Marge Piercy
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Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy
Born (1936-03-31) March 31, 1936 (age 83)
EducationBA, University of Michigan
MA, Northwestern University
OccupationPoet, novelist, activist
Known forFeminist writings

Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. Her work includes Woman on the Edge of Time; He, She and It, which won the 1993 Arthur C. Clarke Award; and Gone to Soldiers, a New York Times Best Seller[1] and sweeping historical novel set during World War II.


Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan,[2] to Bert (Bunnin) Piercy and Robert Piercy.[3][4] Upon graduation from Mackenzie High School, Marge became the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan.[5][2] Winning a Hopwood Award for Poetry and Fiction (1957) enabled her to finish college and spend some time in France. She earned a M.A. from Northwestern University. Her first book of poems, Breaking Camp, was published in 1968.

An indifferent student in her early years, Piercy developed a love of books when she came down with rheumatic fever in her mid-childhood and could do little but read. "It taught me that there's a different world there, that there were all these horizons that were quite different from what I could see".[6]

Piercy was a significant feminist voice in the New Left and Students for a Democratic Society.[7]

On her childhood and Jewish identity, Piercy said: "Jews and blacks were always lumped together when I grew up. I didn't grow up 'white.' Jews weren't white. My first boyfriend was black. I didn't find out I was white until we spent time in Baltimore and I went to a segregated high school. I can't express how weird it was. Then I just figured they didn't know I was Jewish." [8]


Piercy is author of more than seventeen volumes of poems, among them The Moon Is Always Female (1980, considered a feminist classic) and The Art of Blessing the Day (1999), as well as fifteen novels, one play (The Last White Class, co-authored with her current (and third) husband Ira Wood), one collection of essays (Parti-colored Blocks for a Quilt), one non-fiction book, and one memoir.[2] She contributed the pieces "The Grand Coolie Damn" and "Song of the Fucked Duck" to the 1970 anthology Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from The Women's Liberation Movement, edited by Robin Morgan.[9]

Her novels and poetry often focus on feminist or social concerns, although her settings vary. While Body of Glass (published in the US as He, She and It) is a science fiction novel that won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, City of Darkness, City of Light is set during the French Revolution. Other of her novels, such as Summer People and The Longings of Women are set during the modern day. All of her books share a focus on women's lives.

Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) mixes a time travel story with issues of social justice, feminism, and the treatment of the mentally ill. This novel is considered a classic of utopian "speculative" science fiction as well as a feminist classic.[10]William Gibson has credited Woman on the Edge of Time as the birthplace of Cyberpunk. Piercy tells this in an introduction to Body of Glass. Body of Glass (He, She and It) (1991) postulates an environmentally ruined world dominated by sprawling mega-cities and a futuristic version of the Internet, through which Piercy weaves elements of Jewish mysticism and the legend of the Golem, although a key story element is the main character's attempts to regain custody of her young son.

Many of Piercy's novels tell their stories from the viewpoints of multiple characters, often including a first-person voice among numerous third-person narratives. Her World War II historical novel, Gone to Soldiers (1987) follows the lives of nine major characters in the United States, Europe and Asia. The first-person account in Gone to Soldiers is the diary of French teenager Jacqueline Levy-Monot, who is also followed in a third-person account after her capture by the Nazis.[11]

Piercy's poetry tends to be highly personal free verse and often addresses the same concern with feminist and social issues. Her work shows commitment to the dream of social change (what she might call, in Judaic terms, tikkun olam, or the repair of the world), rooted in story, the wheel of the Jewish year, and a range of landscapes and settings.


In 1977, Piercy became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[12] WIFP is an American nonprofit publishing organization. The organization works to increase communication between women and connect the public with forms of women-based media.

Personal life

She lives in Wellfleet with her husband, Ira Wood.[13][14] Piercy designed their Wellfleet home, in which the couple have been living since the 1970s.[8] She is Jewish.[15][16]



Short stories

  • The Cost of Lunch, Etc., 2014

Poetry collections

  • Breaking Camp, 1968
  • Hard Loving, 1969
  • "Barbie Doll", 1973
  • 4-Telling ( with Emmett Jarrett, Dick Lourie, Robert Hershon), 1971
  • To Be of Use, 1973
  • Living in the Open, 1976
  • The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flashing, 1978
  • The Moon is Always Female, 1980
  • Circles on the Water, Selected Poems, 1982
  • Stone, Paper, Knife, 1983
  • My Mother's Body, 1985
  • Available Light, 1988
  • Early Ripening: American Women's Poetry Now (ed.), 1988; 1993
  • Mars and her Children, 1992
  • What are Big Girls Made Of, 1997
  • Early Grrrl, 1999.
  • The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems With a Jewish Theme, 1999
  • Colours Passing Through Us, 2003
  • The Hunger Moon: New and Selected Poems, 1980-2010, 2012
  • Made in Detroit, 2015

Collected other

  • "The Grand Coolie Damn" and "Song of the fucked duck" in Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From The Women's Liberation Movement, 1970, edited by Robin Morgan
  • The Last White Class, (play co-authored with Ira Wood), 1979
  • Parti-Colored Blocks For a Quilt, (essays), 1982
  • The Earth Shines Secretly: A book of Days, (daybook calendar), 1990
  • So You Want to Write, (non-fiction), 2001
  • Sleeping with Cats, (memoir), 2002
  • My Life, My Body (Outspoken Authors), (essays, poems & memoir), 2015

Awards & Honors

  • Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, 1992[15]
  • Bradley Award, New England Poetry Club, 1992[15]
  • Brit ha-Dorot Award, Shalom Center, 1992[15]
  • May Sarton Award, New England Poetry Club, 1991[15]
  • Golden Rose Poetry Prize, New England Poetry Club, 1990[15]
  • Carolyn Kizer Poetry Prize, 1986, 1990[15]
  • National Endowment for the Arts award, 1978[15]
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2004[15]


  1. ^ Jodie Duckett, "Poet, novelist Marge Piercy to read at NCC," April 9, 2010,, accessed September 17, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Marge Piercy". The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ Walker, Sue (1991). Ways of knowing : essays on Marge Piercy. Negative Capability. ISBN 0685509648.
  4. ^ Piercy, Marge (2002). Sleeping with cats. William Morrow. ISBN 0066211158.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Swaim, Don. "Audio Interview with Marge Piercy". Wired for Books. Ohio University. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ Sales, Kirkpatrick (1973). SDS. Random House. ISBN 0394478894.
  8. ^ a b Schwartz, Amy. "At Home With Marge Piercy". Moment Magazine. Center for Creative Change. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ "Sisterhood is powerful : an anthology of writings from the women's liberation movement (Book, 1970)". []. Retrieved 2015.
  10. ^ Michael, Magali (1996). Feminism and the postmodern impulse " post-World War II fiction. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0791430162.
  11. ^ Marge Piercy, "Gone to Soldiers," Ballantine Books, 1987
  12. ^ "Associates | The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press". Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ "Marge Piercy". American Academy of Poets. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ Wood, Ira (2012). You're married to her?. Leapfrog Press. ISBN 9781935248255.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Marge Piercy | Jewish Women's Archive". Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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