University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986. Winner of the William Carlos Williams Award

of the Academy of American Poetry
The Imaginary Lover is filled with delicious surprises--poetry that is terse and expansive by turns, oblique, audacious, beautifully crafted. A thorough delight.

--Joyce Carol Oates 


Ostriker refuses to draw a firm line between heaven and hell, body and spirit; indeed, her poems attempt throughout to erase that line. In the body the spirit is made possible even if in the body, alas! the spirit is also made impossible. Lines, definitions, categories are open to Ostriker's transgressive imagination which invades everything for nothing is holy or whole enough to escape her subversive ironies.

--Harold Schweizer 


A remarkable book, and not For Women Only.

--Joseph Parisi, Booklist

Hers is a poetry of commitment not so much to womankind as to humankind....When the voice of this rational, scholarly woman rises to crescendo, a tide of sweet human emotion lifts the poem into the realm of true experience with Keatsian intensity.

Publisher's Weekly

"Everywoman Her own Theology," one of the best pieces from Imaginary Lover, superbly conflates the personal search for meaning with political statement. The speaker at once invents a new personal belief system and offers a critiique on existing systems. And what are the essential elements in a religious doctrine? "There will be no concept of infidels./ consequently the faithful must entertain/ Themselves some other way than killing infidels."

--Pamela Cook, Borderlands; Texas Poetry Review

The recording consciousness is steady....the candor and thoughtfulness of the poems are winning....Even stronger than elegy is Mrs. Ostriker's tendency to locate a sustaining force for the rest of life--a force that is both passionate and honorable. This book is full of acceptance--not an enervated giving up, but a commitment to the way things are:
In the true course of nature death makes room

For more experimental life, and the rock

Writing doesn't record tranquility.

Mostly the land records catastrophe.

Literature the same.

--Patricia Hampl, New York Times Book Review


Table of Contents

To order:

University of Pittsburgh Press

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Poem selections:
Meeting the Dead
Everywoman her own Theology