Carol Muske Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Carol Muske (mahsk) is probably best known for her poetry, but she also published (as Muske-Dukes) the novels Dear Digby (1989), Saving St. Germ (1993), and Life After Death (2001); a collection of critical essays, Women and Poetry: Truth, Autobiography, and the Shape of the Self (1997); and a collection of essays on Hollywood and poetry, Married to the Icepick Killer: A Poet in Hollywood (2002).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Carol Muske’s work has earned many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram-Merrill grant, a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship, and the Alice Fay di Castagnola Prize from the Poetry Society of America. Widely anthologized, her poetry has won several Pushcart Prizes as well as the Dylan Thomas Award. Muske also received a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and became a fellow at the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. Her 2003 collection of poetry, Sparrow, was finalist for a National Book Award, and in 2008, she was appointed California’s poet laureate.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Gilbert, Sandra M. “Family Values.” Review of Red Trousseau. Poetry 164, no. 1 (April, 1994): 39-53. Gilbert expresses the view that, while some of the narrative line is difficult to follow, the book is strong in its use of language. The images are strong, with natural energy.

Gould, Jean. “Carol Muske.” In Modern American Women Poets. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1984. The writer presents a thorough biography of Muske. The poems are referenced as they reveal aspects of the biography. The review focuses on the emergence of the poet.

Kizer, Carolyn. “Motherhood, Magic, and Lavender.” The New York Times Book Review, November 3, 1985, p. 13. Primarily an analysis of Wyndmere. The reviewer feels that the language is this collection is not as dazzling as in Muske’s previous collection. Discusses the symbols common in Muske’s work.

Muratori, Fred. Review of An Octave Above Thunder. Library Journal 122 (October 1, 1997): 86. The reviewer discusses this collection as an overview of the entire body of the poet’s work, finding that Muske has undergone a broadening of her philosophical views as they are expressed in her poetry. He speaks of the influence of feminism and political awareness as well as analysis and meditation.

Muske, Carol. “Carol Muske-Dukes: The Cruel Poetries of Life.” Interview by Roger Gathman. Publishers Weekly 248, no. 25 (June 18, 2001): 52. This comprehensive interview develops a consideration of Muske’s biographical influences and her work as teacher and writer. It also discusses the themes that have shaped her work, as well as how her characters are often at odds with the prevailing societal norms.

Santos, Sherod. Review of Skylight. Western Humanities Review 36, no. 1 (Spring, 1982): 54-58. Focuses on the positive aspects of the poems, specifically the relationships between men and women. The poems elicit a wide range of emotions from their speaker, as well as from the reader. The reviewer discusses several poems in depth, analyzing form and word choice.

Seaman, Donna. Review of Red Trousseau. Booklist 89, no. 9 (January 1, 1993): 790. A very positive review of this collection, touching on language and imagistic dexterity.