Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Rochelle Owens began writing as a poet and has published several volumes of poetry as well as numerous poems in various journals and small magazines. Her poetry is lyric and metaphysical, depending heavily on juxtapositions that often involve fairly wide leaps between ideas or attitudes. In addition to conventional poetic devices, Owens makes considerable use of typographical devices: The spacing between words, phrases, and lines is important both to the sense and to the rhythm of her verse, and she often uses capitalization and punctuation (or the lack of it) in an arresting way, sometimes forming unusual patterns on the page with words or parts of words. These appear to be voice cues, and her voice is, as Toby Olson has written (in a symposium devoted to Owens’s work), the controlling element of her poetry. Wit and humor are also essential ingredients, but Owens is by no means a poet of the intellect only; her poetry conveys emotion and sensuality as she probes deeply into her subject, expressing her discoveries energetically if not always with the greatest lucidity.

Owens writes about a variety of subjects, but her chief interests are political and humanistic, combined, for example, in “Purple Worms of Vengeance,” a poem that contrasts a fat, gluttonous congressman with a poor Chicano child. In the same volume—I Am the Babe of Joseph Stalin’s Daughter: Poems, 1961-1971 (1972)—are a number of poems about her “Deebler Woman,”...

(The entire section is 521 words.)