Study Guide

Susan Griffin

Susan Griffin Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

It is unlikely that Susan Griffin would have developed into the feminist poet, philosopher, and social critic she is had she not come of age during the peace and justice movement of the 1960’s. While studying at universities in Berkeley and San Francisco (she received her B.A. in 1965 and her M.A. in 1973, both from San Francisco State University), Griffin joined many others of her generation in demonstrations against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. She witnessed the rise of the Black Power movement and was influenced by its analysis of oppression and racism.

These factors contributed to Griffin’s becoming a feminist, a transformation she maintains was completed in 1967, one year after marrying John Levy and one year before giving birth to her daughter, Rebecca. At this time, the style and content of Griffin’s writing became very personal. As a result of the new insight she gained into certain aspects of her life, she came to the conclusion that she had married in an attempt to accommodate the traditional idea of womanhood and to protect herself from society’s condemnation of single women and, more important in her case, of lesbians. In 1970 Griffin and her husband divorced, and she began a new life as a writer and a single parent.

Griffin regards herself above all else as a poet, and indeed, the first recognition she received for her writing was the 1963 Ina Coolbrith Prize in Poetry. Her first volume of poems, Dear Sky, was published in 1971 by Shameless Hussy Press, one of the earliest feminist presses. The contents of this volume were reprinted in the larger collection Like the Iris of an Eye, which includes poems written between 1967 and 1976. During these same years, Griffin also demonstrated her talents as a dramatist. Her play Voices, originally written for public radio, received an Emmy Award for its 1975 television production and was subsequently staged throughout the United States and Europe.

Several more years passed before Griffin began...

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Susan Griffin Bibliography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Griffin, Susan. “Recasting Courtesan Life.” Interview by Jim Mitulski. Lambda Book Report 10, no. 6 (January, 2002): 8-10. Conducted after the publication of The Book of the Courtesans, Griffin discusses her writing style. Includes some biographical background.

Perry, Linda A. M., Lynn H. Turner, and Helen M. Sterk, eds. Constructing and Reconstructing Gender. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. Includes an essay by Diane P. Freedman that compares Griffin’s work with that of Gloria Anzaldúa.

Stabile, Carol. Feminism and the Technological Fix. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Criticizes Griffin and other ecofeminists for being technophobic.

Walljasper, Jay. “Rethinking the Left.” Social Policy 26, no. 3 (Spring, 1996): 20. Walljasper interviews eight prominent social thinkers, Griffin among them, to reveal the current state of liberal philosophy. Griffin claims that many current problems arise because policy makers operate on theory instead of on real-life experience.

Yalom, Marilyn, ed. Women Writers of the West Coast: Speaking of Their Lives and Careers. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Capra Press, 1983. A chapter reports on a public dialogue between Griffin and Nannerl Keohane.