Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy’s novels have become modern classics of feminist literature, while her poems and liturgy have transformed Jewish prayer. Piercy began writing at fifteen and was the first in her family to go to college. She was briefly active in the radical Students for a Democratic Society, but left out of frustration with the group’s negative attitudes towards women and Judaism, shifting her activism to the emerging women’s movement. She published her first poetry collection, Breaking Camp, in 1968 and her first novel, Breaking Camp, in 1969, and as of 2017 has written 45 books including memoirs, fiction, and poetry. Her award-winning novels used experimental techniques as well as settings ranging from the French Resistance to the far future to explore feminist characters and concerns. In saying kaddish for her mother, who died in 1981, Piercy was drawn back to Jewish practice and began writing poems and prayers exploring a feminist Judaism. Her 1992 novel He, She and It, a feminist retelling of the Golem legend set in a future defined by ecological disaster and the impact of the internet on commerce, government, and human relationships, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Piercy’s liturgical writing, which has become an essential part of many Jewish prayer books, culminated in her 1999 publication of The Art of Blessing the Day, a collection of poems on Jewish themes. Piercy has served as poetry editor for both Tikkun and Lilith magazines and continues to teach and lecture widely.

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Marge Piercy's life as a poet and novelist has been informed by her political activism, her feminism and her Judaism. Her work—which includes fifteen books of poetry, sixteen novels and the memoir Sleeping with Cats—is marked by humanity and empathy, focusing frequently on the disenfranchised and the alienated in society.

Institution: Sylvia Edwards, Longview Community College

Date of Birth
Birthplace

Detroit, MI
United States

Occupations
Writer, Poet, Activist, Editor

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Marge Piercy." (Viewed on May 23, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/piercy-marge>.

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