Amy Gerstler Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Primarily a poet, Amy Gerstler (GURST-lur) has written essays and reviews of art and poetry for a number of publications, including Artforum and the Los Angeles Times. She published Martine’s Mouth (1985) and Primitive Man (1987), both works of short fiction. She also has collaborated on artist’s books, such as Past Lives (1989) and Lee Mullican: An Abundant Harvest of Sun (2006).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Amy Gerstler has received a number of accolades. Bitter Angel won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1990, and she received the Durfee Artist Award in 2003. The New York Times named Dearest Creature one of its One Hundred Notable Books of 2009. Beginning with “On Wanting to Grow Horns,” her poems have appeared in the 1992, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 editions of The Best American Poetry, and she served as the guest editor for the 2010 edition. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, and Antioch Review.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Axelrod, Rise B., and Steven Gould Axelrod. “Amy Gerstler’s Rhetoric of Marriage.” Twentieth Century Literature 50, no. 1 (Spring, 2004): 88-105. Examines the theme of marriage in Gerstler’s poetry and offers a close reading of some of her marriage poems. Posits that Gerstler’s continued theme is to undermine patriarchal conceptions of marriage.

Gerstler, Amy. “Amy Gerstler’s Message: Be Not Afraid.” Interview by Dinah Lenny. Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2009, p. E6. Gives an overview of the poet’s views on poetry, as well as pertinent biographical information and anecdotes about the poet. Also offers comments on Gerstler’s inspirations and her need to write poetry.

Kirby, David. “Animal Planet.” Review of Dearest Creature. The New York Times, November 5, 2009, p. BR6. Poet Kirby offers some critical analysis of the work, including the poem “For My Niece Sidney, Age Six.” Also focuses on the animals that Gerstler uses in the volume.

Robbins, Amy Moorman. “Amy Gerstler.” In Contemporary American Women Poets: An A-to-Z Guide, edited by Catherine Cucinella. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002. Gives a brief biographical sketch of Gerstler and some critical commentary on some of her most important work, including Bitter Angel. Also provides an excellent bibliography for those interested.

Schlegel, Eva, et al., eds. L.A. Women. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2006. Contains a brief biography of Gerstler.