Mermaids in the Basement: Poems for Women

Carolyn Kizer

A collection of “poems for women” from Pulitzer Prize winner Carolyn Kizer. A New York Times notable book.

ISBN: 9780914742814

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Carolyn Kizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was educated at Sarah Lawrence College and was a fellow of the Chinese Government in Comparative Literature at Columbia University. In 1959, she co-founded Poetry Northwest and was its editor until 1965. She served as the first director of the Literature Program at the National Endowment for the Arts (1966–1970), was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and served as poet-in-residence at Columbia, Stanford, and Princeton. She died in …

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“Collected and new poems by a woman who has long been writing about women’s concerns… Much of the pilgrimage of these poems moves from reiteration of griefs to the good grace of letting go. They are remarkable for their good humor.” —New York Times Book Review

“This collection…makes a good representation of the poet’s several themes about women’s ‘place’ and problems, while displaying her intelligence, wit, sardonic humor, and occasional bitchiness to good advantage.” —Booklist

“Drawing on sources both private and scholarly, Kizer gives us poems alive with pluck, energy and good humour [sic] that remind us that craft and accomplishment can coexist with warmth… We have no finer poet writing today, and very few her equal.” —San Francisco Review of Books

“One of the best poets around…a national treasure.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Carolyn Kizer’s Mermaids in the Basement [gives us] fully mature poems, solid and well-constructed…There seems to be no end to the riches of this little book.” —Sipapu

“A collection of superior poems…This volume will allow lovers of poetry to enjoy and assess Kizer’s work in one place. Although an individual voice is clearly evident, she uses variety…Her poems are deep, lucid, moving without sentimentality, loving but clear-eyed, tender and fierce.” —Choice

“[This book is] beautifully produced…Carolyn Kizer is a feminist in its sense of full, round humanism. She is all woman and all poet, and as a poet she is consummately skilled, literary, ebullient, and daring to the nth degree.” —Poetry Flash

“One of the very finest poets now writing…It is likely you will fall in love with [Kizer’s] grace, wit and rare intelligence. You may even become addicted to her work, as I have, and need to return to it periodically just to satisfy a gnawing need for poetry at its best.” —Brown Miller, San Jose Mercury News

“Kizer excels in costume, clad in either the no-nonsense garb of a bluestocking or a patterned silk robe which is often Chinese. Her translations… astonish with their understated beauty and lyric elegance. The Chinese tradition of the scholar-poet suits her and translation allows a distancing that frees her, lets her soar.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Carolyn Kizer has been an example and a light for poets; her work is luminous and shimmering with strength and surety. Especially important for women, Kizer displayed the energy and intelligence of a feminist long before it became fashionable.” —Feminist Bookstore News

“[Kizer’s] luminous poems bridge the emotional chasm between mothers and daughters, probe women’s inner strength, reinterpret Greek myths in a contemporary idiom and explore personal relationships…” —Publishers Weekly

“[Kizer] wrote early about… feminist issues. And she didn’t write safely in code; she spat it out.” —New York Times Book Review

“I am so grateful to have these poems collected in one book. This is poetry brilliant in form, shaped by and giving voice to a perception of life—of women and of one woman’s experience—large enough to embrace complexity, yet rich in the most delicate details of sensuality, wit, grief. A poetry that moves simultaneously toward feeling and lucidity, and with a wonderful grace. In our time, one of the earliest and finest feminists among poets.” —Susan Griffin, Pacific Pipeline