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February 2009
80 pages  

6 x 8.5
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The Mother/Child Papers
With a new preface by the author
Ostriker, Alicia Suskin
In 1970, as the war in Vietnam was heating up, Ostriker was awaiting the birth of her son. On April 30, President Nixon announced the bombing of Cambodia. On May 14, four students were shot and killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University. The poems in this collection confront Ostriker’s personal tumult as she considered the world she had brought her son into.

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Alicia Suskin Ostriker is a major American poet and critic. She is the author of numerous poetry collections, including, most recently, The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog; The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems, 1979–2011; and The Book of Seventy, winner of the National Jewish Book Award. She has received the Paterson Poetry Prize, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award, among other honors. Ostriker teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Drew University and is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
“Brava/bravo to University of Pittsburgh Press for reissuing Ostriker's seminal work in the gradual accretion of powerful poetry by women about their bodies, their inner lives, their societal positions. Her feminist affirmation of motherhood comes against the backdrop of protests against the Vietnam War, the murders at Kent State, and the New York Times's revelation of The Pentagon Papers. Nowhere in late twentieth-century belles lettres has the personal inserted itself so meaningfully into the political.”—Maxine Kumin

“So many women shed shame and took heart from The Mother/Child Papers, which feels as fresh and necessary as ever-feminism without dogma, motherhood without sanctimony, the power of the pen dipped in blood: this time not of battle but of birth. Rejoicing at its return, I recall how far this book-awakening us to all that had been left out of literature-was ahead of the curve: gravity's rainbow, the trajectory of a culture's once heaven-bound imagination, headed back to Earth.”—Eleanor Wilner

“Interweaving meditations on birthing, motherhood, and marriage with meditations on her shock and dismay at Nixon's command to bomb Cambodia and the shootings at Kent State, Alicia Ostriker's Mother/Child Papers were composed thirty years ago, but have lost none of their urgency, their necessity, to the years. Our wars continue to plague our souls; a woman's right to choose remains a major political debate. These poems offer no glib answers, but are a welcome call to power.”—Sam Hamill

Past praise for The Mother/Child Papers “It is startling to read the early pages of this book: where, before this, was the literature of squalid bliss and righteous woe of taking care of an infant? It is alive in Ostriker . . . one of the most intelligent and lyrical of American poets.”—Iowa Review

“Ostriker's work details the achievement of a connection between personal history and public fact as both present themselves to a very intelligent writer . . . Nothing in the novels of Margaret Drabble is as affecting, as convincing, as a few lines of Ostriker's.”—American Poetry Review

“The poems of The Mother/Child Papers have been influential not only because of their candid treatment of giving bith and mothering, and their frank expression of erotic pleasure derived by mothers, but surely because of the range of approaches taken by the poet . . . No one style predominates, and one of the enjoyable things about reading the book is the shifting of form and pace.”—The Hudson Review

Complete Description Reviews
Pitt Poetry Series Table of Contents
Poetry Read a selection from this book



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