Modern American Women Poets by Jean Gould (Dodd, Mead: $17.95, illustrated)
This good-natured, maddening book purports to be a collection of brief biographies of some of this century's most interesting women writers. Included are Muriel Rukeyser, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks, Isabelle Gardner, Denise Levertov, Marge Piercy--a total of 17 women, all distinguished, some (like Elizabeth Bishop) notoriously private.
Who can resist a little biography of a famous poet? Poets almost always have interesting private lives. Their financial circumstances are typically so precarious that they are drawn into many kinds of jobs. Their social positions are so marginal that they often align themselves with extreme political positions, acquiring dramatic historical interest as a result. Their psyches are so permeable that they risk emotional bonds the rest of us can hardly entertain in fantasy.
When out of work, out of luck, out of love, they travel. A book that promises 17 such little biographies ought to be by definition a book worth reading.