• Winner of the 1987 William Carlos Williams Award presented by the Poetry Society of America
With The Imaginary Lover, Alicia Suskin Ostriker takes her place among the most striking and original poets whose work is informed by feminist consciousness. Her characterization of the best poetry by women, in the New York Times Book Review, aptly describes this book: “intimate rather than remote, passionate rather than distant, defying divisions between emotion and intellect, private and public, life and art, writer and reader.” To read her poems is to “discover not only more of what it means to be a woman but more of what it means to be human.”
Despite having published five books of poetry, Ostriker is known primarily for her role in the vanguard of feminist literary criticism. Outspoken, passionate and contentious, she has sparked controversy as a defender of what she regards as an emerging tradition of women's poetry. To a certain degree, her poetry reflects her social concerns; yet to a surprising extent, her work transcends such concerns. Hers is a poetry of commitment, not so much to womankind as to humankind. She delivers hard personal lyric, often in narrative rhythm: she is more reporter than embroiderer or musician. When the voice of this rational, scholarly woman rises to crescendo, a tide of sweet human emotion lifts the poem into the realm of true experience with Keatsian intensity. In no way derivative of the many fine women poets she has championed, she is forging a clear, individual style of her own. Her poetry stands on its own considerable merits as exemplum of the examined life.