editors clearly explained the criteria they used in choosing authors. In Contemporary American Women Fiction Writers, the editors state the women selected have all been writing since 1945 and have made "significant contributions to the contemporary literary scene." Except for a few, such as Judy Blume and Sara Paretksy, all are literary authors, but why Amy Hempel and Linda Hogan were chosen over Susan Isaacs, Sue Miller, or Rosellen Brown is never made clear. Genre authors are generally excluded except for Paretsky. The editors of Contemporary American Women Poets say that the selected poets have written since 1945, represent a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, and come from all parts of the U.S. but offer no further explanation that justifies why some poets were chosen over others. Each book is set up in an A^-Z format with each author having a five-to six-page essay. Each essay includes a biography, an analysis of the writer's major works, and a bibliography of works by and about the author. The essays themselves are very readable and would be appropriate for high-school students and general readers who need a good overview of the writer's life and works. Because the essays are relatively short, college students would not have enough information for research papers but would find the articles helpful introductions. Reference works on literary biography abound. The writers in both of these volumes are all included in Gale's Contemporary Authors series. Many are also included in Gale's Dictionary of Literary Biography series and Contemporary Literary Criticism series, which give more extensive biographical and analytical information. At least 20 of the fiction writers are also included in the H. W. Wilson Authors series. Approximately two-thirds of the poets can be found in Salem's Critical Survey of Poetry. Libraries that already own Contemporary Authors and other Gale, Wilson, and Salem series might want to pass on these works, but smaller public libraries and high-school school libraries will find these volumes very helpful for students and general readers who want a good overview of contemporary women authors and poets.

Library Journal Review

This alphabetically arranged reference profiles some 70 American women poets who have had significant literary influence in the second half of the 20th century, among them Maya Angelou, Adrienne Rich, Ana Castillo, Maxine Chernoff, and many more. Written by over 40 contributors-including academics, poets, writers, and graduate students specializing in literature or American studies-the entries each run about five pages and include a brief biography, information on the poet's major works and themes, a summary of critical commentary on the poet, and a bibliography of works by and about the poet. Even with so many contributors, the prescribed format, as edited by Cucinella (California State Univ.-San Marcos), gives the guide a uniform feel. Although there are other references on contemporary American women poets, none covers exactly the same ground. American and Canadian Women Poets, 1930-Present, edited by Harold Bloom, is perhaps the most similar to this work, but it does not offer a biobibliographic approach. Not an essential purchase, this is nevertheless a useful reference best suited to large high school and academic libraries. Public libraries with patrons who have a strong interest in poetry may also consider purchase.-Denise Johnson, Bradley Univ. Lib., Peoria, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Cucinella presents another excellent reference in the publisher's "A-to-Z" series. It describes 70 contemporary women poets, including women of color, whose works have been well known since 1946. Some are famous (Maya Angelou), others lesser-known (Mary Jo Salter); not all are still living. Poets who appeared in Contemporary American Women Fiction Writers: An A-to-Z Guide, ed. by Laurie Champion and Rhonda Austin (CH, May'03) are excluded. All entries follow the same format: biography, major works and themes, critical reception, concluding with a bibliography of works by and studies. Although essays vary in length, quality is high. Some of the poets (e.g., Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath) are the subject of separately published works or may be found in Contemporary Authors, but most will be harder to locate. For classes in English poetry or women's studies. Summing Up: Recommended. Academic and public libraries. T. M. Racz Eastern Michigan University

Table of Contents

IntroductionAckerman Diane (Fink) and Ai Angelou and Maya Armantrout and Rae (Mary) Badikian and Beatriz Brooks and Gwendolyn Elizabeth Broumas and Olga Castillo and Ana Cervantes and Lorna Dee Chernoff and Maxine Chin and Marilyn Cisneros and Sandra Clampitt and Amy Clary and Killarney Clifton and Lucille Coleman and Wanda Cortez and Jayne Derricotte and Toi Digges and Deborah di Prima and Diane Dove and Rita Emanuel and Lynn Forche and Carolyn Fulton and Alice Gallagher and Tess Gerstler and Amy Giovanni and Nikki Gluck and Louise Graham and Jorie Hacker and Marilyn Hagedorn and Jessica Tarahata Harjo and Joy Harryman and Carla Hejinian and Lyn Howe and Susan Jordan and June Kenyon and Jane Kumin and Maxine Levertov and Denise Levin and Phyllis Lorde and Audre McHugh and Heather McPherson and Sandra Mora and Pat Moraga and Cherrie Nye and Naomi Shihab Olds and Sharon Oliver and Mary Paley and Grace Pastan and Linda Piercy and Marge Plath and Sylvia Pratt and Minnie Bruce Rich and Adrienne Rukeyser and Muriel Saje and Natasha Silko and Leslie Marmon Song and Cathy Spires and Elizabeth Stone and Ruth Swenson and Karen Twichell and Chase Van Duyn and Mona Jane Wakoski and Diane Waniek and Marilyn Nelson Yamada and Mitsuye Selected