Muriel Rukeyser

Muriel Rukeyer’s poetry reflected her passionate activism and her belief in confronting the truth of her lived experience. Rukeyser travelled to Scottsboro, Alabama in 1933 as a student journalist to cover the trial of nine black men accused of raping two white girls and was arrested for speaking to black reporters and carrying literature for the National Students League. In 1936, she witnessed the beginnings of the Spanish Civil War while covering Spanish protests of the Berlin Olympics. She later participated in a secret peace mission to Hanoi, was arrested for protesting the Vietnam War, and travelled to Korea to protest the incarceration of dissident poet Kim Chi-Ha. She wove these experiences into her poetry to great effect, winning the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1935 for her first book, Theory of Flight, at age twenty-one and going on to receive a Guggenheim fellowship, among other honors. In 1975, she was elected president of PEN. In her later years, she taught at Sarah Lawrence College while continuing to write poetry, children’s books, and creative biographies of figures like Houdini.


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A Muriel Rukeyser Reader, edited by Jan Heller Levi.
Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Muriel Rukeyser." (Viewed on June 13, 2021) <>.


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