Marge Piercy 1936–
American poet and novelist.
Piercy is a prominent and sometimes controversial author whose left-wing politics inform and shape her work. She has said that she became aware of social and political injustice at an early age. As her politics developed, Piercy's attitude and writing became more specifically feminist in focus.
Piercy has said that she doesn't "understand distinctions between private and social poetry"; the obliteration of that dichotomy—between "political" and "personal"—characterizes her fiction as well as her poetry. Her writing reflects a continual struggle to reconcile the disparity between an individual's attempt to realize his or her potential and the conditions of contemporary society working against such personal growth.
Although her novels are generally realistic reflections of contemporary society—for example, her recent Braided Lives (1983) explores the hardships encountered by a woman coming of age in the 1950s—Piercy has also experimented with science fiction. Her first attempt, Dance the Eagle to Sleep (1970), depicts a dystopia, drawing many parallels with the turmoil of the 1960s. Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) portrays a utopia set in the year 2137. In this novel Piercy restructures traditional institutions such as marriage, capitalism, and patriarchal power, offering an alternative equally beneficial to both men and women.
Piercy's voice, sometimes raw and angry, other times tender and warm, infuses her poems with a force so bold and immediate that it alienates some critics, while others praise her for her courageous and hearty energy. Her earlier volumes were marked by an outraged protest that has lightened with more recent works, notably The Moon Is Always Female (1980). In this volume her images draw on nature and commonplace objects to evoke not only anger, but also humor and a celebration of life.
(See also CLC, Vols. 3, 6, 14, 18 and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 21-24, rev. ed.)