Home Events - Trixie's List Artist Talk Books Performance Poetry The Rukeyser Era—a discussion with Eric Keenaghan & Rowena Kennedy-Epstein

The Rukeyser Era—a discussion with Eric Keenaghan & Rowena Kennedy-Epstein

When examining history, The Flow Chart Foundation tends to focus on the era of poetry created by the New York School, John Ashbery in particular. For this event we shift our gaze, re-examining the so-called “Pound Era” to engage with the work of the increasingly important poet and activist Muriel Rukeyser.

Join us as we celebrate the publication of The Muriel Rukeyser Era: Selected Prose (Cornell University Press), which makes available for the first time a range of Muriel Rukeyser’s prose, a rich and diverse archive of political, social, and aesthetic writings. Eric Keenaghan and Rowena Kennedy-Epstein assemble a selection of unpublished and out-of-print texts, demonstrating the diversity, brilliance, and possibilities of mid-twentieth-century women’s intellectual life and sociopolitical engagement.

Although primarily known as a poet, Rukeyser produced an expansive and influential body of nonfiction and critical writings. Reflective of a deeply committed thinker, her accessible but philosophically complex prose—including essays, lectures, radio scripts, stories, and reviews—addresses issues related to racial, gender, and class justice, war and war crimes; the prison-industrial complex, Jewish culture and diaspora, motherhood, literature, music, cinema, and translation. Many of the selected texts have been forgotten, have fallen out of print, or were never previously published because of conservative Cold War political and gender orthodoxies. The Muriel Rukeyser Era offers new insight into Rukeyser’s radical and strikingly contemporary vision for the role of the writer—especially the woman writer. This selection reveals the centrality of feminism, antifascism, and antiracism to her thinking and thus affirms the resonance and urgency of her work today.

We will hear selections from the book and discuss Rukeyser’s contributions and importance, concluding with questions from the audience.

Eric Keenaghan is co-editor of The Muriel Rukeyser Era: Selected Prose (Cornell University Press) and the author of Queering Cold War Poetry (Ohio State University Press). His essays on modernist and New American poetries, feminist and LGBTQ+ poetry and poetics, anarchist and other leftist poetries, and queer translation have appeared widely in many academic journals and critical collections. He teaches at the University at Albany, SUNY, where he also is chair of the English Department.

Rowena Kennedy-Epstein is the author of Unfinished Spirit: Muriel Rukeyser’s Twentieth Century (Cornell UP, 2022). She recovered and edited Rukeyser’s lost Spanish Civil War novel, Savage Coast (Feminist Press, 2013) and co-edited the volume The Muriel Rukeyser Era: Selected Prose (Cornell UP, 2023). She is currently writing a biography of Rukeyser (Bloomsbury USA) and is a 2022-23 NEH Public Scholars Fellow. She is Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Women’s Writing at the University of Bristol (Uk).

Toward opening new possibilities for discovery, thought, connection, and joy, The Flow Chart Foundation explores poetry and the interrelationships of various art forms as guided by the legacy of gay American poet John Ashbery, showcasing contemporary artists from a diversity of cultural, ethnic, gender-identified, age, ability, economic, and aesthetic viewpoints.

Poetry provides a powerful conduit for examining, questioning, and resisting the status quo. By featuring generative, exploratory work that defies simple consumption, we expand our ability to question, to speak, to think, to dream, to accomplish. The Flow Chart Foundation offers new ways to discover and enjoy poetry. Our programs feature the work of artists who help us challenge assumed perceptions of ourselves, one another, and the world. We love artistic work often thought of as “challenging,” and strive to offer inviting means for productively engaging with and enjoying it.

Through programs for both general and scholarly audiences that showcase innovative art by creators across disciplines, we feature new work that reflects and engages transformative values. We do so online, through our Flow Chart Space, and with partner organizations dedicated to serving our local community. We also celebrate Ashbery and his art as an inspirational and generative force, inviting engagement with his work through the Ashbery Resource Center, a special collection library and online resource that provides opportunities for deep exploration and scholarship.


Nov 15 2023


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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