Alta Judy Grahn - Essay

Judy Grahn

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

No poet irritates me more than Alta does. This irritation is not because her writing is abrasive, it is not, or that she is cutting, she is certainly not. Her writing is irritating to me, I have gradually decided after years of being affected by it, because (why did she have to say THAT) she never lets me use simple categories and become absolutely right about anything. Phoo … She deprives me of political correctness, of 100 percent finally figureditall outness; I never (why did she have to bring THAT up) get to climb on a bandwagon and be smug and certain and going in a straight line.

Instead having to feel and reason my way along. (p. vii)

Alta is one of the great writers of our time.

She has attributes of other great writers, such as great courage to take tremendous risks. She is sudden, and funny. She is both extremely calculated and extremely spontaneous; both, at once. She writes from a moral position, and she gets many cans tied to her tail. She tells the truths which are underneath our lives.

Because as a poet she is also a reporter, and because one of her goals, or methods, is 'to tell the truth'—and for other reasons having to do with women's history—Alta uses her own life, especially her everyday feelings, as subjects. She examines this life, holds it out to us, shakes it, nags it, comments on its behavior. As a peculiar consequence, she is the least subjective of...

(The entire section is 402 words.)