Marge Piercy

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Marge Piercy (PEER-kee) published many novels, which span a wide range of genres from historical and political to science fiction and feminist utopian themes. Her fiction has appeared in an array of periodicals, including The Transatlantic Review, Works in Progress, and the New England Review. Various translations of her work appear in more than a dozen foreign-language editions. In addition, her poetry was featured on several recordings during the 1970’s.

Piercy has experimented with drama as well: The Last White Class: A Play About Neighborhood Terror, written with Ira Wood, was produced in 1978. Her nonfiction includes a calendar publication, The Earth Shines Secretly: A Book of Days (1990). She has written essays, has edited an anthology, and has had her own work appear in more than 150 anthologies. Her manuscript collection and archives are housed in the University of Michigan Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.


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Marge Piercy’s attainments are as numerous as her publications. She was the first person in her family to attend college and earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan. As an undergraduate, she won Hopwood Awards for original student writing, the first for poetry and fiction in 1956 and the second for poetry the following year. She later received a fellowship to Northwestern University, where she earned a master’s degree. Her poetry was occasionally printed during the 1960’s, but she wrote six novels before finding a publisher who would accept her work; Going Down Fast (1969) was her first success. She was a founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the North America Congress on Latin America(NACLA). Piercy has earned numerous literary awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts award in 1978, the Sheaffer Eaton-PEN New England Award for Literary Excellence in 1989, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel in the United Kingdom in 1992 and 1993, and the Shalom Center’s Brit ha-Dorot Award in 1992. She received the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award for What Are Big Girls Made Of? in 1997, the Paterson Poetry Prize in 2000 for The Art of Blessing the Day, and the Paterson Award for Literary Achievement in 2004 for Colors Passing Through Us. In 2006, Piercy was inducted in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and received the Lifetime Award in Women’s Studies. She has received four honorary doctorates.


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Cooperman, Jeanette. The Broom Closet: Secret Meanings of Domesticity in Postfeminist Novels by Louise Erdrich, Mary Gordon, Toni Morrison, Marge Piercy, Jane Smiley, and Amy Tan. New York: Peter Lang, 1999. A combination of cultural and literary analysis of the tropes of domesticity in these writers’ work.

Doherty, Patricia. Marge Piercy: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997. A thorough bibliography of primary and secondary sources, including electronic resources.

Godwin, Michelle Gerise. “Marge Piercy.” The Progressive 65, no. 1 (2001): 27-30. Godwin describes her encounter with Piercy at a poetry reading for the Worcester Women’s History Conference. The article contains the author’s impressions as well as Piercy’s commentary on her life and work.

Piercy, Marge. “A Harsh Day’s Light: An Interview with Marge Piercy.” Interview by John Rodden. Kenyon Review 20, no. 2 (1998): 132-143. Rodden recounts his visit to Piercy’s home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. He relates Piercy’s conversation about her past and her art, including comments concerning particular works.

_______. “An Interview with Marge Piercy.” Interview by Bonnie Lyons. Contemporary Literature 48, no. 3 (Fall, 2007): 327. Piercy talks about her poetry and its themes, and argues that poetry should be useful to its readers, that its message should reach their lives.

_______. “Marge Piercy.” http://www.margepiercy .com. Piercy’s Web site offers information...

(This entire section contains 443 words.)

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on her life, her works, and events in which she is participating, as well as links to interviews and reviews.

_______. “Marge Piercy on the Writing Life.” Interview by Elfrieda Abbe. The Writer 114, no. 12 (December, 2001): 40-41. An interview in which Piercy discusses the writers who influenced her, how she strives to find meaning in experiences rather than just recounting them in poems, and the importance of detaching one’s self from one’s writing.

Robinson, Lillian S., ed. Modern Women Writers. Vol. 3. New York: Continuum, 1996. This reference volume provides an overview of eight critical articles relating to Piercy’s works from 1970 to 1985. The entry includes excerpts from essays by Jean Rosenbaum and Margaret Atwood.

Schneider, Steven P. “Contemporary Jewish-American Women’s Poetry: Marge Piercy and Jacqueline Osherow.” Judaism 50, no. 2 (Spring, 2001): 199-210. Schneider compares and contrasts Jewish-themed books of poetry by Piercy and Jacqueline Osherow, describing Piercy’s poetry as more overtly political and in free verse while Osherow’s poems are more overtly religious and written in traditional form. Schneider concludes that both poets convincingly negotiate the tensions inherent in their Jewish identities.

Walker, Sue, and Eugenia Hamner, eds. Ways of Knowing: Essays on Marge Piercy. Mobile, Ala.: Negative Capability Press, 1992. The collection includes thirteen perceptive essays discussing Piercy’s poetry and fiction. An extensive bibliography details the author’s publications and includes comprehensive lists of reviews and critical essays related to Piercy’s work.


Critical Essays