STEALING THE LANGUAGE: THE EMERGENCE OF WOMEN'S POETRY IN AMERICA
Beacon Press, 1986
 
 
In this major study, Alicia Suskin Ostriker probes the origins and meanings of contemporary women's poetry since the 1960's. Proposing that women writers must be "thieves of language," Ostriker traces the struggle of women poets today to achieve self-definition in the context of literary tradition designed to repress the female voice. Stealing the Language examines this new poetry in relation to its female roots and as a powerful alternative to academic modernism and postmodernism, loking at the poetics of the body, of anger and violence, of "the imperative of intimacy," and of revisionist mythmaking in women's poetry.

 
"Alicia Ostriker's ambitious, lively, and luminous Stealing the Language will appeal to anyone interested in women's lives and letters as well as to anyone who wants to understand the history of American poetry.

--Sandra M. Gilbert
 
 

This year the most important contribution to contemporary poetry may be a book of criticism: Alicia Suskin Ostriker's Stealing the Language.

--Yvonne, MS.
 
 

"Don't think Alicia Ostriker's new book is some standard secondary source, safely distanced and oblique. It will climb right into your dreams."

--Christina Robb, Boston Globe
 
 

Anyone who wants a refresher course in women's poetry in America should head immediately for Alicia Ostriker's comprehensive appraisal....Not only is it based on broad scholarship but it's also written with passionate involvement and recommended even for those who feel they are familiar with the spectrum of female talent from feminist to formalist, straight to gay, white to Black. Ostriker manages to pull it all together in this book about the emergence of women's poetry in America.

--Lois Ungar, Contact/II
 
 

Alicia Ostriker's Stealing the Language is literary history as it should be written--based on an extraordinary range of reading, written with passionate involvement, grounded in acute readings of particular poems and filled with provocative general statements.

--James E.B. Breslin
 
 

Ostriker combines the range of a scholar, the clear expository powers of a critic, and the passion of a feminist and a poet. She puts the poems in their historical and political context, teaches us their body language, demystifies their myths, and shows us how they challenge our habits of reading. But the point of stealing the Language is not only to provide a map of recent poetry by women. It is also to persuade us that this poetry can change our lives.

--Laurence Lipking
 


Table of Contents
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Selection:
top paragraph on p 7, top paragraph on p 8