Isabella Gardner Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

After a brief career as a stage actress, Isabella Gardner devoted most of her energies to poetry—publishing in and editing a variety of literary journals and magazines and giving poetry readings. Her poems were included in several distinguished poetry anthologies of the 1950’s and 1960’s. As associate editor of the magazine Poetry, she advised and encouraged a number of younger poets.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Isabella Gardner’s first volume of poetry, Birthdays from the Ocean, was one of eight volumes of poetry in The New York Times Book Review’s List of 250 Outstanding Books of the Year in 1955 and, that same year, was also a runner-up for the National Book Award. The Looking Glass was nominated for the National Book Award (1961), and That Was Then was a finalist for the National Book Award (1981). In 1982, New York State posthumously named Gardner poet laureate of New York by giving her the first Walt Whitman Citation of Merit for Poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Brunner, Edward. Cold War Poetry. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001. Contains several discussions of Gardner and her poetry, providing analyses of “The Music Room” and “Children Are Game.”

Hamilton, Ian. “Gardner, Isabella.” In The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Brief biography and general analysis of Gardner’s poems.

Logan, John. “The Poetry of Isabella Gardner.” Review of The Looking Glass. Sewanee Review 70, no. 2 (Spring, 1962): 250-253. Logan praises Gardner’s poetry, which he notes for its expressive feelings, and provides a close examination of the poetry in The Looking Glass.

Miller, Brett C. Flawed Light: American Women Poets and Alcohol. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009. Miller studies how drinking and alcoholism affected prominent American women poets, and how their struggles were reflected in their poetry. Contains an informative chapter on Gardner.

Mills, Ralph J. Essays on Poetry. Normal, Ill.: Dalkey Archive Press, 2003. Contains an essay on Gardner and her poetry.

Serafin, Steven, and Alfred Bendixen, eds. The Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature. New York: Continuum, 2005. Contains a short biography of Gardner with analysis of her works.

Willhardt, Mark, and Alan Michael Parker. “Gardner, Isabella.” In Who’s Who in Twentieth-Century World Poetry. New York: Routledge, 2001. Brief discussion of Gardner’s poetic career.